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.

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2018 Heisman Hopefuls are Hard to Find

cappelletti_heisman_trophy_crop_1
Only quarterbacks and Alabama running backs have won the Heisman dating back to 2000. (Wikimedia Commons)

After five weeks of action in the 2018 college football season, the shortlist of contenders for the Heisman Trophy is shrinking. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, West Virginia’s Will Grier and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray are the clear front runners at this stage. All four of them are undefeated quarterbacks playing on Power 5 conference teams ranked in the top 10. At this stage, any of them could win the award, but it seems like there is not much chance anyone else manages to get their name into the running. Let’s break down who else was supposed to be in this race.

The Preseason Hopefuls
There were several other players who were supposed to challenge for the highest individual honor in the college game. Stanford running back Bryce Love and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor headline this group. Love was the runner up for the award last season when Baker Mayfield took it home. Taylor finished sixth in the voting. The pair finished second and third in the nation in rushing respectively behind Seahawks first round selection Rashaad Penny. This season Taylor is fifth in the country for ground yardage, but hasn’t scored in either of his past two games and Wisconsin lost to an unranked BYU squad. Love has missed time with some nagging injuries.

Also in this group is Shea Patterson of Michigan and Kelly Bryant of Clemson. The two quarterbacks had rough starts to the season. For Patterson, he lost his season opener to Notre Dame and failed to throw a touchdown pass. He only has seven through five games this year. On the other hand, Bryant actually lost his starting job to freshman Trevor Lawrence and announced he plans to transfer.

The Sleeper Picks
Every year, there are a bunch of dark horse candidates to win the Heisman. 2018 was no different. The most popular sleeper pick this year had to be Penn State’s Trace McSorley. A true dual-threat quarterback, the senior has thrown for over 1,000 yards and rushed for over 450. Normally, that would put you right in the heart of the conversation. However, McSorley sustained a heavy blow to his candidacy with PSU’s loss to Ohio State at home. On top of that, he has a woeful completion percentage of 52 and had two games where he failed to eclipse 200 yards passing.

Alongside McSorely were Drew Lock and Jarret Stidham, two SEC quarterbacks with first round potential in the upcoming NFL draft. Lock was always going to have a tough road to the award being on an unranked team. He opened the season on fire, but came back down to Earth when Georgia drubbed Missouri. Lock failed to complete 50 percent of his passes against the Bulldogs, threw no touchdowns, one interception and for under 250 yards. For a quarterback who doesn’t run much, that pretty much ended Lock’s campaign. Stidham’s candidacy turned out to be mostly hype. Through five games, the Auburn quarterback has only thrown five touchdowns, lost at home to LSU and topped 200 passing yards twice.

400px-baker_mayfield_282934943606729
Mayfield became the first senior to win the award since 2006 and translated it into the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. (Wikimedia Commons)

Still Could Join the Party
I have bashed the depth of the hopefuls pretty thoroughly, but it is still early and there a are a handful of players who could make some noise and draw Heisman attention before the season is over.

The first is Justin Herbert. The Oregon quarterback is making a case to be the first quarterback selected in May at the NFL draft. He could also sneak into the Heisman conversation, but it feels like he missed his best chance to assert himself. It will be hard for voters to shake the memory of him throwing four straight incompletions to lose at home to Stanford in overtime. He also has a couple of ugly statistical games on his record where he tossed multiple interceptions and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes.

There is no way that only quarterbacks finish as finalists either. Travis Etienne of Clemson has a chance to thrust himself into the conversation before the season is out. He is currently seventh in the country in rushing with an outrageous 8.1 yards per carry. The sophomore running back also has eight touchdowns so far. Additionally, Etienne might have just had his Heisman moment as he carried Clemson to a comeback in Death Valley over Syracuse with the team’s third-string quarterback under center. He rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns to keep the Tigers undefeated. Being the lead back on a team likely to make the playoff and having your starting quarterback transfer, Etienne has everything in place to take a stab at this.

One last one that is a bit of a unique case is Ian Book. The Notre Dame quarterback took over as the starter in the third game of the season. He threw the game-clinching touchdown against Wake Forest and has thrown for 603 yards and six touchdowns over his last two starts. He torched what is a good Stanford defense and has a stellar 74 percent completion rate. On top of all of that, he hasn’t thrown an interception. The Irish sit at sixth in the AP poll and have a chance to make the College Football Playoff. If Book puts up similar numbers and leads Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season, he could be in the mix.

The Longshots
Just because you aren’t at a big school doesn’t mean you can’t make some noise. Now, Kentucky is a big school, but you probably know them for basketball. However, Ben Snell Jr. is having an impressive year running the ball. He is fourth in the nation in both yards and touchdowns. Kentucky is also 5-0 and up to #13 in the AP Poll. He will get a chance to play some great competition as Texas A&M and Georgia are still on the schedule. He could be a late riser.

Even more of a long shot is John Ursua of Hawaii. He really doesn’t belong, but he leads the nation in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He is on pace to finish with 100 catches, 1500 yards and 24 touchdowns. That kind of production usually catches the eyes of Heisman voters, but the best team Hawaii has played all year is Army. Unless Ursua can step it up and start shattering some records along with Hawaii winning out, he won’t really draw much attention.

One last name to throw around is Steven Montez from Colorado. The Buffaloes are 4-0 this season for the first time in 20 years. Montez is completing 75.8 percent of his passes, which leads the nation. Colorado is 21st in the polls and has road games against USC, Washington and Cal. Montez has thrown for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in four games so far. He still has two-thirds of his games left in his season. It will be interesting to see what he can do with it.

The season is far from over, but it seems like the majority of the whittling down for the Heisman Trophy has already occurred. We might get some fireworks by season’s end, but this feels like a four-man race with a lot of people wondering what could have been.

2018 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.

Welcome to year three of this project. Gone from consideration is the class of 2013, replaced by the new group of college athletes selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. The top of the list looks very similar to years past. Further down the rankings is massive turnover and movement. Louisville continues its rise while Oregon continues to tumble. Auburn finally cracks the rankings after coming agonizingly close the previous two years, costing North Carolina its spot. These ranking help measure the success of college programs over the past five years in terms of producing NFL prospects. It in no way accounts or measures success in the NFL, as that is extremely difficult to quantify. This is college football we are talking about, so here is the top 25.

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– 263 points
Previous: 1 (253 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Amari Cooper, 4th Overall, 2014
No one has yet to come close to Alabama in the three years I have compiled these rankings. With four more first round picks and a host of mid-round selections, the Crimson Tide continues to be the NFL’s favorite spot to find new players.

Ohio State Logo2. Ohio State Buckeyes- 232 points
Previous: 2 (200 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Joey Bosa, 3rd Overall, 2016
The climb continues for Ohio State. For the second straight year, the Buckeyes actually closed the gap on Alabama atop the rankings. The Crimson Tide had the stronger 2018 class, but lost more from it’s 2013 group than Ohio State did. I don’t expect Ohio State to catch Bama any time soon, but even with the uncertainty in Columbus right now, the Buckeyes should be a lock for the top five for the foreseeable future.

Florida logo.jpg3. Florida Gators- 163 points
Previous: 4 (181 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Dante Fowler Jr., 3rd Overall, 2015
Despite dropping a ton of points in the rankings, Florida actually leap frogs Florida State. Nobody is catching Alabama or Ohio State anytime soon. The Gators will stay in the top five though as long as players continue to go in the first round.

Florida State Logo4. Florida State Seminoles- 160 points
Previous: 3 (192 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Jameis Winston, 1st Overall, 2015
Florida State drops a spot for a second consecutive year. The Seminoles 2018 class was deep, but only Derwin James went in the first round. Still FSU should hang around the top five on the back of that 2015 class for at least one more year.

Louisiana State University logo5. LSU Tigers- 155 points
Previous: 4 (175 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Leonard Fournette, 4th Overall, 2017
A large dip in points does not cost the Tigers a spot in the rankings. LSU continues to produce top tier defensive players every season. If the offense can start to catch up, the Tigers could start moving up the board.

Clemson Logo6. Clemson Tigers- 139 points
Previous: 6 (151 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Sammy Watkins, 4th Overall, 2014
Clemson had a woeful showing at the NFL draft this season compared to recent history, but it didn’t hurt them in the rankings. Just three players were drafted in 2018, with no one coming off the board until the third round. The Tigers have a host of defensive lineman that could go in the first round next year, so expect Clemson to bounce back in a big way.

UCLA logo.jpg7. UCLA Bruins- 126 points
Previous: 9 (115 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Anthony Barr, 9th Overall, 2014
Finally, a team that increased its point total and moved up the rankings as a result. UCLA had two first round picks in Josh Rosen and Kolton Miller. It will need a strong 2019 class to hold his position as it loses a solid 2014 class next year.

Notre Dame Logo8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- 116 points
Previous: 7 (123 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Ronnie Stanley, 6th Overall, 2016
The margin for error among these next seven teams is tiny. For a second straight year, Notre Dame slips a bit in the rankings. However, this Fighting Irish team is back on track in college football and could see that reflect in draft results. Notre Dame continues to be one of the top schools for offensive linemen in the country, which should keep it in the top 10 for a while.

Stanford Cardinal9. Stanford Cardinal- 115 points
Previous: 10 (113 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Solomon Thomas, 3rd Overall, 2017
Stanford didn’t have a great 2018 draft, but it was better than the outgoing 2013 group. The Cardinal remain in the top 10 for another year. With a Heisman candidate in Bryce Love, Stanford will be a team to watch in 2018. We will have to see if that translates into better draft success.

USC logo10. USC Trojans- 114 points
Previous: 12 (105 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Sam Darnold, 3rd Overall, 2018
Sam Darnold went third in this year’s draft, headlining a solid class for the Trojans with two second rounders and a third round selection to round it out. It feels right to have USC in the top 10. 2014 wasn’t a great year for them either in terms of draft success, so the Trojans could climb higher.

Louisville logo11. Louisville Cardinals- 112 points
Previous: 19 (85 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Sheldon Rankins, 12th Overall, 2016
A massive jump up the rankings sees Louisville knocking on the door of the top 10. After failing to make noise in 2017, the Cardinals produced two first rounders in 2018 to bolster their spot in the rankings. Even without Lamar Jackson at quarterback, the talent in Kentucky should keep on flowing into the NFL.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg11. Washington Huskies- 112 points
Previous: 14 (97 points)
Highest Drafted Player– John Ross, 9th Overall, 2017
Often overlooked in the wider college football scene, Washington has quietly become one of the best producers of NFL talent in recent years. Vita Vea headlines a relatively deep group headed to play pro ball in 2018. With very little to lose from its 2014 class, Washington could sneak into the top 10.

Miami logo13. Miami Hurricanes- 111 points
Previous: 13 (98 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Ereck Flowers, 9th Overall, 2015
The Canes are officially back. A spike in points did not correlate with a jump in the rankings, but Miami continues to produce mid-round NFL talent. The Hurricanes had six players selected, but none before the third round. Some early draft picks could be the difference for Miami going forward.

MichiganWolverines14. Michigan Wolverines- 110 points
Previous: 11 (107 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Taylor Lewan, 11th Overall, 2014
After soaring into the rankings last year, Michigan fell back down to Earth a bit in 2018, dropping three spots. That being said, Michigan actually upped its point total from 2017, despite only having two players drafted. The Wolverines will need to bounce back with a much better 2019 class in order to stay in the top 15.

Texas A&M logo15. Texas A&M Aggies- 102 points
Previous: 8 (108 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Myles Garrett, 1st Overall, 2017
We have a big faller here. Texas A&M barely stays in the top 15 after finished T-8th a year ago. An unimpressive 2018 class certainly hurt, but a weak 2019 group could drop the Aggies from the rankings. A&M will lose it’s 2014 class that featured three first round picks. This is definitely a team trending down.

Georgia Logo16. Georgia Bulldogs- 99 points
Previous: 15 (96 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Roquon Smith, 8th Overall, 2018
Hard to believe that Georgia made it to the national championship game and dropped a spot in these rankings. Still, the Bulldogs had a good draft class and definitely have the potential to climb a bit next year. Georgia should be national contenders again, meaning this team definitely has more NFL talent.

Auburn_Tigers_logo17. Auburn Tigers- 92 points
Previous: 25 (74 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Greg Robinson, 2nd Overall, 2014
Auburn just missed the top 25 in 2016. After being a fringe team last year, the Tigers are solidly in the rankings. A 2018 class that featured three second round selections makes it easy to see why they are rising.

Oklahoma Logo18. Oklahoma Sooners- 90 points
Previous: 17 (87 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Baker Mayfield, 1st Overall, 2018
Produce the first overall pick only to drop a spot. Sometimes, life is just like that. Baker Mayfield represents the first Sooner selected in the first round since Lane Johnson in 2013. Oklahoma has put together deep draft classes, but failed to generate stars in recent years. After a run to the College Football Playoff in 2017, I have a feeling there is more to follow. Look for the Sooners to climb.

Penn_State_text_logo19. Penn State Nittany Lions- 85 points
Previous: Unranked (65 points)
Highest Drafted Player: Saquon Barkley, 2nd Overall, 2018
After so many years of producing only mid-round talent, Penn State put together a deep class with a true stud at the top in Saquon Barkley. He became the first Nittany Lion to go in the first round since Jared Odrick in 2010. More of the same from State College, PA could have Penn State cracking the top 15.

Wisconsin logo20. Wisconsin Badgers- 78 points
Previous: 19 (85 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Melvin Gordon, 15th Overall, 2015
Wisconsin slips another spot after a solid if unspectacular 2018 class. Five players in total entered the league, but none before the fourth round. There are couple of offensive lineman already on scouts’ radars for next year so it could be a bounce back showing for the Badgers.

Ole_Miss_Rebels_logo21. Ole Miss Rebels- 77 points
Previous: Others Receiving Votes (62 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Laremy Tunsil, 13th Overall, 2016
Success for Ole Miss in these rankings seemed unlikely back in 2017 when news broke about Hugh Freeze’s personal misconduct violations. However, the Rebels sent four more players to the NFL this year. While there were no first rounders, it was a solid group. Don’t expect Ole Miss to climb much higher, but they should hang around at least for a little while.

Missouri logo22. Missouri Tigers- 75 points
Previous: 18 (86 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Charles Harris, 22nd Overall, 2017
Just one player from Mizzou joined the NFL ranks this year as J’Mon Moore went in the fourth round. Unfortunately for Missouri, it will likely continue to drop in the rankings. The Tigers have only had five players selected in the past three years.

Michigan State logo23. Michigan State Spartans- 67 points
Previous: 23 (75 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Jack Conklin, 8th Overall, 2016
Another quiet year from the Spartans pushes them to the brink of the rankings. Just one Michigan State player was taken, in the fourth round, during the 2018 draft. Strong classes from 2015 and 2016 will keep Sparty in the mix, but it is certainly in danger of falling out next season.

Utah_Utes_logo24. Utah Utes- 66 points
Previous: 24 (75 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Star Loutelilie, 14th Overall, 2013
In 2017, Utah sent eight players to the NFL. That incredible draft put Utah on the map and pushed them into the rankings. The Utes don’t drop in terms of spots, but with only one player drafted in 2018, the view for Utah is a lot more bitter this season.

West Virginia logo25. West Virginia Mountaineers- 65 points
Previous: 22 (83 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Kevin White, 7th Overall, 2015
Last year, I pegged West Virginia to drop out of the rankings. The Mountaineers proved me wrong, but only barely. With just one player selected this year, it will be surprising if West Virginia survives another season in these rankings.

Oregon logo25. Oregon Ducks- 65 points
Previous: 16 (88 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Marcus Mariota, 2nd Overall, 2015
When I started these rankings, Oregon sat at 13th and looked like a lock to stay in the top 25. Fast forward two years and the Ducks have only produce two NFL picks in that time, both coming this season. The fact that Oregon is on its third coach in as many years certainly helps identify part of the problem.

Others Receiving Votes: NC State- 62 points, North Carolina- 60 points, Arkansas- 60 points, Pittsburgh- 58 points, Virginia Tech- 58 points

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

2018 Aftermath NFL Mock Draft

Welcome back fans of the Aftermath for another mock draft. I brought back my usual cast of characters to help me for another year. Jack Venezia, Matt Luppino, Brian Mandel and I each rotated through the first round of the draft, making the selection we feel each team should make. We did not allow for trades in this mock draft. This won’t be how the first round goes, but this is how we think it should go.

  1. Browns- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
    The decision here is between Rosen and Darnold. I went with Rosen because Darnold seems to be more turnover prone of the two and the Browns definitely want to limit their turnovers as much as possible. -JV
  2. Giants- Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
    The Giants need to decide on who their favorite quarterback is in the draft and base this pick on what Cleveland does. If he’s there, take him happily; otherwise, you trade down or take Chubb, a great player to replace the outgoing Jason Pierre-Paul. Rosen was my guy, so Chubb it is. -ML
  3. Jets- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
    In my opinion, he’s the best quarterback on the board. The Jets can continue rebuilding with the new centerpiece of their offense. Darnold is perfect for a modern-day offense with a great arm and good mobility. -BM
  4. Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
    The Browns could very reasonably trade down with a team like Arizona or Buffalo here, but with a player as talented as Barkley on the board, they pull the trigger. He could be a game changing running back on an offense that already has Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon, not to mention that Rosen kid. -CM
  5. Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
    If Chubb falls to them Denver will definitely jump on him. More likely, it will either take a quarterback or trade down. Since we don’t mess with trades in this mock draft I took the quarterback who I thought would best develop behind Keenum for a few years. -JV
  6. Colts- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
    This assumes that Andrew Luck is ready to play quarterback again. With Chubb and Barkley gone, the Colts need to ensure that he can stay upright, and a great offensive line prospect who projects like his fellow Irishman, Zach Martin, definitely fits the bill. -ML
  7. Buccaneers- Derwin James, S, Florida State
    The Bucs were hoping Barkley would fall. Instead, they draft James because they need more help for their secondary. Although Fitzpatrick is debatably a bit better, James is a good player in his own right and Tampa loves drafting Florida players. -BM
  8. Chicago Bears- Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
    I came very close to selecting Denzel Ward here, but Fitzpatrick’s versatility reminds me a little of Tyrann Mathieu. He has the ability to play nickel corner or safety over the top. He becomes a player quarterbacks must account for when playing Chicago. -CM
  9. 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
    The Niners offense is clicking but their secondary needs some help. If Minkah Fitzpatrick falls to them they might consider taking him here, but I rate Ward as a better overall talent. This was an easy pick in that regard. -JV
  10. Raiders- Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
    The Raiders can either go with the pass rushing enforcer in Roquan Smith, or the imposing presence of Edmunds. They won’t go wrong with either, so I will go with the wrecking ball with rocket boosters. -ML
  11. Dolphins- Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
    Although a bit of reach, the Dolphins desperately need another good corner. Alexander should be able to come in on day one and start. He and Xavien Howard give Miami two young corners to develop. -BM
  12. Bills- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
    Not sure that Baker makes it this far, or that Buffalo would let him. I also think Miami would swoop in if he did slide. Finally, the Bills have their man. This gives them a piece to retool this offense around after gutting most of it over the past year. -CM
  13. Washington- Vita Vea, DT, Washington
    Washington has to find a way to stop the run and taking a defensive tackle like Vita Vea early could be the fix. It could also reasonably go with a safety. Some have them taking a running back, but I think Barkley will be long gone and none of the other backs are worth it at 13. -JV
  14. Packers- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
    Green Bay is at its best when Aaron Rodgers has weapons to throw to, usually in the form of three wide receivers that make the defense spread thin. Davante Adams had a breakout year, but Randall Cobb regressed, and Jordy Nelson left. Ridley’s polish and speed are very tempting. -ML
  15. Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
    With the retirement of Carson Palmer, the Cardinals need their quarterback of the future. I truly believe Jackson can be a quarterback at the pro level. Being drafted by the Cardinals will put him in the perfect situation to develop behind Bradford for a year or two. -BM
  16. Ravens- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
    Ridley would be a nice fit for Ozzie Newsome’s team with the Alabama connection. Instead, he will swallow his school pride and draft a Bulldog who can make an immediate impact on this defense. There are a lot of different areas of need for Baltimore, but this is the best player available. -CM
  17. Chargers- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
    Just imagine a first round defensive tackle next to Joey Bosa. The Chargers will have a wall which opposing running backs will bounce off of. If Payne and Vea are not available San Diego/LA might go for a safety. -JV
  18. Seahawks- Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
    A transcendent corner known for creating turnovers and locking down top receivers leaves Seattle, and the NCAA’s leader in interceptions and passes defended is on the board. Jackson can be the next Richard Sherman in that system. -ML
  19. Cowboys- D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
    A massive hole has been created with the departure of Dez Bryant. With Ridley off the board, Moore is the best wideout available. The Cowboys will be getting a larger version of Stefon Diggs in Moore, and the former is already a great receiver. -BM
  20. Lions- Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
    Harold Landry may be tempting here, but the ceiling of Davenport is even more enticing. He could be the athletic counterpart across from Ziggy Ansah by 2019 or his replacement if the Lions can’t work out a long-term deal. -CM
  21. Bengals- James Daniel, C, Iowa
    Andy Dalton could use some more time in the pocket after some struggles last season. The offensive line in general is not great this year, but a late first rounder is worth it for a center who could become a leader in years to come. -JV
  22. Bills- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
    With the quarterback position locked up with Mayfield earlier, the Bills now have other holes to fill. While a WR here like Courtland Sutton is an option, Buffalo lost their starting LT Cordy Glenn this offseason. Taking the best tackle on the board is a no brainer to protect their new toy. -ML
  23. Patriots- Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
    Everyone in the NFL would regret Belichick getting his hands on Landry. Landry is a great talent that underperformed this year and would be coming into one of the best situations in the NFL with the Patriots. -BM
  24. Panthers- Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
    Courtland Sutton seems like an option, but Carolina’s offense seems to find ways to succeed with an odd group. Instead, it’s time to address the Josh Norman-shaped hole in this defense. His size is enough to convince the Panthers to take him. -CM
  25. Titans- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
    Tennessee’s front seven needs help all over the place. Tennessee won’t necessarily take the best player available, but it will probably take the best defensive lineman or linebacker available. In this case that’s Evans. -JV
  26. Falcons- Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan
    The Falcons desperately need a lineman to fill the Dontari Poe-sized hole left after he signed with division rival Carolina. They will be ecstatic to see Hurst still available here, as some believe he may be the best one in the draft in spite of not working out at the combine. -ML
  27. Saints- Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
    With the three best defensive linemen off the board, the Saints should look towards their offense. Brees isn’t getting any younger, so they should do anything they can to make sure he stays upright. -BM
  28. Steelers- Billy Price, C, Ohio State
    The void at middle linebacker is huge, but I don’t trust Malik Jefferson enough to pick him here. Instead, I will go with the best player on the board. Price has a lot of versatility and will fill in nicely whenever Ramon Foster decides to hang up his cleats. -CM
  29. Jaguars- Connor Williams, OT, Texas
    The question here is: how can Jacksonville help Fournette run the ball more? I think they either go with a wide receiver who stretches the field or offensive lineman who can create running lanes for him. I went with Williams to fill the second option. -JV
  30. Vikings- Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
    Big need on the offensive line for Minnesota, and it has 84 million reasons to protect new QB Kirk Cousins. They take the best available one here and look to do the same next round. -ML
  31. Patriots- Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
    Nate Solder left to join the Giants this offseason, and the Patriots need a replacement. Even with the injuries Miller can still be a good offensive tackle. This will fill out what was a good first round for New England. -BM
  32. Eagles- Sam Hubbard, Edge, Ohio State
    What to do with a team that has very few holes. Fans may clamor for Darius Guice, but I like the edge rusher from Ohio State. He provides some depth to this Eagles pass rush that was dominant at times last season. Look for Philly to trade down if the guy they want is no longer on the board. -CM

2013 NFL Re-Draft

The 2013 NFL draft was one of the worst in memory. It has been five years since that fateful first round, and of the 32 players selected, just nine of them are still on the team that drafted them. There was some hidden talent later in the draft. Not a single quarterback appears in this redraft, which is pretty much unheard of. Overall, it was a solid draft class, the first round just really did not pan out as expected.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
    Original Selection: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
    New Selection: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
    Fisher has put together a solid career in Kansas City, but not quite deserving of the top overall pick. He will still go later in this redraft, but instead, the Chiefs nab potentially the best right tackle in the whole league at this point.
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars
    Original Selection: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
    New Selection: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
    It was assumed there was three elite tackle prospects in this draft. Joeckel proved that wrong. He is currently out of the league and never really managed to solidify a spot in Jacksonville. The Jags take potentially the best player in the draft who fills a need and makes the Blaine Gabbert years a little more bearable.
  3. Oakland Raiders
    Original Selection: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
    New Selection: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
    In 2013, the Raiders traded down with Miami and took the speedy Hayden. Instead, they keep their third overall selection and take a game changing receiver in Hopkins. Even with Terrelle Pyror as his quarterback, Hopkins would still emerge as a top flight receiver.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles
    Original Selection: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
    New Selection: David Bakhtari, T, Colorado
    I debated this back and forth for a while, because Bakhtari might be one of the three best left tackles in the league. I basically would have switched Bakhtari with Johnson, but ultimately decided that Bakhtari needed a little more development right out of school. He still fills a need very nicely for the Eagles.
  5. Detroit Lions
    Original Selection: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
    New Selection: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
    One of the few selections, that goes to the same team, Ansah was an athletic freak who panned out really well for the Lions. No reason to change the pick with him still on the board.
  6. Cleveland Browns
    Original Selection: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
    New Selection: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
    This was a tough choice between Rhodes and A.J. Bouye for Cleveland, who desperately needed another corner to start alongside Joe Hayden in his prime. Rhodes was just a bit more pro ready, which is exactly what the Browns needed.
  7. Arizona Cardinals
    Original Selection: Johnathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
    New Selection: Travis Fredrick, C, Wisconsin
    Arguably the best player in the draft, he just doesn’t play a position that teams value as highly. Still, Fredrick warrants a top 10 selection and looks like a future Hall of Famer at center in Dallas. Arizona would prefer that to the uneven play of Cooper.
  8. Buffalo Bills
    Original Selection: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
    New Selection: Keenan Allen, WR, California
    Buffalo actually traded back with the Rams and took the first of many quarterback busts. This time around, they nail this pick by taking the dynamic Allen. He may have some injury concerns, but his upside is still massive.
  9. New York Jets
    Original Selection: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
    New Selection: A.J. Bouye, CB, UCF
    Needless to say the Jets were hoping for a game-changing corner when they drafted Milliner. Here, New York selects Bouye and steals a player who might now be the best corner in football. He took a year or two to truly take hold in Houston, but makes the massive jump from undrafted to top 10 pick.
  10. Tennessee Titans
    Original Selection: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
    New Selection: Kyle Long, G, Oregon
    Right position, wrong player for Tennessee as Chance Warmack never lived up to the hype. Kyle Long has been a stud in Chicago since day one. He might even keep Jack Locker healthy for a few more years.
  11. San Diego Chargers
    Original Selection: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
    New Selection: Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU
    With many of the top linemen gone in the past few picks, San Diego finds themselves taking the best player available, which at this point is undoubtedly Mathieu. The Honey Badger is a versatile playmaker. His injury issues are still a concern, but his talent alone makes him worth the selection.
  12. Miami Dolphins
    Original Selection: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
    New Selection: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
    Out of all of the bad moves mad in this draft, Miami might own the worst one. Dion Jordan registered two sacks as a rookie, then served three different suspensions, including one that lasted 15 months. Trufant on the other hand was an integral part of a Falcons defense that made it to the Super Bowl in 2017.
  13. New York Jets
    Original Selection: Sheldon Richardson, DE, Missouri
    New Selection: Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
    While Richardson was no doubt productive in New York, this was not the right team for him as his off the field issues and lack of a true scheme fit caused him to flame out. The Jets haven’t had a good tight end since maybe Chris Baker. Kelce no doubt solves that problem.
  14. Carolina Panthers
    Original Selection: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
    New Selection: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
    The Panthers actually landed Short in the second round of this draft. He has developed into one of the best pass rushing tackles in the league. It would be foolish to let him hang around.
  15. New Orleans Saints
    Original Selection: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
    New Selection: Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State
    Slay is often over looked after spending years on bad Lions’ defenses, but his play has been one of the lone bright spots. New Orleans desperately needed improved secondary play for several years without finding much until recently.
  16. St. Louis Rams
    Original Selection: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
    New Selection: Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota State
    I’m not buying for a second that Tavon Austin is worth a first round pick, much less trading up into the top 10. I would rather take Thielen, who took a few years to develop. Over the past two seasons, Thielen racked up 160 receptions for 2,243 yards and nine touchdowns. Austin has 71 catches for 556 yards and three scores.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers
    Original Selection: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
    New Selection: Jamie Collins, LB, Southern Miss
    Jones never panned out so Pittsburgh takes Collins, which helps them and hurts the rival Patriots. Collins did a lot well in New England and even more recently in Cleveland to deserve this pick.
  18. Dallas Cowboys
    Original Selection: Travis Fredrick, C, Wisconsin
    New Selection: Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
    With Fredricks long gone, Dallas opts for another big body in the middle of the line. Warford started all 16 games as a rookie and made a Pro Bowl in 2017. He might have extended Tony Romo’s career a little bit.
  19. New York Giants
    Original Selection: Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
    New Selection: Sheldon Richardson, DE, Missouri
    The other New York team gambles on the talent that Richardson brings to the table. The Giants had an aging defensive core including Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. Richardson bridges the gap.
  20. Chicago Bears
    Original Selection: Kyle Long, G, Oregon
    New Selection: Micah Hyde, DB, Iowa
    Long is off the board, so the Bears tab Hyde, who has proven his versatility over the years in Green Bay and now Buffalo. Chicago’s defense fell apart over the past few seasons and could have used a productive player like Hyde.
  21. Cincinnati Bengals
    Original Selection: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
    New Selection: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
    Another example of right position, wrong player. Eifert had his moments, but fell off over the past few seasons. Ertz on the other hand has developed into one of the best all around tight ends in the NFL. He would do wonders for Andy Dalton.
  22. St. Louis Rams
    Original Selection: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
    New Selection: Eric Reid, S, LSU
    Ogletree just left the Rams via a trade, so instead St. Louis grabs Reid. A hard hitter and solid cover man, Reid would make an immediate impact for a team that needed some new blood at safety. The team selected T.J. McDonald in the third round.
  23. Minnesota Vikings
    Original Selection: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
    New Selection: Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State
    Floyd never made the impact expected of him at the pro level. Williams has turned into a monster in the middle of Baltimore’s defense, eating up blocks and stuffing run plays. Minnesota could use a bit of that down the line.
  24. Indianapolis Colts
    Original Selection: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State
    New Selection: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
    The first overall pick drops 23 spots, but eventually lands in Indy, where keeping Andrew Luck upright must be the priority. Fisher gives the Colts a right tackle opposite Anthony Castonzo, but more importantly a building block to reshape the line.
  25. Minnesota Vikings
    Original Selection: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
    New Selection: Robert Woods, WR, USC
    Rhodes has been off the board for while now. Instead, the Vikings opt for a speedy playmaker who has proven to be a great chess piece when used correctly. Woods’ speed alone makes him valuable and might even make Christain Ponder watchable.
  26. Green Bay Packers
    Original Selection: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
    New Selection: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
    Jones became the latest Packer to fail at providing a pass rush. Ogletree has some baggage, but if anyone could iron it out, it would be Green Bay. He would give the Packers another roaming linebacker to pair with Clay Matthews.
  27. Houston Texans
    Original Selection: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
    New Selection: Kenny Vaccarro, S, Texas
    Obviously, it is wishful thinking for Hopkins to still be here. The Texans go with Kenny Vaccaro, who has been solid if unspectacular in New Orleans. He showed flashes of potential that Wade Phillips and Vance Joseph (both on the Houston staff at the time) could have pulled out of him.
  28. Denver Broncos
    Original Selection: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
    New Selection: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
    Williams was not the big man Denver thought it was getting. Lotulelei drops a bit but still finds a home as a pass rusher on one of the best offensive teams ever built.
  29. New England Patroits
    Original Selection: Jamie Collins, LB, Southern Miss
    New Selection: Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
    If there was anyone who was going to turn Kiko Alonso into a star, it was Bill Belichick. Odds are the Patriots would still trade down from here, but Alonso offered a lot of potential despite the injury risk the New England is almost always willing to take.
  30. Atlanta Falcons
    Original Selection: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
    New Selection: Jordan Reed, TE, Florida
    Trufant is off the board way before the Falcons can think about trading up for him. Instead, Atlanta takes a pass catching stud to pair with Julio Jones and aid Matt Ryan. Tony Gonzales was in his final year. Reed fills that void about as well as anyone could hope to.
  31. San Francisco 49ers
    Original Selection: Eric Reid, S, LSU
    New Selection: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
    Reid is gone, so the 49ers take another roaming safety in Jefferson. He has developed into a better than average corner who can press at the line and tackle. He would be a nice consolation prize for San Francisco with Reid already gone.
  32. Baltimore Ravens
    Original Selection: Matt Elam, S, Florida
    New Selection: J.C. Tretter, G, Cornell
    Fast forward five years and Tretter is the starting center for the Browns. He is one of the better ones in the league and would help keep newly paid Joe Flacco clean after his stunning Super Bowl performance.