There is no shortage of drama in football this week as Jalen Ramsey heads west and the College Football Playoff suffered a major shakeup as Georgia went down. Catch up on all of that and check out this week’s studs and sleepers. Plus find out which games to watch and the prospects to watch in each contest. You can find every episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
It finally feels like the NFL contenders are beginning to separate themselves. It was a week that saw both undefeated teams emerge with comfortable victories and maybe of the fringe contenders drop a game to cast doubt on their merits of being included in that tier. Six weeks into the NFL season, I think we are starting to see which teams look built for the long haul and which teams might still be a few pieces away from contending. Lombardi trophies are not won in October, but I would say the number of teams I believe have a shot at winning the Super Bowl is down to maybe 12.
We are also headed into a crucial Week 7. The results of this upcoming slate of games will likely greatly impact the NFL landscape for the rest of the year. With the trade deadline looming, it will be time for those middling contenders to decide to stand pat, or make a move to bolster their championship chances. Despite the early successes of the Patriots and 49ers, both have clear needs that could be addressed in the trade market. While a loss for either of those teams would not change course, losses by say the Titans or Broncos or Chargers could have those teams much more willing to trade away a player to a contender. Bottom line is, this week is going to be make or break for a lot of NFL teams’ seasons. There is a massive difference between being 3-4 and 2-5 as you approach the halfway point. Now enough of my trade ramblings for now (I will be doing an article on this later in the week), time for some power rankings.
1. New England Patriots: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 35-14 vs. New York
Who says Tom Brady can’t get it done with his legs? Brady scored a pair of rushing touchdowns as the defense continued to play lights out in a commanding win. There is no question there are still areas for growth on this roster as the receiving core remains banged up. Tight end also feels like a major position of need. However, this defense might honestly be good enough that with no additions, New England could still win the Super Bowl.
2. New Orleans Saints: 5-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 13-6 at Jacksonville
Who dat gonna score on this defense? New Orleans looked sharp again on that side of the ball, prompting Sean Payton to say he didn’t think Jacksonville would have reached the end zone if they had played eight quarters of football. It was another grind it out type of win for the Saints, but there are no style points in the NFL. The offense has another tough task ahead of it though with a trip to Chicago on the horizon, but if the defense plays at this level, all Teddy Bridgewater might have to do to win is avoid turning the ball over.
3. San Francisco 49ers: 5-0 (Last Week: 6)
Won 20-7 at Los Angeles
No more sleeping on this group. San Francisco’s defense is the real deal. Any group that is capable of shutting down the Rams offense demands respect. Jared Goff looked like an overmatched quarterback trying to figure out where the pressure was coming from next. Now, the offense still seems like a work in progress. Jimmy Garappolo threw a truly head-scratching interception in the end zone. On top of that, despite 41 attempts on the ground, the 49ers only managed 99 yards rushing. This is a brand of football the Niners can certainly win with, but it is going to require a bit more offensive production to be considered a true Super Bowl favorite.
4. Seattle Seahawks: 5-1 (Last Week: 5)
Won 32-28 at Cleveland
Seattle definitely got some help from a hapless group of Cleveland receivers not named Odell Beckham Jr., but this was another quality trip for Russell Wilson and company. The Seahawks relied on their bruising identity by running the ball 38 times. This game was a lot closer than Pete Carroll would have liked it to be, but picking up a road win is hardly something to complain about. Seattle needs a bit more production from the defensive line, which failed to record a sack. That is going to be necessary if a division title is the goal at the end of the year.
5. Green Bay Packers: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-22 vs. Detroit
That was about as tight as it gets. Green Bay never led in this game. At least not while there was any time remaining on the clock. Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal as time expired gave the Packers their first lead of the night. It was a very solid showing from a defense that managed three sacks and held Detroit to just 2.8 yards per rush. It was not a convincing outing in any sense of the word, but a win is a win. Green Bay keeps pace with the rest of the NFC in the win column and maintains that buffer in the division. Now it just has to pray for Davante Adams to return from injury to get back on track offensively.
6. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 31-24 vs. Houston
This is starting to become a real issue for the Chiefs. One week after being stunned by the Colts at home, the defense had no answer for the Texans and dropped another one at Arrowhead. As prolific as the offense might be, it has to be on the field in order to score. It was on the sideline for the vast majority of this game, with just 20 minutes time of possession. It was the same blueprint from Indy used again and Kansas City had no way to stop it. If this team is serious about making a deep postseason run, it is going to need to make at least one move at the deadline to bolster this struggling defense.
7. Houston Texans: 4-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-24 at Kansas City
Suddenly, the Texans offensive line can pass protect and run block. Houston didn’t allow a sack for the second straight week and produced an impressive 4.7 yards per attempt average. The defense did a good job of pressuring Patrick Mahomes consistently. If Deshaun Watson can avoid interceptions, he had two Sunday, this team is going to be very hard to beat. Give the Colts credit for designing the gameplan, but the Texans still had to execute it. Holding the ball for 40 minutes is definitely the best way to limit the impact of that high-powered Chiefs offense.
8. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 10)
Buffalo had a week off to rest up and feel pretty good about its standing in the AFC. Technically, just one team in the conference has a better record than the Bills, and that would be the only team to beat the them this season. Buffalo is continuing to develop depth across the offense. Devin Singletary is nearing a return from injury and Josh Allen is continuing to improve as a passer. The Bills will not need to score many points to win games given the level of play of its defense. Thankfully, points shouldn’t be hard to come by with the Dolphins coming up next.
9. Minnesota Vikings: 4-2 (Last Week: 17)
Won 38-20 vs. Philadelphia
This seems like a massive jump for the Vikings, but it was exactly the type of showing Kirk Cousins needed to have. Yes, I understand it was against a really bad secondary, but when you look around the NFL, are there a ton of other teams you feel better about than Minnesota right now? The losses have been rather close, even if they were disheartening, and the Vikings have taken care of all the other teams on the schedule in convincing fashion. All of that will be worthless though if the Vikings offense goes missing again next week against the Lions. A decisive win in Detroit would go a long way to silencing the doubters.
10. Baltimore Ravens: 4-2 (Last Week: 13)
Won 23-17 vs. Cincinnati
Baltimore seems capable of grinding out victories and finding new offensive players to step up pretty much every week. Lamar Jackson completed passes to nine different players. The second-year signal caller also ran for an incredible 152 yards. Give some credit to this defense as well. It bottled up Joe Mixon, holding him to just 10 yards rushing on eight carries. A late drive from Andy Dalton made this look a bit closer than it really was, but the Ravens were in control for most of this one. This group still has a lot of room for improvement, but has to feel good about a two-game lead in the AFC North.
11. Detroit Lions: 2-2-1 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 23-22 at Green Bay
If you ask me, Detroit outplayed Green Bay on Monday night at Lambeau. Close only counts in horseshoes, but there is still a lot of reason for optimism. While it is easy to point at poor officiating as the reason for this unfortunate result from the Lions perspective, a lot of the blame should still fall on the offense. Matt Stafford and company could easily have built a 17 or even 21-point lead in the first half, but settled for field goals way too often. While Matt Prater is great, you aren’t going to beat the Packers by scoring just one touchdown. This goes to show Detroit is capable of hanging with anyone in the division, but there is still lot of room for improvement.
12. Los Angeles Rams: 3-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 20-7 vs. San Francisco
Jared Goff is wanted for robbery in Los Angeles after signing a massive $134 million deal a few months back. After managing just 78 passing yards against the 49ers, there is real cause for concern here. There is no question the San Francisco defense is legitimate, but this was the third straight week the offense struggled and consequently lost. It is too early to really panic about a playoff run, which I know I also said last week. The next three games on LA’s schedule are against Atlanta, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. No, the real concern here is regarding this team’s ability to compete with the top tier teams in the conference, something it was expected to do well coming off a Super Bowl appearance.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-3 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 38-20 at Minnesota
That was about as ugly as it gets from this secondary. Philly needs help at corner, and it showed up again and again … and again in Minnesota. After now-former linebacker Zach Brown called out Kirk Cousins, the Vikings quarterback tossed four touchdowns and threw for 333 yards. The Eagles also needed more from a pass rush that managed just one sack and really failed to disrupt the opposing offense much. The defense did contain Dalvin Cook, but that was all for naught as Alexander Mattison proved a steady option in the run game. Philly does have the benefit of being tied for the lead in the NFC East, but these problems that cropped up Sunday show no signs of going away any time soon.
14. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week 14)
While getting healthy on the bye week is important, so is finding a way to recalibrate the offense. Matt Nagy had a very similar group to this one humming last year, but consistency is a tough thing to find in the NFL these days. Mitchell Trubisky could be back in time for Chicago’s upcoming game against the Saints, but he will need to play at a much higher level to score against a New Orleans defense that is allowing 14 points per game in its past three contests. The Bears boast a talented defense of their own, but they need to find a way to score some points in order to make the most of it.
15. Dallas Cowboys: 3-3 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 24-22 at New York
Many predicted it would take a catastrophe for the Cowboys to lose to the Jets. I will leave it up to you what exactly the catastrophe was in Dallas’ loss, but it clearly overlooked its opponent. With an important divisional battle against the Eagles coming up, that is somewhat understandable, but finding a way to go down 21-6 at halftime to the Jets is not. Yes, Sam Darnold was back, but this was the same offensive line that gave up 10 sacks to Philly a week before. Banged up and facing some real adversity, a loss to the Eagles to cede the division lead midway through the season would see fans call for Jason Garrett to be fired, or just intensify the already existing pleas for action.
16. Carolina Panthers: 4-2 (Last Week: 16)
Won 37-26 at Tampa Bay (London)
Suddenly the Panthers seem to be in a great spot to earn a wild card berth. Keep in mind this team did start 6-2 last year, only to finish 7-9. Christian McCaffrey ran the ball 22 times for 31 yards, not exactly setting the world on fire like he had the previous few weeks. Still, he managed two touchdowns in a winning effort. Kyle Allen seems to be getting more comfortable as the offense finds the best way to use Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore. Carolina’s defense came up with an outrageous six turnovers in London as well. Cam Newton is rumored to be back following the upcoming bye week, but there is some question as to whether or not they should take the offense away from Allen, who has played very well in relief.
17. Indianapolis Colts: 3-2 (Last Week: 15)
Beating the Chiefs is still really impressive, but it looks a lot less impressive after the Texans did it the very next week. Still Indy had a chance to get healthy on a bye week. Injuries to T.Y. Hilton, Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker have made it really difficult for this team to play at its full potential. Assuming the Colts get everyone back on the field, they have a schedule stacked with winable games ahead of them. That starts with a visit from the Texans this week, a potential statement game for Indy.
18. Oakland Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 18)
Oakland got to rest up after a trip to London and had to love what it saw. Kansas City dropped its second in a row while Los Angeles failed to beat a banged up Pittsburgh team at home. Suddenly, the Raiders sit just half a game back of the Chiefs for the AFC West lead. While there have been flashes of excellence, we will learn a lot about the Raiders over the next three weeks. Road games in Green Bay and Houston before returning home to face Detroit will likely make or break the season. If Oakland can find a way to win two of those three, there will be a lot of playoff buzz.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-4 (Last Week: 23)
Won 24-17 at Los Angeles
Don’t look now, but this Steelers defense is rounding into form. While many will choose to focus on the solid ground game, it was really the defense that made the difference in LA. Pittsburgh intercepted two passes and rookie Devin Bush returned a fumble for a touchdown. There is still a bit of a ways to go, but winning a game with your third-string quarterback is always impressive. With a bye week to get healthy, the Steelers then face the Dolphins. Looking at the rest of the schedule, don’t be surprised if they make things interesting in the AFC North before all is said and done.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 13-6 vs. New Orleans
That Minshew magic Jacksonville rode to open the year is beginning to fade a bit. The Jags mustered just 226 yards of total offense in this one and failed to reach the end zone. Now, New Orleans has arguably the best defense in the NFC, although San Francisco might take issue with that. The Jaguars defense had about as strong of a showing as you could ask for, but it wasn’t enough. This was essentially a reversal of last week’s performance, where the offense showed up, but the defense faltered. Bottom line is this team needs to find a way to play a complete game if it wants to find a way to stay within reach of the Texans.
21. Denver Broncos: 2-4 (Last Week: 26)
Won 16-0 vs. Tennessee
After a really tough start, Denver has righted the ship and now looks a bit more like the team we expected, at least defensively. The offense still has a lot of work to do. The tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman continues to be the bright spot. Joe Flacco actually played alright, as the interception he threw was 100 percent Noah Fant’s fault. Vic Fangio finally has the defense playing the way he wants them to, if the offense can begin to catch up, maybe the Broncos could turn into a Cinderella story.
22. Cleveland Browns: 2-4 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 32-28 vs. Seattle
This offense is broken. It has been a rotating circuit of who to blame in Cleveland as the losses have piled up. Last week, it was the offensive line and Baker Mayfield. This week, the blame lies almost solely with the receivers. Drops led to turnovers and a lack of rhythm offensively. There is a high ceiling for this group, as we saw in a big win over the Ravens. However, the floor is incredibly low as well. Now two games back in the AFC North heading into a bye week, Freddy Kitchens has to find a way to reset this offense before a matchup with the Patriots.
23. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-4 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 24-17 vs. Steelers
Turns out the Chargers were not ready for a title run this year after all. After a great 2018 season, Los Angeles is floundering. Somehow, it went down 21-0 very quickly to Delvin Hodges making his first NFL start. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler could not run the ball against the Pittsburgh defensive front, averaging 2.4 yards per carry between them. Injuries have certainly plagued this group, but the issues for the Chargers go well beyond that. Anthony Lynn gets to face another struggling team in the Titans next week, with hopes this team can stop the bleeding. On the bright side, welcome back Hunter Henry!
24. Tennessee Titans: 2-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 16-0 at Denver
Tennessee finally pulled the plug on the Marcus Mariota era. After years of inconsistent production, the former Oregon quarterback found himself on the bench halfway through Sunday’s loss to Denver. He threw a pair of interceptions and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. Despite the game-ending interception, Ryan Tannehill looked a lot better in Mariota’s place. Still the Titans were shutout and seem to lack direction on the offensive side of the ball. This team’s starting quarterback for 2020 is likely not on the current roster.
25. New York Giants: 2-4 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 35-14 at New England
Without Saquon Barkley or Wayne Gallman, a lot was asked of Daniel Jones. That didn’t go very well for the Giants facing the best defense in the NFL. Jones struggled, tossing three interceptions and mustering just 161 yards. He got very little help from the run game or the defense. Keep in mind, New York was also missing Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as well. In better news, Golden Tate seems to be integrating himself well. Once healthy, we should start to see a more competitive Giants team the rest of the way.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-4 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 37-26 vs. Carolina (London)
Tampa Bay’s win over the Rams is looking worse by the week and their own play isn’t helping things either. Jameis Winston had six turnovers in this game. Yes, six. He threw five interceptions and fumbled it once as well. Any time Winston is asked to throw the ball 54 times in the game, things probably aren’t going to go well for the Buccaneers. The ground game completely disappeared once again. On the bright side, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are a great receiving pair. When the offensive line gives up seven sacks though, their impact doesn’t really matter.
27. Arizona Cardinals: 2-3-1 (Last Week: 28)
Won 34-33 vs. Atlanta
It only takes two to start a win steak and that’s exactly what the Cardinals have done. Kyler Murray balled out with 340 yards passing and three touchdowns. The defense played really well through three quarters, but struggled down the stretch again. This secondary needs help in the worst way possible. Both Austin Hooper and Julio Jones went over 100 yards receiving and Matt Ryan had another huge day. In the end, it was another fourth quarter full of questionable play, but Arizona will take the win.
28. New York Jets: 1-4 (Last Week: 31)
Won 24-22 vs. Dallas
Never in a million years would I have thought the Jets would win this game. I had this pegged as a 31-10 win for the Cowboys, no questions asked. Turns out Sam Darnold makes a very big difference, or at least he is a lot better than Luke Falk and Trevor Seimien. Entering the game, New York was averaging 113.5 yards per game through the air. Darnold had 338. Let’s be clear, this does not mean everything is fixed. The offense slowed down significantly in the second half. Dallas was fairly banged up along the offensive line as well. Another tough matchup awaits with the Patriots visiting on Monday night.
29. Atlanta Falcons: 1-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 34-33 at Arizona
Oh what could have been. Matt Bryant missed an extra point that would have tied the game at 34. The Cardinals were able to run out the clock on the Falcons’ incredible comeback bid. Atlanta trailed 27-10 in the early stages of the third quarter after all. Instead, this leaves Atlanta with a bitter taste in its mouth. Matt Ryan was masterful again, but it means nothing when the defense fails to show up. It was another defensive meltdown. Atlanta had no answer for Kyler Murray or David Johnson. Rumor has it Dan Quinn is safe, but that won’t be true much longer if the defense keeps it up.
30. Washington: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
Won 17-16 at Miami
Bill Callahan is undefeated as the head coach in Washington! He might have done it in the least convincing way possible, as Miami came just a failed two-point conversion away from winning this game. Overall, Washington needs more out of the quarterback position, whoever is under center. There were some positives, as the defense came up with five sacks and two interceptions. It did completely wilt in the fourth quarter facing Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that can be a problem for another day. This win is significant insofar this group will not finish the season winless, but at 1-5 with holes all over the roster, the front office should be focused on draft prep and trading Trent Williams.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-6 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 23-17 at Baltimore
Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow. These are all players the Bengals could draft next year in the top five, which is undoubtedly where this team is headed. Cincinnati opened the game with a bang, returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. After that, it was a whole lot of disappointing offensive play with a side of inability to stop Lamar Jackson. It was a spirited comeback attempt, but this offensive line is a mess right now. Joe Mixon managed 1.3 yards per carry on 10 attempts. While the Bengals will likely have a new quarterback by next year, they will also need a new group to protect him.
32. Miami Dolphins: 0-5 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 17-16 vs. Washington
I would say this was the most Dolphins loss ever, but that would imply they had come close before in 2019. Miami managed to score, but went for the win with a two-point conversion attempt. The result was a dropped screen pass as the Dolphins continue to search for their first win. Josh Rosen had a day to forget and Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him midway through the contest. Coach Brian Flores has already announced Rosen as the starter once again next week. This was the best the Fins did at disguising their tanking this season, so there is something positive to point to in the loss.
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The Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast is back for another week, featuring Studs and Sleepers, as well as a new edition of Stock Up/Stock Down. Chris debates Iowa offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs’ best fit in the NFL and talks about the next group of running backs behind D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and Travis Etienne. Plus, check out which prospect matchups to watch this weekend in a jampacked Week 7 of college football action. You can find the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and wherever you get your podcasts.
And then there were two. With the Chiefs falling on Sunday night, only the Patriots and 49ers remain undefeated in the 2019 season. The ’72 Dolphins can cross another team off the countdown to open the champagne. After five weeks of action, we have seen tons of unexpected results and parity certainly reigns supreme. There is just about no such thing as a sure thing anymore, other than maybe just betting against the Jets and Dolphins.
The top five gets a reorganization again following Kansas City’s loss and an impressive win from New Orleans. While the bottom of the pecking order is pretty clear, even if there is some small movement, it feels like the middle of the pack is shrinking slightly, due to Atlanta’s struggles and Pittsburgh’s quarterback carousel. The middle part of these rankings feels just as murky now as they did Week 1. In fact, I think I probably feel less confident about my ranking of teams 9-22 than I did before the year started. Just goes to show how unpredictable this season has been. We will start with the only form of stability this league has to cling to, and let the madness unravel from there.
1. New England Patriots: 5-0 (Last Week: 1)
It was a slow start from New England as they emerge from Week 5 as the lone undefeated team in the AFC. No one is playing better than New England right now, but this schedule has been as soft as it gets. Wins over Pittsburgh, Miami, New York, Buffalo and Washington came in convincing fashion, but no one other than the Bills have even come close to testing the Patriots. And they won’t for a few more weeks. With games against the Giants and Jets coming up, we should expect the Patriots to be 7-0 heading into a matchup with the Browns.
2. New Orleans Saints: 4-1 (Last Week: 3)
Touchdown Teddy torched the Buccaneers defense to the tune of four touchdowns and 314 yards. Bridgewater followed a pretty simple gameplan: throw the ball to Mike Thomas. Thomas finished with an incredible 11 catches for 182 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions. The defense gave up a meaningless touchdown to make the scoreline look close at the very end of the game. Against a Bucs team that dropped 55 on the Rams last week, the Saints sacked Jameis Winston six times and shutout Mike Evans. This team is rounding into form, and all of this is happening without Drew Brees on the field yet.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-1 (Last Week: 2)
Talk about a dud. After 25 straight games with 25 of more points scored, Kansas City managed just 13 on Sunday night at home against Indianapolis. Credit to the Colts defense for getting after Patrick Mahomes, but this was a troubling performance from the reigning MVP. He was banged up and he missed on a number of passes downfield. Travis Kelce dropped a couple of catchable balls as well. The defense played well enough for the Chiefs to win too. It’s not time to panic about this team yet, but Andy Reid needs to get this team back on track fast.
4. Green Bay Packers: 4-1 (Last Week: 5)
Green Bay loves traveling to Dallas and nobody loved it more than Aaron. Aaron Jones that is. The Packers running back overpowered the Cowboys defense for 182 yards from scrimmage and four rushing touchdowns. With Davante Adams out, this was the type of performance needed to win. The Green Bay defense earned a ton of extra possessions as well, intercepting Dak Prescott three times. Now it wasn’t a perfect performance as Dallas climbed back into things and Amari Cooper ran wild for 226 yards through the air. This team is still figuring things out, but winning in the process.
5. Seattle Seahawks: 4-1 (Last Week: 15)
This was exactly the type of performance I was waiting to see from Seattle. To this point, the Seahawks had squeaked past the Bengals and Steelers, lost badly at home to the Saints and handled the Cardinals. Not exactly a convincing slate of results. Even though it was a really tight win, it is still a massive win over a division rival. Russell Wilson turned in an MVP-level performance and the defense bottled up Todd Gurley. The secondary still needs some work, but at 4-1 the Seahawks are in a good spot to make a playoff run.
6. San Francisco 49ers: 4-0 (Last Week: 8)
So uh, this team might be pretty legit. San Francisco is 4-0 for the first time since 1990. The defense battered Baker Mayfield. Matt Breida got things going early for the offense, but after that it was a ball control offense that racked up 275 yards rushing. San Fran’s schedule hasn’t really been too tough, but this was a dominant showing against a supposedly explosive offense. There are still holes on this team, with a need for corner help and a developing receiving core. This is going to be a very interesting team to watch at the trade deadline.
7. Los Angeles Rams: 3-2 (Last Week: 4)
Back-to-back losses should drop the Rams a ton, but the rest of the NFL is a mess right now, so Los Angeles lands here instead. This secondary needs a shot in the arm after allowing eight touchdown passes in the past two games. Sean McVay has to reestablish the run game to take some pressure off Jared Goff. Given all the major areas of concern, a one-point loss on the road in October is not the end of the world. If the Rams win their next four games against the 49ers, Falcons, Steelers and Bengals to move to 7-2, we will barely remember these two games.
8. Dallas Cowboys: 3-2 (Last Week: 6)
Similar to the Rams, the Cowboys drop two in a row, but to good competition in both games. There is no question Dak Prescott needs to take care of the ball, but this was concerning for a lot of other reasons. The defense had no answer for Aaron Jones, despite the fact Green Bay was missing its best receiver in Davante Adams. No one else on that team should stop you from stacking the box to shut down the run. That is unacceptable. The Cowboys get the week off next week because they play the Jets, but after that is a trip to Philadelphia and this team will need to be playing better by then.
9. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-2 (Last Week: 9)
Sorry Philly fans, beating the Jets does not correlate to a move up the rankings. The Eagles looked very strong in doing so though, hounding Luke Falk and scoring a pair of defensive touchdowns. After a rocky start, Philadelphia is getting healthier and is back in the race for the division. The continuing improvement of Jordan Howard offers some hope that this offense is going to be more balanced. If they can find a way to sure up the secondary, this team will be in business.
10. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 12)
It was an ugly win, but the defense showed up once again and dominated. It sacked Marcus Mariota five times and held the Titans to 3.8 yards per carry. Buffalo could have used a little more out of Josh Allen and the offense. After all, you can’t count on the opposing kicker to miss four field goals every week. That being said, the Bills now have the same record as the Chiefs. This defense is playing like the best in the league.
11. Detroit Lions: 2-1-1 (Last Week: 11)
The Lions got a week off to watch the Bears lose, but now Detroit has to prove its hot start can be sustained. This might be the most competitive division in the NFL this season. With games coming up against the Packers and Vikings, the next two weeks could make or break the season. The secondary is going to need to find a way to step up, after allowing the third most pass yards per contest through their first four games. The time is now for Detroit to make a statement and a playoff push.
12. Houston Texans: 3-2 (Last Week: 14)
It’s hard to find any faults in the offensive performance after putting up 53 in a big win. Deshaun Watson put together an otherworldly statline with 426 passing yards and five touchdowns while completing 28 of 33 throws. Will Fuller played the game of his life as well, going over 200 yards receiving with three touchdowns. The defense did allow 15 points late in the game, but Houston dominated this contest from start to finish. Finally the offensive line kept Watson clean, and we saw how good he can be when he has time.
13. Baltimore Ravens: 3-2 (Last Week: 10)
Baltimore was lucky to escape with a win. Make no mistake about it, this was not a good showing from the Ravens. Even after Mason Rudolph left the game with a concussion, the defense needed a big play from Marlon Humphrey to set up a game-winning field goal in overtime. The bright side of this is now the Ravens are back in sole possession of first place in the division. Lamar Jackson struggled mightily, throwing three interceptions and just 161 yard. He also took five sacks in the game as well. Baltimore will need to clean up a lot of mistakes with their next three games against Cincinnati, Seattle and New England.
14. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week 7)
London is calling. The Bears will be all too happy to head home and regroup after a wild game across the pond. Chicago trailed 17-0 at halftime, then scored 21 unanswered to open the second half, only to allow the deciding touchdown in the final two minutes. Chase Daniel did the one thing he couldn’t do and that was turn the ball over. The Bears defense also picked a bad week to suddenly have its pass rush go missing, failing to record a sack. Chicago needs to find its identity after another disappointing showing.
15. Indianapolis Colts: 3-2 (Last Week: 18)
Will the real Indianapolis Colts please stand up? Indy lost Week 1 in overtime to a struggling Chargers team, beat the lowly Titans and Falcons, and then dropped a home game to the Raiders. So logically, they followed that up with a dominant defensive performance against the Chiefs. Give credit to this coaching staff for putting together an incredible defensive gameplan despite missing their best player in Darius Leonard. Malik Hooker was out as well. Thankfully, Justin Houston decided to put on a show versus his former team. It wasn’t a great game from Jacoby Brissett and the offense, so there is still room for improvement, but the Colts are now right back in the thick of the AFC South race.
16. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 20)
The Kyle Allen experience continues as he moves to 4-0 in his career as a starter. Allen actually struggled quite a bit, but that didn’t matter because he got a lot of help from MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey. The former Stanford standout had 237 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in a dominant display. That dismal outing against the Buccaneers feels like a lifetime ago now as the Panthers are just a game back of the Saints in the NFC South. A rematch with those Bucs awaits, this time in London.
17. Minnesota Vikings: 3-2 (Last Week: 17)
Kirk Cousins took Adam Thielen’s advice and found him early and often all over the field. Thielen and Dalvin Cook ran all over the Giants defense. It was exactly the type of bounce back performance Minnesota needed after laying an egg against Chicago. There is still room for improvement as Cook fumbled at the goal line and the team as a whole committed 12 penalties. It is also a bit disappointing to not see the nearly 500 yards of offense turn into more points. The Vikings can take care of the lower tier, but questions remain about their ability to compete with quality teams.
18. Oakland Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 22)
Oakland looked untouchable in the first half and then collapsed after halftime. The Raiders did eventually pull out the win and prove that Khalil Mack is not crucial to winning football games. In fact, Mack and company failed to register a sack, while Oakland brought down Chase Daniel four times. In the process though, Jon Gruden sent a clear message, running the ball 39 times. Josh Jacobs handled 26 of those carries. Gruden clearly trusts his rookie running back and likes his team’s ability to control the clock. The Raiders had the ball for nearly 35 minutes. That formula takes pressure off Derek Carr and the defense, and can clearly lead to victories.
19. Cleveland Browns: 2-3 (Last Week: 16)
Oh Cleveland. After an offseason of hype and hope, the Browns crashed back down to Earth. Even after defeating the Ravens last week, Cleveland has not put to bed any of the concerns about its offensive line or it’s ability to show up in big games. Baker Mayfield put up a better QBR than just one player this week and that was Luke Falk. That’s not good company to keep. He completed just eight passes and spent a good chunk of the game picking himself up off the grass. Given all the injuries to the secondary, you would expect the pass defense to struggle. Instead, the run defense fell apart, giving up 275 yards on the ground. Cleveland has a lot of problems to solve before hosting the Seahawks next.
20. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-3 (Last Week: 13)
The Chargers could be in trouble. Philip Rivers is airing the ball out and completing passes at a high rate, but Los Angeles is not scoring touchdowns. The Chargers are fifth in passing yards per game, but 20th in points per game this season. Desmond King II scored LA’s lone touchdown against Denver on a punt return. It was easily the worst showing of the year so far for the Chargers’ offense, as they committed three turnovers and managed 2.2 yards per carry. It is going to take Melvin Gordon a little time to get up to speed, but this was a full unit meltdown, not just one player.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-3 (Last Week: 19)
Gardner Minshew, DJ Chark and Leonard Fournette create quite the offensive trio. If not for three fumbles by Minshew in this game, the Jags would probably be holding a share of the AFC South lead. The usually stout defense got shredded for 285 yards on the ground though. They did make life difficult on Kyle Allen, but had absolutely no answer for Christian McCaffrey. To be fair, not many people have, but when Jacksonville puts up 27 points, that should be enough given the amount of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
22. Tennessee Titans: 2-3 (Last Week: 21)
This is typical Titans football. The defense plays lights out, but the offense cannot find a way make it count. Derrick Henry carried the load once again as Marcus Mariota failed to do much of anything in the passing game. The offensive line had a rough day in Taylor Lewan’s return from suspension. Tennessee can play at a high level, but when it comes up against a decent defense, things seem to fall apart. Only one game out of the AFC South, there is time to turn things around, but it is starting to seem like the offense will never take that next step.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-4 (Last Week: 23)
It is incredible that Pittsburgh lost Mason Rudolph in this game and somehow managed to hang with the Ravens. Over the past few weeks, the Steelers defense has finally found its stride. The offense is still a bit of a work in progress, even beyond the quarterback position. For Pittsburgh, this running game really needs to get on track now facing playing with it’s third-choice (actually fourth-choice, they traded Joshua Dobbs earlier this season) quarterback of the year.
24. New York Giants: 2-3 (Last Week: 24)
It was a tough week for the Giants defense. Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook had a field day. They allowed an outrageous 490 yards. Wayne Gallman went down with an injury, leaving Jonathan Hillman to handle the backfield duties. Sterling Shepard will miss some time with a concussion as well. Daniel Jones has not been quite as prolific as he was during the second half of his first start. There were always going to be growing pains with a rookie quarterback, but the injuries have not made it any easier.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-3 (Last Week: 25)
How did the Buccaneers follow up shocking the Rams? They could barely find a way to move the ball against the Saints. A last-minute touchdown made the scoreline look respectable. Tampa could not find a way to protect Jameis Winston, giving up six sacks. Mike Evans went missing in action, failing to even reel in one catch. This team has shown flashes of being able to compete with the cream of the crop. It is tough to win divisional road games, but the Bucs gave themselves little chance of doing so with an uneven performance.
26. Denver Broncos: 1-4 (Last Week: 27)
Denver probably should be 3-2, but getting one in the win column is huge for a team that has struggled to get going out of the gates. We saw more signs of the Broncos defense of old with two interceptions and stifling run stopping. The offense still has a long way to go. Its 18 points per game rank tied with Buffalo for 27th in the league, only ahead of Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, New York and Miami. Moving out of that group is going to be just as critical to the defense continuing to round into form.
27. Atlanta Falcons: 1-4 (Last Week: 26)
The promise that surrounded this team entering the season is gone. Injuries have once again derailed the Falcons, but so has poor defensive play. This seems to be a capitulation of all the struggles Dan Quinn has had on that side of the ball, allowing 53 points. Atlanta also became the first team to fail to bring down Deshaun Watson all year. Unless there is a major turn around, Quinn is going to be out of job. The Falcons have plenty of high-priced and highly-regarded pieces to be a competitive team, but already three games back in the NFC South with a floundering defense, this group seems destined for a top-10 pick.
28. Arizona Cardinals: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 30)
At last, the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era nets a win. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, the Cardinals almost managed to flip the script on their Week 1 comeback to force a tie by blowing this game late. Arizona led 23-9 in the fourth quarter, but allowed Cincinnati to tie things up. Thankfully, the Murray played his most complete game of the year, completing 62 percent of his passes, not turning the ball over and rushing for 93 yards, to lead the Cardinals to a win. The Bengals do have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but getting a win here is big for confidence and presents Kingsbury something to build on with a very young group.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-5 (Last Week: 31)
The Bengals are moving up! Not really because of anything they did, but more because of how bad other teams around them have been. Sure Cincy is still winless, but they came a lot closer this weekend and showed some signs of life. Granted it took a while for the offense to get going, but that was without John Ross and A.J. Green. Once the latter returns, this offense should be a bit more dynamic and reliable. Zac Taylor certainly has his work cut out for him when it comes to finding ways to compensate an awful offensive line.
30. Washington: 0-5 (Last Week: 29)
Jay Gruden is gone. It was going to happen eventually, and honestly this might even be a little bit premature given the circumstances. I’m hard pressed to remember the last time a team fired the head coach just five games into the season. Washington actually played fairly well in the first half of the game, holding New England to just 12 points. Things got a lot more lopsided after halftime and it is clear to see this team is in need of a serious rebuild.
31. New York Jets: 0-4 (Last Week: 28)
I don’t think the league has seen a passing offense as inept as the one the Jets have rolled out since the turn of the century. Adam Gase does not have much to work with, as he is starting Luke Falk, who started the year on the practice squad, but this has been downright pathetic. Gase is not free from blame either, after giving Sam Darnold nearly all the first team reps this week. New York is averaging 179.5 yards per game. That’s nearly 50 fewer yards than the freaking Dolphins! The Jets have also scored two offensive touchdowns this year. After allowing nine sacks against the Eagles, the only way to go is up. Unfortunately, the Cowboys and Patriots are the next two teams up. It’s going to be a really long season.
32. Miami Dolphins: 0-4 (Last Week: 32)
Miami took a week off from getting blown out, but only because the league requires every team to have a bye. I don’t really expect it to make a difference, but given how little time Josh Rosen has actually had in this offense, perhaps it will allow him to settle in a bit more. The lack of talent around him certainly does not help either. The Dolphins are going to be drafting first overall, or at least the top three. In reality the focus should start shifting to how this team is going to rebuild with three first round picks this year, which you can see in my latest mock draft!
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It’s the first Monday in October, which means it’s time for another 2020 NFL mock draft. A lot has changed since my first mock draft in September. The quarterback class has gotten a bit deeper given the play of Joe Burrow and Jacob Eason. This is still an incredible class for wide receivers and running backs as well. Mix in an elite edge rusher in Chase Young and you’ve got a fun-looking draft class. Now mock drafts are more about the NFL side of things, figuring out which positions teams need to address in the upcoming offseason. For more of a college football focused look at these prospects, check out my latest big board.
The draft order is being determined is by the Super Bowl odds heading into Week 5 from Caesar’s Sportsbook. Tiebreakers were decided by strength of schedule. Obviously, this draft order is subject to a lot of change, but after four weeks of the NFL season, (I didn’t take Week 5 into account yet because it is not finished yet) this is where all 32 teams stand. Let’s dive into this October mock draft.
1. Miami Dolphins (20000-1) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Let’s not overthink this any more. Josh Rosen has no supporting cast, but this offense lacks a clear direction forward. A rebuild with Tua Tagovailoa as the center piece is looking more and more likely. Tagovailoa has been the best quarterback at the college level this year. His touch on intermediate throws downfield is elite. He is decisive and intelligent. He will be able to command an offense for years to come. With three first round picks, the Dolphins will be able to add some talent around him too.
2. Washington (5000-1) – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Washington could go a number of directions here, but with Trent Williams still holding out, Andrew Thomas is a logical pick. Washington desperately needs to find a way to keep rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins upright. Thomas is the best pass blocker in this draft by a mile and is improving against the run. He is battle-tested having played in the SEC and would be able to step in on Day 1 to protect Haskins’ blindside.
3. Denver Broncos (2000-1) – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
This is one of the toughest teams to mock because of the talent that exists already on the roster. With Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, there is no need for Chase Young. With Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, I can’t see the Broncos taking Jerry Jeudy either. Instead, Denver nabs the top corner in the class after watching the secondary struggle in 2019. Chris Harris Jr. is 30 and there are trade rumors swirling. Jeffrey Okudah has the potential to be the best lockdown corner the league has seen since Darrelle Revis in his prime. He closes so well on the ball and is an excellent tackler in space.
4. Arizona Cardinals (2000-1) – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Arizona would be ecstatic if Chase Young fell to them at No. 4. After trying to find some veteran solutions in Terrell Suggs this offseason, the Cardinals need to address the long term need for a pass rusher. Chandler Jones would be the perfect mentor for the latest Ohio State star defensive lineman. Young does an excellent job setting the edge against the run and has a full arsenal of pass rush moves to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. He would immediately take some pressure off the struggling secondary.
5. New York Jets (2000-1) – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
New York continues to have the top player on a lot of draftnicks boards fall to them. Jerry Jeudy is about as polished as a pro prospect can be coming out of Alabama. He fills a major need for New York and would be an upgrade over any player in their current receiving core. Sam Darnold needs a proven receiver to throw to if he is going to develop. Jeudy’s route running ability and consistency makes him a no-brainer here.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (1000-1) – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I initially had Jake Fromm mocked here, who I have ranked higher than Justin Herbert on my big board. However, I think Zac Taylor would love the opportunity to work with the toolsy Herbert instead. He has a big arm, but he seems to have some accuracy and technical issues that need ironing out. Andy Dalton is a free agent after the 2020 season, giving Cincinnati the perfect situation to break in a quarterback with lots of potential, but who might need a bit of time before he is ready to take over the starting gig.
7. Atlanta Falcons (200-1) – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
While the Falcons have a number of needs, Atlanta does not want to miss out on a player in their own backyard. D’Andre Swift is about as pro ready as running backs come, with prototypical size, good hands out of the backfield and plenty of college production. The thing I love so much about him is his elusiveness and the lack of mileage he has picked up in college. With just over 300 carries in his college career, Swift should be primed for a long career in the NFL.
8. Miami Dolphins via Pittsburgh Steelers (150-1) – A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa
After taking Tua Tagovailoa first overall, that means the Dolphins no longer need a quarterback. Pretty much every other spot is a position of need. A.J. Epenesa seems like a good place to start. At 6’6″, 280 pounds, he is built more like a defensive lineman than a true edge player, but don’t let that fool you. He is an elite pass rusher with the strength to push around opposing linemen. He uses his hands really well and shows a good motor. He is not going to be a speed rusher, but with his ability to dominant off the line, he won’t need to be. There is a reason people are comparing him to J.J. Watt.
9. Indianapolis Colts (125-1) – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
While Indy does have a true WR1 in T.Y. Hilton, there is not a whole lot of depth behind him at receiver. The collection of Zach Paschal, Deon Cain and Chester Rodgers is far from the most productive group. Enter Tee Higgins, who would offer a big-bodied, downfield threat who can win jump balls all over the field. He is probably the best red zone receiver in this year’s draft and would provide a nice complement to Hilton. Higgins struggles a bit with creating separation, but has the size, skill and catch radius for that to not matter much.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (100-1) – Grant Delpit, S, LSU
This Buccaneers’ secondary needs an infusion of talent. Tampa has come up with it’s fair share of interceptions this year, but the Bucs gave up the second-most passing yards per game through the first four weeks of the season. Grant Delpit should help with that right away. He draws a lot of comparisons to former LSU standout Jamaal Adams. The two have similar playing styles, but Delpit is better in pass coverage. He hasn’t been the strongest tackler this year, but he diagnoses plays well and gets himself into good positions to be successful. If he can sure up his tackling, he has All-Pro potential.
11. New York Giants (100-1) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Daniel Jones era is off to a pretty good start, but the Giants could use some more help at receiver. Sterling Shepard has been great this year, but he is best suited as a second option. No one else in the New York receiving core is above replacement level other than Golden Tate, who is 31. CeeDee Lamb is a complete receiver with the ability to take the top off a defense. He fights for extra yards and has excellent vision after the catch. He would give the Giants another explosive playmaker along with Evan Engram. An offense featuring Shepard, Lamb, Engram and Saquon Barkley sounds pretty legitimate.
12. Oakland Raiders (75-1) – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Oakland entered the season expecting Antonio Brown to be its top receiving option. Let’s just say that didn’t work out and now the Raiders could use an upgrade at receiver. Laviska Shenault hasn’t had the best 2019 season at Colorado, but his talent is undeniable. He catches the ball away from his body and he turns into a running back after the catch. He has good speed for a 6’2″ 220-pound wideout and excels making plays down the seams. He would offer Derek Carr (or perhaps another quarterback, keep reading) a great target to boost the offense.
13. Tennessee Titans (75-1) – Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
This feels like such a good fit for Jake Fromm. The Titans have a great offensive line, solid running game and a talented defense. Sound familiar to Fromm’s current situation? It’s time for the Titans to move on from Marcus Mariota. His contract is up after this season and he has not played consistently enough to warrant being brought back. Fromm is poised and intelligent. His accuracy has improved this season. He is the type of pro-ready quarterback a team like the Titans could use. He won’t turn the ball over and he has the arm talent to win games.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (50-1) – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Going into the year, I really thought the Jaguars needed to go after a receiver in the first round. With the emergence of DJ Chark in his second year, that need does not feel as pressing and Jacksonville can shift its attention to finding its successor to Jalen Ramsey. CJ Henderson has the size and ball skills to be an NFL corner. He needs to improve as a press defender, but he has shown flashes of lockdown play. He won’t fill the hole a Ramsey departure would leave, but he would certainly help ease the loss.
15. Carolina Panthers (50-1) – Walker Little, OT, Stanford
The string of injuries Cam Newton has suffered over the past few years makes me look at that offensive line as a place where help is needed. Carolina has invested a lot of draft picks in recent years along the line, but with none of them proving to be a permanent solution, it’s time to add Walker Little. There is injury concern here with him suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first game of this season. However, Little projects as a future left tackle in the NFL. He is 6’7″ and weighs 315 pounds. You can’t teach size. He moves well and would be in the mix to start the 2020 season for the Panthers.
16. Detroit Lions (40-1) – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
After letting Ezekiel Ansah walk in free agency following an injury-riddle tenure in Detroit, it is time to find a replacement. Signing Trey Flowers helps, but adding the relentless Yetur Gross-Matos would make the pass rush a strength. He is excellent at keep offensive lineman from locking him with his hand usage. He has decent bend and is a punishing tackler. At 6’5″, 255 pounds, he has the versatility to stand up or get after the passer with his hand in the ground. He would be a fun player for Matt Patricia to work with.
17. Buffalo Bills (40-1) – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Buffalo has a championship level defense, but it needs to bring its offense up to speed. The best way to add speed is to draft Henry Ruggs. He might be the most explosive player in this class, with buzz about him potentially running a sub 4.3 40-yard dash. He would immediately provide Josh Allen a game-breaking receiver to complement the possession receivers they have in Cole Beasley and John Brown. Adding him to the offense would provide a big-play element Buffalo is definitely lacking right now.
18. Minnesota Vikings (28-1) – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Minnesota is fed up with inconsistent play from Kirk Cousins. His inability to complete deep passes downfield or show up in big games is maddeningly frustrating. Joe Burrow has shown he can do both of those things so far this year. His arm strength has been impressive and he looks sharp as a part of a rejuvenated LSU offense. He might not be ready to start Day 1 as there is likely going to be some time needed for him to transition to a true pro-style offense, but he wouldn’t be asked to do much right away. With a great running game and a top tier defense, Burrow would just be asked to take care of the ball. If he can keep playing at this level, he will lock himself in as a first round pick.
19. Seattle Seahawks (25-1) – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Yes, the Seahawks traded for Jadeveon Clowney, but he could easily walk in free agency. Seattle can double down on the defensive line by adding Derrick Brown from Auburn. He is massive at 6’5″, 318 pounds. While he might have the build of a typical nose tackle, he moves a lot better than that. He had 4.5 sacks in 2018 and already has two heading into a game with Florida. Brown can generate pressure on the interior and is excellent against the run. Seattle has been trying to find talented defense linemen for a few years now and really struggled without Clowney on the field. Brown turns the line into an immediate strength.
20. Oakland Raiders via Chicago Bears (20-1) – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
I told you it was coming! Cutting Derek Carr this offseason would save the Raiders $11 million in cap space and carries just $5 million in dead money. Oakland isn’t strapped for cash, but I don’t see Jon Gruden riding Carr into Las Vegas. Instead, he can get the strong arm quarterback he covets in Jacob Eason. Eason has had an interesting college career, losing his job at Georgia before transferring to Washington. He fits the size profile at 6’6″ and his improving accuracy has him trending into the first round. We have a small sample size of Eason playing at a high level, but if he continues to light up the scoreboard and demonstrate his ability to lead Washington through the Pac-12, he should hear his name called on Day 1.
21. Baltimore Ravens (40-1) – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Baltimore made a decision in April to add more speed to the offense by drafting Marquise Brown. This offense could use a few more explosive players, so Baltimore nabs Jalen Reagor. He plays a similar style to Brown, but he is a little more physical. He has great burst, above average hands and plays much larger than his frame (5’11”, 195 pounds). While he primarily takes the top off the defense, Reagor had 72 catches as a sophomore. He is more than just a burner downfield. He hasn’t been as productive so far this year and, in a deep wide receiver class, that could cost him a spot in the first round.
22. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (33-1) – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
In this mock draft, the Dolphins have already addressed the quarterback position and defensive line. Now it’s time to protect that invested they made first overall. Tristan Wirfs is a right tackle, but he is a damn good right tackle. He is a punishing blocker who finishes his assignments. He holds up just well enough in pass protection. There is definitely some room for him to clean up his footwork. A good way to take pressure off a young quarterback is to run the ball. Wirfs will certainly help with that.
23. San Francisco 49ers (20-1) – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
No team in the league (other than maybe the Eagles) is in need of secondary help in the short term than the 49ers. If San Francisco wins the Jalen Ramsey sweepstakes, then this pick becomes completely irrelevant. Because that hasn’t happened yet, the 49ers would do well to select Bryce Hall. He has the makings of a shutdown corner. At 6’1″, he will be able to take on just about any NFL receiver. He is a proven tackler and opposing teams have already learned its best not to throw at him. He has good positioning and tracks the ball well. He breaks well on the ball as well. Hall would fit well across from Richard Sherman as early as 2020.
24. Green Bay Packers (16-1) – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
It is time to give Aaron Rodgers some help outside of Davante Adams. Adams is an elite receiver, but after that, the Packers have a bunch of middling and unproven receivers. Tylan Wallace would help fix that. He is an explosive playmaker on the outside who can run past defenders and rise above corners to make plays. He is a decent route runner, with room for improvement. He put up 200-plus yards on both Texas and Oklahoma last year. Even though he is coming from a pass-happy offense, he is actually a good run blocker. He is a bit light right now listed at just 185 pounds, but if he can find a way to add a bit more muscle to his frame without sacrificing his speed, he looks like a future number one receiver.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (30-1) – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
It is no secret Melvin Gordon will not be wearing a Chargers uniform next year. While Austin Ekeler has looked great this season, he is not your typical bellcow back that will run the ball 20-plus times a game. Jonathan Taylor could be that at the next level. He does it now at Wisconsin. In reality though, I think Taylor’s tough style of running and powerful approach would blend really well with Ekeler and give Los Angeles a similar combo to what it has now with Gordon and Ekeler. Just for way cheaper.
26. Cleveland Browns (25-1) – Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Someone needs to protect Baker Mayfield. The Browns signal caller took 12 sacks in the first four games of the season. Given the rest of the talent on this offense, it is time for Cleveland to address the offensive line. It could opt for a tackle here, but instead I think they grab the best interior lineman in the draft in Tyler Biadasz. He is a rock for the Wisconsin offensive line, rarely ceding ground. He does a nice job setting up his blocks in the run game and is about as consistent as they get in pass protection. Wisconsin regularly produces good NFL linemen, including Travis Fredericks, who has a real claim to the title of best center in the league. I think Biadasz might challenge him one day for that designation, making him a slam dunk pick for the Browns.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (16-1) – Krisitan Fulton, CB, LSU
As mentioned for the 49ers, the Eagles desperately need secondary help. Sidney Jones has been unable to stay on the field and the combo of Avonte Maddox and Ronald Darby isn’t cutting it. Kristian Fulton could be the latest superstar defensive back out of LSU. He needs just a bit of time to transition to the NFL. He has ballhawking corner potential, coming off a season where he had five interceptions. He uses his hands well, but still needs to work on some of his technique when jamming corners. He could rise up draft boards with games against Auburn and Alabama still on the schedule. If he performs there, he will be pushing much higher in the first round.
28. New Orleans Saints (14-1) – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
The Saints have been trying to acquire linebackers for a few years now. They signed DeMario Davis last year and traded for Kiko Alonso this year. To help solve the problem long term, they should draft Isaiah Simmons. Simmons fits what New Orleans likes to defensively and would definitely increase the overall speed at the position. He is a converted safety who excels in coverage and is an above average blitzer. He is not going to rack up double-digit sacks, but he has the instincts and athleticism to make a lot of disruptive plays.
29. Los Angeles Rams (11-1) – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
This Rams defense is not the one we saw a year ago. Aqib Talib will turn 34 in February and the secondary could use a boost. Trevon Diggs is big for a corner at 6’2″ and 205 pounds. He missed a lot of time last year after breaking his foot, but he has looked sharp so far in 2019. Diggs played a bit out of the slot last year and shows some good versatility. He doesn’t have the most fluid hips of all time and he definitely need to improve how he attacks ball carriers in space, but his size and long arms make him a player who can contribute early on and has room improve in the future.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
This would just be unfair. Travis Etienne has been one of the most explosive and elusive players in college football over the last two years. Him playing in an Andy Reid offense with Patrick Mahomes would be nearly unstoppable. Etienne is an improving pass catcher who doesn’t see a ton of targets. Given the injuries and overall rotation of the Kansas City backfield, Etienne would be a great pick. LeSean McCoy is is 31 and Damien Williams is probably best-suited to be a change of pace back. Etienne would provide stability at the position and give the Chiefs another offensive weapon for opposing defenses to worry about.
31. Dallas Cowboys (9-1) – Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
Dallas has had a lot of success drafting Notre Dame players (see Zach Martin, Jaylon Smith). Adding another one, this time to the defensive line seems like a quality move. The Cowboys invested a lot of money into DeMarcus Lawrence, but they also took a one-year flier on Robert Quinn for a reason. Dallas needs someone to play across from Lawrence, and Julian Okwara can do just that. He plays down hill and uses his hands well to fight through blocks. He has the ability to bully smaller tackles and enough speed to chase down plays. He is a bit undersized, weighing just 240 pounds, but if he can put on some weight, he would be a great 4-3 end in this system.
32. New England Patriots (5-2) – Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
Predicting what the Patriots are going to do is impossible. It is also pretty difficult to identify any of this team’s needs given how soft their schedule has been to open this season. Best bet is that Bill Belichick will continue to add to this defense. Curtis Weaver is a powerful pass rusher who has good technique and heavy hands. He also has 26.5 career sacks in 30 games so there is plenty of production and a larger sample size. He reminds me a little bit of Trey Flowers, who left the Patriots this past offseason in free agency. Given that he can play against the run as well, I think New England will find enough value to tab him at the end of the round.
For more NFL Draft coverage, check out the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast, with new episodes every Thursday.