After Review Podcast Official QB Rankings 17-1

This is a consensus from the three lists created with great care and consideration (but just the right amount of levity and chaos by myself [Trentyn] Shae, and Eric).

We created our lists answering the seemingly simple question: On an otherwise league average offense, how would each individual QB do, the more theoretical wins added, the higher on the list a QB is.

But just like anytime we discuss anything, you can expect plenty of gripes, disagreements, and ultimately the High Octane Football Nonsense you know and love.

This is a companion piece with our regularly scheduled podcast and is best consumed while listening to that, link:


17. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Shae: 20

Eric: 16

Trentyn: 14

Deviation: 3.06


16. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Shae: 16

Eric: 21

Trentyn: 13

Deviation: 4.04


15. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Shae: 14

Eric: 11

Trentyn: 18

Deviation: 3.51


14. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Shae: 13

Eric: 13

Trentyn: 16

Deviation: 1.73


13. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Shae: 18

Eric: 9

Trentyn: 15

Deviation: 4.58


12. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Shae: 12

Eric: 18

Trentyn: 12

Deviation: 3.46


11. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

Shae: 11

Eric: 23

Trentyn: 5

Deviation: 9.17


10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Shae: 8

Eric: 7

Trentyn: 10

Deviation: 1.53


9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Shae: 7

Eric: 10

Trentyn: 8

Deviation: 1.53


8. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Shae: 10

Eric: 5

Trentyn: 9

Deviation: 2.65


7. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Shae: 6

Eric: 6

Trentyn: 11

Deviation: 2.89


6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Shae: 4

Eric: 12

Trentyn: 2

Deviation: 5.29


5. Russel Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Shae: 9

Eric: 4

Trentyn: 4

Deviation: 2.87


4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Shae: 3

Eric: 3

Trentyn: 7

Deviation: 2.31


3. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Shae: 5

Eric: 1

Trentyn: 6

Deviation: 2.65


2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Shae: 2

Eric: 8

Trentyn: 1

Deviation: 3.79


1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Shae: 1

Eric: 2

Trentyn: 3

Deviation: 1.00



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After Review Podcast Official QB Rankings 36-18

This is a consensus from the three lists created with great care and consideration (but just the right amount of levity and chaos by myself [Trentyn] Shae, and Eric).

We created our lists answering the seemingly simple question: On an otherwise league average offense, how would each individual QB do, the more theoretical wins added, the higher on the list a QB is.

But just like anytime we discuss anything, you can expect plenty of gripes, disagreements, and ultimately the High Octane Football Nonsense you know and love.

This is a companion piece with our regularly scheduled podcast and is best consumed while listening to that, link:


36. Daniel Jones, NY Giants

Shae: 36

Eric: 36

Trentyn: 34

Deviation: 1.15


35. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Shae: 35

Eric: 35

Trentyn: 32

Deviation: 1.73


34. Eli Manning, NY Giants

Shae: 34

Eric: 29

Trentyn: 36

Deviation: 3.61


33. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins

Shae: 27

Eric: 34

Trentyn: 35

Deviation: 4.36


32. Case Keenum, Washington Redskins

Shae: 31

Eric: 33

Trentyn: 31

Deviation: 1.15


31. Josh Rosen, Miami Dolphins

Shae: 26

Eric: 31

Trentyn: 33

Deviation: 3.61


30. Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins

Shae: 30

Eric: 32

Trentyn: 25

Deviation: 3.61


29. Joe Flacco, Denver Broncos

Shae: 23

Eric: 30

Trentyn: 30

Deviation: 4.04


28. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shae: 28

Eric: 27

Trentyn: 28

Deviation: 0.6


27. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Shae: 29

Eric: 26

Trentyn: 23

Deviation: 3.00


26. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Shae: 33

Eric: 25

Trentyn: 26

Deviation: 4.36


25. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Shae: 25

Eric: 17

Trentyn: 29

Deviation: 6.11


24. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

Shae: 24

Eric: 20

Trentyn: 27

Deviation: 3.51


23. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Shae: 32

Eric: 15

Trentyn: 22

Deviation: 8.54


22. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

Shae: 21

Eric: 22

Trentyn: 24

Deviation: 1.53


21. Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Shae: 19

Eric: 28

Trentyn: 19

Deviation: 5.20


20. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Shae: 17

Eric: 19

Trentyn: 21

Deviation: 2.00


19. Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Shae: 22

Eric: 14

Trentyn: 20

Deviation: 4.16


18. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Shae: 15

Eric: 24

Trentyn: 17

Deviation: 4.73


As always, drop your slant in the comments section by hitting the “Leave a Comment” button at the top of the article. If you enjoyed, find us on Facebook and Twitter, links below:








And, of course, like and follow our partners at AfterReviewPodcast









Gut Picks Week 11

Another week, another humbling experience eh? If you’re a faithful listener to the show, you know that Shae and I agreed on every pick last week and believed there was at least a possibility we’d have a perfect picking week.


Boy, were we wrong. Six misses (only five in my official picks, as I flipped to Dallas at the last moment on nothing more than a hunch). After five consecutive weeks of only four misses, I was feeling good, but the NFL loves to show you how little you know and I swallowed my humble pie. With that in mind, join me in my fruitless quest to make sense of the madness.


Packers @ Seahawks

This is a battle of teams I think of quite similarly, the Packers have an elite quarterback, and a solid defense. The Seahawks boast the same essential elements, but are far more balanced in their offensive play calls. They’re running perhaps the most consistent 50-50 run pass balance in the modern version of the NFL, and it’s working to keep a team that is in the midst of a rebuild in the wildcard conversation. The Packers have more on the line, as they’re within striking distance of the division lead, whereas the Seahawks can pretty much give up that dream after being swept (in very competitive fashion) by the division-leading Rams. I thought last week was going to be the end of the Thursday Night Blowouts, and I think the same this week. This is a close game that hinges, ultimately, on the location: Seattle is still tough at home, and that’s enough to be a tipping point in a game that looks even.

Pick: Seahawks


Cowboys @ Falcons

If you know me, you know I’m picking the Cowboys. Major props to the Boys in blue (and white) for winning the game they had to and justifying my last-minute flip flop. Linehan changed his tendencies, at least for a week, and Garrett was clapping for the right reasons. The Cowboys defense remains elite (a much stronger unit overall than the one that stifled Ryan and company in Cleveland last week) and the passing offense showed a definite ability to exploit mismatches in the secondary with an improved top 3 of Cooper, Gallup and Beasley. The Falcons meanwhile, are bitter and disappointed that they couldn’t get over the hump. They’re desperate, but they’re also wounded. If this Cowboys team is any good, it should smell blood in the water.

Pick: Cowboys


Panthers @ Lions

The Lions sit at a lowly 3-6, despite a roster that should have them just a touch above .500 (some obvious flaws in the construction of the defense hold it back). Usually, the culprit is coaching, but I believe in Matt Patricia, and the product has been very strong at times. The Panthers, with the mirror record of 6-3 have been classic overachievers, riding a one-dimensional offense (albeit with dynamic playmakers) and a defense that has far more attitude than top end talent. That caught up with them last week when they met an offense with a dynamic enough vertical element to fully exploit the overall weak secondary of Carolina. The Lions have that too, if only they can close the running lanes and force the Panthers to pass. I don’t see that happening, so the Panthers should pick up the road win, while giving up plenty of points.

Pick: Panthers


Titans @ Colts

This one is fascinating: On both sides, we have some of the hottest up and comers in football, in a divisional battle that has major playoff implications. The Titans just blasted the Patriots and beat Tom Brady into submission with their punishing defense, while the Colts outlasted a comeback bid by the Jags (who beat the Patriots in week 2, remember?) The Colts have the homefield advantage, though that hasn’t really existed for them (2-2 home record, vs. 2-3 away). More importantly, they’ve developed some of the best pass protection in football, allowing zero sacks in 4 games (200 Andrew Luck pass attempts). The Titans might have trouble getting home on Luck, and the Titans have needed their defense to set the tone in their last couple of games. As long as Luck doesn’t fold, this one should stay close until the end. Ultimately, I see the Titans as the more talented team overall, and in this case that’s enough to win this game.

Pick: Titans


Bucs @ Giants

JPP is ready to roll for this one, and the Bucs defense has another get-well opportunity against a weak NFC East offense. If Fitz and company can continue to drive the ball, and add in some redzone efficiency, the Bucs should roll, regardless of what Barkley and OBJ get up to. Side note: The Bucs had 501 yards last week, and just 3 points. That level of point-scoring inefficiency is not sustainable.

Pick: Bucs


Texans @ Redskins

This one is difficult, because I see it being a low-scoring slugfest. I think the Texans have played far above their heads during their six-game win streak. Regression to the mean seems inevitable. The Redskins, however, can’t score points consistently, and against an explosive offense, that will be the end of them. Stick a fork in them, I said last week; I stick by that bold statement: The 2018 Redskins are done.

Pick: Texans


Steelers @ Jags

A very briefly mighty team has fallen completely off the map. The Jags perceived strength (their pass defense) has been dismantled due to injuries that exposed underlying depth issues. The starting 11 on that side of the ball remains perhaps the best in football, but they can’t seem to get on the field at the same time. The Jags D is always tougher at home, and the return of Fournette was a huge boon, especially to their redzone offense. The Steelers are rolling though, the offense is borderline unstoppable and the defense has a penchant for sacks and turnovers. Joe Haden also looks to be back in his prime. This is very bad news for Blake Bortles.

Pick: Steelers


Bengals @ Ravens

Despite featuring the same two records and division rival characteristics of the Titans-Colts matchup, this one just lacks the panache. These teams are both going down the tubes. Both have lost their most relevant games on the schedule lately and are hovering around .500 after starting strong. The Ravens offense mirrors the Bengals defense (both units have talent, but major flaws in both the starting lineup and the depth). The Bengals offense has fallen off without AJ Green, and for whatever reason they underused Joe Mixon against the Saints, despite him being the catalyst for the only successful drive the Bengals mounted against the Saints first-team defense. The Ravens are tough at home and AJ Green still isn’t healthy, the Bengals injuries on defense also hurt.

Pick: Ravens


Raiders @ Cardinals

The Raiders have folded, next…

Pick: Cardinals


Broncos @ Chargers

In one corner, you have a team that can’t finish games, in the other you have winners of six straight, many of which have been close finishes. Can you believe the Chargers are the latter? This point is meant to demonstrate one thing: the 2018 Chargers are different, and Melvin Gordon is the big reason why. Joey Bosa is coming back soon, all the better for them, all the worse for anyone in the path of this wrecking ball. The Broncos should put up a fight, but I don’t see Keenum and company being able to keep up with the Chargers’ balanced and explosive attack.

Pick: Chargers


Eagles @ Saints

Remember last week when the Saints feasted on a secondary riddled with injuries? Rinse and repeat, right? Not so fast, these Eagles are a highly talented, albeit highly underperforming group. Pederson is a good coach that should be able to coax the best out of his team in a game which is by all means a must-win. The Saints have suffered their only loss in the cozy confines of the Dome, so it’s not unheard of to think they could stumble here. The intangibles say yes, but the matchup says an emphatic no. I’ll meet it in the middle, Saints win by the hair of their chinny chin chin. Enjoy those sweet color rush unis, Who Dats.

Pick: Saints.


Vikings @ Bears

This is one I’ve flip-flopped on. The Bears have yet to win a game against a top-quality opponent, though their schedule hasn’t given them much opportunity. Losses to the Patriots and Packers imply they’re not ready to play with the big boys, but the lack of Khalil Mack against the latter puts on a big fat asterisk to that result. Trubisky has improved leaps and bounds over the season, even if the run-pass balance hasn’t. More to the point, are the Vikings a top-quality opponent? I would say no, so I don’t think the matchup precludes the possibility of a Bears victory. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, this should be a relatively low-scoring game in which the more poised team wins. Give me Zimmer’s group by decision.

Pick: Vikings


Chiefs @ Rams

The main event, especially considering it’s now back where it belongs in LA. We’ve been waiting all weekend for Monday night and I expect this matchup to look a heck of a lot like the battle in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. The Rams are down Kupp, which hurts, but the Chiefs defense has shown little ability to limit yardage, and the Rams are excellent in the redzone. Points should come in bunches, as the Chiefs should be able to slice up the very vulnerable zone defense of the Rams. Gurley and Hunt are almost a wash, as are Mahomes and Goff. I would give the Rams the edge in defensive talent, but the coaching (regular season Andy Reid versus Sean McVay) may also come to a draw. This is a matchup of very similar teams, and I expect the final score to resemble an Oklahoma-Oklahoma State scoring bonanza. This is a true gut pick, but…

Pick: Chiefs


As always, drop your slant in the comments section by hitting the “Leave a Comment” button at the top of the article. If you enjoyed, find us on Facebook and Twitter, links below:



Gut Picks Week 8

We were unfortunately unable to do a show this week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put out great content, below are my gut picks, which were personally requested. Enjoy!

  • Trentyn

Dolphins @ Texans

This one’s pretty simple, the Dolphins and Texans are trending in different directions. The better team wins, and this has the potential to be another Thursday night blowout.

Pick: Texans


Eagles @ Jags

When will the Jags defense get back on track? They have easily the most stacked defensive roster in the league, which means that either there’s a lack of effort on the part of the players or an issue in scheme. Regardless, even in the loss last week, the defense allowed only 20 points, so this won’t be an easy win for the Eagles, who have struggled to consistently score points this year. The Barnett injury is also concerning.

Pick: Jags


Jets @ Bears

Bounce back time for the once-mighty Bears defense. So far, the AFC East has been their kryptonite, but the Jets don’t have the same firepower as the Patriots and I still see the Dolphins loss as a major fluke. Bears win big.

Pick: Bears


Buccaneers @ Bengals

Two teams that have had mostly explosive offenses. The Bengals have the far superior running game and their defense is at least capable of making some plays and putting pressure on the QB. The Bucs defense is a hot mess and the first half against the Browns was a lone exception to an otherwise dreadful season.

Pick: Bengals


Seahawks @ Lions

The Seahawks are coming off their bye week and were hot going in, coming off a thrashing of the Raiders. The Lions, much like the Seahawks earlier in the season, have been much more disciplined in their run versus pass lately. Patricia’s team is buying in, and the fact is they simply have a better roster than the Seahawks. Expect a tight one, this could be the weekly OT game.

Pick: Lions


Broncos @ Chiefs

This one’s a no brainer. The Broncos offense didn’t play particularly well against the Cardinals, and they still force Keenum to throw the ball too much. Until they learn to play ball control, I give them no chance against a team they couldn’t beat in their own house a couple weeks ago. Chiefs roll.

Pick: Chiefs


Redskins @ Giants

Not brave enough to pick the upset, but I’m smelling it. Funky things happen in divisional games and the Redskins haven’t been nearly as dominant as their 2 game lead in the NFC East would indicate. I’m still majorly concerned about how the Saints dismantled them a couple weeks ago. The Giants will try to run the ball, but if Eli takes some shots downfield, he’ll enjoy the results of OBJ vs. Norman. Screw it, I’ve convinced myself.

Pick: Giants


Browns @ Steelers

The Browns have done a good job containing Roethlisberger and company lately, and showed resilience in rallying from a 14 point deficit week 1. Baker Mayfield has undoubtedly improved the offense, but the Steelers defense has also looked better lately, and the Browns defense worse. This one will be close, and I wouldn’t be surprised if another extra period was needed to decide it. But ultimately, none of that matters, Steelers sweep.

Pick: Steelers


Ravens @ Panthers

My weekly crusade against Carolina looked to be on its way to ultimate justification… then THAT fourth quarter happened. And worst of all, THAT play. Seriously, Eagles? Couldn’t contain the unstoppable duo of Cam Newton and Torrey Smith on fourth and ten. Anything less than ten yards and the story would be about how the Eagles held off a late Panthers rally and how Cam Newton failed to deliver in a big moment once again. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in and the Panthers are 4-2. I, however, do not see a scenario in which the Panthers consistently move the ball against this stout Ravens defense. SO I’m picking against the Panthers again. Sue me.

Pick: Ravens


Colts @ Raiders

No Amari Cooper, but that doesn’t change the look of this Raiders offense too much. They’ll move the ball against the Colts, who have struggled against good quarterbacks. Big bounce-back game for Carr in what should be a shootout with Luck and the red-hot, no-name Colts offense. Colts by a hair.

Pick: Colts


Packers @ Rams

Doesn’t this feel like the type of game the Rams could lose? A date with the Saints in New Orleans is looming and no one would blame the Rams for looking ahead. Looking past Aaron Rodgers could prove deadly. I have this game as a major upset alert, but I promised I’d pick the Rams until they lose, and literally no one has stopped Todd Gurley. This Packers D is not up to the task. I’m not sure anyone is, but that game against the Saints will feature his stiffest challenge yet with the Saints holding the number 1 rush defense in the NFL.

Pick: Rams


49ers @ Cardinals

Man, this matchup has about as much sizzle as Broncos Cards from last week. The Niners will bounce back from the rough outing against the Rams, but the Cards were embarrassed more last week. This is purely a feeling, but I think Rosen and the crew get it done.

Pick: Cards


Saints @ Vikings

As per usual, I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this one to truly call this a gut pick. As mentioned earlier, the Saints have the league’s best run defense (big credit to free agent addition DeMario Davis). We’ve seen the Vikings struggle mightily when they get off their run-pass balance. The Vikings also have a major laundry list of injuries including but not limited to starters CB Xavier Rhodes, DE Everson Griffen, DT Linval Joseph, LB Anthony Barr, and G Tom Compton. The Saints are basically completely healthy. Yes, this is at the Vikings, but I think the Saints have an opportunity not only to win, but to win convincingly.

Pick: Saints


Patriots @ Bills

Patriots are on a major roll, having put up 38 or more every game since losing to the Lions, all wins. So of course the Bills are going to destroy them. That’s just how Sean McDermott rolls.


Had you going there for a second, huh?

Pick: Patriots


Well, that was fun. Come back tomorrow for my thoughts on the recent trades and more.

As always, drop your slant in the comments section by hitting the “Leave a Comment” button at the top of the article. If you enjoyed, find us on Facebook and Twitter, links below:




Game of the Week: Steelers vs. Chiefs Preview


The Chiefs came into week one with one of the toughest tests in the AFC, playing against a stacked, veteran squad led by the perennially underrated Philip Rivers and the ferocious pass-rushing duo of Ingram and Bosa. Even before the game was played, one of those three factors was erased with Joey Bosa’s foot injury forcing him to miss the game. It’s arguable just how much that loss affected the outcome of the game, but it has to be noted that the Chargers pass rush was significantly less effective in a game that was much closer than the ten-point spread indicated.

On the other side, the Steelers struggled to get anything going offensively outside of the consistent ground attack of James Connor against a highly talented Browns defense. It wasn’t too big of a surprise, what was a surprise was how streaky Roethlisberger was, considering he paired three bad interceptions with a poor completion percentage (56), touchdown number (1) and a solid yardage mark (335). His Total QBR of 22.8 showed a player that mainly struggled against a tough challenge. What that means going forward into the season, and especially into week 2 against a much weaker Chiefs defense remains to be seen.

Ultimately, the key to this game is number ten of the Chiefs. If Tyreek Hill can be as effective this week as he was last week, the Steelers will struggle to keep up in a track meet. If the Steelers pool their resources into stopping Hill, logic and a look at the Chiefs skill positions suggests that the production could come from elsewhere, with Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, DeAnthony Thomas and DeMarcus Robinson all capable of breaking out if given the opportunity.

Of those options, Hunt appears to be the most likely beneficiary of the extra attention Hill will warrant, Stretching a Steelers defense vertically which already struggles in the middle with the subpar linebacker play is a strategy the Browns already successfully employed in week 1. With an even more potent downfield passing game from the Chiefs, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers being able to reign in Hunt if he finds a few creases.

However, the Chiefs offensive line is not very good. The 7 qb hits allowed and 3.9 ypc the Chiefs were able to rack up in week 1 are much more indicative of the Chiefs skill on the line than the only one sack allowed. Mahomes’ mobility obviously offsets some of these potential struggles in pass protection, but the poor protection will yield more sacks going forward and that could start this week against a team that racked up seven sacks and 12 qb hits.

The Steelers D-line in particular has a decided advantage, with the front three of Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave and Cam Heyward challenging the thoroughly underwhelming Chiefs trio of Andrew Wylie, Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff. That could clog run lanes, which will make it hard for Hunt to get going at the beginning of runs and offset the relative weakness at the linebacker level. Expect plenty of tackles for loss for the Steelers, and some splash runs from Hunt to form an overall respectable stat line, similar to that of Ezekiel Elliott last week against the Panthers.

Steelers Chiefs Football

Of course, the X-factor here is Mahomes, and breaking down his spectacular 2018 debut is the key to understanding how this matchup might play out. While Mahomes was excellent at extending plays and downfield passing, he struggled with chemistry to any receiver not named Hill, and it was especially concerning that he couldn’t get all-pro tight end Travis Kelce involved. Take away the deep pass completions (20 plus yards), and this is Mahomes’ stat line: 10 of 22, 78 yards, 2 TD and a sack. In the first half in particular, he was a putrid 4 of 11 for 23 yards and a sack outside of the 20-plus yard pass completions. It should be noted that the 2 TD’s were on one-yard shovel passes, so they were essentially handoffs. All of this is not to take away from Mahomes’ performance as he was an incredible 5 of 5 for 178 yards and 2 TDs on throws 20 yards or more down the field, it’s to show that some of the essential aspects of being an NFL QB (short and intermediate accuracy) are areas where Mahomes continues to struggle.

On the other side, while Roethlisberger struggled in week 1, it was against a vastly superior defense from top to bottom. The fact is, the Chiefs just allowed a comparable quarterback in Philip Rivers to throw for over 400 yards, and that includes a bad drop from Travis Benjamin that would have been a TD of over 50 yards. There will be room for Roethlisberger to throw it down the field, where the only player that could potentially hang with Antonio Brown is Chiefs corner Kendall Fuller. However, that leaves Juju Smith-Schuster, Justin Hunter, and perhaps rookie James Washington free license to tear up the relatively weak Chiefs secondary.

Antonio Brown, Phillip Gaines, Daniel Sorensen

This is a game script that could look like a track meet at times, but the inefficiencies for both offenses should get in the way and keep it relatively reasonable. I expect the inexperience of Mahomes and the Steelers’ advantage in the secondary and the trenches to offset the potential strong running game that Kareem Hunt could enjoy. It will be close, but the Steelers will roll towards the end.

Prediction: Steelers 33 Chiefs 24

Season Record: 1-0

As always, drop your slant in the comments section by hitting the “Leave a Comment” button at the top of the article. If you enjoyed, find us on Facebook and Twitter, links below:



Game of the Week: Saints vs. Bucs Review

Sometimes in this league, one play can change everything. It’s a mental game after all, at its core, and it is this mental aspect which is often mistaken for in-game “momentum”. This was the case in the stunner in the Dome Sunday. The Saints defense allowed 41 points to the Bucs, at least in large part due to the fact that the Bucs believed they could.

It was the fifth play of the Bucs first offensive drive, right around midfield, safety Marcus Williams was playing single high, with some underneath and middle zones. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson streaks past Patrick Robinson who settles into a zone in the flat, running past linebacker Alex Anzalone who settles in the middle. Fitzpatrick uses his eyes to manipulate Williams into a false step which gives Jackson a clear path past the last line of what figured to be an improved Saints pass defense: touchdown.

Jackson touchdown

This followed a highly impressive opening drive by the Saints, who marched down the field themselves, in about four minutes, to score the game’s opening touchdown on a 5-yard Alvin Kamara touchdown run.

But for Williams, there had to be some familiarity. His last drive ended the exact same way, him failing as a last line of defense and allowing a touchdown. A strong offseason, a renewed focus, everything was supposed to be different this season. This Saints defense were pushovers no longer. And yet, the fifth play left some creeping doubts.

On the other side, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, bolstered by a strong group of skill position playmakers and a stout offensive line, was told all offseason how his team would finish last in the NFC South after presumed starter Jameis Winston was suspended the first three games for an incident with an uber driver.

After the big play, this young Saints defense had to be a little rattled. They’ve seen this story before, just last year when another wily veteran quarterback carved them up in week 1 last year. On the other side, it had to feel like vindication for a unit that was embarrassed in their last visit to the Dome, a 30-10 Saints victory in which receiver Mike Evans was so frustrated, he took a harder-than-necessary shot on cornerback Marshon Lattimore in retaliation to Lattimore poking Winston.

Make no mistake about it, this game was personal, for a lot of people involved. Fitzpatrick now had the confidence to uncork several deep shots and tight-window throws. The receivers, having seen Jackson’s breakthrough fed off the energy. Wide receiver Chris Godwin’s insane diving grab for a first down on an early third down in the first quarter illustrated this. As did Godwin’s touchdown, beating near-perfect coverage by cornerback Ken Crawley.

Throughout the day, Jackson beat Crawley twice on deep routes, once for a touchdown. Mike Evans constantly got the better of Lattimore in their one-on-one matchups. The exclamation point coming when Evans streaked by Lattimore, who lost his footing and allowed his first career touchdown. Miscommunications between safeties Williams and Kurt Coleman didn’t help on either of those touchdown catches, as both corners were one-on-one with no safety help.


To make those touchdowns happen required pinpoint deep ball accuracy, after nailing the early touchdown, Fitzpatrick’s deep ball touch and accuracy was nearly flawless. He only missed one shot play in the entire game, an unprecedented success rate.

It certainly helped that Fitzpatrick’s quick trigger effectively eliminated the Saints pass rush, which finished with zero sacks and two quarterback hits. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton explained it well: “You have to disrupt the timing of the passing game on one end or the other.”

Fitzpatrick not only had a masterful performance through the air, he was highly efficient on the ground, constantly scrambling to turn neutral and negative plays into positives.

The Saints offense with Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas leading the way, was highly efficient as well, outside of Thomas’ fumble, drop and running back Mike Gillislee’s fumble. The mistakes happened at bad times, as all three resulted in what might have been at least a ten point swing, and potentially as much as 21 points.

Thomas fumble

The script turned quickly into a track meet, which has been a bit of a specialty in the Payton-Brees era, but those mistakes compiled a lead for the Bucs that was ultimately insurmountable.

It all started with that one play, that well-designed, well-thought out, ego-shattering, reality-inducing deep strike. Fitzpatrick and the Bucs offense never looked back, and the Saints defense in particular, could never stop looking back.


As always, drop your slant in the comments section by hitting the “Leave a Comment” button at the top of the article. If you enjoyed, find us on Facebook and Twitter, links below:



Game of the Week: Bears vs. Packers

gb v c

Let’s set the scene Sunday Night: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers glances at the play clock, a typically expressionless face a bit haggard and covered in a thin layer of sweat. He sees the clock ticking down, 10…9…8… He’s waiting in a shotgun formation, trips receivers to the right, his favorite target Davante Adams isolated on the left, where Bears precocious star corner Kyle Fuller has been blanketing him the entire game.

To this point, Rodgers has tasted turf too many times, that’s why he has running back Jamaal Williams next to him: to buy him the extra time he needs on this last-ditch attempt on 4th down from the 20-yard line. The scoreboard reads Packers 13 Bears 17, but Rodgers has been here before. He knows how to take care of business in these situations.

So, how did we get there? How did the little brother Bears push Rodgers to his absolute limit? With a ferocious young defense, boosted by the addition of a superstar pass rusher and an offense with far too many playmakers to be blanked completely.

The signature on the 4 year, 42-million-dollar contract by DT Eddie Goldman effectively serves as an exclamation point for a front seven that is not only peppered with top of the line talent, but has no discernible weak point among the starters.

Up front, the aforementioned superstar Khalil Mack bookends an extremely talented 3-man defensive line including Goldman, Akiem Hicks coming off a career year, and former third round pick Jonathan Bullard. Rushing from the other end is Leonard Floyd, a man who was a top ten pick and has a seven-sack season on his resume. Behind that stout five is a pair of linebackers that might be unmatched in the entire league in terms of athleticism: Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith.

Expect this group to rough up the Packers relatively weak o-line (David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga are the only above-average starters). Goldman, Bullard and Hicks will look to clog the running lanes and make life uncomfortable for Rodgers if he tries to step up in the pocket. As a result, I expect Jamaal Williams to have a relatively quiet and frustrating week 1.

Rodgers, of course, has the ability to get outside the pocket and typically thrives once he’s there. He’s especially good at finding top receiver Davante Adams in those situations, as Adams is one of the more physical and savvy receivers in the league. He, and his Packers counterparts in Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb have a tough draw in this Bears secondary which is also stacked with young up and coming talent: Kyle Fuller is the star, but Prince Amukamara is a rock-solid number two, while Bryce Callahan is highly efficient in the slot and should matchup well against the veteran Cobb.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

One of the biggest advantages for the Bears figures to be their safeties against the Packers tight ends. Jimmy Graham was once a field stretching monster between the twenties, in addition to his considerable redzone prowess. No longer: Graham couldn’t consistently find the field in Seattle due to his major deficiencies in the running game. He’s also lost a step, and with it, his ability to separate down the field consistently and pick up yards after the catch. He’s always struggled against physical and athletic safeties and the Bears have a pair of them in Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos. If Graham affects this game, it most likely will have to be on back shoulders and slants from around the ten-yard line to go.

The Packers field an impressive front seven in their own right, headlined by the incredibly tough defensive tackle combo of Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, so the Bears may also struggle to find yards up the middle with consistency. However, their linebackers may struggle with run fits, as a rookie, in Oren Burks is in line to start. As such, off tackle runs, and a more horizontal ground game figure to be a wise gameplan for a Bears squad that features two very strong and versatile options to attack what figures to be an improved Packers defense.

The Packers’ predominantly veteran presence in the secondary could make it very difficult for young quarterback Mitch Trubisky and coach Matt Nagy to get this highly promising offense off the ground consistently. Expect Trubisky to target tight end Trey Burton early and often to try to exploit safety Kentrell Brice, new to the starting lineup after Morgan Burnett left for the Steelers this offseason. Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller may also find openings against whoever lines up in the slot (Davon House or Jaire Alexander).

All of this adds up to a low scoring, defensive slug fest where heavy pass rush, punishing run defense, and strong secondary play dominate the day. Both teams will find their openings, and in the scenario I mentioned above, there’s a very small number of players I trust more than Rodgers to get it done. Win or lose, though, the Bears will be highly dangerous as long as they remain relatively healthy. They have a much stronger roster overall than the Packers and could push them for second place in this division by season’s end.

Prediction: Packers 20 Bears 17

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Day 2 (Round 2 and 3) Live Grades

33. Cleveland Browns: Austin Corbett, G, Nevada

Grade: B-

I love adding to the offensive line and Corbett was a fast riser in the process leading up to the draft. However, Will Hernandez was still on the board, so I have to question the move a bit. I’m expecting a running back next for the Browns.


34. New York Giants: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

Grade: A

Fantastic. A road grader to open big-time holes for Saquon Barkley. Gettleman has a solid draft plan to this point and I’m quite impressed. I always had Hernandez in the first round, so this is excellent value. He’s no slouch in pass protection either.


35: Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Grade: B

There’s that running back, and this is a fine value for the player at this spot. The Browns apparently loved Rashaad Penny, so they’re clearly trying to build a power running game. Chubb was better earlier in his college career, but a knee injury ultimately cost him a lot of his burst. We’ll see if he can regain that in his pro career. Right position, but I would have expected Guice here, who I think is a better value.


36: Indianapolis Colts: Darius Leonard, LB, SC State

Grade: B-

I’ve heard some seriously good things about this player, and he could develop brilliantly, but it’s strange that the Colts passed on some of the players that are inexplicably sliding. Linebacker was undoubtedly a need.


37. Indianapolis Colts: Braden Smith, G, Auburn

Grade: A-

Wow, the Colts are very serious about building a pocket for Luck to step into. Smith fits the range here, though he has limitations in his game that could cause him to struggle with the best pass rushers. I like the idea of doubling up on interior lineman in this very strong class.


38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

Grade: B-

I’m cool with this pick, though I like Guice a little better as a player. This was certainly a position of need, but I think the Bucs really overlooked an opportunity to improve their awful secondary by taking a player like Justin Reid or Josh Jackson here.


39. Chicago Bears: James Daniels, C, Iowa

Grade: A

I’ve been critical of Ryan Pace’s drafts and free agency management in the past, but I love the offseason he’s putting together and Daniels here is a steal. Certainly the best interior lineman available and was a borderline first rounder. Heck of a draft so far and an upgrade at C that allows Cody Whitehair to kick out to guard, where he looks much better as a player.


40. Denver Broncos: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Grade: A

I love the Broncos being proactive with refueling their secondary, and giving Case Keenum another big bodied, highly talented target. Sutton was a first round talent, so this is a steal. The Broncos have needs elsewhere, but this was definitely also a need, so I have no problem at all with it. Great pick.


41. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, BC

Grade: A

Regardless of Vince Young’s absolute botching of the pick (Shazier did better), Landry is an excellent choice, as I had him going to the Titans in the first round. Well worth the trade up. This guy is one year removed from a 16.5 sack season, and his drop in production for 2017 could be due to lingering injuries. He’s an outstanding talent here in the second.


42: Miami Dolphins: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

Grade: B-

Gesicki was not the best tight end available, that honor belongs to Dallas Goedert, who inexplicably still hasn’t gone. Gesicki is, however, an athlete on the level of Evan Engram from last year’s draft. We’ll see if he has the same type of production as a rookie, but I like this pick pretty well regardless. Gesicki’s also not much of a blocker, so the Dolphins can’t keep him on the field for every down.


43. Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

Grade: C+

Kerryon Johnson is a fine player, and at a huge need position, but the Lions had a chance to grab Derrius Guice here, which would have been a massive steal. Strange choice.


44. San Francisco 49ers: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Grade: C

Yikes. I like Pettis, but Anthony Miller and Christian Kirk are still on the board and both are better values here. This is even worse because they traded up. Do not like this pick much.


45. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

Grade: A+

This is the first major steal of the draft. Jackson is a one year starter at Iowa, but in that one year he had eight interceptions and caused an opposing QB rating lower than if all QBs had thrown at the dirt instead of him on every play. Another player that had one year starting from last year’s draft? Marshon Lattimore. Jackson is a stud, and the Packers were very smart to double up on corner. By the way, I had the Packers taking Jackson in the first round, so obviously I love the value.


46. Kansas City Chiefs: Breeland Speaks, OLB, Ole Miss

Grade: C

This dude is a tweener and those guys tend to struggle at the next level. He has some serious talent, but there is just as serious a question mark for where he fits in this, or any, NFL defense.


47. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Grade: A+

This is the second major steal of the draft. I love what Kirk brings as a runner after the catch and he brings a dynamic element to this Cardinals offense that it’s been lacking. He’s also a capable player in kick and punt returns. He was a first round talent, so I love the value.


48. Los Angeles Chargers: Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC

Grade: B-

I understand this pick more than I like it. Linebacker was a huge need, but this is a bit of  a reach. Nwosu struggles in pass coverage, which limits his ceiling as a pro. The Chargers were kind of bullied into this pick by the board, but should have waited and taken a better prospect here, maybe an O-lineman


49. Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Grade: A+

This is probably the biggest steal of the draft so far. The Eagles jumped ahead of the Cowboys to steal a tight end that has fallen way too far. Witten just retired, so Goedert would have made sense for them. The Eagles had bigger needs, but Goedert was too good to pass up.


50. Dallas Cowboys: Connor Williams, G/T, Texas

Grade: A

Williams has all the potential to develop into a stalwart. His 2017 tape is rough, but his 2016 was that of a future all-pro at the position. Excellent value here, and tackle was a big area of need for the Cowboys. Love it.


51. Chicago Bears: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

Grade: A

Ryan Pace’s coming out party continues with another outstanding addition to a fully revamped receiving core. The commitment to surrounding Trubisky with talent is clear and this draft has already made the Bears significantly better. That’s the job, and Pace is doing it like a master.


52. Indianapolis Colts: Kemoko Turay, DE/OLB, Rutgers

Grade: B

This is a slight reach at a position of need, so I understand it. I like Turay as a prospect, but think he fits better in a 3-4, which the Colts are moving away from under new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Turay has the potential to be a sack specialist, which would be welcome in Indy, so I’m totally fine with this pick overall.


53. Tampa Bay Bucanneers: MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina

Grade: B

He’s a first round talent with off-the-field issues. Hardly the sure thing the Bucs needed in the secondary. He could work out, but he could also flame out, so I don’t love it despite the solid player at the position of need.


54. Cincinnati Bengals: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

Grade: A

This is a true center fielding safety, and a great replacement for Reggie Nelson (though 1 season late). I like Bates a lot and expect him to start immediately. Obviously, that’s great value in the second round.


55. Carolina Panthers: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

Grade: A

Great value for this speed demon of a corner. His game is a bit unrefined, but his potential is through the roof, and he’s more polished than Jalen Collins was a few years ago. This was a position of need after the departure of Daryl Worley.


56. New England Patriots: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

Grade: C-

There are many better corners still available in this draft, and Dawson is considered a borderline third round pick. I’m sure he’ll work for the Patriots because they’re the Patriots, but this is early for a physical intimidator in the slot without significant playmaking ability.


57. Oakland Raiders: PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston State

Grade: B+

I’m big into this player, who’s a small school gem with pass rush ability from the interior of the defensive line. That’s a rare breed, so the pick makes sense, but this might be like 10 picks too early, so it’s not a slam dunk for me. This was a big time area of need though.


58. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Oliver, CB, West Virginia

Grade: A

Wow, great pick. Oliver was definitely a first round talent, though he has scheme limitations due to his struggles in zone coverage. For the Falcons, he’s excellent depth and might be a starter this year. Not at all shabby in round 2.


59. Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Grade: A

This is a big-time steal for a team that desperately needed more talent at the position. Wonderful pick, and far too long of a tumble for Guice. Guice does everything well, and he’s a seriously feisty runner.


60. Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Grade: B-

This makes too much sense as a replacement for Martavis Bryant, but the Steelers still have some big-time holes on their roster, and I view Washington as a third round prospect. This is a great situation for him to come to, so he might maximize his value, much like Juju Smith-Schuster did last year.


61. Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Chark, WR, LSU

Grade: A

To me, Chark is a first round talent, and he showed it by destroying the competition at the Senior Bowl. He’s a burner, but he’s more than that with great hands and natural route running. This is an outstanding selection for the Jags and fills one of their few remaining needs as a redzone threat with his size.


62. Minnesota Vikings: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

Grade: A-

This feels like a perfect fit for the range, and I love the idea of the Vikings bolstering their oline. O’Neill is also extremely athletic, so his upside is tremendous. This isn’t a steal, so it gets marked down a half grade. Make no mistake though, this pick is excellent.


63. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Grade: A+

The MJ Stewart pick makes more sense now, and Davis is a big-time steal here. He’s a borderline first round talent, and we’re nearing the end of the second round. Heck of a player, at a position which was their biggest need going into the draft.


64. Indianapolis Colts: Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

Grade: C-

Wow, this isn’t Sam Hubbard? That’s pretty shocking. Lewis is the slightly inferior prospect and there are much better ends available. Lewis flashes ability, but has little upside.


Gone to see Avengers: Infinity War. I will return.

Draft Night Eve Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Josh Allen

In no way do I agree with this pick. If I were GM of the Browns, Allen would not be on my draft board at all. I am of the camp that believe accuracy is innate, and Allen is not accurate. His career completion percentage in college, against Mountain West competition primarily, hovers around 56%.

I understand how scouts and executives can fall in love with Allen’s rocket arm, demeanor, and ideal quarterback size. I don’t understand how they could overlook such poor tape as Allen put up in 2017. The fact, though, is that Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plains Dealer indicated Allen would be the pick. I trust that source, and Allen has been in the running since the Senior Bowl anyway.


2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Saquon Barkley

To me, this is GM Dave Gettleman’s mark on this team. Jonathan Stewart is not the answer and he knows that. He knew he was in optimal position to come away with as good a running back as one could hope to find at the college level. Barkley doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses as a prospect, and his combine numbers are absolutely insane. The Giants need help on the offensive line, but Barkley should be able to help mask those weaknesses.


3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Sam Darnold

The Jets love Baker Mayfield, but I’m sure they never imagined Darnold would be available. He has less question marks to his game than Mayfield and represents the lowest risk in the draft. The Jets take the layup here, and are ecstatic about it.


4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Bradley Chubb

Chubb is a premium player at a premium position, easily the best available at this spot. Everyone seems to forget that Emmanuel Ogbah is a pretty solid option opposite Myles Garrett, but Chubb’s value here makes too much sense, as does bolstering a strength position which could help improve the defense as a whole.


5. TRADE Arizona Cardinals: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (Broncos receive Cardinals 2018 1st, 2nd (40), 3rd (71), 2019 2nd, 5th)

Rose Bowl Game - Oklahoma v Georgia

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners throws a pass during the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Cardinals covet Mayfield more than any QB in this draft, make no mistake, and the trade makes sense for a team that can afford to let Mayfield learn at his own pace and take over the franchise whenever he’s ready. As for the Broncos, they also like Mayfield a lot, but the value of the trade is too good to pass up, and the middle of the first round is an excellent value spot in this draft.


6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Quenton Nelson

While Nelson might be the most impressive and safest prospect in this class, he plays guard so I don’t see a way he makes it into the top 5 where he belongs. A dominator on the interior of the line, with the nasty demeanor, incredible play strength and technical proficiency of an NFL veteran, Nelson should line up next to Ryan Kelly and give Andrew Luck a clean pocket to step into for the first time in his career.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) during the NCAA college football game against the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 in Atlanta. (Ric Tapia via AP)

The Buccaneers have a plethora of needs, a big reason they’re picking in the top 10, but secondary may just be their most dire, with 35-year-old Brent Grimes once again grading out as their best corner. 2016 1st rounder Vernon Hargreaves took a step back last season and there’s no guarantee he’ll improve going forward, and the Bucs safety position has been a black hole for years. Fitzpatrick will fit somewhere and brings the kind of talent they haven’t seen since Aqib Talib.


8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Denzel Ward

This is a fit between player and team that I’ve liked since very early in the process. Ward is the best corner in the draft, with the kind of mirroring skills that define the top corners in the NFL. He’s a perfect long-term running mate for Kyle Fuller and should help mask some of the deficiencies on a talented-yet-incomplete Bears defense.


9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Roquan Smith

Word is, the 49ers view Roquan Smith as a player that can replace Reuben Foster if the allegations against him prove true. Even if they’re proven false, he would be a perfect complement to Foster as an adept pass coverage specialist where Foster is an instinctive penetrator in the run game. This pick just makes sense.


10. Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Tremaine Edmunds

Edmunds is the type of dynamic athlete that the Raiders seem to favor in their defensive rebuild, and could grow into a player that’s far and away the best player at the second level of their defense in the last decade. At worst, he’ll be pretty good, and that’s better than what they had last year.


11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington

Nov 25, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive lineman Vita Vea (50) pressures Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) during the second quarter at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Ndamokung Suh is gone, and the Dolphins have to be ecstatic to find such an imposing presence to replace him on a rookie salary. Vea has all the potential to become a top 5 defensive tackle in this league with his unique blend of size, speed and pass rush ability.


12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

NCAA Football: California at UCLA

Nov 24, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) throws a pass under pressure from California Golden Bears guard Tony Mekari (97) in the second quarter during an NCAA football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rosen is widely considered the most polished passer and pro ready QB in this draft. His medical causes him a tumble, as do questions about his leadership and love for the game, but I can’t think of a better landing spot


13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Da'Ron Payne

A perfect running mate for last year’s pick Jonathan Allen, Payne brings an imposing force to the middle of the Redskins defensive line, as a run-stopper with attitude. He has the potential to develop as a pass rusher after an impressive showing in the college football playoffs.


14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

Josh Jackson

Jackson brings something the Packers secondary distinctly lacks, playmaking ability. With eight interceptions in his one season as a starter in college, and boasting ideal size for a press man corner, Jackson can be the retcon for the Packers biggest mistake of the last 5 years: letting Casey Hayward walk in free agency.


15. Denver Broncos: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Mike McGlinchey

With years of impressive tape, NFL bloodlines, a polished game and ideal size, McGlinchey is the top tackle in a weak class for the position. The Broncos need a replacement for the departed Russel Okung, and (more accurately) Ryan Clady. Case Keenum should be given every opportunity to succeed on a relatively cheap contract for the next couple of years and McGlinchey is a good step in that direction.


16. Baltimore Ravens: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan

Sep 24, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes on Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (73) in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Michigan 49-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Ravens have Brandon Williams, and need help on the offensive line, but Pro Football Focus grades Hurst as the third best player in the draft, and while some teams have downgraded him for various reasons, his game compares favorably to Aaron Donald. The Ravens will not pass up on such staggering value at this stage.


17. TRADE Dallas Cowboys: Derwin James, S, Florida State (Chargers receive 2018 1st, 3rd (81))

Derwin James

In the wake of injury and a slightly less impressive 2017 season, coupled with the dwindling value on safeties at the NFL level that I’ve outlined in previous mocks, I think James is the most logical player to tumble. He is, however, a top ten talent in this draft at a position of dire need for the Cowboys after allowing Barry Church to walk in free agency last offseason and the talk of Byron Jones converting back to corner. The Chargers move down makes sense as most evaluators agree that the strength of value in this draft is on day 2.


18. Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

Will Hernandez

A big, athletic mauler, Hernandez is exactly the type of player that can help the Seahawks convert back to the power running scheme that worked so well for them between 2012 and 14.


19. TRADE New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA (Chargers receive S Vonn Bell, 2019 2nd)

Marcus Davenport

To bolster one of the few weak spots on the roster, the Saints unload a promising young player at a position where they paid Kurt Coleman starter money to play alongside Marcus Williams. Vonn Bell is a fantastic addition for the Chargers and should thrive in a role that should include more man-to-man coverage opportunities in an aggressive defensive scheme. Davenport is the perfect complement to Cam Jordan as an ultra-athletic, big bodied edge player and fits the type of player the Saints covet at the position. There is a big dropoff in talent at the position after the first round, so the Saints felt the need to be aggressive here and get their man.


20. Detroit Lions: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Leighton Vander Esch

2017 first rounder Jarrad Davis needs a running mate, and Davenport is off the board, so Vander Esch perfectly fits a need with the best player available. In two years, the Lions turn a position of extreme weakness to one of strength.


21. Cincinnati Bengals: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

Frank Ragnow

Ragnow has been compared to Max Unger, the Bengals need that type of player desperately as their talented offensive line from the early 2010’s has been completely gutted through free agency.


22. Buffalo Bills: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland

DJ Moore

Moore is a physical intimidator that can add an edge to a receiving corps that seriously lacks intensity (not to mention talent). Pairing Rosen with Moore should bring noticeable added points per game to this Bills offense.


23. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Mike Hughes

Hughes is a complete corner, and an excellent replacement for the departed Malcom Butler. The Patriots have plenty of needs, but Hughes maintains one of their biggest strengths, boasting one of the most impressive secondaries in the NFL.


24. Carolina Panthers: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

Harold Landry

Some evaluators suggest ignoring Landry’s injury-riddled 2017 campaign, and focus on a seriously impressive 12 sack season in 2016. I don’t believe in ignoring entire years, but I do believe in anomalies, and I think the upside for Landry causes the Panthers to jump on a potential outstanding pass rusher to pair with Mario Addison.


25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Sam Hubbard

With NFL veteran hand usage, and ideal edge setting size, Hubbard makes a ton of sense opposite Brian Orakpo for a team that believes it’s on the cusp of a deep playoff run.


26. TRADE Pittsburgh Steelers: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (Falcons receive Steelers 2018 1st, 3rd (92))

Lamar Jackson

Jackson is a player that needs time with NFL coaches to tap his enormous potential, and the Steelers give him an ideal opportunity. The Falcons aren’t in ideal position for their needs, so a move down the board makes sense, as does the Steelers jumping the Chargers who might have pounced on the tumbling Jackson.


27. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

AllState Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Alabama

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Rashaan Evans #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks up a pass intended for Hunter Renfrow #13 of the Clemson Tigers in the first quarter of the AllState Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

A player of Evans caliber is an excellent find at a position of dire need (where Hayes Pullard is their starter), and it’s even better with all the draft capitol and players the Chargers have picked up as they slid down the board. Evans is just scratching the surface as a player, and has the downhill motor that makes sense in the speedy, aggressive Chargers defense.


28. TRADE Denver Broncos: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (Falcons receive 2018 2nd (40), 3rd (99), 2019 6th)

Mason Rudolph

The Broncos see extreme value in the fifth year option for a player that has ideal size and excellent college production to go with solid intangibles. Rudolph has more upside than Case Keenum, so it makes sense to snag him here, but I don’t love how much they had to give up to do it since they have numerous positional needs. The Falcons don’t love the players they’ve found available in the late first round and stockpile for better value. They can afford to, with a highly talented roster across the board that needs depth.


29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

courtland sutton

An ideal replacement to the departed Allen Robinson, and a much-needed redzone threat for a team that will likely become too predictable trying to cram it up the middle with Leonard Fournette.


30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State

Billy Price

After a pectoral injury at the combine, Price tumbles a bit, and the Vikings aren’t complaining as they go back to the Ohio State well they plumbed so effectively last year with excellent rookie Pat Elflein. Price has familiarity with the aforementioned Elflein, which should only help solidify an offensive line that was one of the few weaknesses on a hugely talented roster.


31. New England Patriots: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Calvin Ridley

After a weak-ish combine, Ridley has tumbled quite a bit, but he is widely considered the best route runner in this draft and represents outstanding value as a perfect fit for Josh McDaniels’ system.


32. Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Williams, T/G, Texas

Connor Williams 1

Much like Landry, Williams drops because of a disappointing 2017 season, unlike Landry, Williams is being selected as the final pick in the first round and won’t be asked to start right away. This is the perfect spot for the Eagles to take a risk that could pay off brilliantly as Williams has all the potential to be the perfect bookend for Lane Johnson.


Scouting Report: Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold, USC

6’4 225 lbs

Tape Viewed: 2016 v. Cal, 2017 v. Washington State, 2017 v. Ohio State



NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California

Make no mistake, Sam Darnold is a very good quarterback prospect coming out of USC, despite a fall-off in production and some very poor tape at times in 2017.

What sets Darnold apart from most is his willingness and ability to consistently try to place balls in the tightest of windows. He throws his receivers open, and threads the needle with the best of them. While this is an ideal mindset for a franchise quarterback, it has led to a significant uptick in turnovers in 2017. To take his game to an elite level, he must learn situational aggressiveness and read the field better from the pocket.

While Darnold is outstanding in much of the macro elements of playing quarterback, the devil is often in the details. He needs serious help on his footwork and windup. The long windup in particular directly led to a strip sack against Cal in 2016. There have been incremental improvements in both areas this past season, but he also stands to improve in manipulating the defense with his eyes, more subtle pocket movement, and identifying blitzes and hot routes.

Essentially, Darnold is a college quarterback. He’s raw, and will need time to develop before potentially becoming an above average NFL starter. It’s hard to envision Darnold becoming a top 5 quarterback at the next level, but he could turn in a decade’s worth of competent signal calling and, in the right situation, win a ring or two.



Accuracy: 12 out of 15

When he misses, Darnold tends to miss high, regardless of where he is throwing on the field. That is mainly due to his below average footwork, clean that up, and he has the arm talent to make every throw on the field.


Power: 4 out of 5

While Darnold’s power is competent to make NFL throws and hit on deep balls, his velocity is not blistering, and he might struggle in the NFL trying to get the ball downfield beyond 45 yards.


On the run: 5 out of 5

Darnold is a natural passer on the run, this points to his outstanding arm talent. He can drive it in the tightest windows when on the run, as his footwork doesn’t get in the way. He’s also clearly more comfortable outside the pocket.


Consistency: 8 out of 10

Usually, what you see is what you get with Darnold, and that’s a healthy dose of good and bad. He’s got all of the passing prowess in the world, but struggles to manipulate defenses and can sometimes press and make bad decisions. Against better defenses, he tends to play a little worse, which is nothing out of the ordinary.


Field General: 16 out of 20

While Darnold shows flashes of ability in this area, it’s definitely not at an elite level. He’s ahead of spread offenses, or one read and runs, but it’s clear that he sometimes doesn’t see the field and locks in on his first read, as evidenced by the pick six he threw in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl against Ohio State.


Athleticism: 3 out of 5

Darnold will never be considered a plus athlete and likely won’t run many (if any) designed runs at the next level, but when asked of him, he runs with authority and determination and has decent enough balance.


Pocket awareness: 9 out of 10

Clearly, he has that innate sense of pressure, and makes adjustments, my main gripe is in the nuance, sometimes he runs himself out of trouble to get himself in more trouble. He’ll need to learn how to use micro-movements like side steps and shoulder turns to throw off defenders in the pocket or he’ll make some bad plays worse at the next level.


Poise: 8 out of 10

As referenced before, Darnold seems to be very comfortable when a play breaks down, and actually seems to thrive when throwing off-platform. The main concern is his ability to diagnose the blitz presnap, identify the hot read or adjust protection accordingly.


Clutch: 4 out of 5

Anyone who watched the Rose Bowl in 2016 against Penn State knows what Darnold is all about. The guy is a gamer and often takes his game to the next level under the brightest lights and in the biggest moments. There are some high profile letdowns on tape in crunch-time however. The entirety of the Ohio State and Notre Dame games, as well as the game-losing strip sack against Washington State spring to mind.


Size: 5 out of 5

Darnold looks rock solid as a player, with the ideal frame for a quarterback.


Reliability: 10 out of 10

No off-field issues to speak of, seems to genuinely love football, and hasn’t missed a game to injury yet in his career. He will be available on Sundays should his team need him.


Total Prospect Rating: 84 out of 100


Pro Comparison: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

Sam Darnold

The more I watched of Darnold’s tape, the more I saw the pure grit and determination that exemplifies Stafford’s game. While not considered consistently among the elite, Stafford’s arm talent is second to none, and Darnold has similar ability. Like Stafford, Darnold has all the intangibles one could hope for from a franchise quarterback, but both are also prone to bone-headed mistakes when trying to rally their teams.