Posts Tagged ‘Oakland Raiders’

NFL Draft Review: AFC West

Listen to this weeks OTI Podcast with Matt Money Smith as our guest. Available here:EP62

Denver Broncos

The Broncos don’t have too much work to do to make it back to the Super Bowl. The weakest part if their team is easily their secondary, which has let plenty of teams force Peyton Manning and the offense to have to score 30 points to win. In addition to their two big free agent additions to their secondary, the Broncos drafted cornerback Bradley Roby with their first round pick. Roby, opposite Aqib Talib, will make it tough for quarterbacks to get the ball to their number two receivers due to his great ball skills and physical play. The Broncos lost their number two outside receiver Eric Decker to the Jets in free agency, and despite their depth at the position, they didn’t have anyone on the roster who could fill that void. Wes Welker is an indisputable slot receiver and Emmanuel Sanders just has good speed without the physicality and size to excel outside the numbers. He is best suited for the slot, where he played in Pittsburgh. Second round pick Cody Latimer has that size, plus he is a former basketball standout, which seems to be the most important part of a receiver’s résumé these days. After the departure of middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard, fifth round pick Lamin Barrow will have a decent shot at earning the starting position. Barrow is athletic and moves well, but he’ll have to make a big impact on the coaches to be more than a special teamer to start out his career. The good thing is that Barrow is very smart and was a highly respected captain at LSU, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he did make a quick, strong impression. The Broncos could use an upgrade at right tackle. Right now Chris Clark is penciled in as the starter, but they drafted Michael Schofield, who is right now slated as the backup right tackle, in the third round. Schofield is a natural right tackle with plenty of experience playing at the position in college and also has the versatility to play inside. He is a good run blocker and is a fiery competitor, so he will give Clark a run for his money.

Division Impact

It’s very tough to imagine the Broncos not winning the AFC West again given the big weaknesses with the Chiefs and Chargers. The additions they made in the Draft should really help their chances to make another big run in the playoffs, but the clock is ticking.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs bolstered their already dominant pass rush with the addition of first round pick Dee Ford. I don’t know exactly where he’ll fit in on that defense because Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are already the starting outside linebackers, but Ford has great burst off the line and has a high-motor to make an impact whenever he is on the field. Drafting running back De’Anthony Thomas in the fourth round is a little surprising to me. The Chiefs already have Knile Davis as their backup running back, and he is expected to get more playing time this year after playing well when he got his chances. Not to mention Jamaal Charles will be on the field as much as possible, being the teams leading rusher and receiver last season. The only thing that makes sense to me is that Thomas is very similar to Dexter McCluster, who led the team in free agency, and can be that same utility player. He can play wide receiver in the slot and is great at returning kicks. It’s a little bit uncanny, actually, how clone-like they are. Offensive lineman who went to Tennessee don’t have the best reputation in the NFL, but guard Zach Fulton has impressive physicality and is a mauler on the line. If he can refine his football skills, it will be very interesting to see how he may develop down the line. The Chiefs made a nice addition by signing free safety Daniel Sorenson as an undrafted free agent. HE has excellent range and has always been an overachiever. Both starting safety spots are already taken, but I’d keep an eye on Sorenson.

Division Impact

The Chiefs are still very weak at wide receiver and I’m not so sure how their offensive line will be able to handle things without Branden Albert there. Now it’s time for last year’s first overall pick Eric Fisher to shine at left tackle. For one thing, at least their defense can keep them in games plus more, and you can never go wrong giving the ball to Jamaal Charles. Furthermore, Andy Reid can make things work on offense that don’t seem viable.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers did excellent on their first three choices. They had a glaring need at cornerback, which made it a palpable choice to take their highest-rated one in the first round — Jason Verrett. Verrett is a very tough, fast, and athletic player who will definitely make a big impact in the secondary. The Chargers’ second round pick, Jeremiah Attaochu, is a speedy rush linebacker with outstanding pass rush skills and athleticism. The only thing he needs to work on is his strength, which will come after a few years of working out and getting used to playing in the NFL. The Chargers badly needed help at pash rush, and Attaochu should provide a good base opposite Dwight Freeney. Attaochu is a steal at the 18th pick of the second round. The Chargers are still fixing up their offensive line, and the right guard starting spot is wide open for the taking. Third round pick Chris Watt should have a good shot at winning that job. He has the good fundamentals and is physical and competitive. That rounds out a perfect job at the top half of the Draft.

Division Impact 

The Chargers offense was outstanding last year, which helped propel them into a wild card spot. However, their defense was the death of them. The focus of their draft was obviously on that side of the ball. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t make a strong push for the playoffs again this year and even be a threat in the first round.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders also did a very good job drafting for need while still getting very quality players at their positions. They started of by selecting outside linebacker and pass rush specialist Khalil Mack, who was good enough to even be the first overall selection. Mack is out there to simply destroy the quarterback and has all the tools to do so. You can expect a 10-sack season from him consistently. In the second round, the Raiders got their franchise quarterback. They’ve been searching for the right guy for a while, and being one of my favourite quarterbacks in the Draft, I’m excited to see where he gets. However, he may not start right away so he has time to develop and not land in the same situation as his brother David, who got scared from a worse than terrible offensive line. Speaking of which, the Raiders need serious help on the offensive line, and after letting starting left tackle Jared Veldheer walk in free agency and failing to sign versatile offensive lineman Roger Saffold due to a “failed physical”, (what a story that was!) they drafted Gabe Jackson, my third highest rated guard, in the third round. Jackson will give you solid consistency in both the passing game and run game for a long time. He’s a great player to build your offensive line around. The Raiders’ fourth round pick was one of my favourite players in the Draft, cornerback Keith McGill. McGill is a very tall cornerback, standing at 6’3”, which is the excellent size everyone want in a defensive back nowadays. He is also athletic and has great press skills, though he doesn’t always utilise them. If DJ Hayden plays to his potential, he and McGill could make a very nice tandem in the secondary. The Raiders drafted another cornerback in the seventh round, Travis Carrie, who has great physicality, tackling ability and ball skills, which are vital at nickelback. The Raiders did an excellent job being able to get him so late in the Draft. I could’ve seen him going in the fourth or fifth round, but his two previous shoulder injuries shied many teams away.

Division Impact 

On paper, including their many free agent acquisitions, the Raiders look a lot better, especially defensively. We don’t know exactly what Matt Schaub will give the Raiders: last year’s pick-six-apalooza or the previous years’ quality regular season play. But one is for sure, that Schaub was holding the Texans back from making a strong playoff run when they were a very good team. I don’t see the Raiders making a strong enough push for a wild card spot, let alone the division, until Carr is ready. And maybe even a year or two later. But don’t get me wrong, the Raiders are a much improved team over last year, including Matt Schaub.

This piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli is from Silver Spring, Maryland. Naturally, he is a fan of America’s real Team, the Washington Redskins. Eli is a big fan of every American sport but the NFL is his favourite. He has strong opinions on many topics and therefore started to write about them. Every week, Eli writes a NFL power rankings article for OTI and “Bookie’s Playbook” article, where he breaks down different teams’ plays, formations, etc. You can always find his opinions and his shenanigans on Twitter @Ebookstaber. He welcomes any comments and feedback.

OTI Mailbag #17: Teddy Bridgewater, and Position Depth

Got a question you want answered in the OTI mailbag? Send it to us on twitter @overtimeireland or to otimailbag@gmail.com & the best will get answered!

With Teddy Bridgewaters Pro Day being the main reason for his projected fall in the Draft, what do you think of the analysis of his game tape?

Colm Kelly

Where will Teddy end up?

Teddy Bridgewater is highly touted for his high completion percentage, but he didn’t perform so well in that matter in his Pro Day, where his passes were going all over the place. As a result, his draft stock has been plummeting ever since. Pro Days don’t really tell us how good a quarterback someone is. It’s all a choreographed routine without any decision making. JaMarcus Russell had an unbelievable Pro Day, but look how he turned out. On the flip side, Drew Brees had a terrible combine like Bridgewater’s. Now he’s one of the top three quarterbacks in the league. Also, Bridgewater usually wears a glove on his throwing hand when he plays, but on his Pro Day he didn’t. Maybe that caused his throws to be off-target, maybe it didn’t. But let’s leave that alone for now to talk about a more important argument: his accuracy. First let’s discuss what type of passes he threw. Meaning, how many of his throws were screens, 1-5 yards, 6-10 yards, 11-20 yards, and 20+ yards. Only just under 10% of Bridgewater’s passes were screens, and the average is 22%. However, 58% of his passes were between 1-10 yards (33% 1-5, 25% 6-10). The average passes for a quarterback in that range is only 42% (26% 1-5, 16% 6-10), so you can see why Bridgewater’s completion percentage was so high if he wasn’t throwing the deep ball so often. Furthermore, I’ll tell you his completion rate in those zones (not including drops). He completed almost 98% of his screens, 88% of passes 1-5 yards, 81% of passes 6-10 yards, then it drops down to 68% of passes 11-20 yards, and another drop to 51% of passes 20+ yards. Bridgewater, is just ahead of  the average on the three shorter zones and just below average on the two deeper zones. Now you can see that he not only attempts much more short passes, but he also thrives much more on them, with a big drop off in success on deep passes. That makes his average completion rate not including drops 78%, while the average id 75%, so he’s still ahead of the curve. I hope I didn’t get you too down on Bridgewater, because here’s something he does really well: completing passes under pressure and while being blitzed. While under pressure, meaning, when he has to move off his spot or get rid of the ball quicker than anticipated, Bridgewater completes 63% of his passes when under pressure and 80% whilst not under pressure. That stat may not look so good without any reference. Compared to the other three top quarterbacks in this draft, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, and Johnny Manziel, Bridgewater is way ahead of Carr, just ahead of Mazniel, and right with Bortles. Now for when he is getting blitzed, Bridgewater completes 77% of his passes, and whilst not being blitzed by those trying to feed him dirt, he completes 78% of his passes. That seems fantastic, right? Indeed it is! Bridgewater is 6%-8% ahead of his counterparts in that matter. I’ll give you one more interesting stat that I found to take into consideration: his adjusted completion rate from the effect of his offensive system. What I mean by that is to see how much Bridgewater’s completion rate would change if he were in a regular system, which wouldn’t create easy opportunities for him. Again, this doesn’t include drops. So, if Bridgewater were in a generic system, his completion rate would be just over 1% higher. You’re probably thinking, “big deal!” Well, it may not really be such a big deal, but it leaves open the fact that wherever he ends up in the NFL he could be in a system that is generic, and he’d actually be better at deep balls than his stats currently show. The opposite could also happen, but I like to be optimistic :).

A lot of people have said that this draft is deeper than usual, but Ive also heard that some position are still fairly thin. So how thin or deep, exactly, is every position in this years draft?

Terry Hugh

Alright, here’s the lowdown.

The quarterback position is very good this year. You can get an instant starter in the first and second rounds, and also a few promising guys in the mid-rounds, but they’ll need some grooming. However, there are no sure-fire guys like an Andrew Luck or RG3 this year.

The running back position has deteriorated in the past few years, but there are still a handful of quality backs in this draft with some guys you can pick up in the mid or even later rounds who can contribute.

The wide receiver position is very deep in this draft. There are 10-or-so guys who can be big contributors immediately. What I really like about this year’s receiver class is that there are a another 15-or-so guys who can fill a smaller role, like a slot receiver, a big receiver, a deep ball receiver, and a chain-mover.

One of the most talked about positions in this draft is the offensive line. There are a handful of star left tackles, including Zach Martin, who can play all five positions on the line, which is a great asset. You can also find guys who can be plugged in at right tackle and hold down the fort or be a reliable backup. There are a bunch of solid guards, but Xavier Su’a-Filo sets himself apart from the rest of the group. There aren’t too many centres who I like, but you can always kick in a guard.

Tight end is one of the thin positions in this draft. Eric Ebron will be a star. After him there a a few guys who can start, but after them there’s a huge dip in talent.

On the defensive side of the line there are also a lot of solid pass rushers, including plenty of situational guys or scheme-fit players.

There are a few good and lot of okay linebackers but the position is overall average in this draft.

The cornerback depth is similar to the receivers in this draft. There are a bunch of day-one starters, plus a bunch of nickelbacks. What’s great about this cornerback class is that there are a lot of guys who can press at the line.

I’m really upset over this year’s safety class. There are only a couple of instant starters, then only a handful of decent guys. After that, the quality takes a huge plummet.

Got a question you want answered in the OTI mailbag? Send it to us on twitter @overtimeireland or to otimailbag@gmail.com & the best will get answered!

This piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli is from Silver Spring, Maryland. Naturally, he is a fan of America’s real Team, the Washington Redskins. Eli is a big fan of every American sport but the NFL is his favourite. He has strong opinions on many topics and therefore started to write about them. Every week, Eli writes a NFL power rankings article for OTI and “Bookie’s Playbook” article, where he breaks down different teams’ plays, formations, etc. You can always find his opinions and his shenanigans on Twitter @Ebookstaber. He welcomes any comments and feedback.

The Brod View: NFL Mock Draft #4

It’s Almost Time!

IT’S FINALLY HERE! In just a few days Radio City Hall in New York City will be host to the 2014 NFL Draft, and I, for one, am eagerly anticipating what should be an exciting draft this year. And therefore in this edition of The Brod View, I have come up with my final mock draft. And there have been some significant changes since my last mock draft… and guess what I have even come up with a second round for you too.

Oh and it’s all change too. There are still three quarterbacks in the first round but one of the original three has dropped down the order to round two. There are also two new entrants to the top ten here—which sees Gilbert and Barr drop down in to the top twenty picks. There is so much talent to be picked up in this draft and it was difficult choosing which player would be best suited where. But as with all mock drafts it’s a guessing game.

Anyway, typical mock draft rules apply here with no trades being included. I have provided analysis for all of the first round, unlike the top ten here and then will list my second round picks.

THE FIRST ROUND

1              Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney (DE) (No Change) There has been talking of Houston trading down or deciding to select Manziel or Bortles, but I cannot envisage anyone but Clowney going here.

2              St Louis Rams: Greg Robinson (OT) (Up 4) If the Rams are unable to trade down or up here then I expect them to select an offensive lineman. Expect Robinson or Matthews to go here.

3              Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack (Up 2) Again it is going to be a close call between Mack or Manziel but I have a feeling that with Bradley’s defensive mindset, Mack looks the more likely option here.

4              Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel (Down 1) For a long time I expected Watkins to go here. Yet I think Cleveland might stick with the original back office’s plan of going for Manziel and that all the talk of them not being fond of him was just a smokescreen.

5              Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins (Down 1) Oakland have a lot of holes to fill and receiver is one of them. I am intrigued by who they will select here because they could go for Bortles, Matthews or even Mack if he is still available.

6              Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews (OT) (Down 4) “It is boring to select offensive lineman, but undoubtedly Matthews is a top tier talent that Atlanta need.” – I will keep saying it over and over again. They could, however, trade up for Clowney, if he is still available after Houston have selected.

7              Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans (WR) (No Change) Tampa definitely need a new receiver since the departure of Mike Williams to Buffalo. They could also QB here, in which case they might select Bridgewater.

8              Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles (QB) (No Change) Bortles or Bridgewater? That is the question here. I feel that many scouts are low on Bridgewater after a bad combine and pro day and that will mean Minnesota selecting Bortles.

9              Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron (TE) (Up 3) I have a feeling that the Bills will be looking to improve EJ Manuel’s options and Ebron will be a huge gain for a struggling franchise.

10           Detroit Lions: Aaron Donald (DT) (Up 6) Whilst I used to think that they will go for a corner at no 10, a lot of experts believe that Donald could be brought in to a 4-3 defense alongside Suh. Also, Detroit are apparently looking to trade Suh, but that may merely be just a rumour.

11           Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert (CB) (Down 1) I think the Titans will be looking to improve the backfield and therefore they will either select Gilbert (who I thought would have gone to Detroit until recently) or a safety such as Clinton Dix or Pryor.

12           New York Giants: Zack Martin (OG) (Up 7) The Giants have a lot of holes in their offense, none more so than their offensive line. They seem pretty high on Martin right now and not Lewan.

13           St Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton Dix (FS) (Down 2) With the Titans selecting Gilbert in my mock draft, this means that Clinton Dix will become available to them and therefore they will probably select him over Calvin Pryor.

14           Chicago Bears: Calvin Pryor (FS) (Down 1) For a long time I thought Chicago will go for Jernigan at NT. Yet with Pryor being available, and the need to improve at the safety position, I reckon Jernigan could go down the board.

15           Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard (CB) (No Change) I think Pittsburgh will go for a corner here just out of sheer need, and the fact that Dennard is pretty talented.

16           Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Barr (LB) (Down 7) Barr should be a top ten talent but I reckon he could slip further down the board than expected. The only thing that could prevent this from happening is if the Giants select him in my opinion. He could also slip further down the board if Dallas fill a need by selecting Jernigan.

17           Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan (OT) (No Change) Lewan could potentially cause trouble. On the other hand he is more talented than fellow offensive lineman Zack Martin. It will be one of those players the Ravens will select because they desperately need to fix their O-line.

18           New York Jets: Marqise Lee (WR) (No Change) Lee is the “best of the rest” when it comes to the receiving corps in this draft. Jets could trade up to get Evans or even Watkins, but with this being a WR-heavy draft, I think they will settle for Lee here.

19           Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandijo (OT) (UP ROUND) Miami will go for someone that can start in their O-line. The question is who will they pick? And that’s difficult to answer, but I hav gone for Kouandijo, because everybody seems high on him right now.

20           Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr (QB) (UP ROUND) I have a fear that they will blow this pick unnecessarily on a QB that will not be good enough to start week one—especially when Bridgewater is available. Arizona may even trade down just to get Carr. Bottom line: Not a first round talent.

21           Green Bay Packers: CJ Mosley (LB) (No Change) I am convinced that the Packers will pick the uber-talented, and massively undervalued Mosley. Can you imagine a linebacker corps of Matthews, Hawk, Mosley? They will destroy offenses.

22           Philadelphia Eagles: Odell Beckham Jr (WR) (Up 1) They will either had to their offensive options, especially with the injury-prone Maclin replacing Jackson as no 1. receiver, or they will go for a corner. Kelly likes his offense, therefore Beckham will be an ideal fit for the Eagles

23           Kansas City Chiefs: Brandin Cooks (WR) (Up 4) I think Kansas City could pick up two receivers in the draft here, such is their need for offensive options. Brandin Cooks could be one of many recievers that end up at Arrowhead.

24           Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Roby (CB) (Down 4) A stronger defense is what Cincinnati require to elevate themselves from pretenders to contenders. Bradley Roby could be a steal at 24, because despite his transgressions off the field, he can definitely play football.

25           San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller (CB) (No Change) Fuller could be drafted higher than here, so it would not surprise me if they get someone different at corner. One thing that has gone unnoticed is that this a corner-heavy draft too. San Diego will pick one up here and they will get someone with good value.

26           Cleveland Browns: Kelvin Benjamin (WR) (Down 4) If the Browns go with Manziel here, then they will definitely go for a receiver here—which I think will be Benjamin in this instance. If not, they will draft Watkins at 4 and then Bridgewater at 26.

27           New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford (DE) (UP ROUND) Like some other franchises, it’s not a question of which position but which player. They need to improve their pass-rush a bit more and I think the Saints will select Ford over Ealy.

28           Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses (OT) (Up 4) Panthers need a receiver desperately. Therefore I am surprised that they could be opting for an offensive lineman instead. Maybe they will trade down, or maybe they are desperate to protect Newton’s blindside.

29           New England Patriots: Ra’Shede Hageman (DT) (No Change) Hageman has huge potential but could be a troublesome player off the field. Step forward Bill Belichick and we could have a new Wilfork.

30           San Francisco 49ers: Jason Verrett (CB) (No Change) The only downside to Verrett is the fact that he is smaller than the typical corner, which could mean he will slip into the second round. That’s unlikely to happen in my opinion and I think the 49ers will pick him up before he slips down further.

31           Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier (LB) (UP ROUND) NFL scouts are high on Shazier’s ability right now. Broncos may not select him as they might go for Su’a Filo to fix up their O-line, but I think Elway will go defense heavy in the draft, following from their free agency acquisitions.

32           Seattle Seahawks: Joel Bitonio (OT) (UP ROUND) There are a lot of suggestions that Seattle will either go OT or WR in the draft. I reckon they will select Bitonio here and that will allow Wilson even more time to come up with some dynamic offensive plays.

SECOND ROUND PICKS

Pick Team Name Pos Change
33 Houston Texans Teddy Bridgewater QB Down 7
34 Washington Redskins Louis Nix NT Down 10
35 Cleveland Browns Carlos Hyde RB ROUND 2
36 Oakland Raiders Timmy Jernigan NT Down 22
37 Atlanta Falcons Kony Ealy DE ROUND 2
38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers AJ McCarron QB ROUND 2
39 Jacksonville Jaguars Tom Savage QB ROUND 2
40 Minnesota Vikings DeMarcus Lawrence DE ROUND 2
41 Buffalo Bills Kyle Van Noy LB ROUND 2
42 Tennesse Titans Jeremy Hill RB ROUND 2
43 New York Giants Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE ROUND 2
44 St Louis Rams Davante Adams WR Down 16
45 Detroit Lions Scott Crichton DE ROUND 2
46 Pittsburgh Steelers Stephon Tuitt DT ROUND 2
47 Dallas Cowboys Will Sutton DT ROUND 2
48 Baltimore Ravens JuWuan James OT ROUND 2
49 New York Jets Lamarcus Joyner CB ROUND 2
50 Miami Dolphins Xavier Su’a Filo OG Down 19
51 Chicago Bears Pierre Desir CB ROUND 2
52 Arizona Cardinals Cody Latimer WR ROUND 2
53 Green Bay Packers Jace Amaro TE ROUND 2
54 Phildelphia Eagles Jeremiah Attaochu LB ROUND 2
55 Cincinnati Bengals Marcus Martin C ROUND 2
56 San Francisco 49ers Donte Moncrief WR ROUND 2
57 San Diego Chargers Weston Richburg C ROUND 2
58 New Orleans Saints Allen Robinson WR ROUND 2
59 Indianapolis Colts Deone Bucannon SS ROUND 2
60 Carolina Panthers Paul Richardson WR ROUND 2
61 San Francisco 49ers Keith McGill CB ROUND 2
62 New England Patriots Troy Niklas TE ROUND 2
63 Denver Broncos Jarvis Landry WR ROUND 2
64 Seattle Seahawks Carl Bradford LB ROUND 2

 

This piece was written by Broderick Sutherland. Broderick is from Bath, UK and he is a massive New York Giants fan. He has recently started a blog that covers a variety of sports called Armchair Analyst. Follow him @BrodSutherland. And visit armchairanalystblog.wordpress.com

NFL Draft – 2014:Flynn’s First Round Complete Breakdown

Don’t call it a mock draft.

May 8th

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve combed through fan forums, team websites and mock drafts to try and piece together the important information on every pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Below I’ve listed each pick, along with the team situation, taken from beat writers and other local media. I’ve then summarised the picks of each of NFL.com’s 8 mock drafters, the general thoughts from fan comments, and various other tidbits of information. I’ve taken everything I’ve read and tried to narrow down which players I think each team will pick, based on the information available. (All correct as of 25/4)

Of course, as it’s the draft, anything could happen, which is why instead of giving my own opinion (too much), I’ve cobbled together everybody else’s.

Enjoy!

Pick 1 – Houston Texans

The big picture:

Will the Texans run to the podium for Clowney?

Jadeveon Clowney seems to be the consensus pick among Texans writers, according to their website. Their latest Mock Draft survey, which polls all the beat writers and other Texans media, has 20 of 35 analysts going for him. Blake Bortles is the clear second favourite in the poll, with 11 of 35 votes.

What the mock drafts say:

6 of 8 pundits have the Texans taking Clowney at number 1, with the other 2 going for Bortles.

What the fans want:

Looking through the Facebook comments on their draft survey, most fans seem to want to take Clowney first, and address their much bigger QB need in the second round. A few would like to trade down and still take a QB in the first round, with Johnny Manziel’s name cropping up a couple of times, but this seems to be the minority opinion.

Likely pick: Jadeveon Clowney

The Texans don’t have a pressing need on the defensive line, but they would be happy to address their other issues further down the draft. Clowney is being touted as the best player in the draft, and he would be very hard to pass on. The player himself has also stated he would love to work with JJ Watt. 

Pick 2 – St. Louis Rams

The big picture:

There is a lot of talk of a potential trade for this pick, as the Rams will pick again at 13. This has been played down by the organisation so far. Should they stay at No.2, a Rams beat writer has suggested that Sammy Watkins is the guy the fans would want. However, the offensive line is the main area to address, assuming Clowney is off the board. This brings the likes of Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews into play. All signs from the club and writers are that they would pass on Watkins and take an offensive tackle at 2.

What the mock drafts say:

7 of 8 pundits have the Rams taking an Offensive Tackle with their No.2 pick; it’s a toss-up as to which one, with 4 votes for Robinson and 3 for Matthews.

What the fans want:

The main consensus on the Rams draft forum on their website seems to be that the O-line is the most pressing need. If (big if) they don’t end up trading the second pick, they are happy to take an OT there, with seemingly no real preference for which one.

Likely pick: Greg Robinson/Jake Matthews

Both of these guys would fit the bill for the Rams at 2 and the media, analysts and fans all seem to agree that the offensive line is in need of a lot of work, the top 3 tackles are all expected to be off the board by the time the Rams get back on the clock at number 13.

Pick 3 – Jacksonville Jaguars

The big picture:

The Jags website’s Chief Writer has plumped for Khalil Mack at 3 in his mock draft, speaking of the Jags need for a playmaker and a pass-rusher, which are both qualities Mack has. Sammy Watkins is another name he mentions as making sense at 3. Jacksonville are mostly in need of a big playmaker to lift the team both physically and in spirit.

What the mock drafts say:

4 of 8 analysts have matched up Khalil Mack to the Jags, with the remaining guys going for either Jadeveon Clowney (1 vote) or Johnny Manziel (3 votes). This means 5 of 8 agree that a pass-rusher will be heading to Jacksonville.

What the fans want:

The three names mentioned at the top of the Jags readers mock on the team website are Mack, Watkins and Manziel. The most vocal support was for the two former names, Mack eventually edging out Watkins as the most popular pick.

Likely pick: Khalil Mack

The Jags don’t seem to be considering trading at all, they need to add more talent, and pass-rush seems to be the most pressing need for them. Although they could throw a curveball and pick up Manziel or Watkins, Mack seems to have the backing of writers, analysts and fans alike.

Pick 4 – Cleveland Browns

The big picture:

Cleveland are looking for their franchise quarterback in this draft. Coach Pettine has already said they might even pick two. The Browns beat writer has plumped for Derek Carr, explaining that the Raiders also have their eye on him, so if the Browns want to take him; it has to be at 4.

What the mock drafts say:

The NFL analysts have gone in a completely different direction here, with only one of them selecting a QB. 7 of 8 expect the Browns to wait on a QB and address a different need at number 4, by drafting Sammy Watkins.

What the fans want:

The general feeling among Browns fans is that they need a QB and a WR in the first round. If they take a QB first, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles are the names most mentioned. If they go WR first Sammy Watkins is the choice early on, with Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel mentioned for their pick at no.26.

Likely pick: Blake Bortles/Sammy Watkins

With the draft looking fairly deep at both quarterback and wide receiver, this decision could well come down to whether the Browns want to get their man early and not risk the Raiders stealing him away. With Nate Burleson and Josh Gordon already on the roster, a quarterback would be the sensible choice here. Watkins would give whoever the Browns start at QB another nice weapon to play with.

Pick 5 – Oakland Raiders

The big picture:

The hot topic surrounding Oakland’s No.5 pick is whether or not Matt Schaub will be their guy for the next few years. Some writers have questioned how effective he’ll be, and, of course, Johnny Manziel has been mentioned as possibly a better solution. Others have said the Raiders simply can’t afford to take a QB with pick 5, and have touted Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Sammy Watkins as better filling the Raiders positions of need. It’s worth noting that the entire Raiders coaching staff watched Derek Carr at his pro day, and are believed to be very interested in him.

What the mock drafts say:

3 of 8 analysts expect the Raiders to pull the trigger on a quarterback at 5 (Manziel or Blake Bortles), with another 3 plumping for the best Offensive Tackle available, be it Matthews or Robinson. Watkins and Khalil Mack are also mentioned.

What the fans want:

Most fans seem to be happy to use their early first-rounder on an impact player like Watkins or Manziel. Many believe the Raiders won’t use a pick this early on Derek Carr, and may well trade down to get him instead.

Likely pick: (TRADE DOWN) Derek Carr

This one rests mainly with what the Browns do with their pick. If they do follow through with their threat and take Carr off the board, the Raiders will give the fans a boost by drafting an exciting offensive playmaker. If Carr is still on the board here however, expect Oakland to look to trade down a few spots and pick him up. This is a prime spot for a team to trade up and take Watkins.

Pick 6 – Atlanta Falcons

The big picture:

Offensive line and pass-rush are the team’s two biggest needs, according to a blogger on the Falcons website. Tight end and safety are also positions mentioned, but the general feeling is that the first two rounds of Atlanta’s draft will be spent filling the biggest gaps.

What the mock drafts say:

Fitting this pattern, 7 of 8 analysts have picked an offensive tackle at 6 for the Falcons, with votes going to each of Taylor Lewan, Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson.

What the fans want:

According to a fan poll on the team website, Jadeveon Clowney (30%) and Khalil Mack (29%) head the way as fan favourites for the sixth pick. Behind these are Jake Matthews (23%) and Greg Robinson (14%).

Likely pick: Jake Matthews/Greg Robinson

This one seems fairly clear-cut. Clowney and Mack will likely be off the board by this point, leaving Atlanta to take whichever of the top 2 tackles remaining is left.

Pick 7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The big picture:

The Bucs inside man on the team website feels the team will target a wide receiver in the first round. He notes that they have addressed a lot of needs through free agency this year, and with the cap headroom getting ever smaller, they need to use the draft to good effect. There is a possibility they could trade down, with Brandin Cooks being the man in that scenario. If they stay at No.7 however, Mike Evans would most likely be the pick.

What the mock drafts say:

7 of 8 NFL analysts have gone for either Mike Evans (5 votes) or 3rd rated OT Taylor Lewan (2 votes) as the Bucs pick at 7. The Bucs have been working out all the top QB prospects, but it does seem more likely they will target a receiver with their early pick.

What the fans want:

The consensus among fans is that the team needs to draft a replacement for the traded Mike Williams, somebody to start opposite Vincent Jackson. Cooks, Evans and Sammy Watkins are the names which crop up most frequently in fan discussion.

Likely pick: Mike Evans/Sammy Watkins

If the Bucs are unable to find a deal to their liking to trade down, Mike Evans will probably be the 7th player picked in the draft. This is of course assuming that another team has taken Watkins in the top 6, which is by no means guaranteed. If he is still on the board, it’s unlikely the Bucs will let Watkins fall any further.

Pick 8 – Minnesota Vikings

The big picture:

As with the Browns at 4, the questions answered by the Vikings writer on the team website seem to be not whether the Vikings will take a QB at 8, but which one they will take. All the buzz is currently centred on Johnny Manziel, who seems to be the target for now. The writer says it is unlikely Minnesota will try and trade up for him, but the interest is definitely there.

What the mock drafts say:

Will the Vikings go for former Heisman winner Manziel?

4 of 8 analysts on NFL.com have got the Vikings taking the best QB available in this spot, whether it is Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Manziel. Two more have plumped for Khalil Mack, who would be the best player available on their boards. The remaining two have also gone for a linebacker.

What the fans want:

The feeling from Vikings fans on their team website is that they must draft one of the top QB prospects, and will likely claim one with the eighth pick. Should Manziel still be here, he is the fan favourite. If not, the feeling is they will go with the best player available, or possibly trade down.

Likely pick: Johnny Manziel

A franchise quarterback is the most pressing need for the Vikings in this draft, and if Johnny Football is still on the board, you can fully expect Minnesota to finally give him a home. If he’s already gone, then Bortles or Bridgewater should fill the gap. If all 3 are unavailable, the Vikes will take whoever is the best player still on the board.

Pick 9 – Buffalo Bills

The big picture:

The Bills beat writer believes they could go one of two ways with their first-round draft pick. They could either pick up an explosive WR or TE for EJ Manuel to work with, or a bruising offensive lineman to help them with the running game. If Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are gone, Taylor Lewan would be the pick in that scenario. As for weapons, look for the likes of Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and TE Eric Ebron to be in the conversation.

What the mock drafts say:

3 of 8 of the NFL analysts believe the Bills may look for help at linebacker with their early pick. With another four believing they will add either Evans or Ebron.

What the fans want:

According to a fan poll on the Bills website, an overwhelming majority (74%) of the fans would like to see the Bills draft an offensive tackle with the 9th pick. The majority of fans see this as the clearest position of need.

Likely pick: Taylor Lewan

Taking the opinions of the beat writer and the fans into account, the offensive line is a big need for Buffalo. As Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are likely to be gone, the Bills could well make Lewan the third tackle selected in the top 10.

Pick 10 – Detroit Lions

The big picture:

A writer for the Detroit News feels the Lions will keep all options open with their pick here. They will consider all positions apart from QB in the first round. The Lions VP of playing personnel has said the team are looking for ‘closers’, and players with ‘integrity’ and a ‘high-motor’. They want somebody who will walk straight into the team with their first pick. This could involve trading up for Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack. The writer feels that if the Lions were to take a defensive back, they would trade down for one.

What the mock drafts say:

 4 of the 8 analysts think the Lions will look to bolster their defense with either Justin Gilbert or Ha-Ha Clinton Dix here. Three of the others have gone for players on the offensive side of the ball.

What the fans want:

If the Lions stay at number 10, linebacker Anthony Barr and Gilbert are the two players with the most buzz from the fans. The team doesn’t have many pressing needs, but they feel outside linebacker is a position that needs some work.

Likely pick: Anthony Barr

This pick could go anywhere, with no obvious gaping hole for Detroit to fill; they could trade up and take one of the drafts biggest names, or trade down and take a defensive back later in the round. Assuming they stay at 10, all the biggest names should be off the board, and it feels like a bit of a reach for them to take a defensive back this early on. If they stick at 10, look for Barr to be their man.

Pick 11 – Tennessee Titans

Is it time to move on from Jake Locker?

The big picture:

The general consensus around the Titans media is that they will take a ‘best player available’ approach to their first-round pick. Having filled a lot of needs already in free agency, they are taking a loose approach here. After losing Chris Johnson and Alterraun Verner, Coach Whisenhunt has identified running back and cornerback as needs, but not necessarily ones he will look to fill in the first round.

What the mock drafts say:

5 of 8 pundits on NFL.com have the Titans selecting either Anthony Barr or Justin Gilbert with the 11th pick. The feeling seems to be that the Lions could take one of these players, and the Titans would take the other.

What the fans want:

A lot of the chatter on the Tennessee message boards is centred on whether they will stick with Jake Locker at quarterback. He’s coming into the final year of his contract, and it’s looking more and more likely that a couple of the top QB prospects in this draft could slide out of the top 10. The feeling is that if nobody has claimed Teddy Bridgewater by the time the Titans pick, it would be very difficult for them to pass him up. Quarterbacks aside, the fans want a pass-rusher.

Likely pick: Justin Gilbert/Teddy Bridgewater

This is by no means a clear-cut decision, and a lot would depend on who goes in the top 10 picks. Coach Whisenhunt has said he doesn’t expect to draft an RB or CB with his first pick, but that could just be smoke and mirrors. If they stick with their ‘best player available’ strategy, Justin Gilbert would fit the bill as well as filling a need. Don’t be too shocked if they do take one of the top QB’s off the board, though.

Pick 12 – New York Giants

The big picture:

The Giants chief writer on their website believes that they are very likely to add more offensive players before the season begins. He speaks highly of Eric Ebron, who seems to be the generally accepted main target for the Giants come draft day. The writer seems confident in the new offensive line, running backs and wide receivers, which leaves tight end as the only gap to fill in the offense.

What the mock drafts say:

The 8 NFL analysts have chosen 7 different players between them to go to the Giants. The only player voted for twice is linebacker CJ Mosley.

What the fans want:

A lot of fans would like to see another offensive weapon added with the Giants first pick. Eric Ebron and Mike Evans are the names most mentioned. Some have concerns over whether Jason Pierre-Paul has fully recovered from his injury, and would like to see the defensive line beefed up early on instead.

Likely pick: Eric Ebron

Tight end would appear to be the biggest gap on a team which has good players in most positions. Ebron would plug the gap in the offense and provide Eli Manning with a big target to hit next season.

Pick 13 – St. Louis Rams

The big picture:

What the Rams do with their second pick in the first round will depend a lot on what they do with the first pick. If they have taken an offensive lineman, as suggested, then they could look at a wide receiver like Marqise Lee with this one. Other areas that have been suggested are safety and cornerback. If the Rams take Sammy Watkins at 2, and one of the top 3 tackles are still on the board here, they may decide to fill that need.

What the mock drafts say:

6 of 8 NFL analysts have the Rams selecting a defensive back with the 13th pick, four of them naming safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

What the fans want:

The feeling from the forums is that after fixing the offensive line, the Rams need to take a good safety. Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are ranked as the top 2 safeties in the draft.

Likely pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

While not the most glamorous picks, if the Rams take an offensive tackle at 2, and throw in one of the top safeties here, they will be filling their needs in the first round. Clinton-Dix is likely to be available here, whereas the top tackles in the draft could be gone.

Pick 14 – Chicago Bears

The big picture:

The Bears defense has gone from one of the most fearsome units in the NFL to one of the most non-existent in a short space of time. They’ve added a couple of edge-rushers in free agency, and the feeling is they could look to draft a top defensive tackle to complement them, or strengthen the backfield, where they missed tackles left and right last season. This is likely to be a defensive draft for Chicago.

What the mock drafts say:

6 of 8 NFL analysts have the Bears taking a defensive tackle in the first round, with Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan mentioned. The other 2 have gone for defensive backs (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Justin Gilbert)

What the fans want:

Bears fans on their Facebook page generally agree that they need to pick up defensive players in the first few rounds. They are also after a backup QB with question marks over the long-term fitness of Jay Cutler. When it comes to who they should pick at No. 14, Donald appears to be the fan favourite.

Likely pick: Aaron Donald

Despite signing Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston in free agency, the Bears still need to strengthen what was a poor pass-rushing unit last season. You can expect them to take an interior defensive lineman at some point in the first 2 rounds, and Donald is currently the top prospect in that position for many people.

Pick 15 – Pittsburgh Steelers

The big picture:

Pittsburgh are on the lookout for two things first and foremost in this draft; a big, physical wide receiver, and a cornerback. The draft is deep at the wide receiver position, so the Steelers may wait until a later round to fill that need, and take a cornerback first.

What the mock drafts say:

7 of 8 pundits have the Steelers drafting a cornerback in Round 1, with five of them plumping for Darqueze Dennard.

What the fans want:

The agreement among Steelers fans is that they will take a cornerback in the first round. They see a likely situation of somebody like Dennard coming in and learning the ropes from Ike Taylor. The other positions of note on the forums are wide receiver and offensive tackle.

Likely pick: Darqueze Dennard

It’s difficult to argue with the majority opinion on this one. With the draft being flush with receivers, and the top 3 tackles likely to be long gone by this point, a cornerback would be the sensible choice for Pittsburgh’s first pick.

Pick 16 – Dallas Cowboys

The big picture:

From reading a few blog posts from Cowboy’s writers on their website, the feeling is Dallas need defensive help from this draft. While many stick to the idea of a ‘best player available’ selection, unless somebody like OT Taylor Lewan is still available, it’s likely to be a defensive player. With that in mind, look for the best defensive player available to go off the board here. There is also a possibility they will look to trade down if there is a big offensive player still on the board that another team is desperate for.

What the mock drafts say:

All 8 analysts have the Cowboys beefing up their defense at a range of positions, with 3 votes for safety Calvin Pryor, 2 for linebacker Anthony Barr, and 2 for defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

What the fans want:

Most fans echo the sentiments of the writers and analysts, pointing out that the defense needs the most work, but if somebody like Johnny Manziel or Mike Evans is available, they cannot be ignored. A lot of fans would like to see a defensive lineman or a safety drafted first and foremost.

Likely pick: Calvin Pryor/Aaron Donald

If the Bears pass on Donald at 14, it’s unlikely he’ll get past Dallas here. If he is no longer available, Calvin Pryor would fit the bill to round off the first half of the first round. If no standout defensive players are available, expect Dallas to try and trade down.

Pick 17 – Baltimore Ravens

The big picture:

A Ravens Staff Writer on the team’s website says that Baltimore have addressed their most pressing needs already this offseason, and they can be flexible with their first pick in the draft. The only areas he singles out as still having gaps are the offensive line and the secondary.

What the mock drafts say:

The analysts seem to agree with this line of thought, with no strong agreement on any position. There are three votes for safety Calvin Pryor, two for tight end Eric Ebron, two for offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, and one for nose tackle Timmy Jernigan.

What the fans want:

A fan poll on the Ravens website is weighted towards the safety (36%) and offensive tackle (33%) positions. Pryor is the only recurring name on fans minds, with others suggesting Baltimore will trade down unless a big name slides their way.

Likely pick: Zack Martin/Calvin Pryor

If Pryor is still on the board, the Ravens are likely to snap him up. Should he be gone however, and they stay at 17, OT Martin may be their guy. The drop in class from the top 3 OT’s to the next string is smaller than the drop in talent after the top 2 safeties have gone. This could point to the Ravens taking an OT first.

Pick 18 – New York Jets

The big picture:

WR is a need for Jets. Beckham could fit that need.

The Jets have added to their offense with a few high-profile moves in free agency, bringing in Mike Vick, Eric Decker and Chris Johnson. While this has filled a few gaps, the impression from the writers is that the Jets still need to draft another wide receiver, with current No. 2 Jeremy Kerley seen as a slot receiver. They could also use some help in the secondary, to strengthen what was a below-par pass defense last season.

What the mock drafts say:

5 of 8 NFL pundits believe the Jets will draft a receiver in the first round, with Odell Beckham Jr, Marqise Lee and Brandin Cooks all mentioned.

What the fans want:

According to a poll on the Jets website, almost half (49%) of fans would like to see the Jets pick up a wide receiver with the 18th pick. The next highest positions are cornerback (28%) and tight end (13%).

Likely pick: Odell Beckham Jr.

In truth, any of the above named receivers could equally be picked by the Jets here, depending which one they rank the highest. Beckham Jr. has worked previously with the Jets special teams co-ordinator, which could help tip the balance his way.

Pick 19 – Miami Dolphins

The big picture:

The Dolphins two biggest needs heading into the draft are on the offensive line, and the run-stuffing game. The line is the biggest need, according to a blogger on the team website. Miami could, like most teams in the second half of the draft, look to trade down and acquire more picks.

What the mock drafts say:

6 of 8 analysts have the Dolphins selecting an offensive lineman with the 19th pick, with four of them naming Zack Martin. CB Bradley Roby and LB CJ Mosley are also mentioned.

What the fans want:

A lot of fans would like to see Miami pick up a lineman or two in later rounds, and instead draft a prominent run-stuffer, usually in the form of Mosley. The feeling is that with the other teams in the division featuring run-heavy offenses, having a quality linebacker to stop them is top priority for their first round pick.

Likely pick: CJ Mosley/Zack Martin

If Martin is still available, the Dolphins aren’t likely to let him go much further. Mosley would be a crowd-pleaser, and fit into a defense that needs to be tough on the ground next season.

Pick 20 – Arizona Cardinals

The big picture:

According to a writer on the Cardinals website, one of their top needs for the future is a pass-rushing linebacker, with John Abraham coming into the last year of his contract. Anthony Barr, Ryan Shazier and Dee Ford are mentioned as distinct possibilities for the No. 20 pick. Safety is another position they could look at, with Calvin Pryor being the more likely of the top 2 guys to be available.

What the mock drafts say:

The NFL analysts believe Arizona will take a ‘best player available’ approach, two have selected a QB, two a DE, two a CB, one LB, and one an OT.

What the fans want:

There is vocal support for Ryan Shazier on the Cardinals message boards, but the fans also seem to agree that if any of the Top 3 QB’s should fall to them, they should snap him up.

Likely pick: Ryan Shazier

Shazier would be a good fit for the Cardinals as a young linebacker who can learn plenty from Abraham in his rookie year, then go on to give the Cardinals a good few years afterwards.

Pick 21 – Green Bay Packers

The big picture:

Safety is the biggest concern for the Packers right now. The buzz around the blogs on the website is that this position has to be foremost in the draft, but not necessarily first. The drop off in talent after Clinton-Dix and Pryor may mean that the Packers go with a simple best available strategy in the first round.

What the mock drafts say:

3 of 8 pundits have the Packers taking CJ Mosley with their first pick. Another three have gone for TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, with lingering questions over the health of Jermichael Finley.

What the fans want:

A lot of fans are eager to grab a safety in the first round, although the bloggers argue that anyone other than the top 2 would be a big reach to take at No.21. Other than safety, linebacker and defensive lineman are the positions fans would most like to see filled in the first round.

Likely pick: Austin Seferian-Jenkins/Timmy Jernigan

Assuming the top safeties and linebackers are off limits at this point, and barring a big reach for safety Jimmie Ward, either of these players would make sense for Green Bay.

Pick 22 – Philadelphia Eagles

The big picture:

The Eagles need to strengthen in two positions initially in this draft, in the secondary, and most notably, at wide receiver. The loss of both DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant leaves only Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, recovering from a big injury, as clear starters for Philly. On the defensive side, the front 7 is certainly serviceable, but the Eagles struggled to keep teams from throwing over the top of them last season.

What the mock drafts say:

5 of 8 analysts have gone for a wide receiver here, with two more expecting the Eagles to take a cornerback. WR Kelvin Benjamin is the only player with multiple votes.

What the fans want:

Aside from the top safeties, who should be long gone by now, the main names on the lips of Eagles fans are Benjamin, Marqise Lee, Odell Beckham and Bradley Roby. The feeling is most fans would like to see a replacement for Jackson drafted, preferably a tall, physical receiver to give Nick Foles a target in the redzone.

Likely pick: Kelvin Benjamin/Bradley Roby

Benjamin has a lot of qualities that the Eagles need in a receiver. They may even pick up more receivers later in the draft, with plenty of bodies required to run Coach Kelly’s famously up-tempo offense. If they decide to wait on a receiver, Bradley Roby could be the guy to help out the secondary.

Pick 23 – Kansas City Chiefs

The big picture:

With Jamaal Charles carrying the majority of the offense himself last season, the Chiefs will look to supplement him through this draft. With regards to the first round, there is a good chance they could take a wide receiver, should there be a strong enough one left on the board. The offensive line also needs work, along with a few spots on the defense.

Marquise Lee

What the mock drafts say:

7 of 8 votes from analysts went to the best wide receiver available, with Odell Beckham, Marqise Lee and Brandin Cooks all mentioned.

What the fans want:

A lot of Chiefs fans advocate bringing in another set of hands to play opposite Dwayne Bowe on the outside, to take some of the workload and defensive attention away from Jamaal Charles. Most of the receivers projected to go in the first round have support, but Cooks seems to have the slight edge in their preference.

Likely pick: Marqise Lee

The general feeling is that the Chiefs will go after the best receiver available in this spot, unless a blockbuster defensive player or offensive lineman slides this far into the round.

Pick 24 – Cincinatti Bengals

The big picture:

Cincinatti are still looking to add a pass-rusher, according to an editor on the team’s website. After losing Michael Johnson in free agency, the defensive line needs another piece adding to it. While the Bengals don’t have any urgent needs for a day one starter in the draft, they may well look to shore up a few positions and add depth. They are also on the lookout for a backup to Andy Dalton.

What the mock drafts say:

5 of 8 pundits see the Bengals drafting a cornerback, with four votes for Bradley Roby. The other three also predict Cincinatti drafting defensively in the first round, with a strong front 7 being all-important in the division.

What the fans want:

Fans on the Bengals forum have picked out cornerback and both lines as areas to strengthen in the draft. As far as names for their first-round pick go, Ra’Shede Hageman, Kony Ealy and Bradley Roby lead the way.

Likely pick: Kony Ealy/Bradley Roby

The most important thing surrounding the Bengals late first-rounder is that nobody wants them to reach for a lower ranked player, as they have no pressing needs. Look for them to draft defensively, either at cornerback, or by adding mass to the front 7.

Pick 25 – San Diego Chargers

The big picture:

The biggest sore spot for the Chargers going into the draft is at cornerback. This is the position that has been picked out most often by fans, writers and analysts alike. San Diego could also use more pass-rushers, either on the line or at linebacker.

What the mock drafts say:

The analysts are split on this one, with four selecting cornerback Kyle Fuller, and another three going for a pass-rush threat. The remaining pundit has gone for wide receiver Marqise Lee.

What the fans want:

Kyle Fuller and Jason Verrett dominate the majority of chatter amongst Chargers fans. The consensus is they want to draft a defensive player who will start straight away with their first round pick. There is also support for defensive tackle Louis Nix.

Likely pick: Kyle Fuller

The Chargers could kill two birds with one stone here, with Fuller being touted as a very good cornerback who can also blitz well. Like the Bengals before them, expect San Diego to go defense with pick 25.

Pick 26 – Cleveland Browns

The big picture:

The Browns second pick of the first round will of course depend heavily on what they do with the first. If they decide to pass on a quarterback, they will almost certainly take one here, with Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr looking likely to slide to the lower end of the first round. If the Browns have already filled the need under centre, they could look to draft a wide receiver should there be any big names left on the board here.

What the mock drafts say:

Could Carr be the QB answer for the Browns?

All 8 NFL analysts believe the Browns will wait on a quarterback early on and pick one up here, be it Bridgewater, Carr or even Manziel.

What the fans want:

The general feeling among Browns fans is that they need a QB and a WR in the first round. If they take a QB first, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles are the names most mentioned. If they go WR first Sammy Watkins is the choice early on, with Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel mentioned for their pick at no.26.

Likely pick: Derek Carr/Brandin Cooks

Whichever position the Browns pick at 4, it’s almost certain they will take the other here. With the draft deep at both positions, it’s difficult to predict which way round they will go. If the Raiders do trade down and pick up Carr, Bridgewater may still be available here. Cooks and Marqise Lee are the most likely receivers to be available this late in the round.

Pick 27 – New Orleans Saints

The big picture:

A lot of the Saints buzz seems to be around helping Drew Brees, both by beefing up his protection and giving him more targets to shoot at. Cornerback is another area New Orleans will be hoping to improve, along with the defensive line, but many big players at these positions are projected to be gone by the time the Saints pick.

What the mock drafts say:

4 of 8 analysts have the Saints picking a defensive lineman in round 1, with another three going for a wide receiver. Dee Ford and Brandin Cooks are the players with multiple votes (two each).

What the fans want:

Most fans would like to see a wide receiver drafted early, followed by defensive help in the second or third round. Odell Beckham has a vocal backing on the Saints website, although he is likely to be off the board.

Likely pick: Brandin Cooks/Jason Verrett

Taking wide receiver and cornerback as their two biggest needs, either of these players would fit for New Orleans. Cooks could still be available here, and Verrett is a cover corner which the Saints are coveting early on in the draft.

Pick 28 – Carolina Panthers

The big picture:

Similarly to New Orleans before them, the Panthers are looking for help for their quarterback. Offensive line and wide receiver have been pegged as their two biggest needs, perhaps unsurprisingly given the talent they have on the defense. The main question is whether there will be any projected first-round receivers left, or whether they will choose to begin the second wave of O-linemen.

What the mock drafts say:

7 of 8 analysts project Carolina taking a wide receiver with the first pick. Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham get multiple votes, with Marqise Lee and Davante Adams also mentioned.

What the fans want:

Panthers fans are fairly split on which position to take first. The general opinion is that the receivers available at the back end of the first round would be more valuable than the linemen after the Top 3 are taken. They don’t rule out taking a lineman here though, with Cyrus Kouandjio and Morgan Moses receiving healthy backing.

Likely pick: Cyrus Kouandjio/Brandin Cooks

This is the third team in a row that could have an eye on Cooks, so don’t expect him to go any lower than this. While taking Kouandjio would be a bit of a reach here, it would still be less of a reach than going for any of the receivers outside the bigger names. Should Cooks, Lee or Beckham still be available however, Carolina will take a long hard look at them.

Pick 29 – New England Patriots

The big picture:

New England are in need of pass-rushers and a new TE, after the Aaron Hernandez debacle. The depth behind Rob Gronkowski is pretty slim. The writers on the Patriots website feel the team will go in one of these directions with their first-round pick. Ra’Shede Hageman, Kony Ealy, Dee Ford and Louis Nix feature as defensive names, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and even a converted Kelvin Benjamin are in the discussion at tight end.

What the mock drafts say:

All 8 of the NFL pundits believe the Pats will draft somewhere along the defensive line, with Hageman, Ford, Nix and Stephon Tuitt all receiving mentions.

What the fans want:

The feeling among fans discussing the draft is that there is more depth overall for pass-rushers than there is for tight ends. A large portion of them would rather fill their tight end need straight away then take pass-rushers later in the draft. Kelvin Benjamin is being hotly debated over for pick 29, should he still be on the board.

Likely pick: Ra’Shede Hageman

You could make a case for all the above names being taken, but the feeling is that the Pats need for pass-rushers outweighs the tight end problem. They may take more than one player for their front 7 in this draft, so don’t be too shocked if they open with one.

Pick 30 – San Francisco 49ers

The big picture:

The 49ers have 6 picks in the top 100 in this draft, which makes them a prime candidate to move up in the first round. They’re on the lookout for a cornerback and a wide receiver, which means they could be in the market to move up high in the first round and look at Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans. If they stick at 30 and no first-round receivers are left, they will likely take a cornerback.

What the mock drafts say:

5 of 8 pundits have the 49ers pegged to take a cornerback if they stay in this spot. The other 3 have gone for front 7 players, which means all 8 say the Niners will go defensive if they stick with the 30th pick.

What the fans want:

Most fans advocate trading up for either Watkins or Evans, believing the team can package enough picks to make a trade work. If they stay put, fans would like to see Kelvin Benjamin in red and gold this season.

Likely pick: (TRADE UP – Sammy Watkins/Mike Evans)

It’s difficult to ignore the number of picks San Fran have, and many would argue the most sensible thing to do, in a draft of depth, is to use a couple of picks to move up and grab a true blockbuster talent. Keep a very close eye on the 49ers early on in the evening. If they don’t trade up, look for Kyle Fuller or Jason Verrett to be the guy.

Pick 31 – Denver Broncos

The big picture:

Last season didn’t quite manage the fairytale ending Broncos fans would have been hoping for, and their challenge this offseason has been to find the last few pieces to make the final step. With the clock ticking on Peyton Manning, they need to find players that will allow them to win sooner rather than later. After a very busy free agency, the main positions to address in the draft for Denver are in the secondary and the offensive line.

What the mock drafts say:

5 of 8 pundits expect Denver to bolster their offensive line with the 31st pick, Xavier Sua-Filo is the man with the most votes. Ryan Shazier, Kony Ealy and Jason Verrett are mentioned as possible defensive options.

What the fans want:

Broncos fans feel this will be a defensive draft, with the wealth of talent available on the offense. Many think Denver will draft a cornerback in either the first or second round, and will add to the offensive line later on.

Likely pick: Xavier Su’a-Filo/Jason Verrett

The Broncos are coveting a good cornerback to provide both depth and competition in the position, but with a lot of good linemen still expected to be available, they may decide to fill that need first.

Pick 32 – Seattle Seahawks

The big picture:

Last season’s champions have a tough task on their hands as they aim to be the first team to win back-to-back Superbowls. The no-nonsense defense that saw them through last season doesn’t throw up too many concerns, so Seattle may well look to bolster the offensive side of the ball with the final pick of the first round. Tight end and offensive line have been earmarked as needs by the writers and bloggers.

What the mock drafts say:

6 of 8 mock drafters have an offensive lineman joining the current champs, with the other two naming Ra’Shede Hageman and Kelvin Benjamin.

What the fans want:

A lot of Seahawks fans are backing a wide receiver for their first-round pick, with a lot of their current crop heading towards the end of their contracts. There is a lot of support on the fan forums for WR Cody Latimer, who hasn’t been given much press so far.

Likely pick: Xavier Su’a-Filo

There should be a wealth of good receivers still available later in the draft for Seattle to pick up, so an offensive lineman would make sense for them with No. 32. Expect them to draft one position or the other depending on who is still around at the end of the round.

So that’s one version of how things could shake out. You’ll find that every man and his dog has an opinion to give when it comes to this, and nobody ever knows which will be right. Draft boards are one of the most closely-guarded secrets in the NFL. Enjoy the draft, and I hope your team picks all future pro-bowlers!

This OTI piece was written by Mike Flynn. Mike is from Bedford, England. A huge fan of the most popular team in Philadelphia, the Eagles, but he honestly says he has never booed at Santa. He’s always looking for more people to chat NFL with, and you can find him on Twitter @Flynny403!

 

The Brod View: NFL Mock Draft #3

All will be revealed May 8th in NYC

May 8 is rapidly approaching as many teams are finalising their draft boards. Yet here on The Brod View, the draft board has once again changed quite significantly. Nobody has dropped out of my top ten, but within that top ten there are seven changes in order of selection. I think what my mock draft has accomplished is basically stating the obvious: It’s too unpredictable!

Anyway, typical mock draft rules apply here with no trades being included. Also, I am only giving analysis to my top ten, and then I will feature the other 22 picks of the draft in a list for you to discuss.

You can read my last mock draft click here

With the 1st pick in the 2014 draft…….

THE TOP TEN

1              Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney (DE) (No Change) I don’t think there can possibly be anything else left to discuss about this young man. He is the top talent of the draft according to many and he should be drafted accordingly. There could be a couple of QBs that could dethrone him on draft day in the form of Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, but I highly doubt that will happen.

2              St Louis Rams: Jake Matthews (OT) (Up 4) Again, not much can be said other than St Louis are likely to trade down. In the scenario they don’t though, we have seen a swap on who is the number one offensive lineman of the draft – paralleling last year’s draft. Some pundits believe that Matthews might be better than Greg Robinson, who previously occupied this position. Furthermore, and off tangent to the OT discussion, if St Louis doesn’t negotiate a trade, they could be very tempted to draft Sammy Watkins.

3              Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel (QB) (Up 5) Here’s Johnny! I am not fully certain that Manziel will be drafted in as the top QB, let alone at number three in the draft, but many believe that he is heading to Florida. Coach Gus Bradley is a defense-minded head coach and therefore I used to think the Jags will draft Khalil Mack. Yet the franchise is begging for a quarterback or someone with star power that can catapult their popularity. This is a business move, not a football move.

4              Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins (WR) (No Change) Like Clowney, everything that has been said about Watkins has already been regurgitated many times before. The same applies to Cleveland’s strategy as they will aim to draft a QB with pick 26 and then a running back in the second round. Obvious and boring, the only thing that could jeopardise the Browns’ draft is if Watkins is selected by the Rams and that the top four QBs will go before their next pick.

5              Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack (LB) (Down 2) Sorry to blaspheme but the phrase “God only knows” is the only thing apt that can be said when it comes to this organisation. Until recently I felt certain that the Raiders would draft Blake Bortles but then they signed Matt Schaub. And with everything this organisation has said as well as the money invested in the failed QB from Houston, then I see them drafting Mack – the top available talent. This is usually a good thing but Oakland really need to cater to team needs throughout this draft.

6              Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson (OT) (Down 4) “It is boring to select offensive lineman, but undoubtedly Matthews is a top tier talent that Atlanta need.” – That’s what I said last time and all you need to do is just replace Matthews with Robinson. Either way, the Falcons will leave May 8 with a top O-Line talent. Unexciting but necessary.

7              Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans (WR) (Up 2) With Mike Williams departing the franchise via a trade, the Buccaneers will be looking to add some offensive weapons. Every pundit that I have read believes that the Bucs will pick Evans but I reckon they could be up for trading down considering this is a receiver heavy draft.

8              Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles (QB) (Down 3) Minnesota could either select Bortles or Bridgewater at this point. I have only gone for Bortles in this scenario because I believe that he will be considered the second best QB in this draft. With the Raiders going for Mack in my scenario— it does lead to Minnesota having several options here when it comes to filling an empty place in their depth chart.

9              Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr (LB) (Down 2) With Mike Evans moving up in the draft order, the Bills could either select a tight end or a SAM LB. I reckon they will look to strengthen up their linebackers and Barr will be an excellent addition to their ranks.

10           Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert (CB) (No Change) They need a corner back. They will get a corner back. They will end up with the top corner back. End of that discussion.

THE REST OF THE PICKS

11 Tennesse Titans Ha Ha Clinton Dix S Up 2
12 New York Giants Eric Ebron TE No Change
13 St Louis Rams Calvin Pryor S Up 2
14 Chicago Bears Timmy Jernigan NT No Change
15 Pittsburgh Steelers Darqueze Dennard CB Down 4
16 Dallas Cowboys Aaron Donald DT No Change
17 Baltimore Ravens Taylor Lewan OT Up Round
18 New York Jets Marqise Lee WR No Change
19 Miami Dolphins Zack Martin OT Down 2
20 Arizona Cardinals Bradley Roby CB No Change
21 Green Bay Packers CJ Mosley LB No Change
22 Phildelphia Eagles Kelvin Benjamin WR Up 10
23 Kansas City Chiefs Odell Beckham WR No Change
24 Cincinnati Bengals Louis Nix NT Up 1
25 San Diego Chargers Kyle Fuller CB Down 3
26 Cleveland Browns Teddy Bridgewater QB No Change
27 New Orleans Saints Brandin Cooks WR Up 1
28 Carolina Panthers Davante Adams WR Up Round
29 New England Patriots Ra’Shede Hageman DE Up Round
30 San Francisco 49ers Jason Verrett CB No Change
31 Denver Broncos Xavier Su’a Filo OG Down 12
32 Seattle Seahawks Morgan Moses OT Up Round

 

This piece was written by Broderick Sutherland. Broderick is from Bath, UK and he is a massive New York Giants fan. He has recently started a blog that covers a variety of sports called Armchair Analyst. Follow him @BrodSutherland. And visit armchairanalystblog.wordpress.com

 

 

The Brod View: Picking Between Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel

One of the bigger stories leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft is which quarterback will be drafted first. All three of the quarterbacks in the contention, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel have all previously been considered to be the number one overall pick of the draft. Unfortunately, for all three men, it is starting to look like the Houston Texans they are going to draft Jadaveon Clowney at that number one position.

These three men were all considered top five picks at one point considering that Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland all require a QB. Moreover, the St Louis Rams are also considering trading down from their number two pick and a team like the Minnesota Vikings could climb the draft order.

Yet the three quarterbacks in question have had questions raised about their attitudes and performances in events like the scouting combine in Indianapolis or their pro days. Every pundit in the NFL are rating and slating the quarterbacks; evidence of which is seen in the mock drafts.

I have already produced two mock drafts for the first round. In the first draft I had Manziel at three (Jacksonville), Bortles (Oakland) at five and Bridgewater at eight (Minnesota). In the second draft I had Bortles at five, Manziel at eight and Bridgewater at 26 (Cleveland).

Could Bortles go #1 overall?

Even then I am not fully confident on my own analysis of what will happen in the draft. Bortles to Oakland always look set to happen until Reggie McKenzie decided to sign Matt Schaub from Houston. With the likes of Schaub and McGloin at the Raiders, there may not be a place for the QB from UCF.

Johnny “Football” Manziel is arguably the most popular choice of the quarterbacks. He looked like a guy who would go at number one but as mentioned earlier it looks like the Texans will be selecting Clowney. Cleveland are clearly interested in Sammy Watkins and will be looking to draft a QB either at 26 or in the second round. Jacksonville is still a valid option as they desperately need a QB, but one wonders if they are going to sign a defensive player—after all Bradley does like a tough defense.

And Bridgewater, the original number one pick, could be up for a massive fall in this year’s draft. Some critics are even suggesting that he could go behind Derek Carr, since Cleveland are rumoured on recruiting him at 26. Bridgewater still could be a top ten pick if teams choose by need rather than talent—but that is enough to have cause for concern.

So where has it all gone wrong for the top quarterbacks of the 2014 draft class. I would argue that Bortles is the most complete player in the draft. The QB from UCF has drawn comparisons with two time Super Bowl winner, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. That is not to say Bortles has some issues to iron out—he, like Roethlisberger, tends to hold on to the ball for quite a long time, something which cannot be done in today’s NFL.

Bortles has been a consistent and calm performer and that’s why he probably hasn’t shot up to number one, but at the same time, has not fallen below the top five.

Manziel is the most marketable player in the NFL draft and that is the only reason why I cannot see him dropping down lower than eight in the draft. Any business minded general manager would probably aim to get his services; it’s why the Jaguars wanted him for a long time because they desperately need to put bums to seats.

Yet I think Manziel could be a bust in the NFL. He needs to play in a West Coast system to thrive. He’s very small and needs to escape the pocket a lot and therefore he needs a strong O-line to accommodate him. Furthermore the guy could not do play action in college. I will defend his attitude in some senses though, because despite some big questions over it, he has performed well in front of scouts both physically and mentally.

Bridgewater has shown why scouts have every right to be concerned. A lack of willingness at the combine plus a dismal display at his pro day has put the Louisville QB down in everybody’s mock draft. Although top NFL scouts understand that you cannot solely judge a player based on a pro day and combines but on game footage too. If it were just down to game footage, then one would recognise he possesses the ability of a number one overall pick. Furthermore everybody knows he has great arm strength and accuracy and he knows how to win.

Yet to reiterate the point, he blew his opportunity to convince scouts that he is the best quarterback in the draft class by failing to ace his pro day—that will prove costly for Bridgewater.

It seems like a near impossibility to pick between the three quarterbacks. All have major upsides and some significant downsides. I think Bortles would be best suited for a franchise that just needs someone who can be consistent and can adapt easily to situations. Manziel would be best suited for a franchise that needs reenergizing and Bridgewater would be best suited for a franchise that needs a man who really knows how to win games.

By that analysis alone though, it’s pretty suggestive that it’s hard to decide who the best quarterback is but if I was a struggling franchise then Bortles would be my guy.

 This piece was written by Broderick Sutherland. Broderick is from Bath, UK and he is a massive New York Giants fan. He has recently started a blog that covers a variety of sports called Armchair Analyst. Follow him @BrodSutherland. And visit armchairanalystblog.wordpress.com

The Brod View: NFL Mock Draft #2

The free agency market has shaken up what teams might or might not do in this year’s draft. And since the one I wrote for Overtime Ireland last month there have been four changes to my top ten picks. Not only that but the current draft order that I envisage sees one new entrant to that top ten as well as one quarterback dropping down.

And like with many mock drafts, I have not included any potential trades that could occur within the draft (e.g. even though we expect the St Louis Rams to trade down their second overall pick and Robinson to go slightly later in the draft, we are following the current draft order. Also I will not any changes of position between the first and second mock draft here in The Brod View.

You can see my first mock draft here.

THE TOP TEN

1              Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney (DE) (No Change) 

Clowney should be #1 overall

After an unbelievably good pro day and with the signing of veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, it is highly unlikely that the Texans will look elsewhere in this draft for the first overall pick. Clowney and Watt as a pass-rush combo will be too good to pass up for new Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien. Factor in that the QBs in this draft class are being viewed in a lesser light than a month ago, then it is seems certain that the Texans will draft Clowney.

 

 

2              St Louis Rams: Greg Robinson (OT) (No Change)

 The Rams will probably trade down in order to get more draft picks. Therefore I am just basing this pick purely on team need and that is the top OL talent in this draft, Greg Robinson. Although, it is a huge possibility that the Rams could keep this pick and add Watkins as their WR and have a new explosive receiving corps which they desperately need.

3              Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack (LB) (Up 4) 

Khalil Mack has seen a massive surge of interest over the past couple of months, so much so that he could very well be a top five pick in the draft. The Jaguars’ Head Coach Gus Bradley is a defensive minded person and I reckon he will be more tempted to boost his defense than work on a QB talent like Johnny Manziel.

4              Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins (WR) (No Change) 

The top receiver of this draft has compared himself to current Baltimore Ravens receiver Torrey Smith. Yet there will still be the odd comparison with Calvin Johnson as many experts believe Watkins will have a huge impact on the NFL from day one. Cleveland will look to bring him in to add to a pretty good receiving corps.

5              Oakland Raiders: Blake Bortles(QB) (No Change) 

Even though the Raiders front office signed former Texans QB Matt Schaub and proclaimed that he could very well be their franchise QB for the next few years, I will say it again; Don’t trust the Raiders front office. I expect Bortles to be the first QB to be off the board in this draft and Oakland seems like the perfect match.

6              Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews (OT) (No Change) 

It is boring to select offensive lineman, but undoubtedly Matthews is a top tier talent that Atlanta need. Matt Ryan was sacked way too often last season and this franchise desperately needs to strengthen their O-line. It also would not surprise me if Atlanta will look to improve their defense instead.

7              Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr (LB) (Up 2) 

Barr is a Top 10 talent

With Khalil Mack going to the Jaguars in this mock draft, I expect the Buccaneers front office to go for the next best linebacker on the board which is Anthony Barr. They have a need there and quite a lot of people believe he is worthy of a top ten pick.

8              Minnesota Vikings: Johnny Manziel (QB) (Down 5) 

Last time round I had Manziel as the number one QB in this draft with him going to the Jaguars. People still believe he could be the number one pick but with Clowney nearly cementing his position and with the rise of Mack has seen Manziel falling all the way down to eight. Minnesota could be a good fit for the rookie though as he has a lot of talent on that offense with Peterson, Jennings and Patterson.

9              Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans (WR) (Up 4) 

With Mack and Barr both rising in this mock draft, it leaves the Bills selecting Mike Evans- arguably the second best receiver of the draft. The Bills are lacking in terms of offensive talent in my opinion and it will be refreshing to see someone like Evans shake things up in Buffalo.

10           Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert (CB) (No Change)

Detroit have a need for this position and he’s the number one talent at that position heading into the draft. Moreover he will be a necessity to a Detroit backfield considering the team has to heavily rely on their offensive talents.” – The Brod View, Mock Draft #1. It’s seemingly rude to quote yourself but I just think this pick is almost certain to happen.

THE REST OF THE PICKS

11 Tennesse Titans Darqueze Dennard CB Up Round
12 New York Giants Eric Ebron TE Up 9
13 St Louis Rams Ha Ha Clinton Dix S Down 2
14 Chicago Bears Timmy Jernigan NT No Change
15 Pittsburgh Steelers Calvin Pryor S No Change
16 Dallas Cowboys Aaron Donald DT No Change
17 Baltimore Ravens Zack Martin OT No Change
18 New York Jets Marqise Lee WR No Change
19 Miami Dolphins Xavier Su’a Filo OG Up Round
20 Arizona Cardinals Bradley Roby CB Up 2
21 Green Bay Packers CJ Mosley LB Down 1
22 Phildelphia Eagles Kyle Fuller CB Up Round
23 Kansas City Chiefs Odell Beckham WR No Change
24 Cincinnati Bengals Dee Ford DE Up 3
25 San Diego Chargers Louis Nix NT No Change
26 Cleveland Browns Teddy Bridgewater QB Down 18
27 New Orleans Saints Kony Ealy DE Up Round
28 Carolina Panthers Brandin Cooks WR No Change
29 New England Patriots Stephon Tuitt DE Up Round
30 San Francisco 49ers Jason Verrett CB Down 6
31 Denver Broncos Ryan Shazier LB Up Round
32 Seattle Seahawks Kelvin Benjamin WR No Change

 

This piece was written by Broderick Sutherland. Broderick is from Bath, UK and he is a massive New York Giants fan. He has recently started a blog that covers a variety of sports called Armchair Analyst. Follow him @BrodSutherland. And visit armchairanalystblog.wordpress.com

 

The Brod View: Best Free Agency Signings by Division

With the free agency market coming down from its busy period (a.k.a the first few days), I thought I should provide a list with my favourite free agency signing for each division. We have had some brilliant signings, shrewd roster management as well as some totally bizarre and ridiculous decisions from some “fine” footballing minds (a.k.a. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie).

Revis will play with the Patriots in 2014

AFC East: Darelle Revis (CB) to New England Patriots (Former team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Many people have said that Revis’ move to the Buccaneers was a disaster because he didn’t live up to being the best corner in the game. The fact of the matter is that his statistics last season showed a similar sort of performance to his last full season with the Jets – if only slightly worse. That’s not too shabby considering he was in a new system and he was part of an underperforming defense. Patriots have definitely made a great signing here to replace the outbound Aqib Talib.

AFC North: Donte Whitner (SS) to Cleveland Browns (Former team: San Francisco 49ers)
Whitner is a solid defensive back and he was pretty good for the impressive 49ers defense last season. I think it could be a tough season for him as he does have to fill T J Ward’s shoes as a safety but I think he can cope with that expectations. He will also be buoyed by the knowledge that a lot of focus will be on his new team’s offense which can ease the pressure on his new role.

AFC South: Red Bryant (DE) to Jacksonville Jaguars (Former team: Seattle Seahawks)
The Jaguars front office has made two smart decisions this offseason by recruiting Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, two members of the legendary pass rush from the Seahawks last season. It’s not the most surprising of signings however, as these two men worked with head coach Gus Bradley, when Bradley was their defensive coordinator in Seattle.

AFC West: Aqib Talib (CB) to Denver Broncos (Former team: New England Patriots)
A lot of talk this free agency has been about the “arms race” between the Broncos and the Patriots. And if there was a winner of this “arms race” then it would be the Broncos—Aqib Talib’s signing epitomises this as he left the Patriots to join Elway’s dream team. Talib is one of the best corners in the game but there will be questions over his fitness and whether he can play a full season or not.

NFC East: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB) to New York Giants (Former team: Denver Broncos)
Giants GM Jerry Reese has been one shrewd general manager this free agency period. With limited cap room, the Giants have made some promising signings and the man known as DRC is the biggest of Reese’s signings. The Giants desperately needed help in the corner position and he will help alongside new recruit Walter Thurmond.

Sack master Allen has gone to the Bears

NFC North: Jared Allen (DE) to Chicago Bears (Former team: Minnesota Vikings)
Switching sides within in the division for the sake of money will make any player look rather unfavourable—just ask Brett Favre. Although Allen’s signing is essential for the Bears’ defensive line after the loss of Julius Peppers to their divisional rival, the Green Bay Packers. The veteran defensive end will have question marks over his age and productivity but he did show last season that he can still hang with the best.

NFC South: Jairus Byrd (SS) to New Orleans Saints (Former team: Buffalo Bills)
The “Around the League” guys from NFL.com put Byrd as their favourite free agent from this free agency period and it was not long before the Saints snatched him from the rest of the league. Byrd was fantastic for the Bills last season and I expect he will work well with youngster Kenny Vaccaro under Rob Ryan’s defense. I reckon this signing could mean the Saints will win their division next season.
NFC West: Jared Veldheer (OT) to Arizona Cardinals (Former team: Oakland Raiders)
If the Cardinals are insistent on using Carson Palmer as their starting quarterback then it is essential that they boost their offensive line. Veldheer was injured for most of the season last year, but he has still developed into a very good offensive tackle. Hopefully he can contribute to an exciting offense in Arizona, one that could potentially lead to a playoff run.

This piece was written by Broderick Sutherland. Broderick is from Bath, UK and he is a massive New York Giants fan. He has recently started a blog that covers a variety of sports called Armchair Analyst. Follow him @BrodSutherland. And visit armchairanalystblog.wordpress.com

Bookie’s Playbook: Nick Foles’ 7 TD Performance

In the first game of the season, Peyton Manning threw an impressive 7 touchdown passes to start his amazing season. In Week 9, when the Eagles played the Raiders, everyone was shocked to see Nick Foles throw 7 touchdowns to tie Manning and five others for the most touchdowns thrown in a single game. Some people may think that Nick Foles’ 7 touchdown performance was a fluke since he was a backup and has had trouble at quarterback before. I’ll take you through each of the seven touchdown drives, explaining what led to each touchdown, and break down a few big plays within each drive.

First Touchdown: Q1 5:23 – 10 Plays 3:58

The Eagles ran the no-huddle on every play but two on the first drive. On the second play of the drive, Foles hit Riley Cooper for a 42-yard screen pass, but the drive really got going a few plays later.

The defence  was playing zone coverage so the defenders wouldn’t have to run around too much after all of the no-huddle plays, and Foles had Jeff Maehl run a deep crossing route to the middle and he needed to open up the field, so he pump faked to the left.

Play before TD1a

The pump fake made the defender on that side go after the fake, leaving a big enough hole in the middle, and Foles made a great pass, threading the ball right through three defenders.

Play before TD1b

A few plays later came the touchdown pass. The Eagles ran a common play that every team has in their goal line play book. Brent Celek was lined up next to he right tackle and made his way to the left side of the field away from the other receivers.

TD1a

Only one defender noticed, but it was too late as Celek already passed him and got an easy touchdown.

TD1b

The first dive exhibited a good variety of play calls and good throws by Foles. The Raiders didn’t have good pass rushing on the drive, which made it easy for Foles to find the open man. Foles was 6 for 7 on the drive, with each completion going to a different receiver.

Second Touchdown: Q2 14:23 – 8 Plays 2:35

The offence came out running the ball heavily and running the no-huddle, which very much tired out the front seven leading to a big 32-yard run by Bryce Brown. The Eagles kept switching between Brown and McCoy to keep their run game fresh.

After getting in range for the touchdown, the defence was still first looking for the run, thus stuffing the box. Foles noticed the one safety giving help on top, who stepped up the help in the middle.

TD2aOnce Cooper beat out his man on the go route, Foles threw a perfect pass to the back of the end zone where only his receiver could get to the ball.

TD2b

Foles was 3 for 3 on the drive, and after all of the runs the defence got tired and didn’t put much pressure on Foles, once again giving him plenty of time to find the open man.

Third Touchdown: Q2 11:26 – 1 Play 0:09

Nick Foles threw a touchdown to Riley Cooper on a deep post route on the first play of the drive. This play was more of the Raiders secondary messing up than good offensive play. D.J. Hayden was playing outside leverage on Cooper, relying on safety help in the middle, but both safeties help on opposite sides of the middle of the field for the second time of the game.

TD3a

Hayden was forced to chase Cooper at a bad angle and fell down, giving Foles a wide open throw. The Raiders must have gotten really upset after that one.

TD3b

Fourth Touchdown: Q2 4:10 – 8 Plays 3:24

The drive started off with an incomplete pass and a couple of penalties, which slowed down the pace of the speedy offence. However, three of the five plays before the touchdown were big gains from a broken play where Foles was able to a good job moving around and getting out of the pocket to find the open man. On the touchdown, a similar thing happened. Cooper was running a crossing route shallow of DeSean Jackson’s post route, and Zach Ertz was running a go route, then, if nothing happened, an out to the side of the end zone.

TD4a

Foles was looking for Jackson in the middle of the end zone, but when he noticed he was covered he scrambled out of the pocket and found Zach Ertz to the right side of the end zone.

TD4b

Foles was 4 for 5 on the drive and ran the no-huddle after the incompletion and penalties to start the drive. Foles showed good mobility, buying time for his receivers to get open without rushing the pass.

Fifth Touchdown: Q3 14:21 – 4 Plays 0:32

On the first play of the drive Foles made a good choice on an interestingly designed play where Foles first fakes the handoff to McCoy then starts scrambling ,and, if he doesn’t have space to run, he throws a lateral to the sideline where a wide-open Riley Cooper awaits.

Play before TD5a

Cooper then had plenty of space in front of him to start of the string of big plays on the drive.

Play before TD5b

On the touchdown play, LeSean McCoy starts in motion and continues on the swing route. The receivers on the same side cross to the other side and their defenders follow. There are no linebackers on that side either, which leaves no defender for McCoy.

TD5a

The safety doesn’t notice him so he’s left wide open to run for the end zone.

TD5b

Due to the quick big-play no-huddle drive, the defenders don’t notice McCoy by the sideline and are already exhausted by running around silly to react quickly to all of the running around. The play calling was great and just focused on getting the ball out of Foles’ hand right away.

Sixth Touchdown: Q3 11:41 – 3 Plays 0:43

Here was another very quick drive which resulted in a big-play touchdown due to the defender falling down, again. DeSean Jackson simply gets off the press coverage and run a go route to the end zone.

TD6a

There’s no safety help over the top because they went to help in the players crossing over the middle, once again, and Jackson easily gets the touchdown.

TD6b

The defence looked like zombies on that drive, probably due to the exhaustion of the no-huddle throughout the entire game.

Seventh Touchdown: Q3 4:34 – 3 Plays 1:12

The seventh touchdown drive consisted of yet another quick three-play drive, yes, all in the no-huddle. On the first play of the drive, Jackson beats out Hayden on a deep post route again with no deep safety help.

Play before TD7aFoles made a perfect pass on that play as the ball was a centimetre out of Hayden’s reach. That 59-yard play set up the touchdown pass two plays later.

Play before TD7b

On the touchdown play, Foles faked the handoff while the two receivers on the left crossed over to the right side of the end zone.

TD7a

The Raiders were running zone coverage, and when Nick Foles saw that, he rolled out of the cote to the right and waited for Riley Cooper to get into the empty spot of the zone and hit him for the touchdown.

TD7b

And that finished off Nick Foles’ record day.

Takeaway:

Nick Foles made a bunch of great passes in tight windows and in good locations where only his receiver can catch it, while recognising man and zone coverages. With the offence being primarily run in the no-huddle, the defence got tired on the long drives in the beginning of the game, and by the end they lost all of their energy and just couldn’t keep up and missed assignments. Also, the safeties consistently guarded the middle of the field instead if at least one of them guarding deep.vThis is the way Chip Kelly’s offence needs to work, fast with the right mix of plays, which consist of general plays, read option, and a couple of trickery plays.

This piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli is from Silver Spring, Maryland. Naturally, he is a fan of America’s real Team, the Washington Redskins. Eli is a big fan of every American sport but the NFL is his favourite. He has strong opinions on many topics and therefore started to write about them. Every week, Eli writes a NFL power rankings article for OTI and “Bookie’s Playbook” article, where he breaks down different teams’ plays, formations, etc. You can always find his opinions and his shenanigans on Twitter @Ebookstaber. He welcomes any comments and feedback.

The Luxury Box:

OMG!

A Rory Anderson Column, follow me on Twitter @holistic_pickle

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, all the way through week five and now into week six of the NFL season. I have to say, week 5 had three very compelling performances that had me absolutely giddy for one reason or another. Before I begin I want to mention two very serious injuries that have just been announced. From the news that is circulating, both Ahmad Bradshaw and Julio Jones have been lost for season. These are both serious blows to their respective teams and for the Falcons to lose Jones after a fourth loss, a still injured Roddy White, and rumors circulating around Tony Gonzalez, the panic button needs to pushed hard in Atlanta.

The Oakland Raiders:

I believe NFL fans should unite and try to force Roger Goodell to change the way games are scheduled. Every Sunday the Raiders or Chargers should play a home game at 8:35 PST or 11:35 EST. This was awesome to have a nationally televised game this late and it’s a way for us west coasters to finally have something more beneficial in media viewing than the east coast. At this point the entire NFL is designed around their day, not ours. This would be a great way to throw a bone to the west coast.

Woodson has helped the Raiders D a lot

On the football side of things, the Raiders finally put together a complete game and they eventually made the fifth ranked quarterback in the NFL look bad. The Raiders will always give up yards. It is the way in which the defense is devised. Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver has said since he was hired what he cares about are impact plays. This means sacks and turnovers. Although the Raiders with their heavy blitzing defense has been able to rack up the sacks, it has been lacking in the turnover department, but in this game they forced five turnovers. The Raider picked off Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers in the first drive and immediately turned that into a touchdown on the first play. Later in the game after the Chargers had battled back from a 17 point deficit, the Raiders defense was ready to step up for the struggling offense. The Chargers were in striking distance and the much maligned first round pick cornerback DJ Hayden made an amazing play to intercept what was an easy touchdown with a diving grab. Then late in the fourth quarter the Raiders got pressure on Rivers once again forcing another interception to Charles Woodson. O yeah speaking of Woodson, the 37 year old safety also recovered a Danny Woodhead fumble (and he got stood up and crushed by a swarming Raiders defense) and returned it for a touchdown earlier in the game. Raider Nation finally got to see what this defense was intended to do, and that’s without their stud strong safety Tyvon Branch meaning the Raiders defense had ten new starters from last year. A word of advice, watch out for Lamaar Houston. He has three sacks, several tackles for loss, and a forced fumble and may get an opportunity to go to the Pro Bowl this season.

Matt Schaub

This isn’t about a team or a squad, this is about one guy. A pick six in four straight games is unbelievable. It really is stunning. What is even more humiliating is that this pick six came on the third play from scrimmage! Right now Schaub is doing everything wrong. He is staring down receivers, he isn’t anticipating when and where his receivers will get open, and his offensive line is playing miserably. I had the Texans winning the AFC South again and I was in no way expecting Schaub to single handedly win games for this team, but I also never expected such utter failure. With the weapons on the outside that the Texans had, they should have been able to work sidelines in and move the ball against the mediocre San Francisco defensive backfield, but instead they tried working middle out, and that went terribly.

I do not know what the solution in Houston is. I have never been sold on TJ Yates, and I am also not a big fan of Case Keenum, but they have to make a change soon. At minimum this should happen to perhaps give Schaub a week or two of to get his head right. If he can’t get it down after that, then the Texans are going to have cut him next year and eat 10.5 million of his 14.5 million dollars that are due to him. On the bright side, they may be able to draft Jonny Manziel. That team could use an immature whiny and entitled brat for a quarterback.

Peyton versus Romo

OMG!!!! I honestly cannot remember a regular season game that was this exciting! This was something else. Before I dig in full disclosure is needed. I am a football traditionalist. I enjoy low scoring defensive games and sometimes even more than these board burners, BUT this game was something else.

Peyton Manning is officially the most talented quarterback to ever play football. That doesn’t mean he is the best. What I am saying is, he is the epitome at the tail end of perhaps the greatest generation of quarterbacks we have ever seen. The league goes from John Elway and Dan Marino and the torch got passed to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady with Drew Brees close behind. The NFL is clearly a passing league and this game is the future for the NFL. I think we will continue to see more and more mobile quarterbacks that may not run, but are very nimble behind the line of scrimmage with the ball in their hands. What the world witnessed between these teams on Sunday was one of the greatest displays of pure passing I have ever seen.

I would of course be remiss to leave Tony Romo out of this discussion. Peyton may have 20 touchdowns and only one interception, but Romo set a team passing record this day and had five of his own touchdowns. I feel bad for the guy because he played an amazing game, but because of a slight misthrow with a lineman all over his feet and an amazing play by the Denver linebacker, every Romo hater out there is sandbagging the guy again. I am no Romo apologist, but he is a heck of a quarterback and if Cowboys want to blame anyone they should blame Al Davis, I mean, Jerry Jones. Yes I said it, Jerry Jones is the new Al Davis in the sense that he overspends on guys and never allows for real stability in schemes due to his impatience at his age.

All in all, this was an amazing performance by two fantastic quarterbacks and both deserve an immense amount of respect. Of course there was absolutely no defense in this game and the tackling reminded me of a high school football game where both defenses were from small schools and the offenses were from juggernaut private schools, but that’s only the future of this league. So who am I kidding with that sarcasm?

One Last Note

I am writing this column on October 8, 2013 and that marks two years to the day that the legendary Al Davis died. I am a Raiders fan through and through so this is a bit of a football memorial day for me. I am just ecstatic that his final draft pick, Terrelle Pryor is showing the NFL that he has the potential to be a legitimate quarterback in this league. To wrap it all up, today we found out that the Raiders will be playing a “home” game at Wembley next year. I as a Raiders fan will be upset if the rumors are true and the Battle of the Bay game (Niners at Raiders) is played there, because it means so much to the East Bay. Everyone remembers two years ago the violence at the preseason game at Candlestick and I think if it happens that will be why. It is a blow for season ticket holders because the teams are not required to lower their ticket prices for the loss of an actual home game and the teams get nothing from the league for this game. On the other hand, the Raiders have two British players (Menelik Watson and Jack Crawford), and both tweeted their excitement to play a game back home. I believe both are from London as well.

This Column was written by Rory Anderson. Rory is a Diehard Oakland Raiders Fan. You can Follow him on Twitter: @holistic_pickle