- Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Neal OT, Alabama -I know the Jaguars have signed Cam Robinson to an extension but they still have a hole on the right side of their offensive line. Jawaan Taylor who was drafted in the second round in 2019 has had trouble at right tackle. Drafting Neal will provide Trevor Lawrence the protection he needs to develop as a franchise Quarterback.
- Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson Edge, Michigan -The Lions need to drastically improve their defense. It ranked at the bottom of the league in most defensive categories. Adding Hutchinson will improve their pass rush in a division that includes Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Justin Fields.
- Houston Texans – Ikem Ekwonu OT, North Carolina State -It seems the Texans are content with having QB Davis Mills be their starter for the foreseeable future, so getting him some protection should be an important move to keep his development going. Ikem Ekwonu is one of the most powerful offensive linemen in this draft class.
- New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux Edge, Oregon – Thibodeaux will help Leonard Williams and Carl Lawson generate a pass rush that they were supposed to have during the 2021 season. Look for the Jets pass rush to improve this year,
- New York Giants – Charles Cross OT, Mississippi State – Cross is the best pass blocker in the draft in my opinion. This comes from playing Mike Leach’s pass happy system. He rarely lost a rep on a passing down.
- Carolina Panthers – Kenny Pickett QB, Pittsburgh – The Panthers continue to add resources to the quarterback position. I believe if this pick is made, both QBs will compete for the starting position.
- New York Giants – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner CB, Cincinnati – Gardner is a special corner. He has not gave up a touchdown in years. He is a true shut down corner who can help change a defense right away.
- Atlanta Falcons- Garrett Wilson WR, Ohio State– Wilson is a dynamic receiver that can get open anytime. His route running is arguably the best in the class next to his teammate Chris Olave.
- Seattle Seahawks – Derek Stingley Jr. CB, LSU – Stingly may have had injury issues, but those have went away since seeing him move at his pro day. I believe teams will take a chance on his upside of being a shut down corner.
- New York Jets – Chris Olave WR, Ohio State – Olave is a smooth route runner who can create space and catch the ball consistently. He will prove to be Zac Wilson’s number one target by the time the regular season starts.
- Washington Commanders – Kyle Hamilton S, Notre Dame – The Commanders add Hamilton to secondary that lost Landon Collins earlier this offseason. Hamilton will start and be a playmaker in Ron Rivera’s defense instantly.
- Minnesota Vikings – Travon Walker Edge, Georgia – Walker has a high upside. The Vikings have holes on their defensive line. Walker can come in day 1 and help improve the defense instantly.
- Houston Texans – Jameson Williams WR, Alabama – The Texans can afford to spend this pick of Jameson Williams. The team may not be contending this year so it should be no problem waiting on Williams to get healthy.
- Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Davis DT, Georgia – The Ravens draft Davis to control the middle of the defensive line just as Haloti Ngata did when he played for them
- Philadelphia Eagles – Drake London WR, USC – London will be another big body target for Jalen Hurts to throw to. There are questions about his ability to create separation but I believe he can overcome that.
- New Orleans Saints – Trevor Penning OT, Northern Iowa – Penning is a nasty offensive lineman with the attitude to match. He made his name well known at the Reese’s Senior Bowl when he was tossing guys around left and right. He may have crossed the line a few times but I feel that can be controlled with coaching.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Bernhard Raimann OT, Central Michigan – The Chargers add more protections for Justin Herbert. The right side of the line was terrible and needs to be improved. Raimann is good at pass protection and gave up the least amount of pressures last season.
- Philadelphia Eagles – George Karlaftis Edge, Purdue – The Eagles add to their aging defensive line. George Karlaftis has a high motor with the power to go with it. He packs a punch to stun offensive lineman and the hand technique to execute his rip move.
- New Orleans Saints – Trent McDuffie CB, Washinton – The Saints lose out of getting another Wide Receiver but they add a shut down corner across from Marcus Lattimore. McDuffie has great coverage skills. He is able to stick with his man at all times.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Willis QB, Liberty – Willis falls to the Steelers in my mock draft. I believe if he falls this far some team will try to jump the Steelers before they are on the clock. Willis is raw and still needs some development, but his upside is to good to pass up on.
- New England Patriots – Jermaine Johnson ll – This is a Bill Belichick pick. Picking up a guy that is versatile and plays all over the defensive line if he needs him to. Johnson had a breakout season for the Florida State Seminoles which earned him ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
- Green Bay Packers – Treylon Burks WR, Arkansas – Aaron Rodgers will like this pick but not love it. I’m sure he’d rather have Devonte Adams. Burks is a physical receiver with solid breakaway speed. He will fit well with the Packers once he and Rodgers get on the same page.
- Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Linderbaum C, Iowa – The Cardinals choose to improve their interior offensive line to keep Kyler Murry protected. Linderbaum will help the run game improve with the return of James Conner. In my opinion, Linderbaum is the best interior offensive lineman in this class. I see being a perennial pro-bowler for the next few years
- Dallas Cowboys – Devin Lloyd LB, Utah – The Cowboys will jump for joy is Devin Lloyd is sitting here at the 24th I feel Lloyd fits perfectly here. Drafting him now gives the team the versatility to move Parsons and Vander Esh around.
- Buffalo Bills – Breece Hall RB, Iowa State – The Bills chose to take Hall because they don’t have many holes on their roster except for running back. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have been ok but neither has been able to take full control of the starting running back position. Hall is the perfect combination of patience, speed, and acceleration. He can also is the best in the class at catching the ball out of the backfield.
- Tennessee Titans – Zion Johnson G, Boston College – Johnson is versatile. He can play as a guard or center. He showed teams at the Reese’s Senior Bowl that he was not afraid to take on the challenge at playing center for the first time. The Titans are a run-heavy team that needs to continue to add to their offensive line to create running lanes for running
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kenyon Green G, Texas A&M – The Buccaneers added Shaq Mason earlier this offseason, adding Kenyon Green would help solidify the offensive line and give Tom Brady the protection he needs at the age of 44.
- Green Bay Packers – Devonte Wyatt DT, Georgia – The Packers released edge rush Za’Darius Smith earlier this offseason and still need to find a way to replace him. Wyatt may be listed as a defensive tackle, but he has the ability to play on the edge.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Jahan Dotson WR, Penn State – Dotson would be the possible replacement for recently traded WR Tyreek Hill. Dotson has the speed and elusiveness to cause problems deep down the field. He also has the ability to run jet sweeps, and turn screen passes into long gains. Patrick Mahomes will have another deep threat to add to his arsenal of weapons.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Arnold Ebiketie Edge, Penn State – The Chiefs need to improve the pass rush and Arnold Ebiketie is the guy they are looking for. He has a quick first step and the speed the wreak havoc coming off the edge. Frank Clark did not perform well this season, getting a young talent to push him will improve the defense.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Smith OT, Tulsa – Even though the Bengals have added some help on the offensive line they still need to find depth and possibly a starter. Tyler Smith is listed as a tackle but has the ability to kick inside and play guard as well.
- Detroit Lions – Matt Corral QB, Ole Miss- The Lions take Corral here to get the 5th year option on his rookie contract. Corral has a quick release and good accuracy. He could challenge Jared Goff for the starting spot this season, but I believe Goff will start the season. Corral may see the field if Goff gets off to a slow start to the season.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is the most anticipated all-star game of the draft season. It brings out scouts and coaches from multiple professional leagues, front office personnel, and media outlets. It’s also one of the biggest stages for draft prospects to show off their talents to improve their draft stock. In recent years, prospects have really helped their draft position by performing well during the week of practice then transferring that performance to the game. The National team was coached by the New York Jets coaching staff, while the American team was coached by the Detroit Lions.
The game was somewhat one-sided as the National Team came away with a definitive 20-10 victory over the American Team. The score may not show, but both teams had players that really helped their draft stock with impressive performances. Let’s check out who helped themselves.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
- Zion Johnson G/C, Boston College (6-2, 314lbs) – Johnson had a good week of practice that translated to the game. The big news during the week was how Johnson transitioned from the guard to the center position. He wanted to show his versatility to teams and scouts, and show he was able to do the job. Johnson performed well at both positions. In the run game, he displayed his mauler-like mentality the way he opened running lanes and his good athleticism the way he was able to work to the second level to block linebackers. As a pass protector, Johnson played with great leverage to stalemate a defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. He also can recover if he gives ground. Johnson may have helped himself sneak into a late first-round pick.
- Travis Jones DT, Connecticut (6-4, 326lbs) – Jones had an incredible week at the senior bowl. He made some nice plays during 1-on-1 drills showing he can create pressure from the interior. During inside drills, he was a monster disrupting the run and making life miserable for running backs. In the game, Jones was responsible for multiple quarterback pressures. He even recorded a sack from the interior. Jones could have improved his stock into the second round or possibly the first round.
- Boye Mafe Edge, Minnesota (6-3, 255lbs) – Mafe came off the edge like a man on a mission during the senior bowl. He displayed his quick-twitch and first step off the line of scrimmage beating offensive tackles often. Mafe showed he is not just a speed rusher; he did utilize a bull rush periodically. In the run game, he can hold his ground to set the edge and force the play inside. Mafe recorded multiple sacks during the game, and he forced a fumble. He could be a first-round pick by the time the draft process is done.
- Chad Muma LB, Wyoming (6-2, 241lbs) – Muma is an athletic linebacker that can run and cover the field like a defensive back. He has the instincts to find the ball and secure the tackle. Muma displays the leadership skills to get guys in positions communicating assignments to multiple defensive players. His football intelligence is another quality of Muma’s game. When he drops into coverage, he can read the quarterback like a book to get a hand into the passing lane. If Muma can test well at the combine, I can see him being selected late on day 2 of the draft.
- Abram Smith RB, Baylor (5-11, 211lbs) – Smith had a quiet week during the week of practice, but he made a huge impact during the senior bowl game. During the game, Smith displayed his vision and versatility catching the ball out of the backfield. Smith carried the ball 11 times for 48 yards, and he scored a 20-yard receiving touchdown where he displayed good hands and the ability to get yards after the catch. Smith has some shiftiness in him to make defenders miss 1-on-1. I can see him being drafted early on day 3 of the draft.
- Perrion Winfrey DT, Oklahoma (6-3, 303lbs) – Winfrey dominated senior bowl to the point where it was just unfair for offensive linemen to try to block him 1-on-1. He continuously beat linemen with a bullrush or occasionally a quick swim and rip move. In the game, he just lived in the American Teams’ backfield. Winfrey also showed the ability to beat a double team and hold his ground in the run game when being double-teamed. For the game, Winfrey recorded five tackles, three tackles for loss, and two sacks. He was named the Reese’s Bowl MVP. With this performance, I believe Winfrey could be a mid-second-round pick.
- Conner Heyward FB/RB, Michigan State (5-11, 239lbs) – Some might say Heyward shouldn’t be on this list, but he does. If you had a chance to go watch practice during the week like myself, you would see why he is on this list. During practice Heyward showed his versatility by being able to pass block, run block and catch the ball out of the backfield as a fullback. He even showed the ability to win 1-on-1 against linebackers. He will be a gem to any team that loves to utilize a fullback in their offense. He’ll end up being a late-round draft pick, but his production will make an impact early if used properly.
- Jermaine Johnson Edge, Florida State University (6-4, 259lbs) – Johnson did not play in the senior bowl game, but that was for a good reason. After already being on the edge of being a first-round pick, Johnson’s performance during the week of practice solidified that. The Florida State pass rusher won most of his 1-on-1 reps utilizing a handful of pass rush moves and successfully beating the offensive linemen. Johnson plays with great effort, energy, and power. This will translate well to the NFL. He will be a top 15 pick.
- Velus Jones Jr. WR, Tennessee (5-11.203lbs) – Jones made some impressive catches during the game. He showed that he’s able to make contested catches and create yards after the catch. Jones was not one of the big names on the roster, but he made noise with his performance in the game. If he can perform well at the combine, he can help himself become a mid-round pick.
- DeAngelo Malone Edge, Western Kentucky (6-3, 234lbs) – Malone is an athletic edge rusher who uses hands and speed to beat offensive linemen. He has the hip flexibility to bend the corner and translate speed to power. Malone consistently generated pressure on the National Team quarterbacks. He also was able to show that he can drop into coverage if needed. I think he fits well in a 3-4 outside linebacker where he can be used in many ways. I can see him being drafted early on day 3 of the draft.
- Alontae Taylor DB, Tennessee (6-0, 196lbs) – Taylor was one guy I wanted to watch during the week of practice. There were questions about how well he could cover in man coverage. He answered those questions during practice as he was able to win some matchups and deflect some balls way. He did get beat a couple of times, but that is going to happen in this league. It was how he responded that should give some teams good vibes about Taylor. He never held his head down, he just got ready for the next rep. During the game, he made a highlight interception where he extended his bodied to make the play. Taylor may fit best with a team that plays zone and some man. He has good eyes to read the quarterback to lead him to the ball. As a tackler, he will not avoid any contact to secure the tackle.
- Malik Willis QB, Liberty (6-0, 220lbs) – Willis is the top quarterback in this draft class in my opinion. He has a ton of upside that can help turn around any franchise in no time. During the week of practice, he showed everyone how quickly he can learn a playbook while also being able to translate what he just learned to the field. I think what really won everyone over on Willis was his performance during the Wednesday practice. The weather was cold, it rained off and on, and the wind was not friendly to quarterbacks. While other quarterbacks struggled to pass the ball, Willis looked accustomed to the weather. It never looked as if the elements affected his throwing. During the game, Willis did not have much to show off since his offensive line was not the best. He spent most of his drop-backs running for his life. Willis did break a 27-yard run that showed everyone a glimpse into what he can do for a teams’ offense. Willis will be the first quarterback taken in this draft. He will need to go to a good situation in order to make a huge impact in this league.
The East-West Shrine Game was another opportunity for draft hopefuls to get the attention of NFL scouts around the league. The game was full of dramatics, including a major comeback effort from the East squad. The East was down by as much as 19 points late in the third quarter. The comeback was led by Yale QB EJ Perry. Perry led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to pull the East squad within one point of the West. Unfortunately, the East was unable to recover the outside kick and the West was able to hold on for the 25-24 win. Perry was one of many players to gain the attention of scouts and have them go back to watch their tape. Let’s see who else was able to impress during the game.
Photo Credit: ProDanceCheer.com
- Diego Fagot LB, Navy (6-2,237lbs) – Fagot was a name people got to know during the week of practice. He was consistently around the ball making plays and showing off his ability to run sideline to sideline. During the game, Fagot made the hit of the day on Iowa State QB Brock Coller. What made the play impressive was how Fagot came from covering the running back out of the backfield to lay the wood on Coller. Besides the huge hit, Fagot displayed good instincts to find the ball and make a play. He looked decent in pass coverage which could help raise his draft stock. In my opinion Fagot fits best as a 4-3 middle linebacker who gets everyone in position and makes all the calls because of his high football IQ. He will possibly hear his name called during day 3 of the NFL Draft.
- EJ Perry QB, Brown (6-1,212lbs) – Perry surprised everyone during the week of practice by staying poised in the pocket, throwing receivers open with good anticipation, and throwing the ball accurately downfield. He was so impressive that he was named Practice Player of the Week by his coaches and fellow teammates. As mentioned before, Perry was responsible for leading the comeback effort for the East late in the 2nd During the comeback effort Perry racked up over 300 passing yards and threw 2 touchdowns. He honestly looked like a veteran QB the way he took what the defense gave him and did not force anything. Perry looked great throwing the short and intermediate routes. His pocket presence and awareness were put on display as he was able to avoid oncoming defenders. Even in the loss, Perry was still named MVP of the game. I think he will fit well in a system that has a dominant run game where it will help set up the pass. Perry should here his name called on day 2 of the draft.
- Marquan McCall DT, Kentucky (6-2,346lbs) – McCall was disruptive throughout the game defending the run and generating pressure up the middle on passing downs. He constantly commanded a double team for the offense to move the ball. McCall is physical at the point of attack and plays with good leverage to generate power from his bottom half. As a pass rusher, McCall can collapse the pocket and make the Quarterback bail earlier then he has to. During the 1st half the West team was in the redzone inside the five-yard line about to score. For four plays straight McCall was the main reason the West team could not punch the ball into the endzone. I can see him fitting into a scheme where he plays mostly as a three-tech defensive tackle to help defend the run and pass. McCall could hear his name called early on day 3 of the draft.
- Juanyeh Thomas S, Georgia Tech (6-0, 207lbs) – Thomas is a rangy safety who plays like a centerfielder in baseball when the ball is in the air. He can run, cover, and tackle in space. Thomas can play in the box to help defend the run if needed, and he can strike the ball carrier like a bolt of lightning. Another quality of his game is his ability to cover the slot receiver. He also has good closing speed that allows him to close on ball carriers quickly.
- Samori Toure, WR (6-3, 191lbs) – Toure displayed the ability to create separation from defenders, run precise routes, and make contested catches at the catch point. He was the main target for any East quarterback that stepped on the field. Toure also showed the ability to get yards after the catch. It was a challenge for defensive backs to tackle him. I think he will fit in the West Coast offense where the short and intermediate routes are key to the offense. Toure should be a day 2 pick but may fall to day 3 due to position value.
- Ty Chandler RB, North Carolina (5-7, 203lbs) – Ty Chandler and Jashaun Corbin formed an impressive tandem in the West backfield. Chandler brought more of the power while Corbin brought the speed and lateral movement. The former Tarheels and Volunteer running back displayed patients, acceleration through the line of scrimmage, and the ability to finish runs. Chandler refused to go down after first contact. It mostly took multiple defenders to bring him down. His totals for the game were 11 carries for 69 rushing yards along with a reception for eight yards. He did commit a fumble during the game, but it was recovered by one of the offensive linemen. Chandler had never fumbled in four years of his college football career. I think he will fit in a zone offense where he can utilize his patients and vision to get up field. He should hear his name called early on day 3 of the draft.
- Jack Coan QB, Notre Dame (6-3, 217lbs) – Coan had a great game controlling the offense and throwing spot on balls to his receivers. The former Irish quarterback moved the offense down the field, completing 10/13 passes and he threw one touchdown pass to Oregon State TE Teagan Quitoriano. Coan took care of the ball and made the defense pay for their mistakes. In the pocket, he showed the awareness to locate the blitz and get rid of the ball quickly. Coan will start off his career as a backup but has the potential to start one day in the league with the right coaching. He fits the West Coast type of offense based on getting the ball out quickly to his playmakers. I can see a team taking a shot on Coan in the late rounds.
- Jashaun Corbin RB, Florida State University (5-11, 205lbs) – As mentioned before Corbin formed a unique running back tandem with fellow West teammate Ty Chandler. They both combined for nearly 100 yards rushing on just 19 carries. As for Corbin; he has the speed, vision, and lateral movement to make big plays in the NFL. He had eight carries for 50 rushing yards, one touchdown, and one reception for five yards. Corbin may have a slim frame, but he does not look to avoid oncoming defenders. He will benefit from a scheme where he can utilize his vision and lateral movement to get to the second level into the open field. Corbin is a mid-round pick that could help a team right away that uses multiple running backs.
- Jack Sanborn LB, Wisconsin (6-1, 239lbs) – Sanborn was another defender who was impressed by the way he flew around the field and located the ball. As a run defender, he has the instincts to diagnose the run and fill his gap correctly. Sanborn does not miss many tackles in the holes. In the passing game, he has the speed and awareness to play zone or cover a receiver. During the game, he was responsible for causing and recovering a fumble. Sanborn can also contribute as a special team player; this will raise his value to most teams. I can him being selected in the later rounds.
- Cordell Volson OT, North Dakota State (6-6, 319lbs) -Volson showed his physicalness and toughness during the game. He blocked well in the run game opening holes for backs. It seemed easy for him to move defenders out the way. As a pass blocker, Volson can mirror defensive linemen and slow them down at the point of attack. Overall, he had a great game protecting the quarterback. He can be selected as early as the fifth round of the draft.
- Jelani Woods TE Virginia (6-6,259lbs) – Woods was a playmaker on the field. He was able to get open with no problem and he made some tough catches. He showed his ability to run different routes and line up in different positions. Woods notched 3 receptions for 30 yards and caught one touchdown pass. If he can perform well at the combine, Woods can be an early day 3 pick.
The NFLPA Collegiate All-Star Game was another opportunity for NFL Draft hopefuls to display their talents to scouts and teams around the league. This was a defensive game that saw a handful of forced turnovers and defensive stops on downs. The game was also full of former NFL Coaches and current College Coaches trying to help players improve their game for the next level. The National team was led by former Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, while the American team was led by former Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Both coaches ran a hard week of practice for their teams and their teams showed it.
Each team had players impress scouts during the week of practice, but we know it all matters if they could transfer it to the game. Here are players from each team who caught my eye during the game.
- Jonathan Ford DT, Miami (6-5, 338lbs) – Ford was dominant on the defensive line during the game. He continually penetrated the offensive line and was able to put pressure on the quarterback. Ford also helped the run defense by filling gaps and rerouting the running back in his path. He will need to work on playing with more leverage to compete with NFL offensive linemen. Ford may be a late-round pick in the draft, but he brings some great qualities as a player.
- Cole Kelley QB, Southeastern Louisiana (6-7, 248lbs) – Kelly was the savior of the National team. He came in when his number was called and was able to execute the offense when the team needed him the most. During the fourth quarter, Kelly led a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was finished off with a five-yard run by Coastal Carolina running back Shermari Instead of going for the tie, Head Coach Marvin Lewis decided to go for the two and take the lead with just under 2 minutes left in the game. Kelly made Lewis look like a smart man as he found Indiana tight-end Peyton Hendershot in the end zone for a successful two-point conversion. Kelly was named game MVP and finished the game 12-17, 150 yards, and one touchdown.
- Zachary McCloud LB, Miami(6-2,251lbs) – McCloud flew around the field and found his way to the ball multiple times. In pass coverage, he showed awareness of where the ball was going and tried his best to get there. McCloud showed off his closing speed when he chased down the running back coming out of the backfield. He also recovered a fumble that led to a touchdown drive. McCloud could sneak up some draft boards with a good performance at his pro day.
- Roderick Perry DT, Illinois(6-1,312lbs) – Perry was another defensive lineman that lived in the American team’s backfield during the game. He made an impressive play during the 1st quarter when he beat the offensive linemen with a swim move and caused the running back to lose yards. Perry showed he was able to generate a pass rush from the interior defensive line multiple times which rushed a handful of passes. He could hear his name called during the mid-rounds of the draft.
- Jarrid Williams G/T Miami(6-6,322lbs) – Williams was listed as a tackle on the roster but lined up at guard most of the time for the National team. He performed well in both the run and passing game. He opened holes for the running backs, showed his physicality at the point of attack, and his ability to use his long arms to defend incoming pass rushers. Williams may have helped his draft stock by showing he is able to play both guard and tackle. In my opinion, he may need to stick to guard with his impressive frame.
- Jack Wohlabaugh C, Duke(6-2,302lbs) – Wohlabaugh had buzz surrounding him the whole week of practice. It transferred to the game where he displayed his great technique, Football IQ, and leadership skills. When Wohlabaugh’s offensive line unit was on the field, the offense was productive, and the quarterback was protected. He dominated during one-on-one blocking situations and showed awareness to help his teammates with blocks when he needed to. I can see his name being called on Day 2 of the draft.
- Mychal Cooper WR, Navy(6-4,213lbs) – Cooper along with Dai’Jean Dixon, and Jequez Ezzard put on a show for the American Team. As for Cooper he showed that he was not just a blocking receiver coming out of the Navy. He displayed the ability to make contested catches, run an expanded route tree, and create separation. Cooper was nearly over 100 yards receiving, which shows how important of a target he became. He really helped his stock with this performance. I see him as a late Day 2 pick.
- Dai’Jean Dixon WR, Nicholls State (6-2,203lbs)– Dixon was just uncoverable to any defensive back who tried to line up across from him. He either made the tough contested catch, blew by the defensive back, or ran a good route to create separation. His size is impressive along with his athleticism and toughness. Dixon caught a touchdown pass from Alabama A&M quarterback Aqueel Glass where the ball was put in a tight window while the free safety was beaming down on him to make contact. For the game, Dixon finished with six receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown. I think he is another Day 2 pick with a high ceiling.
- Jequez Ezzard WR, Sam Houston State(5-9,194lbs) – Ezzard was used in any and every way during the All-Star game. He lined up in the slot and on the outside many times. It was hard to know where he was going to be at the snap of the ball because he would be put in motion often. As a receiver, Ezzard caught some meaningful passes. He finished with 42 receiving yards, a touchdown reception, and he contributed as a return man totaling 42 return yards. He was sort of used in the Deebo Samuel-like role where the team was creating ways to get him the ball. Ezzard’s explosiveness and playmaking abilities can help boost his draft stock.
- Aqueel Glass QB, Alabama A&M(6-3,233lbs) – Glass looked comfortable while at the helm of the offense. He may have had his college offensive coordinator Duane Taylor, who is an up-and-coming star in the college coaching ranks, but he seemed to adapt and blend with the new weapons he had. As mentioned earlier, Glass was responsible for a touchdown pass where he fit the ball in a tight window with the safety beaming down on his receiver. It showed his accuracy skills have improved. He also displayed his timing and anticipation on some throws to hit receivers in rhythm. Glass is still a work in progress, but any team that takes a chance on him won’t regret it.
- Chase Garbers QB, University of California(6-2,218lbs) – Garbers had a rough start to Saturday’s game with the offense turning the ball over on the first drive of the game via fumble. He showed his resiliency by responding with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive where he hit Jequez Ezzard for the score. Garbers finished the game 10-3, with 119 passing yards, and one touchdown pass. He also showed off his mobile skill and ran for a total of 25 yards. Garbers is another developmental quarterback that can contribute if he is given the time to develop his game.
- James Houston lV Edge, Jackson State University(6-0,241lbs) – Houston was the one defensive player that caught my eye on the American Team. His relentless motor skills and quick first step caught my attention. Houston is great at utilizing his speed on the edge. He displays the ability to beat tackles around the corner, he even has a counter move if the tackle beats him to the outside. Houston can wreak havoc as a 3-4 pass rusher and be disruptive in the run game. He also can play off the ball if he needed to. Coming from a Deion Sanders-led team, I expected Houston to play all out with lots of energy.
The Hula Bowl is a great opportunity for players who are not high on teams’ draft radar to improve their draft stock before the “Big 3” all-star games take place in the next few weeks. Most of these players will more then likely be competing for a 53-man roster spot, or a practice squad position by the time Training Camp ends in late August. For most of these players getting on a teams’ radar early may help them in this long pre-draft process. Players were split up into two teams (Team Aina and Team Kai), both teams were coached by some high-quality NFL coaches with over 200 years of coaching experience in the league. Team Kai was led by Super Bowl winning head coach Brian Billick, and Team Aina was led by former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Both coaches expressed how hard each of their players worked and competed during the week of practice. Both coaches also stressed how they wanted each player to take advantage of this opportunity they have earned.
During the game each team had its ups and downs on offense. Both teams turned the ball the over, and both defenses made it hard to move the ball downfield. At the end, Team Kai defeated Team Aina 21-20. Although the game did not provide a lot of scoring, there were a few players on each team that I found impressing and should be on most teams radar during the late rounds of the draft.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
- Levi Lewis QB, Louisiana (5-10, 184lbs) – Lewis had a solid day throwing the football. He flashed good accuracy skills, good pocket awareness, and made smart decisions when being pressured. Lewis also put his athleticism on display when he was forced out of the pocket. He converted a handful of first downs using his legs to move the chains. Although Lewis still has more improvement to make, he showed that he can learn an NFL offense and he can read through his progressions to make the right pass.
Any team that is thinking of drafting Lewis will need to understand that he has more room to develop his talent. As of now he is looked upon as a late round pick or college free agent. What teams should know about Lewis; He is a winner. In his last thirty-nine starts he went 34-5, while passing for over 8,000 yards, 65 touchdowns, and only 15 interceptions. Lewis could become a starter down the road with the right development.
- Liam Shanahan C, LSU (6-5, 304lbs) – Shanahan looked like a veteran NFL offensive lineman during the Hula Bowl. He was able to control the middle of the offensive line with a demanding presence. He did not let any pressure come up the middle, and he was able to create some running lanes for the running backs. As a run blocker he is a mauler that loves to finish his blocks. As a pass blocker, Shanahan has a strong first punch that allows him to stun defenders at the point of attack.
After transferring from Harvard University in 2020, he immediately became LSU’s starting center. He was in charge of making all line calls and protections. This shows how much he was trusted by players and coaches. Shanahan can possibly hear his name called early in the mid rounds.
- Tayler Hawkins CB, San Diego State (5-11, 198lbs) – Hawkins earned Team Kai’s Defensive Player of the Game award and it was clear to see why. During the Hula Bowl, he displayed his physicality, quick instincts, ability to cover man to man, and the ability to play zone when needed. He made the play of the day when he was able to pick off Team Aina’s quarterback Brandon Peters and returned the interception 44 yards for a touchdown. It was impressive to see Hawkins perform well after dealing with Covid-19 just two weeks before. I predict Hawkins to be draft in the late rounds of the draft.
- Kader Hohou DB, Texas A&M Comerce (5-10, 191lbs) – Hohou is a small school guy who saved his best performance for the Hula Bowl. He had one pass interference penalty called against him, after that he started to make numerous plays in pass coverage. Hohou had 3 pass deflections that made announcer Ron Jaworski say “This guy can cover and blanket wide receivers”. On tape Hohou jumps off the screen with his ability to cover, tackle in space, and his makeup speed. He also has a knack for being around the ball and causing turnovers. In his 3 years at Texas A&M Comerce, Hohou had 23 passes defended, 21 pass breakups, 5 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles, and 7 tackles for loss. He will be a late round gem for any team that selects him.
- Isaih Pacheco RB, Rutgers (5-10, 208lbs) – Pacheco is one of those backs with an old school mindset as a runner. He looks for contact rather than avoiding it. While being able to take on contact, he has the speed and quickness to run away from the defense. During the Hula Bowl, Pacheco was able to break a few runs and show he can catch the ball out of the backfield. A question that many scouts wanted to know the answer to.
Under Greg Schiano; Pacheco averaged 610 rushing yards a season, averaged 4.3 yards per carry, rushed for over 2,300 yards, and scored 18 touchdowns. He will play in the East-West Shrine Game at the beginning of February. If he can have another impressive showing, Pacheco can hear his name called in the mid-late rounds of the draft.
- Andrew Ogletree TE, Youngstown State (6-5, 256lbs) – During the week of practice, Ogletree displayed his athleticism and route running skills to scouts and made sure it transferred over to the game. He made some great contested catches during the Hula Bowl and caught a touchdown pass from Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown. Along with Ogletree’s athleticism and solid route running skills, his size and speed caught the attention of scouts. If he can get into an offense that fits his attributes and abilities, Ogletree can become a household name. He may end up being drafted in the late rounds, but he can be a steal if he goes to the right team.
- McKenzie Milton QB, Florida State (5-11, 189lbs) – The Hula Bowl was more like a homecoming for Milton as he returned to UCF to play on the field, he once called home. After suffering a career threatening injury in 2018, Milton was able to rehab and transfer to Florida State to continue his college career. He had a solid year of performance which landed him an opportunity to play in the Hula Bowl to show scouts that he still has something left in his arsenal. During the game, Milton showed good pocket awareness and solid accuracy. He made good decisions when throwing the ball and he knew when to get rid of the ball in the face of pressure.
Milton did throw an interception that sealed the game for Team Kai, but throughout the game he was able to move the offense down the field. Milton will now hope to get an invite to the NFL Combine, or prepare for Florida State’s pro day. If he does well, I can see him being selected in the late rounds of the draft or at least being signed as a college free agent. Milton can be a quality back up in the NFL
- Kier Thomas Edge, Florida State (6-1, 272lbs) – Thomas was another Florida State Seminole that had an impressive showing at the Hula Bowl. He was constantly generating pressure on the quarterback and disrupting the run game in the backfield. He recorded 1.5 sacks and at least 2 tackles for a loss. Thomas’ college career started at the University of South Carolina where he appeared in 47 games with 32 starts in five seasons. In five seasons he recorded 142 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and eight quarterback hurries.
After five seasons with the Gamecocks, Thomas decided to transfer to Florida State. In just one year with the Seminoles, he recorded 42 tackles, 12 tackles for loss,6.5 sacks and 1 pass deflection. I feel he helped improve his draft stock with his performance at the Hula Bowl and could better his stock with a great performance at Florida State’s pro day.
- Stewert Reese G, Florida (6-4, 345lbs) – Comparing Stewert Reese to a brick wall during the Hula Bowl would be an accurate statement. During the game Reese refused to be moved off the line of scrimmage by any defender trying to get into the backfield. As a run blocker he demonstrated the toughness and power to create holes for running backs to run through. As a pass blocker he was good at getting into a good pass set and getting his hands on the defender right way to stonewall them. Reese has great awareness to help his teammates with blocks when he does not have anyone attacking him.
The graduate transfer from Mississippi State started every game this past season and was a staple for the Gators offensive line. With a good showing at Florida’s pro day may help Reese jump into the mid rounds of the draft.
- Julius Chestnut RB, Sacred Heart University (5-11, 224lbs) – Chestnut made history at the Hula Bowl this past weekend. He was the first player from Sacred Heart University to be selected to play in an All-Star game. With being from a small school Chestnut already had a chip on his shoulder to prove he belongs among college football’s best players. During the game he showed off his vision and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. As a runner he is physical at the point of attack and refuses to go down after the first hit.
During his time at Sacred Heart, Chestnut racked up 4,017 scrimmage yards and 35 touchdowns in 33 career games. He also was a finalist Walter Payton Award (FCS Player of the Year). Chestnut will participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl to further raise his draft stock.
The Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Washington Football Team are currently the worst five teams in the NFL. Each team has its own problems and reason for not having a winning record. In some cases, the reason is obvious and in other cases there may be some conflicting issues. If these five teams do not improve over the next half of the season, they will makeup the top five selections of the 2022 NFL Draft. In this article I will attempt to fix each team by suggesting what their biggest offseason moves should be and why they should make them.
- Detroit Lions (0-8-1) – The Detroit Lions have fought tooth and nail this season to pull out a win, but things just have not fell their way. Dan Campbell is not the problem. He has coached this team as hard as he can and has had them in position to win close games. In their first eight games so far, the Lions have lost two games by at least two points and three games by at least ten points. Injuries have also hand cuffed the Lions at a few positions. Starters such as former first round pick Jeff Okudah, Frank Ragnow, and Jamaal Williams have all suffered injuries that has them missing significant time. This team has some solid young talent, but they need to learn how to close out the tight games.
This upcoming offseason for the Lions will be focused on finding a new franchise Quarterback. Jared Goff is not the answer and his performance this season has not been acceptable. Along with Goff’s poor performance, is the inability of the offensive line to protect the passer. The Lions are currently ranked 7th in sacks allowed (22), so adding more protection on the offensive line will be another major factor in their rebuilding process. As far as the defense goes, the defensive line needs improvement in defending the run and rushing the passer.
- Houston Texans (1-8) – The Houston Texans organization is in shambles right now as a franchise. On the field they have competed to the best of their ability, but the team just does not have enough talent to match other teams. The Deshaun Watson situation has come to a stand still for now because the Texans where reluctant to trade him before the trade deadline. The Texans reportedly increased their asking price for Watson to three first round draft picks and several second day picks, a price teams were not willing to pay due to Watson’s unsettled civil court cases. In my opinion the Texans should have traded Watson to the highest bidder so both parties could move on and focus on their future. When they try to trade him during the offseason his trade value will not be as high as it was when he first requested a trade.
Since Watson will be traded sometime during the 2022 offseason, The Texans will have an obvious need at the Quarterback position. Chances are they will take a chance on one of the top college quarterbacks that enters the 2022 NFL Draft. Along with their need at the QB position, the Texans have several other holes to fill on their roster. Another major hole that needs to be filled is the Defensive End or Edge Rusher position. The Texans may find themselves in the same position they were in the years 2006 and 2014, where they had to choose between the top defensive player on the board (Kayvon Thibodeaux) or the top quarterback. In 2006, they selected Defensive end Mario Williams with the number one overall pick instead of Quarterback Vince Young or Running Back Reggie Bush. In 2014, they selected Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the number one overall pick instead of Quarterback Blake Bortles. Lastly, The Texans will need to improve their offensive line to help out the young Quarterback they plan to draft in 2022.
- New York Jets (2-7) – The Jets have shown flashes of how good they could be this season, but they haven’t been able to sustain their success. Quarterback Zach Wilson has had a rough start to his rookie season. So far Wilson has completed 57 percent of his passes, thrown four touchdowns, and nine interceptions. It’s obvious he needs more time to develop, but he also needs more talent around him to do so. Wilson has been out for the last three weeks with a knee injury, which has forced the Jets to start Mike White and Joe Flacco. White had quickly become a fan favorite after his stunning performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. Since then, he has hit wall only throwing one touchdown, and four interceptions the last two games.
With Wilson already in the fold, the Jets need to focus on surrounding him with talent. The offensive line would be my first position group to improve. They have allowed 25 sacks this season, which ranks 7th in the NFL. The next position group I would address is the defensive line. Quinnen Williams is starting to become one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL, but he has no help beside him. Since Carl Lawson suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason, The Jets defense has not been able to stop the pass or run game due to the lack of defensive impact players. Drafting another stud defender to help Williams on the line would take this defense to the next level. Adding another offensive playmaker such as a tight end or wide receiver will help take pressure off of Wilson to make every play.
- Miami Dolphins (3-7) – The Miami Dolphins have been a huge disappointment this season after going 10-6 last season and making the playoffs. The hope for Dolphins fans during this past offseason was that second year Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would make a huge jump to becoming one of the elite young quarterbacks in the NFL. He has done the total opposite, this season Tua has completed 65 percent of his passes, thrown seven touchdowns, and five interceptions. He has also missed four games due to injury. The Dolphins were the favorite team to land Houston Texans star Quarterback Deshaun Watson, but the deal never agreed upon. It is yet to be determined what the future holds for Tua in Miami, but if continues to have subpar performances and durability issues the Dolphins may need to be more aggressive to land Watson.
After the Dolphins figure out their Quarterback situation, their biggest need will be to address the offensive line. As a team the Dolphins have not been able to run the ball or protect the quarterback. They rank last in the NFL averaging just under 75 rushing yards per game, and they are fifth in the NFL in sacks allowed (27). If the Dolphins don’t trade their first-round picks for Watson, it would smart to get more protection for their quarterback. Draft prospects Evan Neal, Rasheed Walker, and Trevor Penning would be in play for the Dolphins in the top half of the first round. Defensively the secondary has been terrible and ranks last in passing yards allowed. Adding another playmaker to help Xavier Howard and Byron Jones will help the defense generate more turnovers.
- Washington Football Team (3-6) – The Washington Football Team is another team that has fallen well under their preseason expectations. Washington was viewed as one of the top teams in NFC led by their young and talented defense. The offense was viewed to be a work in progress led by veteran Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. So far the defense has performed poorly and the offense due to multiple injuries has struggled to move the ball. Taylor Heinicke has taken control of the offense with Fitzpatrick down with an injury. He’s been up and down performance wise but good enough to keep the starting job. In my opinion neither Heinicke or Fitzpatrick is the answer at Quarterback, and Washington should start looking for their next franchise guy.
One other position Washington should really pay attention to is the offensive line. The offense has not been able to produce much yardage due to the inefficient play of the offensive line. The offense currently ranks in the bottom half of the NFL in total yardage and top ten in sacks allowed (20). If Washington is going to acquire a young quarterback, they will need to get him some protection and a few more offensive weapons. On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary has given up a lot of yards through the air and the front seven have not been able to generate pressure on the Quarterback. With Chase Young suffering a season-ending knee injury I don’t expect Washington’s pass rush to improve towards the end of the season. There will be plenty of blue-chip players available in the top ten of the 2022 NFL Draft. I predict the Washington Football Team to go after the best player available if they are not in prime position to land one of the top prospects in the draft.
The NFL league MVP won’t be awarded until the end of the regular season, and only one person will receive the award. Each team no matter the record has their own leader and MVP. In crunch time the team looks for this guy to make plays and lead the team. The NFL season is almost at the mid-way point and we all have had a chance to see what our favorite NFL team has to offer. Some teams have surprised us with their impressive starts to the season, others have greatly disappointed. Either way I decided to put together a list of each teams MVP so far this season. Some players will be obvious picks and some may surprise you.
- Kyler Murray QB (Arizona Cardinals 7-1) – Kyler Murray has steadily improved since entering the league a few years ago. His improvement should be credit to the talent that he has been surrounded with. Murray has a stable of wideouts to get the ball to while have 2 good running backs in the backfield. The Cardinals are off to the best start in franchise history and Murray looks to continue his great performance. He is my front runner for league MVP because without him the team would struggle to move the ball. Murray does need to cut down on the turnovers in order for the Cardinals to make a playoff run this year.
- Cooper Kupp WR (Los Angeles Rams 6-1) – Everyone will say this should be Matthew Stafford and I could not agree more, but I cannot ignore the performance Cooper Kupp has put on thus far. Kupp leads the league in receptions (56), receiving yards (809), and receiving touchdowns (9). Stafford and Kupp have formed a duo that is a force to recon with in the NFL. Teams know Kupp is Stafford’s favorite target, but they seem to still find a way to connect of the field. This is surprising since it is Stafford’s first year with the Rams. Kupp is on pace to break both the NFL single season receiving yards and touchdown records. If he does this, I think it would be an interesting conversation for NFL MVP.
- Tom Brady QB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-1) – Well what can you say? Tom Brady continues to show us why he is widely considered the “GOAT” of the NFL. He’s clearly put last season behind him where he only led the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl since 2001 and he won Super Bowl MVP with a tremendous performance. This season Brady is on the mindset of getting back to the Super Bowl to prove last year was no fluke. He has already broke numerous records in just 7 games, and he leads the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns. It won’t be a surprise to see them make another deep playoff run.
- Aaron Rodgers QB (Green Bay Packers 7-1) – The reigning NFL MVP is looking to go back-to-back by the way he has started the season. After losing to the New Orleans Saints in week 1, Arron Rodgers has led the Packers to 7 straight victories. He looks more poised then usual making good reads, getting the ball out quick, and keeping the offense on schedule. The Packers offense has started to pick up in the run game which will only benefit Rodgers and make his job easier. This past Thursday, Rodgers was with out top wideout Devante Adams and was still able to find a way to defeat the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals. His numbers weren’t great, but he was efficient. The Packers look to make another deep run in the playoffs with Rodgers playing on an MVP level.
- Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys 5-1) – Dak Prescott had the biggest target entering on his back entering the 2021 season. He was coming off a career threatening injury, and the Cowboys broke the bank to give him a new contract during the offseason. Prescott is in a situation where he must prove that he is worth the money he was paid. So far the Cowboys are looking like they made the right decision. Prescott is currently battling a calf injury and is a game time decision to play this Sunday. Its going to be interesting to see if he tries tough it out, but the team must think long term and think about if it is worth the risk.
- Joe Burrow QB (Cincinnati Bengals 5-2) – Joe Burrow is showing us that he belongs in the NFL after starting the season off on a good foot. Coming off a season ending injury there were a lot of doubts about how Burrow would perform. Now that he has shown that the injury is no issue, Bengals fans can now enjoy their young franchise quarterback with the addition of the human highlight reel rookie wideout Jamar Chase. If Burrow can improve taking care of the ball the Bengals could find themselves making their first playoff appearance since 2015.
- Josh Allen QB (Buffalo Bills 4-2) – It’s not a supervise for Josh Allen to be playing well. Allen at times makes his throws look easy and routine hitting his receivers in stride. He has improved a lot with anticipating throws and getting the ball out quickly. Allen has also taken care of the football only throwing 3 interceptions so far this season. The Bills rely heavily on the passing game, so their success is credit to Allen’s incredible performance.
- Lamar Jackson QB (Baltimore Ravens 5-2) – Lamar can be somewhat of a gift and a curse, but you take that because of his dynamic skill set. He still has his turnover issues not holding on to the ball and trying to make too much out of a play. Jackson has improved passing the football, but this team thrives on his running ability. If he continues to improve his passing skills the Ravens offense can jump to a different level.
- Justin Herbert QB (Los Angeles Chargers 4-2) – Justin Herbert has improved him game from last year as the Chargers hoped he would. Coming off an Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, there was a bit of a hype train coming into this season for Herbert. He has exceeded expectations and help the Chargers become contenders in the AFC. Herbert is no doubt the leader of this team, and now it will come down can he finish the season on a positive note.
- Derrick Henry RB (Tennessee Titans 5-2) – What else is there to say about Derrick Henry? He is simply the most phenomenal offensive weapon in the game today. It does not matter if he faces a crowded box, the Titans will run the ball down your throat until they get tired. Henry is on track to gain another 2,000 rushing yards this season and reign supreme as the NFL rushing king. If only he can get help from AJ Brown and Juilo Jones.
- Derek Carr QB (Las Vegas Raiders 5-2) – After all the Jon Gruden nonsense, Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia and Derek Carr were able to lead this team to two straight wins. Carr has stepped up his play from last season. He is taking more shots down field and trusting his receiver more to catch the ball.
- Alvin Kamara RB (New Orleans Saints 4-2) – It is no secret that the Saints offense runs through Alvin Kamara. He is the unspoken leader of this team and always keeps the team first. With the retirement of Drew Brees, Jameis Winston is now the starting quarterback for the Saints. He has had some good moments during games showing how much he’s improved since arriving in New Orleans. Kamara is no question his main target. So far this season Kamara shown he is ready to take on whatever workload is thrown his way. He leads the team in rushing yards (419) while also leading the team in targets (33), receptions (25), and receiving touchdowns (4). If Kamara keep continues to perform this way, he could help the Saints compete for a division title.
- Myles Garrett DE Cleveland Browns 4-3) – Garrett is the most dominant edge defender in the NFL today. He wins most of his matchups with his power, aggressiveness, speed, and determination. So far this season, Garrett has gotten off to a fast start recording 9.5 sacks, 9 tackles for a loss in only 7 games. Both stats sit at the top of the NFL. The offense has struggled to move the ball lately due to the inconsistency of Baker Mayfield. This has left the defense on the field a lot and puts pressure on them to stop the opposing offense every possession. Garrett will most likely be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year by seasons end, but it won’t mean anything to him if the team is not in the playoffs.
- Kirk Cousins QB (Minnesota Vikings 3-3) – There are times where Kirk Cousins looks like an elite quarterback in this league, then there are times where he looks like an undrafted rookie making his first NFL start. Most of the time its hard to know which guy he’s going to be each game. This season he has pulled out some tough victories coming from behind multiple times. He has improved at taking care of the football only committing 2 turnovers so far this season.
- Matt Ryan QB (Atlanta Falcons 3-3) – Matt Ryan has surprisingly played well this season despite the lack of offensive weapons around him. He has started to gain more chemistry with rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, and he has made the most out of Cordarrelle Patterson. The Falcons are still trying to find its identity on offense and the defense is improving as the season progresses. Ryan will need to keep up his impressive performance for the Falcons to remain relevant in the NFC Wildcard race.
- T.J Watt DE (Pittsburgh Steelers 3-3) – Watt is dominant force on the defensive side of the ball, and he is making a case for another DPOY award. He started the season off with a huge performance against the Buffalo Bills in week 1 recording 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Watt has missed one game this season due to injury, but it has not slowed down his production. If he is not of the field, the Steelers defense is not the same. He is 3rd in the NFL in both sacks (7) and forced fumbles (3).
- Jonathan Taylor RB (Indianapolis Colts 3-4) – Jonathan Taylor is quickly turning into one of the top running backs in the NFL. He has carried the load on offense for the Colts this season while being without his All-Pro offensive linemen Quinton Nelson for a few games. This season Taylor is 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards (579) behind Derrick Henry. His receiving skills have also been on display as he is 3rd on the team in targets (21), receptions (18), and receiving yards (213). If Taylor continues this pace, he could find himself in the Offensive Player of the Year discussion as well as making the Pro Bowl.
- Tyreek Hill WR (Kansas City Chiefs 3-4) – Patrick Mahomes has disappointed a lot of fans and spectators this season with his poor performance. The only person who has saved him from complete turmoil is his favorite deep target Tyreek Hill. Hill has been getting open consistently this season trying to make life easier for Mahomes. He is averaging around ninety-one receiving yards per game while leading the Chiefs in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. I expect the Chiefs to turn things around sooner rather then later which means Mahomes will improve, and Hill’s numbers will on get better.
- J.C Jackson CB (New England Patriots 3-4) – Some may think Mac Jones or Damien Harris belongs here, but both have had subpar seasons so far. Jackson has become one of the top corners in the league this season. He has defended 10 passes while recording 3 interceptions. The Patriots offense has had its ups and downs this season so the defense must help keep the games close to keep the team in a winning position towards the end. Jackson will possibly be a pro bowler by seasons end.
- Courtland Sutton WR (Denver Broncos 3-4) – Sutton is coming off a ACL injury that cut his season short last season. Coming into 2021 season, Sutton was thought of as the number 2 wide receiver behind 2nd year standout Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy suffered an injury during the first game and was placed on Injured Reserve. Sutton took this as an opportunity to reclaim himself as the number 1 wide receiver of the Broncos and did not look back. Since opening day, Sutton has proven to be a reliable target catching sixty-five percent of the passes thrown his way. He also leads the Broncos in targets (58), receptions (38), and receiving yards (539). If Teddy Bridgewater can be more consistent the offense will take a major step forward to being a playoff team.
- Roquan Smith LB (Chicago Bears 3-4) – Roquan Smith is not only the leader of the Bears’ defense, but he is the leader of the whole team. His voice echoes throughout the locker room as he demands the very best out of each teammate. Smith makes plays on each level of the defense. He shows his versatility off each play quickly finding his way to the football. He leads the team in tackles while also contributing as a pass rusher and pass defender. So far this season Smith has recorded 2 sacks,3 tackles for a loss, 3 pass deflections, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. With the offense being led by rookie quarterback Justin Fields, the defense will be leaned on heavily to keep the Bears in games.
- D.J. Moore WR (Carolina Panthers 3-4) – D.J. Moore could have better numbers, but Sam Darnold has regressed since the Panthers 3-0 start this season. Moore has become Darnold’s favorite target since Christian McCaffrey’s injury and has not let him down. He is tough for any defensive back to guard with his speed, acceleration, and willingness to make contested catches. Moore leads the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. His consistency is the only thing keeping the Panthers offense afloat.
- Debo Samuel WR (San Francisco 49ers 2-4) – Debo Samuel has been the 49ers most consistent playmaker this season on offense. He’s contributed to both the run and pass game. On the ground Samuel has averaged around 3.7 yards per carry. As a receiver he leads the team in targets (63), receptions (38), receiving yards (648), and receiving touchdowns (4). Whoever the starting quarterback is, Samuel will be their favorite target to throw to. The 49ers will try to put the ball in his hands anyway they can try to keep their offense productive.
- Bobby Wagner LB (Seattle Seahawks 2-5) – Bobby Wagner continues to be a staple on this defense as he has been for the last decade. At age 31, Wagner is second in the NFL in tackles (79) and still moves as if he were in his early twenties. This season has been tuff for the Seahawks losing their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to a broken figure and having to play with back up QB Geno Smith. With the offense not at its strongest, its up to Wagner and the defense to help keep the team in games.
- Daniel Jones (New York Giants 2-5) – Jones has shown some improvement trying his best to make plays for the Giants offense. He just cannot overcome the mistakes he makes late in games. Jones is facing a lot of pressure this season as the Giants did not pick up his 5th year option and his future with the team is up in the air.
- Javon Hargrave DT (Philadelphia Eagles 2-5) – The former South Carolina State standout Hargrave has been the lone bright spot on the Eagles defense this season. He has terrorized offensive linemen with his power and quickness off the ball while making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. Hargrave has recorded 6 sacks this season followed by 7 tackles for a loss. His continuous pressure on the quarterback has benefited the secondary as they have recorded 6 interceptions which is tied for 6th in the NFL.
- Terry McLaurin WR (Washington Football Team 2-5) – So far Terry McLaurin has solidified himself as Washington’s number 1 offensive treat this season. He leads the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Taylor Heinicke has done his best to keep Washington’s offense viable and competitive in games this season. Heinicke has made McLaurin his safety blanket anytime he needs to complete a pass.
- Trevor Lawrence QB (Jacksonville Jaguars 1-5) – Trevor Lawrence is having an up and down season as I expected to see from the number 1 overall draft pick. He has shown some flashes of how good he can be in the NFL while showing he also has room to grow. Lawrence is guilty of missing some throws, forcing balls to receivers when covered, and not knowing when to take sacks. These things are fixable with more experience as the season goes along. I expect Lawrence to improve his performance and finish the season as the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
- Corey Davis WR (New York Jets 1-5) – Davis has stepped in a made himself a number 1 wide out in this league. Even though he has not gotten any consistent play from his rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson, Davis has made the most out of his opportunities. He currently leads the Jets in targets (42), receptions (24), receiving yards (349), and receiving touchdowns (4). Davis will need to continue his impressive start to the season for the Jets to be any type of threat on offense.
- Mike Gesicki TE (Miami Dolphins 1-6) – Gesicki has been the Dolphins most consistent target on the team. He can get open and make plays after the catch and he blocks in the run game when needed to. He has become the safety blanket for any of the starting quarterbacks on the team.
- Jonathan Greenard DE (Houston Texans 1-6) – Greenard is having a good season so far. He’s top 10 in the league in both sacks (6) and tackles for loss (7). Greenard also has one pass deflection on his stat line. He’s been in the oppenents backfield a lot this season. Along with fellow teammate Christian Kirksey, Greenard has been the most impact player on the Texans’ defense.
- DeAndre Swift RB (Detriot Lions 0-7) – Swift has been the Lions only consistent offensive threat so far this season. He may average 3.4 yards per carry, but he also he contributes in the passing game. He currently leads the team in receptions (43) and receiving yards (391). Swift takes advantage of his touches and helps the Lions offense stay somewhat balanced. He will be the reason the Lions eventually get their first win.
With the College Football season off to a great start, we now have had time to watch all the impact players around the nation. A good many of these players will end up playing on Sundays for your favorite NFL team. Here is your chance to familiarize yourself with the future stars of the NFL. I present to you my 2022 NFL Draft Top 50 Big Board!
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- Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE, Oregon (6-4, 250lbs) – Thibodeaux is possibly the most explosive defensive player to enter the draft since Myles Garret in 2016. Thibodeaux is an excellent pass rusher coming off the edge, but he will need to work on being a better run defender to help translate his game to the NFL.
- Evan Neal Offensive Tackle, Alabama (6-7, 360lbs) – Evan Neal has been one of the nations top offensive tackles since high school. He started as a true freshman at right tackle and hasn’t looked back since. This season he was switched over to left tackle to help improve the Crimson Tide’s young offensive line. As a right tackle Neal was a mauler. He opened a lot of holes and was a good pass protector. He did struggle with fast edge rushers, but still held his own in the trenches. Neal could always move inside to play guard in the NFL if he struggles at tackle. For a man his size, Neal displays good quickness and athleticism.
- Derek Stingley Jr. DB, LSU (6-1, 190lbs) – Stingley is great at shutting down receivers and making big plays. He displays good instincts, ball skills, and cover ability. He is the top cornerback of the draft class.
- Jordan Davis DT, Georgia (6-6, 340lbs) – Davis is very athletic for a man his size but posses the power to break down an offensive line. He is the key to Georgia’s run defense that tops the nation in rushing yards allowed. Davis can also generate pressure up the middle during passing downs. He makes life hard on the Quarterback by collapsing the pocket.
- Demarvin Leal DT (6-4, 290lbs) – Leal is another massive human being that moves faster than he’s measurements would suggest. SEC offensive linemen have had fits trying to block him. Leal is best when rushing the passer up the middle and forcing quarterbacks to bail out the pocket. As a run defender he is great a penetrating the offensive line and making plays in the backfield.
- Matt Corral QB, Ole Miss (6-1, 205lbs) – Corral has improved since last year where he never looked completely comfortable in Lane Kiffin’s offense. This year he looks to be in more control and confident about the throws and decisions he makes. So far this season Corral has completed 70 percent of his passes, thrown for more the 1,200 passing yards, and 10 touchdown passes. He is on track to top last year’s stats in each category. This shows how much improvement he has made. What makes Corral so special is his dual-treat ability. He can hurt the defense by passing the ball or he can take off and gain his own yards.
- Kyle Hamilton S, Notre Dame (6-4, 216lbs) – Hamilton is an athletic freak at the safety position. He can run, cover, and tackle from sideline to sideline. In pass coverage he can man against any skill position players, and in zone coverage he is able to read the quarterback to find his way to the ball. A quality to Hamilton’s game that does not get talked about much is his ability to come down in the box to help defend the run.
- Kenyon Green G/T, Texas A&M (6-4, 325lbs) – Green has the size and skills to be a phenomenal guard in the NFL. This year he was moved to right tackle to help fill some holes on the Aggies offensive line. This will only help Green show off his versatility if he performs well at right tackle. Some other qualities to Green’s game are his hand placement during blocks, pulling in open space, and ability to finish blocks.
- Adam Anderson EDGE, Georgia (6-4, 226lbs) – Adam Anderson has one of the most explosive first steps off the ball then any other edge rusher in this draft class. Anderson is pretty much been under the radar since arriving in Georgia only playing in a rotational role. He did make his limited playing time count coming up with huge sacks and putting pressure on the Quarterback consistently. If he can prove to be a three-down starter and defend the run, he could rise even higher on the board.
- Kaiir Elm DB, Florida (6-1, 187lbs) – Elam has good height with a great wingspan to match. He utilizes his wingspan well in pass coverage to deflect passes and create turnovers. He has quick feet and plays with aggression when making tackles.
- Drake Jackson EDGE, USC (6-4, 250lbs) – Jackson has good pass rushing skills coming off the edge as a 4-3 defensive end. Another quality trait about Jackson is how versatile he is. The Trojans have lined him up as an edge defender and OLB this season. Even though this reduced his pass rushing opportunities, Jackson was still effective on defense playing in space and dropping into pass coverage. Drake’s strength is playing with his hand in the dirt, but if he continues to improve playing in space, he can rise up many draft boards.
- Chris Olave WR, Ohio State (6-0, 182lbs) – Olave is one of the smoothest route runners in this deep wide receivers’ draft class. He displays great in game speed that allows him to easily break in and out his routes. Even though he is not the ideal height of a number one wide receiver, Olave has the athleticism to win in jump ball situations.
- Aidan Hutchinson EDGE, Michigan (6-6, 261lbs) – Hutchinson has the size and frame to play in the NFL as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 five-technique defensive end. He is stout at the line of scrimmage defending the run. As a pass rusher he needs to add more moves to his arsenal to improve that area to his game. He has motor that does not stop until the play ends which helps him make hustle plays for his team.
- George Karlaftis EDGE, Purdue (6-4, 275lbs) – Effort, Motor, and Technique are three words that perfectly describes George Karlaftis’ play on the field. He is good at penetrating the offensive line and causing havoc in the backfield. As on now he defends the run better then rushing the passer. As pass rusher he will need to utilize other moves to get to the quarterback. Once he does that, Karlaftis will coveted by the time the draft gets here.
- Jermaine Johnson EDGE, Florida State (6-4, 255lbs) – Georgia Bulldogs transfer Jermaine Johnson has made a big impact on the Seminoles defense this season. Before transferring Johnson was a part of a Georgia defense that featured Azeez Ojulari, Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith. Ojulari played the feature role while the Johnson, Anderson, Smith played rotational roles. This season at Florida State, Johnson has been given a chance to show more of his talents with more playing time. He has been a nuisance to block for offensive linemen in both the run and pass game.
- Chase Hines OG, LSU (6-3, 323lbs) – Hines has good size for an interior lineman at the NFL level. At the point of attack, he mauls defensive linemen off the ball and creates huge running lanes. If he can improve his pass blocking skills, he could be the first interior offensive linemen taken in the draft.
- Malik Willis QB, Liberty (6-1, 215) – Willis has been on the rise since the end of last season and his hype train continues to roll. This season he has completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,327 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also has scored six rushing touchdowns. Willis has a strong arm that can make any throw on the field. He throws a good deep ball with excellent touch and placement. As a runner he is hard to bring down in open space. Teams will have questions about Willis’ height due to the success rate of quarterbacks under 6 feet. With the evolution of players such as Kyler Murry, Russell Wilson, and recently retired Drew Brees; Willis may have a chance to find success in the NFL.
- Tarie Casto-Fields DB, Penn State (6-0, 197lbs) – Casto-Fields is on the most athletic defensive backs in the upcoming draft. He is physical at the point of attack and not afraid to come down and make a tackle. After only appearing in three games during the 2020 season, Casto-Fields will need to prove he can stay healthy for the whole season.
- Jalen Wydrer TE, Texas A&M (6-5, 260lbs) – Wydermyer has good size, good speed, and great athleticism at the tight end position. Another quality about Wydermyer’s game is his willingness to run block. He is not afraid to take on defensive ends or outside linebackers to help create running lanes for running backs. As a receiver he consistently gets open in man and zone coverage. If he can improve his route running, he’ll prove to be a three-down starting tight end in the NFL.
- R.J. Roderick S, South Carolina (5-11, 203) – Roderick plays well in coverage but just hasn’t gotten a lot of interceptions. He will come down in the box and make a
- Isaiah Spiller RB, Texas A&M (6-1, 225lbs) – Spiller is the top running back in this class due to his combination of size and speed coming out the backfield. He also has good hands to be a receiving threat out of the backfield. He will need to improve his pass blocking skill to prepare himself for blitzing NFL linebackers and defensive backs.
- Sam Howell QB, North Carolina (6-1, 220lbs) – Howell has had some ups and downs this season, but that was expected due to the talent that left to go to the NFL. This season Sam has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,697 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s tough, has a good arm, and can make plays on the ground. He will need to improve his accuracy as the season continues to show teams there is no problem there.
- Justyn Ross WR, Clemson (6-4, 205lbs) – Ross was one of the most dominant wide receivers in the country his first two years with the Tigers. In 2020 he was sidelined with a career threatening congenital neck issue that required surgery. This season Ross returned to the field a little rusty but has found his footing in recent games. If he continues to improve and show his durability, Ross will find himself back in first round consideration.
- Spencer Rattler QB, Oklahoma (6-1, 205lbs) – Rattler has been a disappointment this season struggling to throw the ball down field and turning the ball over in bunches. He was benched against Texas in favor of young Caleb Williams who led a comeback for the ages. Rattler this season has completed 74 percent of his passes, thrown ten touchdowns, and five interceptions. He has a good arm with great athleticism, but he will need to cut down on turning the ball over. If he decides to enter the draft, Rattler will have a lot of questions to answer about why he struggled this season. Teams will have to do their homework before the invest an early round pick on him.
- Bubba Bolden S, Miami (6-3, 205lbs) – Bolden is the perfect safety for the NFL. He has the size, arm length, and athleticism to make plays in pass coverage. Bolden makes his name know when he hits someone. He comes downhill with bad intentions to disrupt the run game.
- Brandon Smith LB, Penn State (6-3, 240lbs) – Smith has great size for a linebacker and moves like a defensive back. He can control the middle of a defense and shed blocks to make tackles. In pass coverage he is solid and able to play man or zone coverage.
- Alec Lindstrom C, Boston College (6-3, 302lbs) – Lindstorm worked his way into the starting lineup last season and performed well against some good competition. A quality that sticks out about him is his height and length. Lindstorm has an incredible wingspan that allows him to easily bench press defensive linemen. He’s good at the point of attack as a run blocker which helps create holes for running backs.
- Trevor Penning OT, Northwestern (6-7, 329lbs) – Penning has good speed and athleticism combined with his massive size. His first punch during pass protection will knock the breath out of any defensive linemen. As a run blocker he is good at creating lanes for running backs and blocking in space.
- Zion Nelson G/T, Miami (6-5, 312lbs) – Nelson struggled against Alabama at the start of the season but has found his footing since then. He is athletic for his size and moves very well off the line of scrimmage. As a run blocker he mauls players off the ball. He does need to improve his pass protection skills. He seems to have trouble with speed rushers coming around the edge.
- Brenton Cox DE/OLB, Florida (6-4, 247lbs) – Cox has a high motor that is relentless and won’t stop until he finds the ball carrier. He could really improve a team a pass rush which is one of his best traits.
- Trent McDuffie DB, Washington (5-11, 195lbs) – McDuffie has good speed and coverage skills to compete at the next level. His height may come into question for some teams, but on tape he plays bigger than his actual size.
- D’Vonte Price RB, Florida International (6-2, 225lbs) – Price has great size for a future NFL running back. He’s the type of work horse back that can withstand carrying the ball 20 plus times a game. So far this season Price has 76 carries for 411 yards and six touchdowns. He averages around 5.4 yards a carry. He also has shown he is solid at catching the ball recording four receptions for 39 yards.
- Christian Harris LB (6-2, 235lbs) – Harris is good in man and zone coverage. He runs sideline to sideline. He fits what the NFL is looking for in linebackers. He will need to add on a few more pounds to withstand the offensive linemen at the second level.
- DeMarvion Overshown LB, Texas (6-2, 215lbs) – Overshown is another fast linebacker who can make plays in both the run and pass game. He can cover tight ends, running backs, and possibly a slot receiver. As run defender he fills his gaps with intensity to shut down the run.
- Perrion Winfrey DT, Oklahoma (6-3, 298lbs) – Winfrey is another defensive lineman with huge upside. He has a quick first step and good with his hands at the point of attack. Oklahoma lines Winfrey up as a 0 or 4i in their defensive scheme, but he will have more success lined up as a three-technique defensive tackle.
- Treylon Burks WR, Arkansas (6-3, 225lbs) – Burks has started off the season well and made a huge impact on the Razorbacks offense. He is good at utilizing his size to make contested catches over smaller defensive backs. After the catch, Burks makes it hard to get him on the ground. If he shows NFL teams that his speed has improved look for him be selected late in the first round.
- Smoke Monday S, Auburn (6-1, 204lbs) – Monday is one of those types of safeties that can help defend the run and the pass to help a defense. His biggest strength is his ability to force turnovers via interceptions or forced fumbles.
- Darian Kinnard OT, Kentucky (6-5, 342lbs) – Kinnard plays with a nasty attitude and it shows when he is run blocking. He has some improvement to do in pass protection, but he can hold his ground against greater competition. This season, Kinnard looks quicker and more explosive at the point of attack. This could be due to the weight he lost during the offseason.
- Dawson Deaton C, Texas Tech (6-5, 300lbs) – Deaton has a lot of experience starting for the Red Raiders the last few seasons. On the field he has the length, size, and athleticism to compete at center in the NFL. Any team that drafts him will gain somewhat of a veteran with many starts under his belt.
- Kenneth Walker lll RB, Michigan State (5-10, 210lbs) – Walker has been a monster for the Spartans this season. He is running with solid quickness for a runner at his size. Walker has a physical run style which he displays each game. So far this season he is averaging 6.8 yards a carry. Walker has not had many chances to show off his receiving skills but he solid catching the ball.
- Jefferey Gunter DE/OLB, Costal Carolina (6-4, 260lbs) – Gunter is a good athlete on the edge. He can defend both the run and pass. As a pass rusher he demonstrates good technique to continually pressure the quarterback.
- Alontae Taylor DB, Tennessee (6-0, 192lbs) – Taylor is a former wide receiver turned defensive back with a combination of size and speed to cover NFL type wide receivers. Along with those qualities, Taylor also displays the physicality to play press coverage.
- Christopher Smith S, Georgia (5-10, 185lbs) – Smith is a quick and athletic safety whose instincts help him in pass coverage. He can play man coverage and hold his own against most receivers.
- Nick Ford C, Utah (6-3, 303lbs) – Ford is very versatile after having played all five positions along the offensive line while attending Utah. He started the most at right guard but seems to project as a center in NFL due how undersized he is. If he can add more weight by the time the draft process begins, he has chance to rise up some draft boards.
- Zakoby McClain LB, Auburn (6-0, 220lbs) – McClain does nothing but find the ball and tackle the ball carrier. He is good as a run defender being able to shed blocks and make life hard of the running back. McClain will need to improve his skill in pass coverage to have success in the NFL.
- Jahan Dotson WR, Penn State (5-10, 175lbs) – Dotson is a speedster that is tough and not afraid to go over the middle to make a catch. His size may not be appealing to most but on the field, he plays bigger than he is. A good comp for Dotson would be Houston Texans wide receiver Bredon Cooks. Not the tallest or fastest guy of the field, but he can hurt you if given the chance to.
- Zachary Carter DT, Florida (6-3, 285lbs) – Carter may not have the ideal weight but don’t let his size fool you. He has a quick first step that translates into tackles for loss. He generates pressure in the pocket and help the guys on the outside thrive in man coverage.
- Jake Ferguson TE, Wisconsin (6-5, 244lbs) – Ferguson is a very reliable target for any quarterback. The best quality about Ferguson is his ability to block and create running lanes. If he had better quarterback play, he could be higher on the board.
- Phidarian Mathis DT, Alabama (6-4, 320lbs) – Mathis has flashed this season disrupting the run and generating pressure on passing downs. He needs to continue to put together solid performances to help raise his stock.
- James Skalski LB, Clemson (6-0, 246lbs) – Skalski is a tough run defender that has good instincts. He has improved in pass coverage being able to help more on the outside.
This draft class is loaded with defensive playmakers from the front 7 to the back 4. The quarterbacks in this class are talented but have questions about how consistent they can be week to week. None of them are clear cut number 1 pick such as Trevor Lawrence was last year. The depth of some positions will make this draft intriguing as we go round by round. With this being a mid-season board, players still have a chance to rise and make their names known.
- Denver Broncos – Vic Fangio is on the hot seat entering his 3rd season as the Broncos Head Coach. Fangio is 12-20 as Head Coach, but not all the blame can go towards him. Over the past 2 seasons multiple starters such as Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Courtland Sutton have suffered season ending injuries. On top of injuries, The Broncos have had inconsistent play at the Quarterback position. This season Fangio has decided to go in a different direction by naming veteran QB Teddy Bridgewater as the teams’ starter for week 1.
The Broncos’ defense will be a one of the main reasons they have the success this season. Von Miller is returning from injury and looks to retake his claim as the best defensive player in the league. The secondary was improved this offseason with the addition of Patrick Surtain ll, and Bradley Chubb is now fully healthy. With a young and healthy defense, I predict the Broncos to finish top 10 in overall defense. If Teddy Bridgewater is consistent at moving the offense, does not turn the ball over, and spreads the ball around to all his young weapons; The Broncos could be a surprise wild card team at seasons end.
- New York Giants – The Giants enter the 2021 season with some questions about their future. Daniel Jones is entering his 3rd season as the starting QB, but questions remain on if he is the face of the franchise. Jones has shown flashes of greatness in his first two seasons but has not been consistent enough to gain trust from the Giants organization. They have yet to pick up his 5th year player option on his rookie contract.
Daniel Jones has not been the only problem for the Giants trouble. Having talent on the field with him has also been a problem as well. Running Back Saquon Barkley and Tight End Evan Engram both have not been able to stay on the field because of injury. Outside of those two, the Giants have not had many playmakers until now. The Giants spent a lot of money and draft capitol to improve the offense. Players such as WR Kenny Golladay, WR John Ross, TE Kyle Rudolph, and rookie WR Kadarius Tony will be counted on to improve the offense.
On the defensive side of the ball the Giants were looking to improve drastically this off season. They spent money on players such as CB Adoee’ Jackson, LB Ryan Anderson, LB Ifeadi Odenigbo, and DT Danny Shelton to help the defense return to their dominate form. With resigning star DT Lenard Williams, the Giants hope this defense can cause havoc in the NFC. If EVERYTHING goes right, the Giants could be another team that slips into the wild card round. If not, Head Coach Joe Judge may find himself on the hot seat or choosing another rookie QB.
- Carolina Panthers – The Carolina Panthers had a busy off season after trading Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos, and then acquiring QB Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. The Panthers showed their confidence in Darnold by picking up his fifth-year player option. This was important for the Panthers as they had no clear direction at the QB position. With Darnold in the fold, the Panthers focused on surrounding him with weapons along side RB Christian McCaffery. The Panthers added to their offense by drafting players such as WR Terrance Marshall, RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Shi Smith, and TE Tommy Tremble. The hope is that many of these young players make a big impact early this season.
On defense, The Panthers young talent is gaining more experience from last year when most of them were rookies. This unit is led by last years first round pick DT Derrick Brown and second round pick DE Yetur Gross-Matos. Both players made their names known last year as rookies. Brown was a force in the run game, while Gross-Matos gained more experience as a pass rusher. If this young defense continues to improve, and the offense develops more playmakers; the Panther can find themselves in the playoffs.
- Atlanta Falcons – The Atlanta Falcons are under a new reign of coaches and management entering the 2021 season. New Head Coach Arthur Smith looks to bring his run first mentality to a team that has been pass dominant for the last few years. Along with a new Head Coach, the Falcons also welcome new General Manager Terry Fontenot to the team. Both men come from winning cultures and look to build a new one in Atlanta.
The new culture looking to be built will be without one of the Falcons’ key pieces from the last decade, Julio Jones. Jones had requested a trade earlier in the off season and that request was granted when he was traded to the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons offense will look to some young talent to step up and help Matt Ryan Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst. One of the big names to watch out for will be rookie TE Kyle Pitts. Pitts will bring speed, athleticism, and his playmaking ability to an offense that was not explosive at all last year. Russel Gage is another player that will be relied upon to make plays. Last season, Gage stepped into the number 2 wide receiver role and became a reliable target for Matt Ryan.
On defense the Falcons return a handful of starters that include LB Deion Jones, DT Grady Jarrett, LB Foyesade Oluokun, OLB Dante Fowler Jr., and CB A.J. Terrell. The defense was one of the worst in the NFL last year. New Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees looks to turn things around and create more pressure on the opposing offense. The Falcons lack a consistent pass rush which is why they only recorded 29 sacks as a team in the 2020 season. It will take a great effort on both sides of the ball for the Atlanta Falcons to make the playoffs this season.
The Atlanta Falcons are in somewhat of a rebuilding mode heading into the 2021 NFL season. After an off season that saw a lot changes from the front office, coaching staff, and roster; The Falcons will look to a handful of young talent to step up and be key contributors on both sides of the ball. Here are the Top 5 young players to watch for the Atlanta Falcons this season.
- Russel Gage – Gage will be under the most pressure out of all the young players. Gage will step into the number 2 wide receiver role and be counted on to take pressure away from Calvin Ridley. Last season he took advantage of Julio Jones’ absence recording 72 receptions for 786 yards and scoring 4 touchdowns. This year he will need to enhance those numbers for the offense to be more explosive.
- Marlon Davison – Davison is coming off an injury pled season where he saw limited time. He appeared in 8 games where he did not make much of an impact. Davison needs to help make an impact in the middle of the defense with Grady Jarrett to improve a defense that was last in many defensive categories in 2020.
- Matt Hennessey – Hennessey will most like be the starting center Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. As a rookie he struggled as a pass protector up the middle. Over the offseason he worked on getting stronger and more aggressive to compete with opposing defensive linemen. Hennessey will need to be more consistent as a blocker to keep Matt Ryan upright and create running lanes for Mike Davis.
- AJ Terrell – After an unusual offseason in 2020, Terrell had a slow start to his rookie campaign while trying to carve his niche in the NFL. He eventually found his footing and turned in a good rookie season where he had 7 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and one interception. Terrell will need to continue to improve his game become an elite corner.
- Kaleb McGary/Chris Lindstrom – I’m grouping both guys together because they were both drafted the same round and same year. Both have had some injury issues to the start of their career. McGary is currently on the PUP list due to an unknown injury. When he is healthy, McGary can be a dominant right tackle especially as a run blocker. He just needs to stay healthy. Right now, there is no timetable to when he will return. This means rookie Jaylen Mayfield could start at right tackle. Lindstrom was solid in 2020 starting in all 16 games after only appearing in 6 games his rookie season. If he continues to improve, Lindstrom has a chance to make a Pro Bowl this year.
With football season approaching in the fall, it’s never too early to think about what could happen 9 months from now. The 2022 NFL Draft is full of athletes that poses great potential. Players such as Oklahoma Sooners Quarterback Spencer Rattler, North Carolina Tarheels Quarterback Sam Howell, and Oregon Ducks Edge Rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux will be a few of the headliners of this deep draft class. Depending on where your team is picking in this mock draft, you may love the player your team picks
- Houston Texans: QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
- We all know Deshun Watson will eventually be traded and the Texans will need to address the Quarterback position. After experiencing what Lamar Jackson can do, Head Coach David Culley will have a vision in mind on how to use Rattler. Rattler has a strong arm, the mobility and accuracy to give defenses problems at the next level.
- Detroit Lions: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina
- The Lions picking this high means Jared Goff did not live up to expectations and the team decides to move on. Dan Campbell now gets to choose his own Quarterback to lead a young group of players. Howell has a great arm, throws accurate passes, and has good athleticism to get outside the pocket. He can force some throws which could lead to interceptions, but that can be coached out of him.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
- Even though the Jaguars are riding a big hype train coming into this season, they still have a young roster that needs to develop more as a group. Urban Myer will soon figure out that the NFL is not like the college level. Cam Robinson is playing on the franchise tag this year and it looks that he will not return for the 2022 season. Even Neal is a massive human being at 6’7 360 pounds but has good athleticism for his size. Neal can step in at left tackle and protect Trevor Lawrence’s blind side.
- New York Jets: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux
- The Jets luck out and get possibly the number 1 player in the draft. The Jets are another young team that needs a year or 2 to develop. Coach Robert Saleh loves adding talented defensive linemen to his defense and creating pressure with his front 7. Thibodeaux is the most dominant player in the country, and he will immediately make an impact in the NFL.
- Cincinnati Bengals: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
- The Bengals may soon regret not taking left tackle Penei Sewell to protect Joe Burrow’s blind side. If Borrow spends most of this upcoming season on his back, then it won’t be a surprise to see them picking this high again. This time the top offensive linemen is off the board and they do not want to reach for one with a high pick. Instead they decide to go best player available. Derek Stingley Jr. is the top defensive back in the nation. He plays well in man coverage and can tackle on the perimeter.
- Philadelphia Eagles: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
- Jalen Hurts may struggle his first year as a full starter due to the lack of playmakers around him. I would be surprised if the Eagles went with another Quarterback this high. It seems as if the Eagles are always needing a corner in every mock draft. Well Eagles fans here’s your guy. Elam is the second-best defensive back in the draft and with another solid season could challenge Stingley for the top spot. In his career so far, Elam has only allowed thirty-three catches on seventy plus targets.
- New York Giants: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
- The Giants finally realize Daniel Jones isn’t the answer and decide to move in another direction. Coach Joe Judge will get to start fresh with the Quarterback of his choice. The Malik Willis hype train has taken off and by the time the draft comes around, his name should be mentioned as a top 10 pick. Willis has the physical make up to play in the NFL along with the intangibles. He has a strong arm, good mobility, but he needs to improve his accuracy to improve his game.
- Atlanta Falcons: Edge Drake Jackson, USC
- The Falcons have been begging for a pass rush since John Abraham left the team years ago. Now they find a young pass rusher that’s vastly developing his game. Drake Jackson is raw but flashes the talent to be a fierce pass rusher. Being consistent will be the challenge for him in order to become a dominant player.
- Carolina Panthers: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
- The Panthers need to surround Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey with more talent for the offense to evolve. Adding more weapons on the perimeter will take more defenders out the box and help McCaffrey in the run game. Wilson is a smooth route runner who can easily create separation.
- New York Giants (Via Bears): LB Christian Harris, Alabama
- With their second 1st round pick the Giants decide to get their Quarterback of the defense. Christian Harris is a day one starter. He can step in and call a defense as a Mike linebacker. He can run, tackle, and cover if asked to. The Giants defense gets younger and faster with this pick.
- Denver Broncos: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
- The Broncos secondary gets a huge shot in the arm with this pick. Kyle Hamilton is a long and rangy safety that can come down in the box to help in the run game. He also is an effective blitzer. Hamilton paired with Justin Simmons could form a dynamic duo at the safety position.
- Las Vegas Raiders: DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
- The Raiders defensive line has been abysmal these last few years. They have not been able to stop the run or generate pressure on the opposing teams Quarterback. DeMarvin Leal has top 5 talent but falls to no. 12 in my mock draft. Leal can play anywhere along the interior defensive line and possibly could kick out to defensive end on some downs. Leal would drastically improve the Raiders defense
- Arizona Cardinals: OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
- The Cardinals slightly improved their offensive line this off-season, but I don’t think its good enough to get them into the playoffs. Murry could find himself running for his life this season. If that happens the Cardinals will look to add more protection in front of him. Green showed improvement this past season at left guard but will now move to left tackle. If he shows he can handle himself, he could boost his draft stock.
- Washington Football Team: QB Kedon Slovis, USC
- The Washington Football Team needs to get themselves a franchise Quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is bridge Quarterback that can help a young player and show him the ropes. Slovis needs improvement, but his name will be in 1st round consideration by the time the draft comes around. His amazing ball accuracy does set him apart from other in the class.
- Minnesota Vikings: Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue
- The Vikings defense is getting older and young talent is needed to keep the team steady. Coach Mike Zimmer loves young defensive linemen that are versatile. Karlaftis can play in the interior or the outside of the defensive line with his 6’4 270-pound frame.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Edge Zach Harrison, Ohio State
- With losing Melvin Ingram this past off-season, the Chargers did not completely address the need of replacing him. That may come back to hurt them, but the decision may pay off. Supposedly the next great Ohio State defensive linemen, Zach Harrison has plenty of skills rushing the passer. Teaming him with Joey Bosa to learn from will be beneficial.
- New England Patriots: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
- The Patriots spent a lot of money this off-season that helped them improve the offense. Even though the offense improved, playmakers on the outside is still a need. Chris Olave is a good down the field receiver and route runner. He can become the number one target for Cam Newton or Mack Jones.
- Pittsburg Steelers: QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
- The Steelers will be looking for their next franchise Quarterback during the 2022 off-season. Some may say drafting Ridder will be a reach, but if he has a quality season this year it won’t be a surprise to see him drafted early.
- Philadelphia Eagles (Via Dolphins): RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
- The Eagles need to add more talent around Jalen Hurts. Having a running back that can threaten a defense by running or catching the ball will take pressure off Hurts. Spiller is one of the top running backs in the nation and will help the Eagles offense become more consistent in the run game.
- New Orleans Saints: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
- Michael Tomas needs someone across from him that can draw the double team away from him. With the Saints now without Drew Brees, whomever is their Quarterback will need more weapons to help them further develop. Burks is a solid receiver with great size at 6’3 232 pounds. He uses his frame to make contested catches. Burks can be a great number 2 across from Thomas.
- Dallas Cowboys: Edge Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
- Dallas is another team that is in dire need of a pass rush. Enagbare will bring what the Cowboys with his size and explosiveness off the edge. He has a quick twitch that is unmatched. If he has a solid season, he could see himself drafted higher then expected.
- Tennessee Titans: TE Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
- Adding another weapon to this explosive offense would be danger to other teams. Betting that Julio Jones stays healthy the whole season, the Titans will be expected to be in the playoffs. Wydemyer is a physical specimen standing at 6’5 255 pounds. He’s a good route runner, but his most impressive trait is his run blocking.
- New York Jets (Via Seahawks): CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
- With their 2nd first round pick, the Jets address their secondary. Again, Robert Sialasf loves to add young playmakers to his defense. Ahmad Gardner is a natural man coverage corner. Since his freshmen year as a starter, he has a thirty-five percent completion rate against him.
- Philadelphia Eagles (Via Colts): S Jordan Battle, Alabama
- The Eagles add more help to their secondary with this pick. Jordan Battle is smart, explosive, and versatile as a defensive back. He has experience playing corner so he can help the Eagles in different ways.
- Miami Dolphins (Via 49ers): Edge Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
- The Dolphins need to continue to add to their defensive line. Their defense is better when their front 7 is producing pressure. Sanders is another prospect that is raw but poses the potential to build upon his talents.
- Cleveland Browns: OC Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
- After making the playoffs this past season, Cleveland will need to add more young bodies to help protect their franchise Quarterback Baker Mayfield. Linderbaum is the best center in the draft. If the Browns want to continue their success making the playoffs, protecting Mayfield will be the key.
- Buffalo Bills: OT Zion Nelson, Miami
- The Bills are set to pay Josh Allen big money in the upcoming months. The team has already taken the proper steps to help keep Allen upright for the near future by signing Dion Dawkins to a long-term contract. Drafting Nelson will help complete their tackle positions with two young stars. Nelson is one heck of an athlete for his size and is a mauler as a run blocker.
- Detroit Lions (Via LA Rams): OT Rasheed Walker, Penn State
- After drafting their franchise Quarterback, the Lions go and get the guy that is going to protect him. Walker is an athletic tackle that is good in pass protection. He should be able to keep Howell upright.
- Baltimore Ravens: Edge Brenton Cox, Florida
- The Ravens love to add players to their defense, especially when it’s a pass rusher. Brenton Cox can generate pressure from the edge while being able to help defend the run. The Ravens need more young pieces on their aging defense.
- Green Bay Packers: WR John Metchie lll, Alabama
- No matter how the Aaron Rodgers situation plays out, the Packers need to add more weapons to their offense across from Devante Adams. John Metchie is coming into this season with a point to prove. He wants to prove that he has the talent to be a number 1 wide receiver and he’s not a product of Alabama’s system.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Drake London. USC
- After this season, the Bucs will be a little thin at the wide receiver. Godwin will be a potential free agent, Brown’s situation is year to year, and who knows what Gronk will do. So adding more weapons next off-season will be key. London is a big bodied receiver who can make contested catches and can become a main red zone target.
- Kansas City Chiefs: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
- The Chiefs secondary needs help in any kind of way. Adding Booth who is a good man and zone defender will better their pass defense. Booth is also not afraid to come down and make a tackle.