Thursday, April 17, 2014

UPDATED NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: 1-50

I haven't updated my rankings in over two months, so I think it's about time I do that. Here's the first half of my Top 100 NFL Draft Prospects.

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
3. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
5. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
6. Blake Bortles, Central Florida
7. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
9. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
10. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
11. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
12. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
13. Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame
14. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
15. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
16. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
17. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida St.
18. Calvin Pryor, SS, Louisville
19. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
20. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
21. Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame
22. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St.
23. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
24. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St.
25. Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
26. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
27. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
28. Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
29. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio St.
30. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.
31. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St.
32. Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
33. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
34. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn St.
35. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
36. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
37. Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB, Boise St.
38. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno St.
39. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
40. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio St.
41. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
42. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon St.
43. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
44. Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
45. Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida St.
46. Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois
47. Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
48. Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
49. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
50. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi St.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Best Available Free Agents

With free agency "frenzy" long gone, the focus has shifted towards the upcoming NFL Draft, but there are still some bargain free agents on the market that could provide quality depth and a few that have starter-quality talent. Here are the best available free agents.
Last updated: April 17, 2014 11:10 AM

Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB- Spencer missed all of the 2013 season after tearing his ACL. Despite never living up to his first round draft status, I expected the 30-year old pass-rusher to have signed by this point.
Travelle Wharton, G- The best available guard remains unsigned. Maybe it's because he wants too much money, but that's purely speculation on my part. However when teams are signing less talented players at the same position, it usually has something to do with money.
James Anderson, OLB- Anderson had a bounce-back season with Chicago, which is why it's head-scratching to think he hasn't been signed. Cincinnati, Carolina, and Dallas could certainly use his services.
Erin Henderson, MLB- Off-field incidents have hurt Henderson and it's safe to say that's why he remains unsigned. He could be a starting middle linebacker in this league but he needs to clean up his act. I can see a team like Denver signing him to a one-year, "prove yourself," type of deal.
Jermichael Finley, TE- If it weren't for Finley's medical status, he would have been signed by now. The scary neck injury he suffered is still a problem since he hasn't been medically cleared. If/when he is cleared, it looks like the Seahawks are the team he'll land with.
Terrell Thomas, CB- Thomas has torn his ACL twice, so it makes sense that teams aren't rushing to sign the seventh year corner. But you can never have too many cornerbacks and Thomas is a reliable, solid all-around player.
Steve Gregory, S- Gregory played fairly well during his time in New England but he missed far too many tackles. He's a solid player who'll provide good depth and can start if needed.
Miles Austin, WR- He turns 30 years old in June and can't seem to stay on the field. Still, he was once one of the more explosive wideouts in the league and I'm surprised he hasn't signed yet. I'm sure once the draft is completed he'll sign somewhere, likely a one year deal.
Kevin Williams, DT- He'll be 34-years old by the time the regular season begins and his days as a starting defensive lineman are certainly behind him, but he still has the skill to be an effective player in a defensive line rotation.
Quintin Mikell, SS- Mikell played well in Carolina last season and was the veteran leader of a young secondary. Not strong in coverage, Mikell is more of an in-the-box safety and is an effective blitzer. He'll definitely be playing next season. Chicago, Arizona, and Minnesota are a few potential fits.
Will Smith, DE- Smith's season ended early in 2013 after he suffered a knee injury, and the veteran is looking for a new home. Like his fellow veteran players, Smith would be most effective in a situational role. He's visited the Patriots, a team in need of pass-rushing depth. Smith spent his first 10 seasons with the Saints.
Pat Angerer, MLB- Injuries plagued his years in Indianapolis but he's a high motor, heavy hitting middle linebacker when he's on the field.
Kerry Rhodes, FS- After not playing in the NFL in 2013 due to what Rhodes has stated were contract issues, although much of the public believed teams weren't willing to sign the safety due to allegations that he's a homosexual (which Rhodes has denied), if he's kept himself in shape, he should receive some offers this offseason. Maybe after a year away from the game he'll accept less money. In 2012 he recorded 58 tackles/4 interceptions/2 forced fumbles.
Davin Joseph, G- Joseph is entering his ninth year in the league and has been to two Pro Bowls. He started all 16 games last season for the Buccaneers. There are several teams that could use help at guard; Kansas City, Miami, and St. Louis to name a few. He'll get signed after the draft.
James Harrison, OLB- His one season in Cincinnati was disappointing as he struggled to adjust to a new defensive scheme. But the soon to be 36-year old linebacker is still a ferocious hitter and intimidating presence and can be an effective situational pass-rusher. Some reports say their is mutual interest between he and his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Santonio Holmes, WR- Holmes' last two seasons as a member of the Jets were simply horrific. He struggled with injuries and was a poor locker room guy. And last year he just looked old and slow. He's only 30 but how much does the guy have left in the tank?
Michael Bush, RB- During his time in Chicago, Bush looked like a big back who lacks speed and burst. He wasn't the complement to Matt Forte the Bears thought they were getting when they signed him in 2012. The only team to have any reported interest in the seven year veteran is the Patriots. Which makes perfect sense considering they let their power back walk in free agency.
Dustin Keller, TE- As long as he's on par with his recovery process (suffered a gruesome knee injury last season), he'll be playing on a one-year deal next season. The Patriots have expressed interest in the tight end.
Mike Adams- He started seven games for Denver last season, but the addition of T.J. Ward meant Adams certainly wouldn't be re-signed. Like the other veteran safeties on this list, Adams would be best in a rotational role but he's proved he can start if needed.
Nick Collins- He hasn't played a game in the NFL since he suffered a severe neck in injury in Week 2 of the 2011 season, but there were reports a couple months ago that said the 3-time Pro Bowler was hinting at a comeback. He was one of the best safeties in the league at one point and I'm interested to see if he does make a comeback.

*Stats courtesy of www.pro-football-reference.com


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Which team will land Chris Johnson?

When the Tennessee Titans released three-time Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson on Friday, it was clear that he was going to be a hot commodity for teams in need of a running back. Teams that could use an upgrade at the position include the Jets, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Rams, and Dolphins. According to NFL.com, the teams that have expressed the most interest in the former 2,000-yard rusher are the Falcons, Jets, Bills, and Dolphins. I don't expect Johnson to sign with the Bills, where C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson make up a very good running back tandem. The Dolphins aren't shy when it comes to throwing money at free agents (Mike Wallace, Danell Ellerbe, etc.) but the team signed Knowshon Moreno to a one-year deal this offseason and behind him are LaMar Miller, Daniel Thomas, and Mike Gillislee, the addition of Johnson would make it a pretty crowded backfield. That leaves the Falcons and Jets as the best potential landing spots for CJ2K. The Jets wanted to sign Maurice Jones-Drew but the bay area native chose to sign with the Raiders. The team currently has Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell as its top two backs, and they leave a lot to be desired. The Falcons meanwhile have veteran Steven Jackson and the shifty, undersized Jacquizz Rodgers. Jackson was very disappointing in his first season as a Falcon, putting up only 543 yards on the ground. He'll be 31 by the time the season starts and his best days are well behind him, I think he'd be released if the Falcons were able to sign Johnson. Next week is when Johnson is going to announce where he intends on signing and I think he's going to choose the New York Jets.

*free agency info courtesy of www.nfl.com
**stats courtesy of www.pro-football-reference.com

Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 Breakout Candidates

With one season under their belt, second year players are expected to show much improvement from their rookie year. Those who don't, have what's known as a "sophomore slump." Below I have listed the second year players I expect to breakout in 2014.

Giovani Bernard- With Hue Jackson being promoted from running backs coach to offensive coordinator, I expect him to do a better job than his predecessor at getting the ball in Bernard's hands. Bernard is a fast and agile back who can be just as effective catching the ball as he is running it. Look for him to take touches away from Benjarvus Green-Ellis this season.
Kenny Vaccaro- The Saints' first round pick a year ago had an impressive rookie season, but pairing Jairus Byrd alongside Vaccaro is going to give him more freedom to make impact plays.
Andre Ellington- The Cardinals drafted Ellington in the sixth round and he was their second running back selected last year but he proved to be their best runner. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and caught 39 passes as a rookie and with Rashad Mendenhall retired, it looks like Ellington is set to be the feature back.
Cordarrelle Patterson- Patterson was a Pro Bowl kick returner for the Vikings last year, and he was fairly productive on offense (45 receptions/469 yards/4 TDs). But I think with another offseason of learning the offense and a better quarterback under center (assuming the Vikings draft a QB), the opportunity is there for Patterson to be a lethal force on offense.
Barkevious Mingo- The Browns selected Mingo with the sixth overall pick even after they signed Paul Kruger to a 5 year/$40 million dollar deal during free agency one month prior. Mingo played in 13 games and made 3 starts, and put up better numbers than Kruger who played and started all 16 games. I expect Mingo to beat out either Kruger or Jabaal Sheard for one of the two starting outside linebacker jobs.
Terrance Williams- Williams was productive as a rookie but with Miles Austin no longer in the picture, I think Williams will put up big numbers for the Cowboys starting opposite Dez Bryant and take full advantage of the one-on-one matchups he'll see due to the double teams Bryant receives.
Kenny Stills- As he proved last season, Stills is the only true deep threat on the Saints' offense. And following the departure of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, I expect Stills to see many more passes thrown his way this year.
Ezekiel Ansah- Ansah is still a very raw player as he's still learning how to play football (he started playing in 2010). Nevertheless, he recorded 8 sacks in his rookie season. I think Ansah will continue to improve and take advantage of the one-on-one matchups he'll receive playing along side Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
Micah Hyde- The Packers found a gem when they drafted Hyde in the fifth round. Magnificent against the run, Hyde had some trouble in coverage early on but turned into a great corner as the season went on. He plays on special teams as well, returning a punt for a touchdown last season. A move to safety could be in Hyde's future, but regardless of what position he plays I expect him to be an impact player.
Montee Ball- When the Broncos' front office chose not to re-sign Knowshon Moreno they made it clear that they were comfortable moving forward with their stable of running backs, led by Montee Ball. He needs to do a better job securing the ball, but he's definitely a workhorse back.
Jamie Collins- Collins didn't come on until late in the season when he showed everyone why Bill Belichick drafted him in the second round. He's the type of linebacker the Patriots have lacked for so many years, he's big, fast, athletic, and he's terrific in pass coverage. I think Collins will make a big leap in his second season.

*stats courtesy of www.pro-football-reference.com

Thursday, March 27, 2014

UPDATE: 2014 NFL Mock Draft

    Trades excluded.
    Last Updated: April 17, 2014 4:23 PM

  1. Houston Texans- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
  2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington)- Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
  4. Cleveland Browns- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
  5. Oakland Raiders- Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
  6. Atlanta Falcons- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
  8. Minnesota Vikings- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
  9. Buffalo Bills- Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
  10. Detroit Lions- Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
  11. Tennessee Titans- Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
  12. New York Giants- Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
  13. St. Louis Rams- Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
  14. Chicago Bears- Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida St.
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers- Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St.
  16. Dallas Cowboys- Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
  17. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Pryor, SS, Louisville
  18. New York Jets- Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
  19. Miami Dolphins- Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
  20. Arizona Cardinals- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
  21. Green Bay Packers- C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
  22. Philadelphia Eagles- Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St.
  23. Kansas City Chiefs- Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
  24. Cincinnati Bengals- Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio St.
  25. San Diego Chargers- Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame
  26. Cleveland Browns (via Colts)- Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.
  27. New Orleans Saints- Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
  28. Carolina Panthers- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
  29. New England Patriots- Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
  30. San Francisco 49ers- Marqise Lee, WR, USC
  31. Denver Broncos- Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
  32. Seattle Seahawks- Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Do the Patriots boast the league's best secondary?

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick struck gold this offseason by adding two of the NFL's best press-man cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. This leads some people to ask the question, do the Patriots now have the best secondary in the NFL? I'm a diehard Pats fan, but I'm also a realist, which is why I say the Seattle Seahawks still boast the league's top secondary. The "Legion of Boom" sports Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, and Jeremy Lane at the corner and nickelback positions, while Kam Chancelor and Earl Thomas man the two safety positions. The Patriots aren't far behind, though. They have more talent at cornerback, with Revis and Browner on the outside and Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, and Alfonzo Dennard covering slot receivers. Devin McCourty is one of the most underrated players in the league despite being one of the top free safeties. Once a talented player is added to play alongside McCourty and man the strong safety position this secondary has the potential to be the very best, but I don't think they're there just yet.

Monday, March 17, 2014

UPDATED Team Needs: NFC


NFC North:
Chicago Bears- DT, SS, OLB
Detroit Lions- CB, RT, SS
Green Bay Packers- FS, TE, WR, CB
Minnesota Vikings- QB, WR, SS, OLB

NFC East:
Dallas Cowboys- SS/FS, DT, DE, WR, OLB
New York Giants- TE, C, WR, CB, DE
Philadelphia Eagles- CB, DE, SS, OLB
Washington- DT, CB, SS, C, ILB

NFC South:
Atlanta Falcons- OT, OLB/DE, CB, TE
Carolina Panthers- WR, OT, CB, OLB
New Orleans Saints- ILB, CB, WR, OLB
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- WR, OLB, QB, TE

NFC West:
Arizona Cardinals- CB, DT, TE
San Francisco 49ers- WR, DT, CB
Seattle Seahawks- WR, TE, DE
St. Louis Rams- OT, FS, CB, WR