Category: NFL

Final 2021 NFL Mock Draft

After a trade at the QB position for the Broncos on Wednesday and more info leaking, I have adjusted my mock draft!

1JaguarsTrevor LawrenceQBClemson
2JetsZach WilsonQBBYU
349ersMac JonesQBAlabama
4FalconsKyle PittsTEFlorida
5BengalsJa’Marr ChaseWRLSU
6DolphinsDeVonta SmithWRAlabama
7LionsPenei SwewellOTOregon
8PanthersJaycee HornCBSouth Carolina
9BroncosMicah ParsonLBPenn State
10CowboysPatrick Surtain IICBAlabama
11GiantsRashawn SlaterOTNorthwestern
12EaglesJaylen WaddleWRAlabama
13ChargersChristian DarrisawOTVirginia Tech
14VikingsKwity PayeEDMichigan
15PatriotsTrey LanceQBNorth Dakota State
16CardinalsChristian BarmoreDTAlabama
17RaidersTrevon MoehrigSTCU
18DolphinsAlijah Vera-TuckerOTUSC
19Football TeamJustin FieldsQBOhio State
20BearsRashod BatemanWRMinnesota
21ColtsSamuel CosmiOTTexas
22TitansElijah MooreWROle Miss
23JetsGregory RousseauEDMiami (FL)
24SteelersNajee HarrisHBAlabama
25JaguarsCaleb FarleyCBVirginia Tech
26BrownsJeremiah Owusu-KoramoahLBNotre Dame
27RavensJaelan PhillipsEDMiami (FL)
28SaintsGreg Newsome IICBNorthwestern
29PackersKadarius ToneyWRFlorida
30BillsJayson OwehEDPenn State
31RavensTerrace Marshall Jr.WRLSU
32BuccaneersAsante Samuel JrCBFlorida State

2021 NFL Mock Draft

1JaguarsTrevor LawrenceQBClemson
2JetsZach WilsonQBBYU
349ersMac JonesQBAlabama
4FalconsKyle PittsTEFlorida
5BengalsPenei SewellOTOregon
6DolphinsJa’Marr ChaseWRLSU
7LionsDeVonta SmithWRAlabama
8PanthersRashawn SlaterOTNorthwestern
9BroncosJustin FieldsQBOhio State
10CowboysPatrick Surtain IICBAlabama
11GiantsMicah ParsonsLBPenn State
12EaglesJaylen WaddleWRAlabama
13ChargersChristian DarrisawOTVirginia Tech
14VikingsKwity PayeEDMichigan
15PatriotsTrey LanceQBNorth Dakota State
16CardinalsChristian BarmoreDTAlabama
17RaidersTrevon MoehrigSTCU
18DolphinsAlijah Vera-TuckerOTUSC
19Football TeamWalker LittleOTStanford
20BearsRashod BatemanWRMinnesota
21ColtsSamuel CosmiOTTexas
22TitansJaycee HornCBSouth Carolina
23JetsGregory RousseauEDMiami (FL)
24SteelersNajee HarrisHBAlabama
25JaguarsElijah MooreWRMississippi
26BrownsJeremiah Owusu-KoramoahLBNotre Dame
27RavensJaelan PhillipsEDMiami (FL)
28SaintsGreg Newsome IICBNorthwestern
29PackersKadarius ToneyWRFlorida
30BillsJayson OwehEDPenn State
31RavensTerrace Marshall Jr.WRLSU
32BuccaneersTravis EtienneHBClemson

Best Low-Key NFL Free Agent Signings So Far

It’s the big money deals that make us ooh and aah, isn’t it? After all, they’re what grab the headlines. However, it’s often the case that the biggest impact signings are of the smaller, more under-the-radar variety. This is especially true in football. While bona-fide stars infrequently hit the free agent market, the resulting scarcity driving up the price of comparative also rans to comical levels, savvy GMs are targeting quality if unflashy veterans to do what they always do – put in a solid shift and help the team.

Here are the five best of the unheralded signings of the free agent market so far.

Honorable Mention: Corey Bojorquez

This is cheating a little bit, hence why he’s included here instead of on the actual list, but whomever signs Corey Bojorquez is going to get a hell of a punter. The 24-year-old California native averaged just below 51 yards per punt for Buffalo last season, which is absurd. Buffalo signed Matt Haack, who isn’t terrible, in a weird move. With the enhanced attention paid to analytics in football, and the resultant emphasis on field position, it’s weird that the Bills would let a guy who flips the field better than anyone else go. And given his youth, one can realistically expect Bojorquez to continue to improve.

5. John Brown, WR. Las Vegas Raiders

The Patriots have certainly opened some eyes with their spending spree on pass catchers, a certain departure from the last two decades of free agent philosophy under Bill Belichick, it is after all the post-Tom Brady era in New England. But while they snagged the headlines for shoveling well north of 100-million dollars in multi-year deals to the likes of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, the Raiders got Brown for less than four million on a one-year deal. Yes, Brown does come with a bit of an injury history but he’s one season removed from a career year. If he can stay healthy, an admittedly big if, he’s as good of a deep threat as there is in the game. If he doesn’t, the Raiders risked little and will have lost little.

4. Yannick Ngakoue, DE. Las Vegas Raiders

I swear, we aren’t Raiders fans. But for all of the deserved criticism they’re getting for dismantling their offensive line, you cannot argue with the value here. While Shaquille Barrett, Leonard Floyd, Bud Dupree, Trey Hendrickson and others are signing huge money deals for four plus years, the Raiders inked Ngakoue for two years and a modest 26 million. It can be argued maybe Ngakoue isn’t quite in the class of a Barrett, but you can make a strong case that he’s better than Bud Dupree, who is both older and three times as expensive.

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB. Washington Football Team

Quick reminder, the FT made the playoffs last season. They accomplished this in spite of a 7-9 record, and ruinously bad quarterback play from the likes of Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen. It’s true, the team performed better under the leadership of Alex Smith, but if we’re being honest, the heartwarming story of his comeback from a limb and career-threatening injury somewhat obscures the fact that he didn’t play that well either. It wasn’t until Taylor Heinicke emerged from the very definition of nowhere that the team got any kind of inspired play at the position. While he makes for another nice story, a team with playoff aspirations may want to see more than a couple of inspired performances before hitching their wagon to him. Enter Fitzpatrick, the beloved veteran of now his ninth team. Fitz’s occasional turnover problems are well known, but he’s a tough guy, a leader, and every single team he has every played for has been better because he was on it. While teams like the Rams and Colts shelled out draft capital to upgrade their lots in life at the QB position, the FT did it for one year and ten million. Solid business.

2. Malcolm Brown, RB. Miami Dolphins

There’s an old saying about never having too many running backs. There’s also a saying about not paying top dollar for running backs. And if there isn’t, there should be. There were and still are some big names on the running back market. Aaron Jones re-upped with Green Bay, but household names Chris Carson, Leonard Fournette (fresh off a dominant Super Bowl performance) and Kenyan Drake remain out there. The Dolphins snagged Brown, a productive and dependable veteran for one year at less than two million.

1. Alex Mack, C. San Francisco 49ers.

It’s not often that a 35-year-old center clearly in the twilight of his career is the signing that moves the needle. But while the headlines are on the gazillion dollar deal the Niners reached with Trent Williams, replacing the injured Weston Richburg was of tantamount importance. So they got the best guy available. (Note, Rodney Hudson ended up being traded before he was released, so he was never technically available.) Mack may not be the dominant force of nature anymore that he was early on with Cleveland, but he’s still been good for Atlanta the last few years, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be. The one year deal Frisco gave him is well worth the risk to find out. Also, fun fact. Mack’s real first name is Javon, making him the only white guy named Javon in NFL history. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I didn’t feel like looking up an image history of every NFLer ever named Javon.

Did we miss anyone? Let us know on Twitter @thestainsports. Thanks for reading.

Why do Sean McVay’s Coaches Keep Leaving Him?

The narrative around the NFL is that Rams changed how head coaching hires were being looked at when they brought on McVay in that role in 2017. And to a large degree, it’s true, for good reason. After years of sub-mediocrity for the very sub-mediocre Jeff Fisher, McVay led the team to the playoffs in his first season, and a Super Bowl berth in his second, riding the strength of an innovative, arguably league best offense.

Suddenly, in a league where the old white guy coach was the enduring tradition, it wasn’t crazy to hire a 30-year-old to lead the team. Suddenly, more people were doing it. In fact, teams were going after guys on McVay’s staff. It made sense in 2017 and especially 2018. Matt LaFleur and Zac Taylor took head coaching positions, and are doing well – even Taylor who got off to a shaky start in Cincinnati, seemed to have gotten things moving in the right direction before Joe Burrow’s unfortunate and very serious injury. This year of course, it’s Brandon Staley who masterminded the league’s best defense before accepting the Chargers’ head coaching position vacated by Anthony Lynn.

But in this article, we aren’t talking about the moves that make sense. Of course, given the opportunity, 99% of coordinator level coaches will accept that bump up in stature and pay that comes with being a head coach. We’re also not talking about removing incompetent guys like John Bonamego from positions they never should have had to begin with.

We’re talking about the lateral moves.

Liam Coen heading back to the college ranks. Andy Dickerson heading up to Seattle, joining the also departed Shane Waldron (who to be fair got a coordinator position out of his move). It’s highly regarded cornerback coach Aubrey Pleasant leaving a top rated defense with all world corner Jalen Ramsey for roughly the same position in Detroit where they have… let’s just say not all world corners and are a long way removed from any kind of contention. It’s Joe Barry, following Staley to San Diego for roughly the same position he had with the Rams. It’s the popular John Fassel leaving after last season for the same position with the Cowboys.

The media paints a picture that McVay is simply so good at developing coaches that other teams just have to have them… but is that really the case? Why would guys leave a job on a good team in Los freaking Angeles for the same job on a worse team in a city with worse weather, San Diego notwithstanding?

Why won’t anyone ask if the reality is that McVay is just miserable to work for?

Here’s the thing. NFL head coaches are not known for their modesty. Bill Belichick is one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, had well below average turnover on his staff, and is insufferably arrogant. Any head coach who has experienced success to any degree in the NFL is going to have an inflated sense of self-importance.

So this has nothing to do with McVay’s massive ego, which understates actually how big it truly is. It has nothing to do with his smarmy and disingenuous attitude towards the media. Take his name out of that description and it still fits any of 20 or more head coaches.

What if it’s that he’s a control freak? What if it’s his stubborn insistence on continuing to call the plays on offense, despite not being any good at it. And before you say, “Whoa, wait a minute, remember when they were unstoppable and yada yada yada and this and that and Todd Gurley and,” yeah, I do remember. You had massive talent on that squad, and McVay to his credit is a master schemer – a borderline savant-level genius at designing and philosophizing offensive concepts and strategies to flummox defenses and maximize his offensive unit’s potential for success.

But that doesn’t translate into his play calling. To be fair, it’s not always woefully inept. He should get a mulligan for the Super Bowl against the Patriots where he was pretty much a deer in headlights, and called plays for four quarters that were the equivalent of smashing your head against a brick wall. It was his first Super Bowl, he was going against the best coach in the game, and folded under the pressure. It could have happened to anyone.

What’s troubling is the next two seasons. The Rams missed the playoffs in 2019, plagued by squandered chances to defeat inferior teams. Then came 2020, a dramatic improvement on the defensive side of the ball, counteracting a precipitous drop in offensive efficiency. A predictable 17 week regular season sequence of telegraphed wide receiver screens and repetitive underneath routes blown up with regularity was obscured by a brilliant defense that limited opposing offenses to less than 19 points a game, and regularly created short fields with turnovers.

McVay showed either an alarming inability, or unwillingness to make adjustments, and respond to the adjustments made by opposing defenses to his offense. And yet, he continued to cling to the role of play calling, and for what?

Many blamed the deterioration of Jared Goff’s play at the quarterback position. It’s a fair analysis, based on the numbers, but is a chicken or an egg thing? Is it a decline in Goff’s ability that’s to blame, or is it a stubbornness by McVay to stick with poorly working game plans that put his quarterback in bad positions?

We will learn a lot in 2021. The Rams paid a King’s ransom (as they should have) to drastically upgrade the quarterback position with Matthew Stafford, and don’t project to lose much if any talent from offense. If despite this, and multiple years of lessons learned, the offense continues to be stuck in a rut, we will have our answer, won’t we? If after another missed, or early exit from the playoffs another five or six coaches leave in lateral moves, we’ll definitely have our answer.

Super Bets!

Super Bets!

BetOddsShaun’s PickTorsten’s Pick
WinnerChiefs -117, Bucs -105BucsBucs
Over/UnderO56 -113, U56 -108UnderOver
Total Players to attempt a passOver 2.5 +165, Under 2.5 -215OverOver
Total Players with a receptionOver 15.5 +13.5, Under 15.5 -167UnderOver
Jersey number of first TD scorerOver 24.5 -121, Under 24.5 -103OverOver
Opening kickoff a touchbackYes -305, No +230YesYes
O or D lineman to score TDYes +800, No -2000YesNo 
A Safety to be scoredYes +800, No -1667NoNo 
Successful 2-pt conversionYes +230, No -305YesYes
First play from scrimmagePass -124, Run +100RunPass

2020 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 8 Overall – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – Could easily argue Simmons is the second-best defensive player in the draft behind Chase Young. Simmons is a guy who played basically every position but DT in college and can line up at any of those again in pro ball. He would be my favorite to be the defensive rookie of the year, and immediately improves the Cardinals defense.

Least Favorite Pick: None – Josh Jones from Houston was their only other selection in the first two days, and he could have been a first rounder but instead slips to the third round. The Cardinals draft was fantastic, and this is just another example of it.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 7, Pick 222 Overall – Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State – Likely fell based upon his performance at the combine, otherwise he would have been an early day three selection. He is short, but has plenty of size despite the lack of height that allows him to run between the tackles, and has solid hands making him a three-down back. Doubtful he will ever be a workhorse back, but he can be a valuable part of a quality backfield.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Jake Benzinger, OT, Wake Forest – The guy I really wanted the Cardinals to take a shot on was Khalil Tate, who ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but instead I have to settle for an offensive lineman who is a practice squad guy at best. Benzinger is a long 6’7” but weights in under 300 lbs. He needs to add some strength and improve his strength if he wants to ever suit up. That said, he is the guy in the UDFA class I “like” most with the Cardinals.

Los Angeles Rams

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 57 – Van Jefferson, WR, Florida – Son of long time NFL receiver Shawn Jefferson, Van wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl with his route running, intelligence, and drive to learn more about being an NFL receiver. Based purely on what he did on the field, this is just an average selection, but I personally love the fit as he can be an elite third receiver.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 84 Overall – Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama – A long injury history leaves plenty of questions as to the future availability of Lewis, but he was productive on an elite Alabama defense. If he remains healthy, he should add productivity off the edge for the Rams, but he was much more of a round four selection for me, so it was a bit of a reach here.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 136 Overall – Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue – The Rams approached the draft from a best player perspective rather than a need perspective, and this is an example of it. Hopkins will see very little playing time his rookie season with Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett ahead of him, but Everett is a free agent following the season, and Hopkins gives them a ready-made replacement.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Trishton Jackson, WR, Syracuse – Torsten did a deep dive into the Rams draft but did not dive into their UDFA class at all. He was excited Bryce Perkins signed with the team, but the guy I am highest on is Jackson. He gets separation better than his 4.50 40-yard dash would suggest, and he does struggle to make contested grabs, but he is very raw and has plenty of improvement in his game. He is most likely a practice squad guy who can get the call up if there are injuries to receivers on the team.

San Francisco 49ers

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 14 – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – I had Kinlaw as a top ten selection, so slipping down to the 49ers (even after trading back) is an absolute steal for the team. The 49ers traded DeForest Buckner for this selection and get a player who can be just as good as Buckner, cost less, and added selections with the trade. Overall, as good a selection as any in the draft.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 25 – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State – Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., Van Jefferson, and Denzel Mims all went later than Aiyuk and are receivers I liked more. That said, this was as deep a receiver group as any draft has ever had, so this is a quality selection to me in most seasons and he will have success in the bay, there were just others I liked more.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 153 Overall – Colton McKivitz, OT, West Virginia – Not a fantastic lineman, but he is a guy who can play both tackles and both guard spots, so the versatility brings a ton of value with this pick. The 49ers added Trent Williams via trade during the draft, and now add a backup lineman that can help out across the line, just strengthens a team that had a lead late in the Super Bowl.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington – The 49ers rode the running game to the Super Bowl a season ago behind the likes of Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida. Breida is gone but Tevin Coleman is healthy, despite that, depth at RB is always a position to keep an eye on for this club. Ahmed is a guy that will bring the most value as a pass catcher, something the 49ers could certainly use.

Seattle Seahawks

Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 69 Overall – Damien Lewis, G, LSU – Other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there may not be a team in the NFL that has had more trouble across the offensive line than the Seahawks. He is a bruising run blocker and stands his ground well in pass protection. He has a real shot to start at left guard right from the start. He will never be a Pro Bowler but he should be a long time starter for the Seahawks.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 27 Overall – Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech – A guy I did not have in my three-round mock, he goes in the first round. Granted, I would not have faulted a team if they took him on day two, but this was far too early for me. The linebacker group this season was not the best this season, but it Brooks does fit the Seahawks defense well. Basically, I don’t dislike the fit, just don’t like the cost.  

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 144 Overall – DeeJay Dallas, RB, Miami – Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Travis Homer was the RB depth chart before the draft, not exactly a backfield that scares you. Dallas isn’t a back that will scare you either, but he is a quality receiver and pass blocker, making him a guy Russell Wilson could come to rely on rather early on.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State – Quick, go look up the Seahawks QB depth chart. Spoiler alert, Gordon is the only one listed behind Russell Wilson. Even had he landed with another team, he likely would have been an UDFA to watch he might be the best QB that went undrafted (toss up for me between him and Steven Montez). Mike Leach QBs are always tough to project at the next level, and Gordon was not the decisive passer as his predecessor Gardner Minshew, but he isn’t afraid of a challenge so he will be a very interesting watch in the preseason.

 

2020 NFL Draft Recap: NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 16 Overall – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson – The Falcons had a massive need for corner in the draft, and Terrell was easily the best available to them when their pick came around. There are definitely some out there who are not fans of Terrell, but I am not one of them. He is quick, fast, has length, but struggles with open field tackles. The Falcons need a number one corner, and I am not sure he will quite riste to that level, but he can be a very good number two.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 47 – Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn – I don’t dislike Marlon Davidson, I just can’t get a good sense on what he will be. He is 6’3” and just over 300 lbs., but isn’t really a defensive tackle, but he isn’t really an edge rusher either. A guy I felt was a first round type talent, AJ Epenesa, was still available here who could play a similar role, just at a higher level.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 7, Pick 228 Overall – Sterling Hofrichter, P, Syracuse – Yes, a punter! In 2019 the Falcons were third from the bottom in net punting average, and Hofrichter is a guy who provides good hangtime leading to limited returns. He can easily boot the ball out of the endzone, or have it hang if you want to try and pin the opponent deep. He made a 52-yard field goal in college, so he can fill in as a kicker in a pinch.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt – Pinkney was my sleeper TE in the draft, much less UDFA. He has good size and is not afraid to block to go with good hands in the passing game. His big downfall is his lack of speed, something that will limit the big plays, but he is quick enough to get open in tight spaces. With Austin Hooper gone and Hayden Hurst brought in, I see Pinkney as the number two TE this season for the Falcons.

Carolina Panthers

Favorite Pick: Round 2 Pick 38 Overall & Round 2, Pick 64 Overall – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State & Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois – I liked Gross-Matos as a first round selection, so early second is a steal. He is a true edge rusher with length, size, motor, and excellent hands when engaged. Chinn has the upside of the best safety in the draft despite coming from a small school. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the combine, can cover a receiver one on one, and will come downhill and lay the lumber on a running back, basically he does it all.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 7 Overall – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn – I actually really like the fit, but Isaiah Simmons was still on the board and is probably the third best player in the draft. At 6’5” and 326 lbs., Brown takes up plenty of space in the middle and can stuff the run game. He was not a great pass rusher at Auburn even though many scouts feel he will become a solid rusher, that is enough to put mild doubt on the selection for me.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 113 Overall – Troy Pride, CB, Notre Dame – He won’t lose many receivers deep as he has plenty of speed, and he will come down with the ball if is gets near his hands. Pride has good instincts and reads the ball well. His footwork in and out of a receiver’s breaks and biting on the double move are concerns that caused him to slip to day three rather than being a second day selection.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Giovanni Ricci, TE, Western Michigan – After going all defense in the draft, the Panthers are relying heavily on UDFA to bring competition on the offensive side of the ball, and I am not a big fan of it. Ricci was a high school QB turned college WR before finally moving in to TE two seasons ago. He is still light and can get moved around when blocking, but his history as a true receiver makes him a weapon in the passing game.

New Orleans Saints

Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 74 Overall – Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin – I would not have had an issue with a team selecting him at the end of round one, and I had him as the first man off the board on day two in my mock draft. A diluted sample at the combine raised some eyebrows and caused him to fall right into the Saints laps. He will likely be in a battle with Alex Anzalone for the starting job to open the season, but by season two he should have a strong hold on the position.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 24 Overall – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan – This isn’t a bad selection for a team that is a true Super Bowl contender. The Saints rave about Taysom Hill as a future franchise QB, but they had Teddy Bridgewater as the starter when Drew Brees went down a season ago and brought in Jameis Winston this season. To me this screams uncertainty that Hill is a true QB should something happen to Brees again this year, so going with a center to protect the middle is a good move. Only issue with it is the fact they likely could have gotten him later had they traded back.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 3, Pick 105 Overall – Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton – Ok, he was actually a day two selection, but the Saints only had one selection on day three, a QB who has no spot on the roster after the Saints signed Jameis Winston. Dayton could have a top five pick in the NBA draft, and they get a second day selection in the NFL draft. Trautman is a quality blocking TE with plenty of size to hold up in the run game and go get contested balls. He is not a fast receiver, so he won’t be a guy who stretches the field but should be a dangerous red zone target.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Malcolm Roach, DL, Texas – I am calling Roach a D-lineman rather than a tackle or end because he can really play any position along the line. He is probably best from the outside shoulder of the guards in, and he will never be a disruptive force, but he has enough talent, leadership abilities, and makeup to stick and do the job. He is the kind of guy who nobody ever notices but his coaches and teammates, and that should be enough to keep him around a while.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 13 Overall – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – Have I mentioned in any of my draft reports I thought Wirfs was the top tackle in the draft? The Bucs line has been pitiful for years, and Tom Brady is not exactly a mobile QB. Wirfs will step in day one and be the best player on the o-line, and they get him at pick 13, an absolute steal in my book.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 76 Overall – Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt – I actually think Vaughn will be a solid player for the Bucs, but I had Zach Moss much higher on my board than Vaughn. Ronald Jones is still the lead back in Tampa, and Vaughn is a between the tackles runner, not the outside receiver that has always been successful with Brady. I just don’t like the fit currently for the team.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 161 Overall – Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota – Too many drops in college, and that is the quickest way to lose the trust of Brady, but he is an excellent route runner, so he will always be where Brady wants him to be. The top end speed is not great, but the vision once he has the ball and ability to break tackles helps him overcome the lack of speed. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and the plethora of TEs is an embarrassment of riches for Tampa, but they did not really have a quality third receiver option, not they do.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Reid Sinnett, QB, Sand Diego – Do I really like Sinnett? No. Is he in as good a spot as there can be for a young QB that lacks high level experience? No! Sinnett is a big body, smart QB who only started one season at a FCS school. His arm strength is nothing special, but he has plenty of touch. He needs to fight to make the practice squad, but could really develop in the Tampa QB room.

2020 NFL Draft Recap: NFC North

Chicago Bears

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 50 Overall – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah – Likely to be a situational corner early on with Kyle Fuller, Artie Burns, and Buster Skrine the corners ahead of him, Johnson will have a shot to leap ahead of Skrine this season and become the nickel back on a great defense. He has good size and toughness that will allow him to play press and line up against big receivers and even a tight end when needed.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 43 Overall – Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame – I love the player, but this is early even for me and it gives the Bears something like 10 TEs on their roster. With Jimmy Graham in the twighlight of his career, Kmet could easily be the top TE on the team by mid-season, but Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles means the team is still going to struggle.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 155 Overall – Trevis Gipson, Edge, Tulsa – He can play with his hand in the dirt or upright as a blitzing backer, Gipson gets to learn from the best in the league Khalil Mack and another who is no slouch in Robert Quinn. He is a pass rush only type guy, so he will be situational, but has the upside to become a productive member of the Bears D.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Trevon McSwain, DT, Duke – More of a tweener on the defensive line as he is not a run stuffer given he is 6’6” and weighed in at 285 lbs., but not really a natural pass rusher. He will likely be a running game option as depth on the back end of the roster.

Detroit Lions

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 3 Overall – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – Hands down the best defensive back in the draft, Okudah goes to a Lions team that desperately needed corner help. The Lions gave up the most passing yards per game and tied for last in interceptions, they con only go up from there and Okudah is just the kind of guy to help.

Least Favorite Pick: None – The day two selections for the Lions were D’Andre Swift, Julian Okwara, and Jonah Jackson, all guys I really like. Swift will likely be the lead back early on given his biggest competition is Kerryon Johnson, while Jackson could be leading the way for him as the best guard on the roster. Okwara will have to overtake his brother, Romeo, on the defensive line to earn himself a starting gig, but the brotherly competition should be fun to watch.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 166 Overall – Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin – Cephus was not the most highly touted receiver in this deep draft class, and there was plenty of inconsistencies from him in a run first offense, but he flashed brilliance. There was always one or two plays a game in Madison that made you sit up and take note of Cephus, the question is can he do it consistently, and if he can that ceiling is massive.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch:  Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington – I felt there was a better chance Bryant went on day two than go undrafted, so this had to be the top target for the Lions. With Jesse James and TJ Hockenson ahead of him on the depth chart, he will be a matchup third option early on, but could easily surpass James early in the season.

Green Bay Packers

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 62 Overall – A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College – Despite popular reaction, I easily could have gone Jordan Love here although, that may just be an indictment on how poor the draft as a whole was for the Packers. Dillon is a huge, bruising back that can pound the rock. He can carry a heavy workload, but he really does not help much in the passing game so his fit with Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones remains to be seen.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 94 Overall – Josiah Deguara, H-Back, Cincinnati – He was listed as a tight end when drafted, but in reality he is a receiving fullback. The highest of upsides for him is to be a poor man’s Kyle Juszczyk…which isn’t worth a third-round pick.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 6, Pick 192 Overall – Jon Runyan, G, Michigan – A college tackle with great bloodlines, Runyan moving inside to guard becomes incredibly intriguing. They did go with a trio of interior offensive linemen in the sixth round, with Jake Hanson and Simon Stepaniak drafted later in the round, but it is Runyan I believe is the hit if there is only one in the group.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: A likely late round draft pick until he ran the slowest 40-yard dash among any corner, 4.65, but he had a good final season at Florida State. He is long but lean, so he isn’t much of a tackler, but his big hands allow him to win contested balls that typically go to the receiver. He will likely fit in as the last DB on the roster but could surprise people with a pick or two this season.

Minnesota Vikings

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 22 Overall – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – Good route runner who can go up and the contested ball. At LSU he worked primarily as a slot receiver, a position Adam Thielen plays often, but he saw plenty of time out wide. He will immediately step in to the Stefon Diggs role and, while it will take time, he can get to that level.

Least Favorite Pick: None – Jeff Gladney may have been better suited as an early round two pick, but no way he gets back to the Vikings and this was a position of need, so I really have no issues with any of their picks in the first three rounds.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 132 Overall – Troy Dye, LB, Oregon – A guy I expected to go day steps into a veteran heavy linebacking group he can learn from. His size and ability to cover ground screams safety, but he is more of a linebacker in overall abilities. Look for him to be a backer who sees coverage on the tight end often, while being a sure-fire tackler in the run game.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Another slot receiver to the Vikings may not seem like the greatest fit, but Davis has a shot to make it as a sixth receiver. He runs decent enough routes and relies on quickness over speed despite good length for a slot option. Nothing special, but easily a guy who could have been drafted on day three without anyone giving it a second thought, so this could be a sneaky pick up for the Vikings.

2020 NFL Draft Recap: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 17 Overall – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma – With Amari Cooper resigning this was not really a position of need, but the value was just too good to pass up for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. He is a player who is always a threat to make the big play and could easily become a number one receiver. Going into an offense with Cooper and Michael Gallup already ahead of him, Lamb will get plenty of favorable matchups and be a force to be reckoned with from day one.

Least Favorite Pick: None – The Cowboys got value at every pick filling both needs and just going after the best player available. They took a corner in round two that could have gone in round one and a defensive tackle in round three that could have gone in round two. On day three they added a corner with the skillset of a day two draft pick, a seventh-round flyer at QB, and the two guys I am highlighting as sleepers.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 146 Overall & Round 5, Pick 179 Overall – Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin & Bradlee Anae, Edge, Utah – Both these picks I expected to go on day two of the draft but fall right into to Cowboys’ laps. Biadasz will have a chance to start right away with the retirement of fellow Wisconsin center Travis Frederick and, while he will never be the same quality, he can certainly be a league average to better center early on. Anae it a technical wizard in the pas rush and may need the least amount of coaching to have success in the NFL. This gives him a rather high floor although the length and strength could limit his upside.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina – The Cowboys were busy in UDFA as well, signing two TEs that have a shot to make the team in Charlie Taumpoepeau and Sean McKeon, two WRs who will likely battle for the final spot at the position in Kendrick Rogers and Stephen Guidry, and Terence Steele is a player who has a shot to stick as the swing tackle. Instead I pick Dowdle although he will have competition from two TCU running backs also headed to Cowboys camp. He is a determined RB who can catch the ball well but struggles in pass protection. With Zeke Elliot and Tony Pollard the only sure fire RBs on the Cowboys roster, Dowdle will have plenty of opportunities to make the team.

New York Giants

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 36 Overall – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – I was certain McKinney would be a first round pick with fits for him in Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, and so many others. He was productive as a tackler to go along with the ability to blitz and turn the ball over. Had he gone in the top half of the first round it would not have been a pick I disliked, sliding to the second round makes it an absolute steal.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 4 Overall – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – I have said it before and I will say it again, I don’t dislike Thomas the player, but Wirfs was still on the board and he was easily my top tackle. He has plenty of experience at the college level after starting three seasons in the SEC, he is polished. He may be the best run blocking tackle in the draft, so lining him up in front of Saquon Barkley does make a lot of sense.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 6, Pick 183 Overall – Cameron Brown, LB, Penn State – Brown ran a better 40 than his play would suggest, but it is hard to dislike a LB coming out of LB U. Brown does not have the flare of linebackers past at Penn State, but he should be able to allow that speed he showed at the combine translate to quality special teams play until he is ready to see consistent snaps on D.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch:  Case Cookus, QB, Northern Arizona – The current backup QBs behind Daniel Jones are Colt McCoy and Alex Tanney, both over 30. McCoy is exactly the kind of guy you want as a backup, but I could see Cookus beating out Tanney if the Giants decide to keep three QBs. He has a good arm and is decisive with the ball, although there is an injury history that is concerning.

Philadelphia Eagles

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 53 Overall – Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma – One of the most important positions on the Eagles is backup QB given Carson Wentz injury history so, unlike most, I actually really like this pick for the Eagles. Hurts should slide right in as the primary backup behind Wentz, and with a style that translates better than existing backups on the roster Nate Sudfeld and Kyle Lauletta. There is plenty of talk of Hurts being a Taysom Hill style player as well, and the Eagles could use all the playmaking help they can get.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 21 Overall – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU – One site liked Reagor better as a position change back to corner where he once played, not exactly a ringing endorsement. He is a shorter receiver and has relatively short arms for the position. That said, he battles with the ball in his hand and breaks plenty of tackles and wins on contested balls more often than not. It was a glaring position of need, I am just not sure he was the right guy for the job.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 6, Pick 210 Overall – Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn – I had Prince as a day two guy and was quite surprised to see him fall all the way to the end of round six. He is a touch smaller than a traditional NFL tackle and his shorter arms for his size allow rushers to get into his body too often. He has had some injury concerns but, if he stays healthy and gets coached up just a little, he could be a top end swing tackle or quality starter in time.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Khalil Tate, QB/WR/RB, Arizona – Yes, multiple positions listed because I don’t know where the Eagles see him, but he may be the most intriguing UDFA this season. Tate was a blast to watch down in Tucson and oozes athleticism, but he does not have the arm or pocket presence to be a QB. He has the frame and ability with the ball in his hands to play RB, but the Eagles saw some success with QB turned WR Greg Ward Jr. a season ago and could find lightning in a bottle here as well.

Washington Redskins

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 2 Overall – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – Best player in the draft, a pass rusher with hall of fame potential, it is a no brainer to sit at pick two and take him. His production the second half of last season was not all that impressive, but blitzing with Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Montez Sweat ahead of him will make it hard for opponents to shift the entire protection scheme his way. The Redskins could feature a defensive line of four consecutive first round picks, there is a lot of pressure on that group and I think Young has what it takes to push them over the top.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 66 Overall – Antonio Gibson, WR/RB, Memphis – What position is he going to play? He was a running back for the most part at Memphis but saw a lot of time at receiver. He is raw at both positions and not sure he projects as a starter at either. Guys who can do multiple things are gold in today’s NFL, I am just not sure he is good enough at any one thing to translate.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 142 Overall – Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty – I admit, I knew very little about Gandy-Golden until after the first round, but then I saw his highlights and he immediately became a name I was watching for. He is long, athletic, good hands, and smart, all you want from a receiver. He dominated against lower level competition and did not have measurables that blow you away, but I think he works his way into a starting role this season.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Steven Montez, QB, Colorado & Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU – The ‘Skins brought in Kyle Allen and then go sign arguably the best QB available in UDFA, not a great sign for Dwayne Haskins. Montez has ideal QB size and three years as a starter under his belt. Add that to solid athleticism, accuracy, and touch and you have yourself the makings of a quality backup QB. Meanwhile Moss, the son of Randy Moss, was one of three tight ends I was stunned to see go undrafted. He is not flashy like his father, instead he seems to enjoy blocking and can make the big grab when needed.

2020 NFL Draft Recap: AFC West

Denver Broncos

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 15 Overall – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – You can easily argue Jeudy was the best receiver in the draft and I had both the Raiders and 49ers taking receivers in my mock so I was shocked to see Jeudy slide to the Broncos. Courtland Sutton is a very good receiver, but he may be demoted to WR2 by week one, Jeudy is that talented. You can look at Alabama draft picks in the Nick Saban era and find plenty of inconsistency at the NFL level, but WR has been one position that has translated well, and Jeudy should continue that trend.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 77 Overall – Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa – Not a terrible selection and definitely a need given Chris Harris moved on to the Chargers, but there were better options here. I had Troy Pride, Josiah Scott, Bryce Hall, Cameron Dantzler, and Amik Robertson ahead of Ojemudia on my board and all guys I feel could have stepped in better than him. Ojemudia struggles in man coverage, and may be best suited to be a free safety in the long term, not exactly something the Broncos with Justin Simmons already there.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 118 Overall, Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri – Tight End was far from a need for the Broncos, but the fact Albert O was still on the board in day three was a luxury too good to pass up. He is not much of a blocker, but his big body allows him to win contested balls and he ran a sub-4.50 40-yard dash, so he can stretch the field. Adding him to Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagali, Jake Butt, and Nick Vannett gives the Broncos as deep and competitive a TE room as any in the league.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Kendall Hinton, WR, Wake Forest – The Broncos loaded up the offense with weapons in the draft, and they continued it in UDFA. Considered by many as one of the big snubs not invited to the NFL combine, Hinton likely would have truly raised his stock to a sure-fire draft pick had he gone. He is a slot receiver who should make the back end of the roster but could be in competition as one of the slot options in four and five wide sets by year two.

Kansas City Chiefs

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 32 Overall – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU – The Broncos may have loaded up on offensive weapons in an attempt to keep up with the Chiefs, but the Chiefs went ahead and drafted one of the better all-around RBs in the draft and that offense just gets better. There is a real chance Edwards-Helaire is the go to back ahead of Damien Williams on Week 1. He is short, but sturdy, so he can run inside, but won’t be much of a goal line threat (hint to fantasy owners out there) so he will be more of a guy who is effective between the 20s.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 63 Overall – Willie Gay Jr., ILB, Mississippi State – I don’t necessarily dislike this pick, I just don’t love it. I liked Gay in the third round, so round two was a bit rich for me, plus there were other inside backers I liked btter. Zack Baun and Troy Dye are both guys I would have preferred, that said, Gay should be a quality player and this being my least favorite pick for the Chiefs is actually a complement to their draft.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 138 – L’Jarius Sneed, S, Louisiana Tech – I don’t like Sneed as a safety, but the Chiefs believe he can transition to corner where he played in 2018, and could bring good value there. He can fly once he gets going and will slide right in as a package defender for the team. Look for him to be a situational player in year one with a shot to be a starter by year two.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch:  Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt – Lipscomb plays like a big receiver but is only 6’ tall. He is no burner, so different from most Chiefs players, however he has long arms and very good hands that allow him to keep moving for the catch and run. He is likely a fifth or sixth option as receiver, but could offer Patrick Mahomes yet another weapon as his game speed is better than his 4.57 40-yard dash would suggest.

Las Vegas Raiders

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 12 Overall – Henry Rugs III, WR, Alabama – Both first round Alabama receivers go to the AFC West with Ruggs being the surprise first WR off the board. At least, somewhat of a surprise, as this pick screams late owner Al Davis if anything. Ruggs ran a combine best 4.27 40-yard dash and was disappointed by it. Considering his biggest competition for targets is likely the TE duo of Darren Waller and Jason Witten (Tyrell Williams was the Raider number one receiver before this) Ruggs should have every chance to shine in Vegas.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 19 Overall – Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State – A guy I had as my eighth corner going late in round two, Arnette was a shocker going pick 19 overall, fourth among corners. Then again, this is the Raiders who picked Clelin Ferrell fourth overall a season ago. Don’t get me wrong, Arnette will be a starting corner Week One, I am just not sure he was the best option here.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 139 Overall – Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech – Robertson will be given every opportunity to earn a spot as a nickel corner, but likely more of a dime back in season one. He is only 5’8” otherwise he would have been a day two selection and he packs a punch despite his smaller stature. I expect him to line up over the slot receiver for the entirety of his career, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him become a quality blitzer from that position.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Javin White, S, UNLV – Considering the Raiders didn’t have a ton of selections in the draft, and none after round four, it is a bit baffling to see their UDFA list at just seven as of my writing, and two of those are a kicker and long snapper. White is the best fit for the Raiders as he can play a downhill strong safety or linebacker. In order to be safety, he needs a lot of work on technique, while he probably needs to add 20 lbs. if he wants to be linebacker. Despite this, he is a hometown kid two times, growing up in Oakland (where the Raiders were) and going to school in Vegas (where the Raiders are) so he is as easy an UDFA to root for as there is in Raiders camp.

Los Angeles Chargers

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 23 Overall – Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma – The Chargers moved back into the first round when they saw Murray still on the board late into round one, and got a guy who fits a need perfectly. They lost Thomas Davis, the team’s leading tackler a year ago, and Murray will slide right into that spot. He could battle for the team lead in tackles himself this season and will improve a run defense that was about league average a season ago.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 6 Overall – Justin Herbert , QB, Oregon – The fact the Chargers had two picks in round one and none on day two didn’t give a ton of options to choose from for least favorite, but I would have considered Herbert to be the selection to any team in the top half of round one. He has all the tools and has the look of a QB in LA, but the inconsistencies are a real concern as is his accuracy. The fact the Chargers have Tyrod Taylor may be the best part of this selection, as they can truly let Herbert work as the backup and soak in the speed of the NFL, but then again what team is really patient enough to let that happen these days?

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 151 Overall – Joe Reed, WR, Virginia – This is one of those picks that only die-hard Chargers fans will truly appreciate this season. Reed averaged better than 28.5 yards per return during his time at Virginia and he amassed 17 tackles, meaning he can make an impact returning and covering kicks. As a receiver, he is a well-built slot receiver who was a HS running back so he will be a threat on shovel passes and coming around in jet sweeps. There might not be team that would have suited Reed better, so an excellent fit all around.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Joe Graziano, DE, Northwestern – The UDFA class for the Chargers isn’t great, but there may not have been a more productive player in the class than Graziano. He was a very effective edge rusher in the Big Ten with Northwestern, and that alone is worthy of note. He saw plenty of future NFL offensive lineman and still managed to get to the QB, although his short arm and lack of burst doesn’t suggest he will have the same success at the next level. Overall, I doubt he makes the team, but he may be a practice squad guy asked to put on 20 lbs. or so and work as a hybrid lineman who can attack guards rather than tackles.