Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast

Brand new episode of the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast is here as Chris breaks down this week’s Studs and Sleepers. Check out which players have their draft stock rising and which players are seeing their stock slide. Also make sure you stay tuned for the game to watch this week. Subscribe now on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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2020 NFL Mock Draft: Colts find Luck’s Successor

It’s finally football season. This year, the Aftermath will be devoting more time to covering college football, particularly focusing on the NFL Draft. You can listen to our new podcast starting this Thursday, which will focus on all things related to the draft. Let’s kick off our college football coverage with a mock draft. On the first Monday of each month, I will have a brand new mock draft reflecting all of the developments of the college season, so keep an eye out for more of these in the future. It’s very early in the year and most of these projections are based on the needs of NFL teams at this stage rather than the true value of these players in the draft, so expect a lot of changes in future additions.

This is one of the best draft classes for skill position players we’ve had in a few years. There are also three future franchise quarterbacks, all of which I believe will go in the top 10. The Colts find their successor to Andrew Luck, the Jets finally draft a pass rusher, the Giants find their OBJ replacement and tons of Alabama players will go in Round 1 as per usual.

The draft order was dictated by the Super Bowl odds currently available on Vegas Insiders, with tiebreakers coming via strength of schedule entering the season. There were a couple of instances where teams had to be moved around because of playoff purposes (someone had to win the AFC South) and conference ordering of playoff finish (why the Bears are picking later than the Patriots). Without further ado, here is the first mock for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Dolphins logo1. Miami Dolphins (500-1)
Pick: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
While many might expect the Dolphins to go after a quarterback here. I think they will see enough from Josh Rosen to keep him in house and opt for the best player available. Miami cleaned house when it came to pass rushers, letting Cameron Wake walk and shipping Robert Quinn to Dallas. Young becomes the latest Ohio State defensive lineman to make the jump to the NFL in the top five. He has the talent to surpass Nick Bosa, who went second overall in 2019, after racking up 10.5 sacks last season.

Washington made up logo2. Washington (200-1)
Pick: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Trent Williams wants out of Washington. Teams around the NFL have inquired about the veteran tackle and it’s hard to see him lasting the full season in the nation’s capital. After investing in Dwayne Haskins last year, it is vital for GM Bruce Allen to build an infrastructure he can thrive in. Having a quality left tackle is crucial for any young quarterback and Andrew Thomas can become just that in Washington. Thomas is not an elite run blocker, but he does an excellent job in pass protection. He will be battle-tested after three years in the SEC, going up against NFL-caliber talent regularly.

Bengals Logo3. Cincinnati Bengals (200-1)
Pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The first quarterback comes off the board. This could end up being any number of quarterbacks. Coming into the 2019 college football season though, Herbert is the best option. He has physical tools scouts tend to love. He has the chance to lead a high-profile Oregon team. Andy Dalton’s time is up in Cincy and this is the true beginning of the Bengals rebuild. It is time to tear it down and rebuild around a young quarterback.

Giants Logo4. New York Giants (200-1)
Pick: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
In case you were living under a rock, the Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. this past offseason. They also drafted Daniel Jones to be the heir apparent to Eli Manning. He is going to need some weapons to throw to not named Saquon Barkley. Jeudy was a stud as a sophomore for Alabama, posting 1,300+ yards receiving and hauling in 14 touchdowns. He has great hands, the frame needed to be a number one receiver and insane route running. With the addition of Jeudy, the Giants offense suddenly looks like one of the better ones in the league just in time for Daniel Jones to take over.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)5. Arizona Cardinals (200-1)
Pick: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
It is almost impossible to replace Larry Fitzgerald, a task the Cardinals will have to complete sooner rather than later. The best way to do it might just be to draft a man who spent all of 2018 catching passes from new Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. CeeDee Lamb will provide some explosiveness to an Arizona offense that lacks it on paper. He has the capacity to take the top off a defense at moment’s notice. Lamb would immediately help Murray’s growth as a passer and would give the Cardinals a young starting pairing at receiver with Christian Kirk.

Buccaneers logo6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (100-1)
Pick: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Tampa Bay passed on Derwin James in 2018 despite needing secondary help. Then again, a lot of teams did. This time though, the Buccaneers snag a top-tier defensive back out of the real DB U. Delpit becomes the latest plug-and-play safety and immediately helps the worst defensive backfield in the NFL. Tampa could be looking at a quarterback here if it decides to move on from Jameis Winston, but I expect them to spend one more season waiting to see if he can make it work with Bruce Arians and address their porous secondary.

Lions Logo7. Detroit Lions (100-1)
Pick: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Shocked to see the Lions take a quarterback? Don’t be. Detroit has an out in Stafford’s contract after 2020, meaning they can either wait for one year before turning things over to Tagovailoa or look to trade him to a team needing a veteran passer. Either way, Tagovailoa offers a bright future for the Lions alongside Kenny Golladay, Kerryon Johnson and T.J. Hockenson. Tua does not have a super strong arm, but he is extremely accurate and knowledgeable. We’ve seen as far as Stafford can take the Lions. He has never won a playoff game. It’s time to move on.

Bills logo8. Buffalo Bills (100-1)
Pick: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
This might not be a name too many NFL fans are familiar with, but if you are a fan of Pac-12 football, Shenault is already a star. He topped 1,000 yards last year and led the conference with 86 receptions. He doesn’t always go up against the best defensive competition out west, but at 6’2″ 220 pounds, Shenault projects as a future No. 1 receiver at the next level. Buffalo desperately needs more talent at the skill positions. Josh Allen should not be required to rely on John Brown, Zay Jones and Cole Beasley after this year. Giving Allen a reliable target will make a huge difference in his development.

Denver_Broncos9. Denver Broncos (80-1)
Pick: Walker Little, OT, Stanford
After years of putting off fixing the offensive line, it is finally time for the Broncos to go after some top-tier offensive line help. Walker Little brings a massive 6’7″ frame and tons of potential. He might not be ready to start at left tackle from day one, but he provides a projectable starter there in the future. If Garrett Bolles continues to struggle, Little will take over on the left side when Bolles’ contract expires after the 2020 season.

Colts logo10. Indianapolis Colts (60-1)
Pick: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
With the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck, Indy now turns its attention to finding a new franchise quarterback. They won’t have to look very far if Jake Fromm is still on the board at 10. Fromm is a natural passer that checks all the boxes for a prototypical NFL quarterback. He has tons of big game experience, starting in a national championship game as a freshman. Fromm also improved his accuracy in his sophomore year. If he can take another step forward, there is a chance he could be the top quarterback off the board in April.

Jets logo11. New York Jets (60-1)
Pick: AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
For years, the Jets have needed to find an edge rusher. Leonard Williams has not developed into a consistent sack artist. Henry Anderson is good in spurts. This team hoped to solve the problem after drafting Jachai Polite this year in the third round, but he didn’t even make the final roster. To fix this, New York finally adds the bonafide pass rusher they haven’t had since Sean Ellis left. Epenesa goes up against plenty of NFL caliber linemen in the BIG 10 and has the production to back it up. With 10.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles a year ago, he would be a welcome addition to Greg Williams’ defense.

Titans logo12. Tennessee Titans (50-1)
Pick: DeAndre Swift, RB, Georgia
But what about Derrick Henry? The former Alabama running back is in the final year of his rookie deal and has been way too inconsistent to warrant a big pay day. Heading into his 238-yard explosion last season, Henry had eclipsed 50 yards rushing just twice. He also offers very little value as a receiver. Instead, the Titans will add the latest star to command the Georgia Bulldogs’ backfield. Swift is explosive, versatile and ready to start right away. What sets him apart from the other top backs in this class is his ability as a pass catcher, with 45 receptions over the past two years. Tennessee might be looking for a new quarterback at this point as well, but no will be worth taking with the top three already off the board.

Panthers logo13. Carolina Panthers (50-1)
Pick: Triston Wirfs, OT, Iowa
There are some schools that just produce quality offensive linemen. Iowa is definitely one of them. Wirfs is the latest tackle to catch the eye of NFL talent evaluators. There is no question Carolina could use some upgrades along the line. They did nab Greg Little in the second round this year, but finding ways to keep Cam Newton upright has to be a priority. Those two would create great bookends on the offensive line. With a talented front seven on defense, a veteran quarterback and some solid playmakers around him, it’s time to bolster the pass protection.

Raiders logo14. Oakland Raiders (40-1)
Pick: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Khalil Mack is gone. The Raiders already made some effort to replace him in drafting Clelin Ferrell, but one pass rusher is not enough in the NFL theses days. Brown is a space eater at 6’5″, 315 pounds. He racked up 4.5 sacks last year and 10.5 tackles for loss. There seems to be a trend for teams looking to generate pressure on the interior. Brown can help do that and plug up the middle against the run. Oakland should just continue to amass young defensive talent as it continues its rebuild.

49ers Logo15. San Francisco 49ers (40-1)
Pick: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
This team desperately needs an infusion of youth at corner. Richard Sherman is still holding it down on one side, but he is 31. Outside of Sherman, the cupboard is pretty bare. Adding Bryce Hall gives San Francisco a projectable starter alongside Sherman in his final few years, before turning things over to Hall as the No. 1 corner. After investing heavily along the defensive line in recent drafts and retooling the offense in free agency, this seems like the most logical move.

Ravens logo16. Baltimore Ravens (40-1)
Pick: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Ravens landed their explosive, game-breaking wideout in Marquise Brown in the 2019 draft. Giving him a big-bodied red zone threat to play across from would make this Baltimore offense tons of fun to watch. Surrounding Lamar Jackson with talent has to be the priority right now. Higgins fits the bill, coming off a season where he had 12 receiving touchdowns at Clemson. Oh and he is 6’4″. He has the potential to have a Mike Williams-type impact on an offense.

Seahawks logo17. Seattle Seahawks (40-1)
Pick: Yeuter Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Even after trading for Jadeveon Clowney, pass rusher is still a huge need for the Seahawks. Clowney projects as just a one-year rental right now and Seattle shipped out Michael Bennett and Frank Clark in successive offseasons without finding a clear long-term replacement. Gross-Matos would be a good one with plenty of speed. He had eight sacks last season in his first full year as a starter. If he can do that again against some good competition on Penn State’s schedule, he will lock up his stock as a first round pick and provide a nice boost to Seahawks defense.

Dolphins logo18. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (30-1)
Pick: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Chaisson, coming off an ACL tear, flashed plenty of pass rushing potential during his freshman season. This draft spot is all about the ceiling he has right now. He is on As just a redshirt sophomore, there is no question he will need a little bit of seasoning. Given that the Dolphins are definitely more than just one piece away from Super Bowl contention, that is something they can live with. Miami is desperately in need of talent on both sides of the ball. They did add Christian Wilkins last and have Charles Harris on the outside. This would help turn the defensive line into a strength for the Fins as they continue to rebuild.

Falcons logo19. Atlanta Falcons (30-1)
Pick: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
After patching up the offensive line, finding some help in the secondary is a crucial for the Falcons. With Desmond Trufant under contract through 2022, they need to pair him with a capable counterpart. Henderson seems up to the task, as he already has six career interceptions for the Gators. He has decent size for an NFL corner, but doesn’t seem like a typical run and bump type. If can show some ability to jam receivers at the line, he could rise up some draft boards.

Vikings logo20. Minnesota Vikings (20-1)
Pick: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
Minnesota grabbed Garrett Bradberry in 2019 and will continue to build its offensive line with a massive tackle from TCU. Lucas Niang stands 6’7″ and weighs 328 pounds. He has spent most of his time at right tackle in college, but that seems to be a spot the Vikings could address. With Riley Reiff holding down the left side, 2018 draft pick Brian O’Neill projects as the starter on the right. If he struggles this year, Niang could slot in to anchor the right side and turn this offensive line into a strength for Minnesota.

Jaguars logo21. Jacksonville Jaguars (25-1)
Pick: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
This feels like a no-brainer for Jacksonville, who is desperately in need of some playmaking. With Marquise Lee battling through injuries, Dede Westbrook has been the only reliable receiver for the Jaguars. Adding in Ruggs, who has already arrived on the college stage at Alabama, would certainly make things much easier for Nick Foles. The Jags invested a lot of money into Foles. Putting talent around him to make it easier for him to succeed is a major responsibility for the front office.

Packers logo22. Green Bay Packers (20-1)
Pick: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Clay Matthews hit the road this offseason and Green Bay could use some help in their linebacking core. Simmons is not the pass rusher Matthews was, but he has the speed to make plays from sideline to sideline. He is a converted safety, offering plenty of versatility. He could be a player comparable to either Mark Barron or Keanu Neal, stepping in as a box safety, while also covering receiving tight ends. Don’t sleep on his run stopping ability either; he had 9.5 tackles for loss last year. The Packers could opt for a receiver here if no one else breaks through this season, but given the depth of this receiver class, they go defense instead.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo23. Pittsburgh Steelers (20-1)
Pick: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Steelers would be ecstatic if Fulton fell to them here. They signed Steven Nelson this offseason, but corner is still a major position of need. Joe Hayden is not going to be able to play forever and Mike Hilton has struggled a lot in his Pittsburgh tenure. Fulton has the physical traits to become a true lockdown corner in the future. LSU also breeds defensive backs, producing Tyrann Mathieu, Tre’Davious White, Eric Reid, Jamaal Adams and Greedy Williams in the past six years. If Fulton can come anywhere close to those guys, Pittsburgh will have a starting-caliber player for years to come.

Cowboys logo24. Dallas Cowboys (18-1)
Pick: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Part of this projection is just for the fan of addressing the ongoing contract stalemate between Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys. Assuming Zeke does hold out and Dallas is looking for a new feature back, Travis Etienne feels like very obvious fit here. He does not have a ton receiving experience, but he an elusive runner with very good vision. Clemson has leaned on him heavily, even with Trevor Lawrence taking over as quarterback last year. If he has another great season and shows some improvement as a receiver (read as more than 12 catches in 2019), he could be going much higher in this draft.

Browns logo25. Cleveland Browns (18-1)
Pick: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Cleveland shipped out Jabrill Peppers and turns to Tramon Williams and Damarious Randall as its two starting safeties. Williams is 36 and the Browns probably don’t have his replacement on their current roster. Xavier McKinney is a proven tackler that is already a pretty polished prospect. He has the ability to start as early as next season if Williams retires. Cleveland is building a Super Bowl contending roster, with needs along the offensive line best suited to be filled later in the draft, McKinney makes a lot of sense.

Chargers logo26. Los Angeles Chargers (18-1)
Pick: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Chargers have made it very clear to Melvin Gordon that they are not willing to overpay to keep a running back. LA even allowed Gordon to begin seeking potential trade partners. That means there is going to be an opening at starting running back in SoCal next year. Jonathan Taylor should fill that void very well coming off a prolific career at Wisconsin. No player has ever rushed for more yards in their first two seasons than Taylor, and he is even beginning to show improvements as a receiver. He projects as a complete back that would pair really well with Austin Ekeler.

Saints logo27. New Orleans Saints (12-1)
Pick: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
I strongly debated going with a quarterback like K.J. Costello from Stanford, because I still don’t buy Teddy Bridgewater or Taysom Hill as Drew Brees’ successor. Instead, the Saints will continue to load up for these final years of Brees’ career by landing the explosive Jalen Reagor. He compliments Michael Thomas very well as a slightly undersized field-stretching receiver. The Saints have tried to bring that with Ted Ginn Jr. in recent years. Reagor caught 72 passes last season for the Horned Frogs and he could bring a new element to a New Orleans offense that lagged a bit down the stretch.

Eagles Logo28. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1)
Pick: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Alabama dominance continues as the Eagles nab Dylan Moses. Philly has built a decent amount of depth in the secondary and has a stellar defensive line. Now Nigel Bradham is still on the roster, but if the Eagles designate him as a post June 1 cut, they can save $8 million in cap space. Moses could immediately fill in for Bradham. Bradham has been a serviceable middle linebacker, but he will turn 30 on September 4. Moses did just tear his ACL, but that should not hurt his draft stock to the point where he drops out of the first round. With not a ton of holes to fill, Philadelphia can look to get younger at a key position and save some money in the process.

Los Angeles Rams logo29. Los Angeles Rams (12-1)
Pick: Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
In a relatively surprising move this offseason, the Rams cut ties with veteran center John Sullivan. That means Brian Allen is stepping into the starting spot, who played all of 37 snaps last season. Jared Goff is going to get a major extension in the next year, so Los Angeles would be smart to protect their investment by beefing up that offensive line. Biadasz would help them do just that. He moves well by all accounts and looks solid in pass protection. He should have the power needed to play at the next level as well. The last three centers drafted in the first round were Ryan Kelly (Colts), Travis Frederick (Cowboys) and Garrett Bradberry (Vikings) for whatever that’s worth.

Patriots Logo30. New England Patriots (6-1)
Pick: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
This feels like such a Patriots pick. Weaver is a 6’3″, 265-pound edge rusher with a decent amount of power. That build is very similar to Trey Flowers, who turned a great season last year with New England into a payday in Detroit. He could be a bit of project for Bill Belichick, who likes to take players with production and potential along the defensive line. He came up just short of double-digit sacks last season and is already off to a good start to his 2019 campaign.

Raiders logo31. Oakland Raiders via Chicago Bears (12-1)
Pick: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
This is another pick from the Khalil Mack trade, which the Raiders will use on another Alabama player. Terrell Lewis is coming off a torn ACL in 2018, but he flashed tons of potential in 2017. He has a big frame at 6’5″, 250 pounds. If he shows he is healthy and takes the next step in his development, he could be long gone by now. Regardless, some NFL team is going to gamble on his potential at the end of the first round or early on Day 2. That Oakland defensive front seven is starting to look stacked with Ferrell, Brown and now Lewis.

32. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)Chiefs Logo
Pick: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
There is no question Kansas City needs help in the secondary. That was what held the Chiefs back from a Super Bowl appearance last year. Paulson Adebo is poised for a big season at Stanford. He has good for an NFL DB at 6’1″ 190 and has shown he can make big plays. Adebo came up with four interceptions last year. Another good season could move him out of the Chiefs’ range, but for now he projects well as a future starter in Andy Reid’s secondary.

All images from Wikimedia Commons

2019 NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings

For many college football players, the goal is to have success at school to earn a spot in the NFL. Most players who turn pro after college enter the league via the NFL Draft.

Somehow, this is already the fourth year of these NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings. The player pool being considered still dates back five years, meaning the 2014 class is no longer relevant to these rankings. There was a ton of movement this season, including two new teams in the top five and three new teams to the rankings overall.

The goal of these rankings is to quantify the results of the past few NFL drafts and track which schools succeed year over year at sending players to the next level. This is not meant to determine how well those players perform at the next level, as it is much harder to quantify what constitutes being a successful NFL player. This is still one of the most fun projects I have taken on since starting this site.

Previous rankings: 2018, 2017, 2016

The scoring system is as follows:
1st round-10 points
2nd round-7 points
3rd round-5 points
4th round-4 points
5th round- 3 points
6th round- 2 points
7th round- 1 points

Alabama Logo1. Alabama Crimson Tide- 281 points
Previous: 1 (263 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Amari Cooper, 4th Overall, 2015
Somehow, Alabama is actually stretching its lead at the top of these rankings. After sending another 11 prospects to the league, the most of any school, the Crimson Tide comfortable sits at the top of these rankings. It is ridiculous how far ahead of the pack Nick Saban is every year.

Ohio State Logo2. Ohio State Buckeyes- 229 points
Previous: 2 (232 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Nick Bosa, 2nd Overall, 2019
It was another solid draft class for Ohio State with Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins both going in the first round. The Buckeyes continued its trend of sending massive draft classes with 10 total prospects selected in 2019. Even with Ryan Day taking over for Urban Meyer, there is no chance Ohio State leaves the top two any time soon.

Florida logo.jpg3. Florida Gators- 166 points
Previous: 3 (163 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Dante Fowler Jr., 3rd Overall, 2015
Florida bounced back after an off year in 2018. The Gators 2019 class did not feature any first round picks, but saw a player selected in rounds two through five. Florida is going to need to land some first rounders in the future though if it wants to stay in the top 5.

Clemson Logo4. Clemson Tigers- 158 points
Previous: 6 (139 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Clelin Ferrell, 4th Overall, 2019
This is the type of draft we all knew Clemson was capable of having. With three first round draft picks, the Tigers roared into the top 5 and gave themselves a very good base to build on. Expect Dabo Swinney to continue sending top tier talent to the next level.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg5. Washington Huskies- 140 points
Previous: 11 (112 points)
Highest Drafted Player- John Ross, 9th Overall, 2017
It is time to start recognizing Washington as a top-tier producer of NFL draft picks. The Huskies have had at least one player drafted in the first round in four of the last five drafts. Kaleb McGary becomes the latest to join the group. What pushes Washington into this spot is its success in the second round, with three more second rounders coming in 2019.

Florida State Logo6. Florida State Seminoles- 132 points
Previous: 4 (160 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jameis Winston, 1st Overall, 2015
It should come as no surprise that Florida State is slipping in these rankings after another tough season in the ACC. The departure of Jimbo Fisher is not going to help matters at all. The Seminoles ranking is heavily tied to its 2015 draft class, which will drop out of consideration in next year’s rankings.

Louisiana State University logo6. LSU Tigers- 132 points
Previous: 5 (155 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Leonard Fournette, 4th Overall, 2017
LSU did produce a top-five pick in Devin White this season. However, White was one of just three Tigers drafted in 2019. While LSU will certainly stay in the rankings producing first round picks, it needs to fill in the gaps in later rounds.

MichiganWolverines8. Michigan Wolverines- 127 points
Previous: 14 (110 points)
Highest Drafted Player-
Michigan put together a solid class to build on the ridiculous class it produced in 2017. Devin Bush and Rashan Gary going in the first round headlined a five-man class. Considering the rate Jim Harbaugh attracts talent to Ann Arbor, the Wolverines should stay in the top 10.

Oklahoma Logo9. Oklahoma Sooners- 125 points
Previous: 18 (90 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Baker Mayfield / Kyler Murray, 1st Overall, 2018 / 2019
Meet the new college football powerhouse in these rankings. Oklahoma became the first school to ever produce two first overall picks at the same position in back-to-back years. Kyler Murray and Marquis “Hollywood” Brown lead a stacked class. The Sooners will continue to rise in the rankings with most of their points being tied to it’s two most recent draft classes.

Georgia Logo10. Georgia Bulldogs- 122 points
Previous: 16 (99 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Roquon Smith, 8th Overall, 2018
Considering Georgia’s success in recent college football seasons, it should come as no surprise Kirby Smart and company crack the top 10. Outside of a very quiet 2017 draft, the Bulldogs regularly send a half dozen players or more to the next level. This season was no exception.

Miami logo11. Miami Hurricanes- 117 points
Previous: 13 (111 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Ereck Flowers, 9th Overall, 2015
This was a quietly solid draft class for Miami. While the Canes did not produce any draft picks before Day 3 of the draft, five players were drafted on Saturday. Miami will certainly hope to land a couple players higher in the draft going forward, but these types of drafts will keep the Hurricanes from dropping out of the top 20.

Stanford Cardinal12. Stanford Cardinal- 116 points
Previous: 9 (115 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Solomon Thomas, 3rd Overall, 2017
Another solid if unspectacular draft class from Palo Alto sees the Cardinal drop from the top 10. Stanford is still very much in the mix, having a player drafted rounds two through six. As long as David Shaw sticks around, so, too, will Stanford in these rankings.

USC logo13. USC Trojans- 114 points
Previous: 10 (114 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Sam Darnold, 3rd Overall, 2018
USC definitely put up a much flashier draft class in 2018, featuring a top-five pick. With a pair of third rounders and a pair of fifth rounders, the Trojans might continue to find themselves outside the top 10. The struggles USC has had on the field reflect the lack of NFL ready talent coming out of Southern California right now.

Notre Dame Logo14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- 110 points
Previous: 8 (116 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Ronnie Stanley, 6th Overall, 2016
In the past, the this part of the rankings has had very small margins. This year is no different. While this looks like a massive drop for Notre Dame, producing an additional second round pick would have held the Irish at 11th instead of 14th. This class has good depth, with six players drafted overall. Considering the Irish regularly feature in the College Football Playoff, they should bounce back.

UCLA logo.jpg15. UCLA Bruins- 100 points
Previous: 7 (126 points)
Highest Drafted Player-
This was a really rough draft class for UCLA, who produced just one player. It was Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson. One seventh round pick does not inspire confidence. A small 2015 draft class might prevent the Bruins from dropping too much next year, but their spot in these rankings will definitely be in question going forward.

Ole_Miss_Rebels_logo15. Ole Miss Rebels- 100 points
Previous: 21 (77 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Laremy Tunsil, 13th Overall, 2016
Ole Miss had a very underrated 2019 draft class. Three second round picks propel the Rebels to the top 15. Even with program turnover, being an SEC team in a good state to recruit should keep the NFL-level talent flowing.

Texas A&M logo16. Texas A&M Aggies- 95 points
Previous: 15 (102 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Myles Garrett, 1st Overall, 2017
The arrival of Jimbo Fisher should stabilize Texas A&M over the next few seasons. He built a juggernaut at Florida State and can likely take credit for a lot of their ensuing draft success. My assumption here is the Aggies will climb in the rankings while the Seminoles slowly slip.

Penn_State_text_logo17. Penn State Nittany Lions- 93 points
Previous: 19 (85 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Saquon Barkley, 2nd Overall, 2018
Another year, another season without a first round pick for Penn State. Saquon Barkley is the Nittany Lions’ only first round selection since 2010. This year, the impact was minimized as Penn State still had six players drafted, one in each round following the first.

1000px-mississippi_state_bulldogs_logo.svg_18. Mississippi State Bulldogs- 86 points
Previous: Unranked (52 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jeffery Simmons, 19th Overall, 2019
Welcome to the rankings Mississippi State. A massive draft class featuring three first round selections vaults the Bulldogs into the top 20. It was only a matter of time considering the level of success players have had at the NFL level in recent years (Chris Jones, Dak Prescott, Preston Smith). Now teams are heading back to the well earlier and more often. Mississippi State is here to stay.

Auburn_Tigers_logo19. Auburn Tigers- 82 points
Previous: 17 (92 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Braden Smith, 37th Overall, 2018
Without a player drafted in the first two rounds, Auburn filled up the later rounds. Six total Tiger players heard there name called during draft weekend. Auburn remains one of the only teams in the rankings to not produce a first round pick in the past five years. The uncertainty surrounding Gus Malzahn’s future doesn’t help.

iowa_wordmark20. Iowa Hawkeyes – 81 points
Previous: 23 (67 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Branden Scherff, 5th Overall, 2015
Iowa became the first school to have two tight ends drafted in the first round ever. The Hawkeyes quietly produce a lot of NFL talent without usually being in the regular top-25 conversation. Outside of 2016, Iowa has produced multiple NFL draft picks every season.

Utah_Utes_logo20. Utah Utes- 81 points
Previous: 25 (66 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Garrett Bolles, 20th Overall, 2017
Once again, the Utes produced five mid and late round draft picks. Utah is becoming a traditional NFL factory after appearing in these rankings for three straight years. It is unlikely they climb much higher without starting to produce more top-end picks, but the Utes do more than enough to hang onto their spot.

1000px-north_carolina_state_university_athletic_logo.svg_22. North Carolina State Wolfpack- 79 points
Previous: Others Receiving Votes (62 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Bradley Chubb, 5th Overall, 2018
Name the school with the most quarterbacks currently on NFL rosters. If you guessed NC State, well done. Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson (transferred to Wisconsin), Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett and now Ryan Finley all have NFL homes. If you are a young quarterback prospect, this might be a good school for you to consider. Let’s not steal the thunder though of Garrett Bradberry, who became the Wolfpack’s second straight first round pick.

Louisville logo23. Louisville Cardinals- 77 points
Previous: 11 (112 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Sheldon Rankins, 12th Overall, 2016
So it turns out Louisville meteoric rise might have been a fluke. The Cardinals dip back down 12 spots, dropping 45 points, after not having a single player drafted this year. The bottom clearly fell out and Bobby Petrino’s firing does not help matters. Louisville could very well be on their way out of the rankings.

West Virginia logo24. West Virginia Mountaineers- 75 points
Previous: Others receiving votes (65 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Kevin White, 7th Overall, 2015
West Virginia continues to live on the fringes of the top 25. A strong regular season led to a reasonable draft class with two third and two fourth round picks. The Mountaineers had a much better draft class than a year ago, but will they be able to build on it with Dana Holgorsen bolting for Houston?

Wisconsin logo25. Wisconsin Badgers- 74 points
Previous: 20 (78 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Melvin Gordon, 15th Overall, 2015
Wisconsin continues to produce a smattering of NFL-caliber players every year. There is no doubt the Badgers have developed a few very successful players in recent years (Melvin Gordon, T.J. Watt, Ryan Ramczyk). However, even with this top tier of talent, Wisconsin continues to lag behind the elite powers in college football. Deeper draft classes in recent years have certainly helped and it is pretty safe to bet on the Badgers staying in the top 25.

Others Receiving Votes: Missouri (66 points), Michigan State (66 points), Oregon (61 points)

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

NFL All-Non-Power 5 team

In honor of the NFL draft, which is all about finding value in the later rounds, I decided it is time to put together the team of non-power 5 players currently in the NFL. So that means any player who played college football outside the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12.

More often than not, these are the players that make the differences at the pro level for teams. It is easier to hit on players that went to big schools. The best franchises find those late-round gems to build out the roster and win championships on their contributions. So don’t despair if your favorite team drafted a player form a small school you have never heard of. This team would almost certainly win a Super Bowl if all these players were on the same roster. Here is the NFL All-Non-Power-Five:

Quarterback – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
A proud alum of Miami Ohio, Roethlisberger is Hall of Fame bound. He’s still got it to after leading the league with an absurd 5,129 passing yards. He is a bit interception prone, but with the other notable options being the oft-injured Carson Wentz and inconsistent Joe Flacco, Roethlisberger is an obvious choice.

Aaron Jones
Jones racked up over 4,000 yards in his career at UTEP. (Wikimedia Commons)

Running back – Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
He didn’t lead the league in rushing or anything, but the former UTEP running back had a healthy 5.5 yards per carry and is criminally underused in Green Bay. Jones is a bruising runner who picked up just under 1,000 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns in only 12 games this season. At only 24, Jones has a ton of upside and will on get better with more touches.

Wide receiver – Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Forget small school, Thielen didn’t even play Division I college ball at Minnesota State. Yet, he caught 204 passes for 2,649 yards and 13 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Thielen is in the prime of his career at age 28 and as long as he continues to play at a Pro Bowl level, he will be on this list.

Wide receiver – Central Michigan, Oakland Raiders
It was tempting to go with Davante Adams here because Antonio Brown had a down year. However, a down year for Brown was still 100-plus catches, 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is one of best receivers in NFL history and one of the best draft finds ever as a 6th round pick out of Central Michigan.

Tight end – Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
It conveniently works out that the best tight end in the league went to Cincinnati. Travis Kelce dominated the league finishing top 10 in receiving yards and to go with 10 double-digit touchdowns. He is a solid blocker and an incredible receiver.

Offensive tackle – Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints
Over the past few years, Armstead has turned into an elite pass blocker on one of the top offenses in the league. Pro Football Focus rated him the top offensive lineman in 2018. Teams pay a premier to find a true left tackle and Armstead fits the bill.

Offensive guard – Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over looked as a college prospect because of the competition he faced at Hobart, Marpet has become a top-tier offensive lineman. He is one of the cleanest blockers there is, committing just two penalties during the 2018 season. Marpet has versatility as well, having played at both guard positions and center in his four-year career.

Carson Wentz
Kelce was the leader of a Super Bowl winning line in 2017. (Wkimedia Commons)

Center – Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
Turns out that one Kelce brother was not enough. The elder Kelce is arguably the best center in the NFL. He is just a year removed from a Super Bowl title in Philly protecting the former mayor of Philadelphia Nick Foles and a two-time All-Pro. Pro Football Focus rated him the best center in the league in his eighth season out of Cincinnati.

Offensive guard – Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns
Bitonio is one of the best guards in the league in his fifth year out of Nevada. He is an excellent blocker coming off a Pro Bowl season. Bitonio has started all 32 games over the past two seasons and committed just three penalties in that span.

Offensive tackle – Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs
The former No. 1 overall pick has not lived up to the expectations that come with being the top pick. Fisher struggled as a left tackle when he first arrived out of Central Michigan. Six years into his career, he is finally hitting his stride as a quality right tackle. Fisher was a Pro Bowl selection in 2018 and finally seems to fulfilling his potential.

Defensive end – Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
Mack is the poster child for small school players working out in the NFL. He has dominated the league since arriving from Buffalo in 2014. He has racked up double-digit sacks each of the last four seasons. Mack is a three-time All-Pro and possibly the best defensive player in the league.

Defensive tackle – Akiem Hicks, Chicago Bears
We have our first member of this team from Canada. Hicks went to school at Regina College north of the border and has turned into one of the most versatile defensive tackles in the league. He is a talented pass rusher, with 16 sacks over the past two seasons, rushing from the interior. Hicks has also proven himself as a run stopper as well.

Defensive end – Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys
You’ve probably been hearing about Demarcus Lawrence over the past few months. He finally landed himself a big-time contract extension. Rightfully so as the Boise State product has racked up 25 sacks and 29 tackles of loss over the past two season. Assuming Lawrence continues to produce even after being paid, he is capable of being one of the best defensive linemen in the league.

Outside linebacker – Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints
While Davenport is not technically an outside linebacker, he is an edge rusher. After just one season in the league as a raw defensive talent, the former UTSA standout should have a bright future. With 4.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits as just a situational rusher in 2018. While far from proven, it is difficult to find a ton of defensive talent coming from smaller schools.

Inside linebacker – Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year and 1st team All-Pro is a no-brainer on this list. Hailing from South Carolina State, Leonard took the league by storm in 2018, finishing as the NFL’s leading tackler. He is still improving in coverage, but his nose for finding the football makes him invaluable.

bobby_wagner_2015
Wagner accounted for nearly 450 tackles at Utah State. (Wikimedia Commons)

Inside linebacker – Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
Wagner is the best all-around linebacker in the NFL (except for maybe Luke Keuchley). The former Utah State standout racked up the fourth most tackles in 2018 while also adding 11 pass breakups, second most by a linebacker. He is reliable and possesses a lot of the intangibles teams look for in a middle linebacker.

Outside linebacker – Matt Judon, Baltimore Ravens
This might not be a name casual fans are overly familiar with. Judon is a product of Grand Valley State and a situational rusher for the Ravens. He has piled up 15 sacks and 39 quarterback hits over the past two seasons and could be in line for increased playing time with some of Baltimore’s offseason departures.

Cornerback – Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Jones took some time to figure out his best role in the NFL, but after putting up insane combine numbers, it was just a matter of time before technique caught up to athleticism. The former UConn star is a lockdown corner in Dallas. He length and speed make him a great cover corner.

Safety – Damontae Kazee, Atlanta Falcons
Kazee came out of nowhere to lead the league in interceptions this year with 7. Thrown into the fray because of injuries, the former San Diego State standout thrived with more playing time. He has shown some versatility as well at nickle corner.

Safety – Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans
Byard often flies under the radar, but he a stud in Tennessee. One of the better tackling safeties in the league, he has transformed himself into a top safety in the NFL. At just 25 years old, the Middle Tennessee State product has a lot of football left in him.

Cornerback – Bryce Callahan, Denver Broncos
Yet another Bears defensive player joins this team. Bryce Callahan was in a contract year and played like a true shutdown corner in the process. He turned that into a nice contract with the Broncos. Coming from Rice, Callahan had to forge his path into the league and seems to be entering the prime of his career.

Kicker – Aldrick Rosas, New York Giants
Named a Pro Bowler and second team All-Pro, Rosas burst onto the scene in 2018. The former Southern Oregon kicker was probably the most reliable player on the Giants this season not named Saquon Barkley. He made all but one extra point attempt and Rosas made 32 of 33 field goals on the season.

Punter – Brett Kern, Tennessee Titans
Kern just missed out on making it on an All-Pro team this season. He has been a consistent punter since arriving in the league in 2012 from Toledo. Kern’s accuracy is a useful tool for Mike Vrabel’s defense.

Kick returner – Andre Roberts, Buffalo Bills
Roberts earned his way to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team in 2018 with the Jets. He led the league in punt return average and brought back two kicks for scores. The veteran out of The Citadel showed his explosiveness and aided Sam Darnold with improved field position during his rookie year.

The Flaw in Each Heisman Contender

This past weekend in college football was wild. Lots of top 25 teams fell and some Heisman hopefuls suffered major blows.

Just a week ago, I profiled the shallow group that makes up this Heisman race. This time around, I’m back to break down why each of the true contenders won’t win this years award. These are the front runners for the award and while it is still early, we are starting to see the full picture on the candidates. Let’s be clear, all of these players have had phenomenal seasons so far. This is explaining why they still might not win the Heisman.

Oklahoma LogoKyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Flaw: Offensive System
This might seem a bit unfair to Murray, as it isn’t his fault Lincoln Riley is a great head coach, but Oklahoma also produced Baker Mayfield last year. When you compare the two, Murray is putting up comparable numbers. Mayfield averaged 330 yards passing per game with three touchdowns and a completion percentage of 70.5 in 14 games. Murray is averaging 294 yards with 3.5 touchdowns and a 71.1 completion percentage. Murray produces more with his legs as he accounts for 62.8 yards per game rushing compared to Mayfield’s 22 yards per game during his Heisman season.

Riley is an offensive mastermind and playing in the wide open Big 12, this system is amplified an extra step. It is hard not to wonder if Murray is simply benefiting from the same system that turned Mayfield into a landslide Heisman winner. Voters will be wary of voting in a different player at the same position from the same school as they did the year before. Only once in the history of the award has a school had back-to-back winners. It happened back in 1945-46 when Army produced two different Heisman winners in as many years. These are all things Murray cannot control, but that does not mean they will not come into play when it comes time to vote.

Alabama Logo

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Flaw: Importance to team
When was the last time it felt like a team could still win the national championship without its Heisman candidate? Alabama is dominating everyone who steps on the field with them. The Crimson Tide is outscoring opponent’s by an average margin of 40 points per contest. After years of being known as a defense team, Nick Saban is boasting an offense to match it. At the center of it is Tua Tagovailoa. He is putting up incredible numbers, putting up video-game-like numbers. He has completed 75 percent of his passes, averaging 14.8 yards per attempt and has the highest passer rating in the country at 258.4.

However, he barely has to play when it matters, because it often doesn’t for Alabama. He has attempted more than 20 passes in a game only once. Tagovailoa has not taken a single snap in the fourth quarter of a football game this season. By that point, the Tide has been up by enough that his services are no longer needed. ‘Bama is far and away the best team in the country and Tagovailoa might be the best quarterback in the country, but this team seems like it would easily make it back to the playoff if it was only relying on Jalen Hurts. In limited playing time, Hurts has completed 71 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and only one interception. If the system issue for Kyler Murray was bad, this seems almost worse in Alabama where there is another quarterback performing well in the same season. It is difficult to poke holes in Tagovailoa’s campaign, but equally hard to say he should be the Heisman winner when it feels like the team would be fine without him.

West Virginia logoWill Grier, QB, West Virginia:
Flaw: Gunslinger
Will Grier has had one heck of a year so far. He has thrown for at least 330 yards in every game. He is completing 71 percent of his passes. He is also averaging a ridiculous 4.2 touchdowns passes per game. Grier has proven he can toss it all over the yard. He has West Virginia up to number six in the polls, its highest ranking since 2012. While the level of competition the Mountaineers have faced is certainly a concern, they have yet to play another ranked team and likely won’t until November, the much bigger concern is Grier’s playing style.

Much like Kyler Murray, Grier plays in the wide open Big 12. It serves up opportunities for tons of passing yards and weak secondaries to feast on. Heading into the game, he had only thrown three interceptions. Against Kansas, Grier tossed three more. Throwing three interceptions in a game is not a good thing. Throwing three interceptions against Kansas. The Jayhawks are 2-4 this season, including a loss to Nicholls State, an FCS team. Grier’s now six interceptions rank him tied for sixth most in the country. That is not an awful thing, but when you compare him to the other Heisman candidates, it is a bad look. Haskins has four, Murray has two and Tagovailoa has yet to throw one. Each of those three has played one more game than Grier as well. It begs the question of how Grier will fare when faced with top tier teams like Texas and Oklahoma, both of whom West Virginia will play next month. If Grier turns it over against those teams, not only will it likely cost his team the game, it will certainly cost him the Heisman.

Ohio State LogoDwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Flaw: Starting slow
If there is anyone in college football who is putting up the kind of number Tua Tagovailoa has, it is Dwayne Haskins. He has completed 71 percent of his passes en route to averaging 320 yards per game through the air. Haskins also leads the nation in touchdown passes through six games with 25. Looking at Ohio State’s schedule, it should relatively smooth sailing for them heading into their final game of the year against Michigan.

In the last two games for the Buckeyes though, the team has started rather sluggishly. Against Penn State, Haskins threw an early interception which lead to a field goal. Ohio State went down 13-0 and it probably would have been that score at halftime if not for a costly fumble from the Nittany Lions. Haskins played very well in the second half to lead Ohio State to a victory. Essentially the same script played out again at home against Indiana. Haskins threw a second quarter interception to kill the drive and set up a Hoosier touchdown, which put Indiana ahead at that point. He played lights out in the second half, but the lack of a complete game is troubling. The Big 10 is a tough conference to compete in and Ohio State has road games with Purdue, Michigan State and Maryland left. None of those poise serious threats, but going down early in games is not sustainable for any team. I guess if Haskins continues to do it, you could label as clutch, but it raises a red flag for me indicating he takes a little while to settle into a game.

Clemson LogoTravis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Flaw: Pass Catching
I said Etienne was getting close after his dominant performance against Syracuse. After thrashing Wake Forrest, Etienne earns himself the title of Heisman contender. He is fourth in the nation with 761 yards rushing, third for his yards per carry average of 9.2 and tied for fourth with 11 rushing touchdowns. His value cannot be overstated for a Clemson team that had its former starter Kelly Bryant transfer and now starts a true freshman under center. Against Wake Forrest, Etienne racked up 167 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries. He is an explosive playmaker on a top team in the country.

The one major concern Heisman voters will have with Etienne is he doesn’t fit the bill of a true Heisman back. He is not a powerful runner in the way that Mark Ingram or Derrick Henry, the last two running backs to win, were at Alabama. Much like Tua Tagovailoa, he is not a heavy usage player running the football as he has eclipsed 16 carries just once. We’ve seen plenty of running backs add to their candidacy by featuring as pass catchers out of the backfield on swings, screens and wheel routes downfield. On the season he has just five receptions for 27 yards and one receiving touchdown. It is not a requirement to be a good receiving back to win the award, Henry finished his winning season with just 11 grabs, but with Etienne not putting up nearly the same numbers running the ball as those that came before him, it is going to be difficult to outshine any of these quarterbacks without making an impact in the passing game.