2019 NFL Coaching Carousel

Black Monday came and went in the NFL, leaving eight head coaching vacancies throughout the league. Each team has a bit of a different approach to filling the opening and unique factors to consider, making this a fun exercise. This is who I think each team should hire as their head coach, not necessarily who they will hire. Let’s take a look at the best fits for each opening across the league.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)
Previous coach: Marvin Lewis
New hire: Vic Fangio

After 16 years, Marvin Lewis is finally out in Cincinnati. Lewis turned around the Bengals, but never managed to secure a playoff win. It is a result-driven business and the results have not been Lewis’ friend in recent years. This is a team that might be about to undergo a complete overhaul on offense. Rumors persist about the futures of both A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. There are plenty of holes on that side of the ball for the new head coach to fill. Let’s make something clear, Hue Jackson is not the answer to the offensive problems. It sounds like Cincy might go this route, which would be a massive mistake.

However, the defense has been even worse. Cincinnati allowed the most yards per game and the third most points per game. That’s where Vic Fangio comes in. Fangio has overseen the incredible transformation of the Chicago Bears defense. His defense allowed the third fewest yards per game and fewest points per game. At age 60, Fangio is far from a young option, but has 32 years of NFL coaching experience at different levels. Fangio deserves a shot to lead a team. For a team searching for an identity, the Bengals could find one with this defensive guru.

Denver Broncos (6-10)
Previous coach: Vance Joseph
New Hire: Kris Richard

John Elway made it very clear he wants a coach that is an expert on his side of the ball. The Denver Broncos should be very familiar with Kris Richard’s expertise when it comes to coaching defense. He coached the Legion of Boom in Seattle en route to a Super Bowl victory at Peyton Manning’s expense. That was the best statistical offense in NFL history and Richard stymied it.

Over the course of this season as the defensive backs coach in Dallas, he has helped develop Byron Jones into a true lockdown corner. He dealt with all kinds of personalities in that Seattle locker room and learned under Pete Carroll. Richard has a good resume for a first-time coach. The damage he could do with Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Chris Harris Jr. would be fun to watch. The team needs to figure out a long-term solution at quarterback, but finding a way to get this defense back on track is a huge step to pushing this team in the right direction.

Cleveland Browns (7-8-1)
Previous coach: Hue Jackson
New hire: Gregg Williams

It has been 15 years since Gregg Williams was a head coach in the NFL, leading the Bills during the early 2000s with no avail. His successes as the defensive coordinator in New Orleans, winning a Super Bowl in 2009, are a bit fresher in our minds. He was excellent in that role, save Bounty Gate. Now, he took over as the Browns coach midseason and led the team to a 5-3 record and much-improved overall play. There is no question Williams and offensive coordinator Perry Kitchens have been essential in that. Cleveland won more games under the duo in the second half of the season than it had in the previous three years combined.

For the sake of the development of Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett Nick Chubb and some of the other young prospects, it makes sense to keep some stability. No one is going to be better-suited to continue Mayfield’s development than Kitchens other than maybe Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, who signed a contract extension with the Sooners on Tuesday. Plus the level of turnaround this team saw was incredible. The three losses under Williams came against the Texans, Chiefs and Ravens, all playoff teams. Belief is this club could be a playoff team next year. Keeping this coaching staff in place would be a wise move.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Previous coach: Dirk Koetter
New hire: Eric Beinemy

The biggest task for whoever takes over for the Buccaneers is figuring out what to do at quarterback. Jameis Winston does not seem like a guaranteed long-term solution. The former first overall pick in the 2015 draft will be under contract for 2019, but is not guaranteed anything past that. That leaves the franchise in a very tough position with no other even potential long-term solution at quarterback on the roster.

There is no question that finding an offensive-minded coach to mentor Winston will be crucial. Enter Eric Bieniemy, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator. Every team will be looking for the next Sean McVay with their newest hire. Bieniemy might not be McVay, but he is a former NFL running back, so there is that understanding of what it is like to be a player in the league.

Concerns with Bieniemy start and end with his experience. This is his first season as offensive coordinator and he is not the one calling the plays. However, the league places a high value on Andy Reid assistants and Bieniemy was Kansas City’s running backs coach from 2013 to 2017. In that span, the Chiefs produced two different 1st-team All-Pro backs and several good role players, including Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware and Damien Williams. Tampa needs a coach to revitalize the franchise and maximize the talent already existing on the roster. I trust Bieniemy to do just that after helping Patrick Mahomes become the 3rd quarterback in NFL history to toss 50 touchdowns in a season. It is time to give him a chance.

Arizona Cardinals (3-13)
Previous coach: Steve Wilks
New hire: Jim Caldwell

Arizona made the perplexing decision to fire Steve Wilks after one season, meaning it is time for a second straight offseason coaching search. This time, the Cardinals would do well to bring in a veteran coach with plenty of experience developing and fostering quarterbacks. Jim Caldwell fits the bill. Caldwell led the Colts to a Super Bowl berth in 2009, and took the Lions to the playoffs twice in four seasons. If you scrub the year where he coached the Colts without Peyton Manning, Caldwell’s record is 60-36. Needless to say, he deserves another chance in the NFL.

With Josh Rosen in need of some real guidance, Caldwell worked with one of the greatest quarterbacks ever in Manning. He also helped Matt Stafford become a much more efficient passer in Detroit. Former Colts center Jeff Saturday described Caldwell as being more laid back as well, an approach that could work well for a team that has Larry Fitzgerald on the roster. Caldwell is good at fostering the culture the players create. Fitz does it better than anyone else. Don’t overthink this and bring in a coach with real experience to oversee this rebuild.

Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Previous coach: Adam Gase
New hire: Dave Toub

There are a number of reasons why Dave Toub may be the best option for Miami. For one, he comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, which has produced Matt Nagy, Sean McDermott and Doug Pederson most recently. The last Reid special teams coordinator who landed a head coaching job was John Harbaugh, who through 11 seasons is 114-77 including a 10-5 playoff record and a Super Bowl ring. I’m not saying Toub is guaranteed to be Harbaugh, but don’t sneer at the idea of a special team’s coordinator taking the top job. He did a stellar job in 2018, as the Chiefs ranked 2nd in special teams DVOA.

The other reason Toub makes sense is because this roster needs a complete overhaul. He is not a specialist, but a good teacher. That is something the Dolphins desperately need. Outside of a handful of defensive pieces, Miami lacks talent. I actually think Adam Gase deserves a ton of credit for the success the offense did have this season. He had to get creative with a middling offensive line, no true No. 1 receiver, 36-year old Frank Gore as his top running back and the combination of Brock Osweiler and a banged up Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. The bigger decision here will be building the roster. Toub will be good at teaching everyone when they get some better young talent in the locker room. He has the experience teams want in a head coaching candidate.

New York Jets (4-12)
Previous coach: Todd Bowles
New hire: Jim Harbaugh

It’s time to bring some bravado back to Broadway. This is a really young team in New York in desperate need of discipline and leadership. Todd Bowles was a players coach through and through, but the Jets were one of the most penalized teams in the league during Bowles’ final two seasons. Harbaugh also has a pretty good track record at developing quarterbacks. He led the 49ers to the Super Bowl with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. Under Harbaugh, Kaepernick threw 50 touchdowns to just 21 interceptions and completed 60 percent of his passes. In college, he helped develop Andrew Luck.

Harbaugh would probably be interested in working with Sam Darnold. He is a former NFL quarterback with a great coaching record at 44-19-1 during four seasons with the 49ers. It will take a decent amount of effort to pull him away from Michigan, but the critics have been out in full force after Jim failed to beat Ohio State for the fifth straight year. (Fun fact: Michigan has beaten Ohio State just twice since 2000.) Harbaugh represents a good teacher, with previous NFL head coaching experience and the personality to thrive in the New York market. This is the closest thing the Jets are going to find to the offensive-minded version of Bill Parcells, the last time they had a great head coach. If Mike Macagnan is serious about doing things differently, this is the route to go.

Green Bay Packers (6-9-1)
Former coach: Mike McCarthy
New hire: Josh McDaniels

After what he did to the Colts last season, teams are likely wary of the Patriots offensive coordinator, but he fits well with this Packers team. He is bit more fiery than Mike McCarthy, which is something I think fans will relish. He does have some head coaching experience in Denver, which didn’t go too well, but you would have to think he learned from his mistakes. The Packers also have some good offensive weapons for McDaniels to work with in Aaron Jones, Davante Adams and a solid offensive line.

There is a bigger reason why McDaniels to the Packers rumors will persist. He would have the opportunity to work with possibly the only quarterback in the league comparable to the one he worked with in New England. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are in a league of their own in terms of talent and personality. It is no secret they both possess egos that sometimes makes headlines. McDaniels’ experience working with Brady makes him one of the best candidates to work with Rodgers. He might even be able to bring some Patriots assistants with him to help turnover the defense with some good young pieces, but in need of a better system. Overall, it is time for McDaniels to get another chance, and for him to actually take it this time.

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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

2017 NFL Mock Draft

I just happened to uncover this going through some old drafts on the site. I figured it was worth a post to see how I thought the draft should go. It’s even better now with a year to see how the players actually performed. More draft coverage coming this week. Enjoy!

  1. Cleveland Browns
    2016 Record: 1-15
    Selection: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
    The Browns don’t overthink things and get the best player in the draft. This defense was one of the worst in the NFL a season ago. Garrett doesn’t fix all of that, but he certainly will make a dent for a pass rush that only tallied 26 sacks last season, good for 30th in the league.
  2. San Francisco 49ers
    2016 Record: 2-14
    Selection: Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
    Most likely, San Francisco will look to trade down. I think they want to continue to stockpile picks. If they have to pick, finishing a rebuild on the defense line will make this a scary group. Thomas would join 2015 first rounder Erik Armstead and 2016 first rounder DeForrest Buckner up front.
  3. Chicago Bears
    2016 Record: 4-12
    Selection: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
    Even though it seems like quarterback is a need, so is corner. Lattimore could become a shutdown corner in the Windy City. Pairing him with Kyle Fuller and newly signed Prine Amukamara makes the Bears secondary a strength.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
    2016 Record: 4-12
    Selection: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
    Ever since Maurice Jones-Drew left town, Jacksonville has been trying to fill the void in the backfield. Dallas had a ton of success picking a Pro Bowl caliber runner in the first round. The Jags won’t be that good, but this is a good step in the right direction.
  5. Tennessee Titans
    2016 Record: 7-9
    Selection: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
    Marcus Mariota is becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. That’s without a true number one receiver. Williams has the chance to become that. He has an absurd catch radius and should keep the safety from crowding the box.
  6. New York Jets
    2016 Record: 5-11
    Selection: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
    Similar to 2015 when Leonard Williams fell to them, the Jets take Adams as the best player available. A trade with Cleveland is very possible and probably smarter, but staying here, Adams is the player New York should tab to start the rebuild.
  7. Los Angeles Chargers
    2016 Record: 5-11
    Selection: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
    A move to LA does not change the fact that the Chargers are still looking for a replacement to Eric Weddle two years later. Hooker is not the same player, but has the potential to have a similar impact for the Bolts.
  8. Carolina Panthers
    2016 Record: 6-10
    Selection: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
    Resisting the urge to take a corner like White or Humphrey in such a deep secondary draft, Carolina instead goes after a difference maker on offense who should take some pressure off of Cam Newton to make every play.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals
    2016 Record: 6-9-1
    Selection: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
    Cincinnati takes the best player available in Allen. Right away he can rotate in with Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap or he can start along Geno Atkins on the inside, especially on passing downs.
  10. Buffalo Bills
    2016 Record: 6-10
    Selection: Deshon Watson, QB, Clemson
    What? Not Trubistky? In the long run, I think Watson will be the better quarterback. Even with Tyrod Taylor on the roster, Buffalo cannot resist taking the former Tigers signal caller.
  11. New Orleans Saints
    2016 Record: 7-9
    Selection: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
    Character concerns aside, Foster can flat out play. The top-10 pass on him due to the red flags, but the Saints have needed to upgrade at linebacker for a while now. This is the best chance to do just that.
  12. Cleveland Browns
    2016 Record: 1-15
    Selection: Mitch Trubitsky, QB, UNC
    Courtesy of the trade with Philly, the Browns are back on the clock on their prized quarterback is still available. I expect for them to trade up from this spot to land him before Buffalo picks, but in the end, the Browns get who they want.
  13. Arizona Cardinals
    2016 Record: 7-8-1
    Selection: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
    This team might seem set at receiver, but with Larry Fitzgerald entering the final stages of his career and with David Johnson being the team’s second leading receiver behind him, this move makes sense. Davis is hailed as an elite route runner who can block in the running game. His concern is drops. He can learn from the future Hall of Famer before he takes over.
  14. Philadelphia Eagles
    2016 Record: 8-8
    Selection: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
    The Eagles opt for secondary help here with very few options on the current roster. White can slide both inside to the slot or lineup wide across from a receiver, doing both in college. LSU defensive backs have done pretty well in the NFL too (Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid).
  15. Indianapolis Colts
    2016 Record: 8-8
    Selection: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
    Indy adds some corner help as well taking the best player left on the board in Humphrey. Makes sense considering they had a bottom five pass defense last season. He is a physical player with a big body. He can line up across from Vontae Davis day one.
  16. Baltimore Ravens
    2016 Record: 9-7
    Selection: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
    Come on, it’s Ozzie Newsome we are talking about here. It makes too much sense. Landing Howard will give Joe Flacco a top-tier tight end for the first time since Todd Heap left town.
  17. Washington
    2016 Record: 8-7-1
    Selection: John Ross, WR, Washington
    The combine 40 star ends up going from Washington to Washington. This team was decimated at receiver this offseason. Sure signing Terrelle Pyror was nice, but after losing Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, adding more talent is a must. Oh and Ross is basically a carbon copy of Jackson, so he would be a good fit.
  18. Tennessee Titans
    2016 Record: 9-7
    Selection: Haasan Reddick, DE/OLB, Temple
    Interior lineman is still a big need, but with an athlete like Reddick on the board, Tennessee adds a player with a ton of upside and that should make a solid pass rush even scarier.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    2016 Record: 9-7
    Selection: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
    There are currently some allegations hanging over Conley’s head that could push him a little bit down draft boards. Early signs are that the allegations are untrue, but that remains to be confirmed. Conley is a player with great cover skills who would help improve a secondary that allowed 7.7 yards per attempt a season ago, 29th in the NFL.
  20. Denver Broncos
    2016 Record: 9-7
    Selection: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
    Denver has had a revolving door at left tackle since Ryan Clady suffered an injury in 2015. Russell Okung is now with the Chargers and after allowing 40 sacks last season, offensive line is clearly a need. Ramczyk should be able to start Day 1, even with some growing pains.
  21. Detroit Lions
    2016 Record: 9-7
    Selection: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
    The run on secondary players continues. Wilson is a ball hawk who will gamble occasionally to make a play. Detroit only had 10 interceptions last season and allowed an absurd 72.2 percent of passes to be completed by opposing teams. Wilson might give up a few big plays, but he will make his fair share as well.
  22. Miami Dolphins
    2016 Record: 10-6
    Selection: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
    With Mario Williams now long gone, Miami needs a replacement. Barnett could easily be the answer. He is a solid pass rusher and run defender who slots well into a 4-3 defensive front. Adding young talent to that defensive line is what will keep the Dolphins in the playoff picture.
  23. New York Giants
    2016 Record: 11-5
    Selection: David Njoku, TE, Miami
    Linebacker is obviously a huge need, but the Giants cannot afford to pass on a talent at tight end like Njoku. New York has been in desperate need of a pass catcher at the position since Kevin Boss left. Njoku would join Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard to form a scary receiving core.
  24. Oakland Raiders
    2016 Record: 12-4
    Selection: Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida
    The run on Florida players continues. Davis is a great option as a 4-3 linebacker. He is raw and will need to improve his mechanics when tackling, but with the Raiders looking to build their defense to a point that can match their offense, Davis will help in that progression.
  25. Houston Texans
    2016 Record: 9-7
    Selection: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
    Many project Mahomes to go earlier, but with questions surrounding his accuracy, he should probably be a late-first rounder at best. Houston had the worst yards per attempt average in the league a season ago. Mahomes’ rocket arm will likely prevent that from being a repeat performance.
  26. Seattle Seahawks
    2016 Record: 10-5-1
    Selection: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
    Seattle’s defensive line has been decimated. It only makes sense to revamp with some new blood. McDowell can rush the passer as needed for this team on third down situations right away.
  27. Kansas City Chiefs
    2016 Record: 12-4
    Selection: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
    While it is true that Kansas City has Marcus Peters, that is only half the equation. It is tough to say that this secondary is set to go without another solid corner. I think Awuzie has the skills to help out right away and be a good number two corner behind Peters in years to come.
  28. Dallas Cowboys
    2016 Record: 13-3
    Selection: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
    This Cowboys team is going to be very good for years to come. The key now is getting the defense to catch up to the offense. It looked better this season than it had in a while, but that does not mean they should pass on Harris.
  29. Green Bay Packers
    2016 Record: 10-6
    Selection: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
    It has been years since Aaron Rodgers had a good receiving tight end. Not that this offense really needs that much more fire power, but Engram is built like a tight end and runs like a receiver. He would be a matchup nightmare Rodgers could use to his advantage.
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers
    2016 Record: 11-5
    Selection: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
    The Steelers could have used a bit of additional pass rush while trying to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Enter McKinley who would immediately step in on third down scenarios to get after the quarterback.
  31. Atlanta Falcons
    2016 Record: 11-5
    Selection: David Njoku, TE, Miami
    Truly, there are not too many holes on this Falcons team, it’s just offensive play calling that seems to hold them back. However, I’m not buying Austin Hooper as a true long-term solution at tight end. Njoku could be something special in this Atlanta offense.
  32. New Orleans Saints
    2016 Record: 7-9
    Selection: Budda Baker, S, Washington
    Offense has never been the problem in New Orleans. It has been a pedestrian defense holding the Saints back. Adding the playmaking Baker to the defensive mix could give this team the boost needed to return to the playoffs.

2017 Aftermath NFL Mock Draft

Welcome back NFL Draft fans. Matt, Brian and Jack join me once again for our annual mock draft. This is who we think each team should take at their spot, not who we think they will take.

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Browns shouldn’t overthink this. Just take Garrett and move on. He is a great talent that would hugely improve a terrible pass rush in Cleveland. This is a deep quarterback draft, wait on selecting one. -CM

2. San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
While a QB is tempting here, I would rather test out Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley first and then wait for next year when there is a stronger QB class. So, they need to fill their defense, and with the last 2 first round picks being D-linemen, a strong secondary presence makes sense for the Niners. -ML

3. Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
After a 3-13 season, the Bears need to fix a lot.  Importantly, they need to continue to rebuild their defense.  More importantly, a shut down corner can expedite the process, and even with the injuries, Marshon Lattimore is the best cornerback on the board for the Bears to pick. -BM

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
This was easy. Fournette fills a need and was probably the best talent at this point. Also, imagine how this offense will look when the passing game is not the only threat on the field. -JV

5. Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Titans fired their receivers coaches at the end of last season. Rishard Matthews led the way with 65 receptions for 945 yards, in other words, great stats for a number two receiver. Adding Mike Williams fills the void of a big-bodied playmaker who can stretch the field and make third down conversions easier with his huge catch radius. Marcus Mariota was having a Pro Bowl caliber season in 2016 before his injury. Adding Williams would accelerate his growth and make the ground game even more viable, keeping the safety out of the box. -CM

6. New York Jets: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
I really struggled with this pick. In order to avoid the trap of drafting another QB, I really think the Jets should trade down. Malik Hooker made sense here as well, and while Reddick is a stretch, the guy was a freak at the combine and has the ability to play all over the field. Plus, the last guy the Jets drafted out of Temple? Muhammad Wilkerson. -ML

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Chargers could have gone with a safety with this pick, but I feel Thomas will have a larger impact on the Chargers defense. Imagine Thomas lined up opposite to Bosa. Do I need to say anything more? -BM

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Jonathan Stewart only has so many more miles left on those legs. Not to mention McCaffrey has the hands to catch passes from Cam Newton. This will add another dimension to the Panthers offense. -JV

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
It might not be the biggest need for the Bengals, but adding a great pass rusher and likely the best player remaining makes a ton of sense. He could be a long-term replacement for Michael Johnson or start alongside Geno Atkins. -CM

10. Buffalo Bills: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
This guy is for real.  Howard is a big target, and has the speed and power to match it.  He can make all the catches, run all the routes, and even his blocking as a TE is strong. With the Bills having locked down Tyrod Taylor, it’s time to give him a new toy to play with. -ML

11. New Orleans Saints: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Like every other year, the Saints have a Super Bowl contending offense, but a very flawed defense.  With Hooker dropping this far in the draft, the Saints need to draft him even with the injuries. -BM

12. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Turbisky, QB, UNC
It’s the same old song and dance. The Browns need a quarterback. Except this time Turbisky apparently wants to play in Cleveland. I guess some people are just gluttons for punishment. -JV

13. Arizona Cardinals: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
While rumor has it that this will be a quarterback, Arizona would be smart to draft the future for wide receiver. Davis can block and is a polished route runner. He needs to work on cutting out drops, but who better to learn from than Larry Fitzgerald. -CM

14) Philadelphia Eagles: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Having satisfied their receiver need by signing Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, the Eagles ABSOLUTELY need to take a cornerback, no matter how tempting a RB is. Dalvin Cook is available, but the aggressive corner from the SEC with great open-field tackling skills will be more valuable in the long run. -ML

15. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett, LB,  Tennessee
The Colts did a good job improving their defense this offseason, and one could say drafting an OL with this spot would not be reaching.  However, Barnett gives the Colts defense pass rushing they sorely need.  He could even be the most explosive pass rusher after Garret in this draft. -BM

16. Baltimore Ravens: Takkarist McKinley, UCLA, OLB
The Ravens defense has not been the same in recent years and I think they will address that upfront by taking Takkarist McKinley. -JV

17. Washington: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
Washington takes a page out of Dallas’ playbook and continues to build its offensive line up. Giving Kirk Cousins as much time to throw is critical and with so many running backs still available, adding one in the later rounds will bolster the running game. -CM

18. Tennessee Titans: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
He might just be the better of the Ohio State corners. Lattimore tends to be more highly rated, but his inflated stats are due to teams consistently targeting Conley, who performed admirably under the pressure. With a clean bill of health that his former teammate does not have, and great size and speed for a corner, Conley could step in as a day one starter for the upstart Titans. -ML

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Bucs could go a few different directions with this pick, but their running back corps is in flux with the suspension of Martin.  Cook is a game changing talent once one looks past the off field issues, and Tampa Bay loves Florida State products. -BM

20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos need someone to protect that young quarterback of theirs. Ramczyk comes from a Wisconsin system that usually translates well to the NFL. -JV

21. Detroit Lions: John Ross, WR, Washington
Calvin Johnson is gone and not coming back. Anquan Boldin might skip town too. That leaves a pretty serious void behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. Ross can start in the slot right away and spread the field underneath by taking the top off of defenses. -CM

22. Miami Dolphins: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Once Pouncey returns healthy for the 2017 season, the offense will be shored up, so the Dolphins most glaring hole is CB.  Jackson is explosive and can immediately be plugged next to Byron Maxwell.  An added benefit is his strong play on special teams. -BM

23. New York Giants: Jarran Davis, LB, Florida
For years, ever since Antonio Pierce retired to be honest, the Giants have desperately needed a linebacker, and never taken one. They should this year in one of the strongest LB classes to date, and Davis might just be the best of the bunch. Davis has great tackling instincts, flies to the ball, and word on the street is he’s the kind of character you want to lead your team. -ML

24. Oakland Raiders: David Njoku, TE, Miami
You know how the Raiders usually draft big fast wide receivers? Well, why not a big fast tight end to throw into the mix? Njoku could be a real threat for this team who opens up different areas of the field for other players. -JV

25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
About time Houston lands a quarterback. The likelihood is that Watson will be long gone by this pick, but in this scenario, selecting him makes a ton of sense. The one thing that Houston desperately needs is a quarterback. Watson is the most pro ready in this draft, making him a great fit for Houston. -CM

26. Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Seattle is transitioning to a central focus on Russell Wilson, and therefore need to keep him upright so he can make the plays he has to. So, Seattle needs to take the best lineman available who is ready to play right now. I think that guy is Robinson, as the LT at Alabama for 3 years has the experience against great SEC defenses to make an immediate impact on Seattle’s line. -ML

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Foster dropped in the draft because of his off field issues, and looking past that, he is clearly the best player available. Derrick Johnson is coming off a torn achillies and will be 35 in November. I have the Chiefs drafting Foster because they should go with the best player available route. Also, Reid knows how to deal with players with previous off field issues, and on the field, Foster will put the Chiefs over the top. -BM

28. Dallas Cowboys: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
As much as I wanted to add to the Cowboys’ offense here, their secondary really needs help. Even though White might be the fourth or fifth corner taken, this is a deep cornerback draft and the Cowboys are getting a good cover corner in White. -JV

29. Green Bay Packers: Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
Keeping Clay Matthews at outside linebacker is essential. Adding Cunningham will allow for that. He needs to improve his tackling, but he always seems to be around the ball. He will likely improve the run defense right away. -CM

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
This was my favorite pick of this mock draft, because I honestly think it is a perfect fit at the end of the first round.  Ever since Troy Polamalu retired, his presence has been missed, as Pittsburgh misses his wrecking ball mentality and his playmaking abilities.  Peppers is athletic enough to fill that void, and if handled correctly, could vault the Pittsburgh defense right into line with its explosive offense. -ML

31. Atlanta Falcons: Budda Baker, FS, Washington
Although the Falcons defense improved last season, there is still a lot of work to be done.  One could argue they need a defensive lineman or a linebacker to help shore up the rush defense, but the secondary needs help.  Baker is a playmaker and could easily make the Falcons secondary the strength of their defense. -BM

32. New Orleans Saints: Kevin King, CB, Washington
Similar to the Cowboys above, I was really tempted to take some offensive talent, but could not ignore the issues the Saints have on defense. Again, this is a deep cornerback draft and we could see quite a few cornerbacks go in the first round. This Saints defense looks a lot better with Hooker and King coming to town-JV

Why Griffin Makes Sense in Cleveland

So I was right! I was just about six months early.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin has 40 career touchdown passes from his time in Washington.

Robert Griffin III signed with the Cleveland Browns this afternoon, joining the laundry list of quarterback to play for Cleveland over the last 15 years. While the internet might have had some fun with this, signing Griffin makes a lot of sense for the Browns.

It’s not like the Browns have many better options on their roster right now. Josh McCown is 36 going on 70 and that Manziel guy is now a free agent with some legal trouble. The only other guy on the roster is Austin Davis, whose 13 career NFL starts have left a lot to be desired.

So instead, the Browns are taking a gamble on the former Heisman trophy winner. And there is really no harm in that. Cleveland will likely draft a quarterback with the second overall pick and all signs point to it being Carson Wentz.

Wentz has looked solid during the pre-draft process and he is seemingly pro ready. However, the Browns know better than anyone else on planet Earth that forcing quarterbacks to play in the NFL before they are ready can be catastrophic.

Griffin’s contract is reportedly for two years and maxes out at $15 million. Paying about $7.5 million per year for a short term starting quarterback isn’t a bad deal and because the deal is short, the Browns are not really committed to Griffin. He essentially has a two-year window to show if he can still play in the league. If the answer is no, then start Wentz in 2017.

RG3
Griffin is 15-24 over the first three seasons of his career. 

The reality is that the Browns need someone to play quarterback and they are taking a low-risk high-reward gamble on RGIII. And this is not Denver where they are likely just a quarterback away from a deep playoff run. Cleveland would miss the playoffs this year with Russell Wilson under center. There just isn’t enough talent. Getting Griffin gives the Browns a stopgap while they continue to try to improve in other areas of the roster and groom a future starter.

Imagine for just a second if Griffin somehow reverts to his 2012, rookie of the year form during the next two seasons with the Browns. First of all, Griffin would then have suitors around the league after his contract is over and Cleveland would have the happy situation of having two starting quarterbacks.

In the best case scenario, Griffin proves to be a stud and the Browns ship him off to Denver or Philadelphia after his first season for some draft picks. Worst case scenario is that Griffin flounders again, or even more likely gets hurt, and Cleveland turns the keys over to Wentz at the start of his second year.

All in all, I think this is a great deal for both sides. Cleveland gets a two-year rental at quarterback and Griffin gets one last shot to prove he can still play in this league.