Post Super Bowl 2018 NFL Mock Draft

It took me about 24 hours but I managed to get over the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss and overall I find that I’m more happy for the Eagles fans than I am sad about the Patriots. I mean, what other fan base celebrates their team winning a football game by eating horse shit? Go google it for yourself, I’m not linking it here. But as much as I’d love to blog about any sport other than football right now, there really isn’t anything going on that isn’t football-related to blog about. So I’m going to try and quell my sadness by doing a post-Super Bowl Mock Draft because I love doing those for some reason and it’s a good time to do it since the draft order is now set (with the exception of the 9th and 10th picks, which will require a coin toss but I don’t think they’re going to steal eachother’s picks so I don’t think that particular order matters too much). I did a mock draft earlier this year, which I’ll link here, which is now suddenly out of date because two players (Clemson defensive linemen Clellin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins) announced they’re returning to school. Clemson’s going to be loaded next year because they have basically everybody except Deon Cain returning. But without further ado, let’s get to the mock.

1. Cleveland Browns-Sam Darnold-QB-USC


This doesn’t reflect how I’d rank the quarterbacks, I think UCLA’s Josh Rosen is better than Darnold. However the main thing is that Darnold isn’t on record as saying he doesn’t want to be a Brown like Rosen is. Granted, there was that time when he had to deny saying he’d return to school if the Browns had the number 1 pick, but again, we don’t have definitive proof he said it. That being said, I’ve said in the past that Darnold should’ve returned to school. I’m retracting that statement after watching the Ohio State bowl game. Not because Darnold played particularly well, his numbers weren’t that great and USC could only score 7 points. But the talent around him is holding him back. Ohio State was able to abuse him by rushing three. While the Browns are far from the most talented team (them going 0-16 being one indicator), they have a pretty good offensive line which can go a long ways towards helping a quarterback’s development, just look at Dak Prescott. So I don’t think it’d be the worst idea in the world for the Browns to take a chance on Darnold. I mean, they can’t really do much worse, can they?

2. New York Giants-Saquon Barkley-RB-Penn State


The Giants’ biggest need is on the offensive line, however I wouldn’t take any of the offensive linemen in this class at this stage. They could also use corners and linebackers, but again, I’m iffy about taking one this high. That leaves runningback. Orleans Darkwa is currently the best runningback on the roster and that’s just not going to take the pressure off the passing game. Saquon Barkley may be the most complete runningback I’ve ever seen and imagine what guys like ODell Beckham can do when the defense also has to focus on the guy in the backfield and vice versa. I think Barkley could help transform the Giants’ offense into a juggernaut.

3. Indianapolis Colts-Bradley Chubb-EDGE-North Carolina State


Like the Giants, I think Indy’s biggest need is on the offensive line, as they gave up the most sacks this season. However, the same thing applies to them as the Giants, as I think it’d be more useful to hit other needs here than reach for an offensive lineman. So I’m going to go with edge defender Bradley Chubb. Chubb terrorized ACC offensive lines all season to the tune of 10 sacks and 23 tackles for loss, which was his second consecutive season with 10 sacks and 20+ TFLs. I don’t think the Colts have ever had a good defense in the history of their franchise but adding a great edge rusher like Chubb can mask a lot of deficiencies.

4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans)-Minkah Fitzpatrick-S-Alabama


This is the second pick in the top 4 for the Browns after their trade with the Texans in last year’s draft. After getting their potential quarterback of the future, they can look to just take the best player available and for me that’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is a guy you can pretty much line up anywhere on your defense and despite how skinny he looks, he’s no slouch as a tackler to go along with his skills in coverage. I think he could be a valuable asset to a Browns defense that really underachieved last season.

5. Denver Broncos-Josh Rosen-QB-UCLA


This is assuming the Broncos don’t land Kirk Cousins. If they don’t, they’ll be thrilled to see Josh Rosen land in their laps like this. Quarterback has been what’s held the Broncos back from being relevant since Peyton Manning retired. Rosen is my favorite quarterback in the draft because on the field I don’t see anything wrong with his game. Scouts think he’s a dick, that’s really his only flaw but he seems to have the backing of his teammates so I’m totally fine with his attitude. However people also said similar things about Ryan Leaf and we all know how that turned out.

6. New York Jets-Baker Mayfield-QB-Oklahoma


Like the Broncos, this is assuming the Jets don’t land Cousins. But Baker Mayfield could provide some excitement in this Jets offense that we haven’t seen since the early years of Rex Ryan’s tenure. There’s very little talent on the Jets offense right now so Mayfield might be better served to sit behind Josh McCown for a year to develop with what they have rather than get thrown into the fire right away, but based on what I saw at Oklahoma, Mayfield has the ability to elevate the play of his teammates.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Marcus Davenport-EDGE-UTSA


I saw the name of a defensive end from UTSA on some big boards and I thought to myself “what the Hell?” Their mascot is the Roadrunners for god’s sake. Naturally I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I turned on a couple games for him and holy shit. This kid is a freak. He absolutely abused every offensive lineman he went up against. Now granted, the talent he faced was atrocious, but he beat the shit out of them like you’d expect a top talent to do. He got off to a slow start at the Senior Bowl, but he finished strong which is encouraging for me. The Buccaneers NEED pass rushers in the worst way possible and getting a guy like Davenport would be huge for the growth of this defense.

8. Chicago Bears-Calvin Ridley-WR-Alabama

at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

I’m a huge fan of Calvin Ridley except he has one major flaw that I learned about after I scouted him: he’s 24 years old. That actually hurts a lot more than you might think because that puts him about 2-3 years behind the other players in this class. However I think his overall talent is going to win out over how long he’s actually able to play and I think the Bears will reap the benefits because this guy does pretty much everything well. Mitchell Trubisky showed some flashes as a rookie but he didn’t perform as well as he could have because he didn’t have anyone to throw to.

9. San Francisco 49ers-Connor Williams-OT-Texas


A healthy Connor Williams probably lands in the top 5, maybe even to the Giants at #2. However some people have him falling out of the first round altogether in light of his knee injury during this past season. It’s possible he may not even play his rookie year, or at the very least be limited, which is why he may fall. But I think the long-term value will be worth it as the 49ers need some more help to protect Jimmy Garoppolo. Joe Staley isn’t getting any younger and the rest of the offensive line is pretty much garbage.

10. Oakland Raiders-Rashaan Evans-LB-Alabama


Rashaan Evans has dealt with injuries in the past but I think he’s the most complete linebacker in this class. He’s not quite as good as his former teammate Reuben Foster, who was excellent as a rookie with the 49ers, but I think he compares more to CJ Mosley of the Ravens while Foster compared more to Dont’a Hightower of the Patriots. Both guys are the leaders of their defenses and I think Evans has that capability, which is something the Raiders need badly because their linebacking core is easily the weakest in the NFL.

11. Miami Dolphins-Roquan Smith-LB-Georgia


The Miami Dolphins really need a middle linebacker. Lawrence Timmons just hasn’t panned out after being signed away from the Steelers. There are a lot of solid pieces on the Dolphins defense but they need that one centerpiece that holds everything together. Enter Roquan Smith. While Smith is a bit undersized for a middle linebacker and I think he could stand to get stronger, there’s no denying his instincts and high football IQ. Plus when he does square players up, he can really lay the lumber. He’s just pushed off the ball a little too often for my tastes.

12. Cincinnati Bengals-Quenton Nelson-OG-Notre Dame


The Bengals desperately need help all over their offensive line. Usually a left tackle would be ideal but the only tackle worth taking at this stage currently available is Mike McGlinchey and he profiles better as a right tackle. Either hit left tackle in free agency or give Cedric Ogbuehi another year to improve. But I think if you can get a stud elsewhere, then do it. Quenton Nelson is probably a top-5 talent, but the low value of guards causes him to drop here and the Bengals will reap the benefits for the next ten years if they make this pick. Nelson does everything well.

13. Washington Redskins-Denzel Ward-CB-Ohio State


Denzel Ward is the cream of the crop for this solid cornerback class and I think he could potentially go as high as fifth overall depending on how his workouts go. But the Redskins suddenly have a need at corner either opposite Josh Norman or in the slot after they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the Alex Smith trade. I think Ward is talented and athletic enough to play both on the outside and in the slot so he can be plugged in wherever Jay Gruden wants him.

14. Green Bay Packers-Derwin James-S-Florida State


Morgan Burnett is set to hit free agency this offseason and I don’t anticipate the Packers resigning him due to his age (29) and the fact that he’s been trending downward these last couple of years. The secondary for Green Bay is overall pretty weak and Derwin James can be a huge upgrade. He’s an enforcer against the run and does really well in coverage. Injuries are a concern, though, but as long as he checks out medically, I don’t see any reason for the Packers to pass on him.

15. Arizona Cardinals-Josh Allen-QB-Wyoming


There’s a lot to be excited about with Josh Allen and there’s equally as much to be concerned about. He’s got all the physical tools you can ask for but his accuracy is inconsistent and he played against lesser competition. However based on the weapons that he’d have at his disposal, namely Larry Fitzgerald and a healthy David Johnson, I think Josh Allen may have a smoother transition than people think. It will just depend on how well he gels with first year head coach Steve Wilks.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Christian Kirk-WR-Texas A&M


The Ravens need receivers. Mike Wallace is really only good for deep balls and Breshad Perriman hasn’t been on the field enough to be productive. Enter Christian Kirk, a guy who can really do it all. The Ravens have shown in the past that they can get creative with some of their offensive schemes with the likes of Danny Woodhead and they can use Kirk in a similar manner. He can also have an impact in the return game as well. I won’t go into too much depth with the receivers in general, as I already scouted the ones I like.

17. Los Angeles Chargers-Mike McGlinchey-OT-Notre Dame


The Chargers shored up the interior of their offensive line in last year’s draft by taking Forrest Lamp (who missed the entire year due to injury but was my #1 offensive lineman last year) and Dan Feeney (who became the starting left guard midway through the season and played well. I also sat next to him in my Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics class, no big deal). Now they need to shore up the tackles and they’re very fortunate that McGlinchey falls into their laps in this scenario. McGlinchey wasn’t great this past season but he’s still arguably the best tackle in an overall weak class. He profiles better on the right side, which works just fine for the Chargers as they were sending out Joseph Barksdale in that spot all year.

18. Seattle Seahawks-Derrius Guice-RB-LSU


In this scenario, the Seahawks are probably pissed that McGlinchey was taken right ahead of them. I don’t project trades in my mocks, otherwise I think Seattle will try and sneak ahead of the Chargers to try and snag the Notre Dame product. However I’m sure they’ll be more than happy with Derrius Guice, as right now their best runningback is Mike Davis, which hardly strikes fear in the hearts of opposing defenses. Seattle hasn’t had much of a run game since Marshawn Lynch left and Guice could be the guy to revive it.

19. Dallas Cowboys-Courtland Sutton-WR-SMU


While Courtland Sutton does scare me in terms of his inconsistencies, he’s too talented to drop much lower than this. The Cowboys need more receivers as Dez Bryant’s injury issues have started to take their toll on his productivity while Terrance Williams is just okay. Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer are nice options in the slot but with Bryant not being healthy, they really miss that major threat that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. Sutton has that potential.

20. Detroit Lions-Tremaine Edmunds-EDGE/LB-Virginia Tech


Edmunds is an interesting player because he played middle linebacker at Virginia Tech last year despite the fact that he’s about 6’5 250 pounds, which is the prototypical size for a 3-4 outside linebacker. He shows great athleticism which makes me think he could excel as an edge rusher in new head coach Matt Patricia’s defense. But I suspect Patricia will use Edmunds the same way he used Jamie Collins a few years ago, as a big and athletic linebacker that can play pretty much anywhere on the field.

21. Buffalo Bills-Da’Ron Payne-DL-Alabama


After trading Marcell Dareus at the trade deadline to the Jaguars and with Kyle Williams being 35 by the start of the 2018 season, the Bills will have a need at DT. Payne played very well on the biggest stages in the CFP and I think he could be a huge asset to this Bills defense as the team looks to improve on their first playoff run in the 21st century. Payne has the ability to take over games if he gets in a groove and that kind of game wrecker can free up their edge rushers like Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander to wreak even more havoc.

22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs)-Mason Rudolph-QB-Oklahoma State


Tyrod Taylor is going to be a free agent after the 2018 season and it’s been pretty apparent that the Bills won’t bring him back beyond that so one has to imagine they’ll look for a quarterback that they can develop and mold to be their franchise savior. Mason Rudolph has a lot of arm talent but there’s going to be a steep learning curve as he transitions from the air raid scheme at Oklahoma State into a more traditional NFL offense.

23. Los Angeles Rams-Josh Jackson-CB-Iowa


Josh Jackson led the nation with 8 interceptions last season including 3 against Ohio State. He showcased excellent coverage skills and was a real playmaker for the Hawkeyes. The Rams may lose Trumaine Johnson in free agency and even if they do retain him, they’ll need someone to line up opposite him. Jackson can fill that role and make a potentially deadly defense even tougher.

24. Carolina Panthers-DJ Moore-WR-Maryland


I think this would be a bit of a reach, but I trust Moore a little more than I trust Carolina’s other real option, Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown. After Devin Funchess there really isn’t much in the Carolina receiving core for Cam Newton to throw to and while that hasn’t stopped him before (he won an MVP and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance with Ted Ginn as his top receiver), it’d make life a whole lot easier with more help.

25. Tennessee Titans-Harold Landry-EDGE-Boston College


Harold Landry has been slipping a bit due to concerns over his ankle and his inconsistency against the run. However the Titans probably won’t care as much about that last bit as others might because they already have plenty of run stuffers but they’re set to be in big trouble in the pass rushing department, as Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are approaching free agency. Landry is one of the fastest defensive ends I’ve seen and he can blow up plays like no other when he times the snap right.

26. Atlanta Falcons-Vita Vea-DL-Washington


Vita Vea is a crazy athlete for his size (340 pounds) and I suspect he’s going to blow up the NFL Scouting Combine in a couple weeks. We’re not sure what the Falcons are going to do in regards to Dontari Poe and after him there really isn’t any defensive tackle depth so if Vea is still available at this stage, then they ought to swoop right in and snatch him up. My only beef with Vea is that his get-off isn’t great, which could be a huge detriment if not improved upon.

27. New Orleans Saints-Ronnie Harrison-S-Alabama

at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama.

This is a slight reach at this stage but the Saints need safety help and the next best safety on my board is Harrison. They may also look at a linebacker like Malik Jefferson, but I think a safety that is capable of playing in the box like Harrison could be more valuable, especially given his coverage skills. He’s more of a thumper, but he has better coverage skills than most linebackers and really it was coverage skills that ended the Saints’ season.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers-Malik Jefferson-LB-Texas


We don’t know if Ryan Shazier will be able to play football again after his spinal injury, though good news is he’s regained feeling in his legs. The Steelers will need to find his replacement, though because even if he does return, it may not be for much longer given the severity of his injury. Jefferson isn’t anything special, however he does all the little things right and he makes the smart plays that you look for and won’t be the guy that goes for the big flashy play. He’s the type of guy the Steelers need right now.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars-Will Hernandez-OG-UTEP


The Jaguars’ biggest need is at quarterback but I think they’re going to stick it out with Blake Bortles for one more year. My next highest-rated quarterback is Lamar Jackson and I think that’d be a huge reach for the Jaguars, especially considering Jackson may not fit their offensive system very well. Hernandez is a heck of a guard and can not only help keep Bortles upright and keep pressure off of him, but he could also create more holes for Leonard Fournette to improve on his 4.0 YPC.

30. Minnesota Vikings-Taven Bryan-DL-Florida


Defensive Tackle is a weak spot for the Vikings with Linval Joseph’s age and Sharrif Floyd’s injury history. Taven Bryan is a great physical specimen that’s pretty raw at this stage but with enough seasoning under Mike Zimmer’s tutelage he could become the next Cameron Heyward.

31. New England Patriots-Isaiah Oliver-CB-Colorado


If you saw what I saw in the Super Bowl, then you’ll agree that A. Malcolm Butler is not returning to the Patriots and B. They need corners to replace him. Luckily for New England, this is a solid class for corners and I think Isaiah Oliver is a guy that can step in and contribute from Day 1. He’s got good size (6’1 190 pounds) and he does really well locking down receivers. I really think he can be a quality starter in this league, which is really all the Patriots will be looking for.

32. Philadelphia Eagles-Carlton Davis-CB-Auburn


The Eagles’ secondary got absolutely destroyed by Patriots receivers and that was without Brandin Cooks for most of the game. Tom Brady threw for 505 yards and quite frankly, if Brandon Graham doesn’t poke that ball out, I don’t think they stop Brady driving down the field and winning the game. Like I mentioned with the Patriots’ pick, the Eagles are fortunate that this year is a good year for corners and they’re going to get one of the more athletic ones in Carlton Davis, who is about the size of Oliver but he’s also been clocked at running as fast as 4.33, which is insane and means he can keep up with anybody while not sacrificing on size. He may rise up this board once I get around to really scouting the corners.

That’s going to do it for my second mock draft, let me know what you think in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

My 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Ballot

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will be announced during the NFL Honors Show on Saturday night, so I thought it’d be the perfect time to talk about who I would vote for if I had one, which I don’t. A quick thing to note about the rules of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there’s a minimum of 4 inductees and a max of 7 per year so I’m going to follow those rules.

Ray Lewis-LB-Baltimore Ravens


Resume: 13x Pro Bowler, 7x All Pro, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, 2x Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl XXXV MVP

Ignoring the murder investigation for which he was never found guilty of, Ray Lewis was one of the greatest middle linebackers of all time. He was knocked for his height and lack of speed coming out of college at Miami (FL) and he made evaluators pay for it by smacking every offensive player he could find in the mouth. He was the stalwart in the middle of the Ravens defense for 17 seasons and was not only the face of the Ravens, but he may have been the face of defense in the NFL. For those too young to remember peak Ray Lewis, he basically was to defense in the early 2000’s what JJ Watt is to defense now. He was that good and he was good well into his late 30’s. He was the definition of what it means to be a bad dude in the NFL.

Terrell Owens-WR-San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals


Resume: 6x Pro Bowler, 5x All Pro, 1078 catches, 15934 yards, 153 TD’s

How T.O. didn’t get in on either of his first two tries is beyond me. In my opinion, after Jerry Rice, he’s the greatest wide receiver of all time. Sure he was also the biggest diva who ever played the position and basically gave wide receivers the diva reputation all by himself (he got some help from Chad Johnson/Ochocinco), but his talent was undeniable. He was bigger, faster, and stronger than every DB he went against and he put up the numbers to show for it. He’s second all-time in receiving yards (though Larry Fitzgerald is right on his tail), he’s eighth in catches, and third in receiving touchdowns. Owens may have been a locker room cancer, but as far as ability and performance goes, there was nobody better.

Randy Moss-WR-Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers


Resume: 6x Pro Bowler, 4x All Pro, 1998 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 982 catches, 15292 receiving yards, 156 TD’s, NFL record 23 receiving TD’s in 2007

After T.O., I think I would put Randy Moss as the third greatest receiver to ever play the game. He set the NFL on fire in 1998 as he formed arguably the greatest receiving duo of all time with Hall of Famer Cris Carter as the two of them helped revive Randall Cunningham’s career and nearly led the Vikings to Super Bowl XXXIII if not for a missed Gary Anderson field goal. He continued to torment opposing secondaries until his trade to the Raiders, where abysmal quarterback play nearly derailed his career. However, a trade to the Patriots and an alliance with Tom Brady resurrected Moss’ career as he set an NFL record with 23 touchdown catches and helped the Patriots to an undefeated regular season in 2007. Moss was a diva, not quite on par with T.O., but he was also one of the most dominant receivers the game has ever seen.

Brian Dawkins-S-Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos


Resume: 9x Pro Bowler, 4x All Pro, 37 interceptions, 26 sacks

Look up “enforcer” in the dictionary and you’ll get a picture of Brian Dawkins. He’s the gold standard for safeties that will not only get his team absolutely fired up before a game, but then back up that fire by blasting his opponents in the mouth. Dawkins was about as well-rounded a safety as there ever was as not only was he the last guy runningbacks wanted to see coming their way, but he was also a nightmare for quarterbacks as he had excellent coverage skills to boot. If an aspiring safety is smart, he will model his game after Brian Dawkins.

Edgerrin James-RB-Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks


Resume: 4x Pro Bowler, 1x All Pro, 1999 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 3028 carries, 12246 yards, 80 TD’s

When the Colts drafted Edgerrin James 4th overall in 1999 instead of Ricky Williams, people went ballistic. A lot of them had never even heard of James and blasted Bill Polian for taking him over the Heisman-winning Williams, whom Mike Ditka traded his entire draft class to acquire for the Saints. James shut the naysayers up REALLY quick, as he rushed for over 1500 yards as a rookie and over 1700 for an encore performance. While Williams went on to have a solid career, albeit a controversial one, it appears that the Colts had made the right selection, as having James to lean on was critical towards Peyton Manning developing into the second greatest quarterback of all time.

Isaac Bruce-WR-St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers


Resume: 4x Pro Bowler, Super Bowl XXXIV Champion, 1024 catches, 15208 yards, 91 TD’s

Isaac Bruce may be the most under-appreciated receiver in NFL history. Here’s a guy who finished his career second all time in receiving yards and is a member of the 1000 catch club. Bruce was arguably the best receiver on the Greatest Show on Turf Rams teams from 1999-2001 and I think one of the main reasons he didn’t get the respect he deserved was because of the emergence of the younger Torry Holt. Bruce also was never in the media too often which may be why guys like Terrell Owens and Randy Moss got a lot more publicity than him even though their numbers were comparable. Bruce has already been left out a couple of times already and it’s high time he got the recognition he deserved and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

John Lynch-S-Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos


Resume: 9x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro, Super Bowl XXXVII champion

My final Hall of Famer, John Lynch is currently the GM of the 49ers but before that he was one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game. He anchored the great Buccaneers defenses of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and was a crucial part of their run to a Super Bowl championship in 2002. Like Dawkins, Lynch was a complete safety, who could not only lay the lumber, but was a guy whose zone was often avoided by quarterbacks. And he even became a decent broadcaster in his own right. Lynch really did it all as a safety in the NFL.

I’d be doing an injustice if I didn’t mention that there was one more player that I wanted to include on my unofficial ballot, but I had hit my 7-man maximum so he just missed the cut. Brian Urlacher is also very deserving of enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Often rivaling Ray Lewis as to who was the best linebacker of the 2000’s, Urlacher was not only a great physical presence, but he was smart, too, as he was in charge of the playcalling with the defense as far as audibles were concerned. That’s going to do it for my Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot, let me know who you’d choose for enshrinement in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

A Look at the NFL Head Coaching Hires

With Arizona’s hiring of Steve Wilks and Indy’s and Detroit’s inevitable hirings of Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, it appears that all head coaching vacancies have been filled. Let’s take a look at how each team did with their new head man.

Arizona Cardinals Hire Former Carolina Panthers’ DC Steve Wilks


Wilks is probably the least experienced coach in the group as far as major responsibilities go. 2017 was his first year as a defensive coordinator in the NFL and only the second time he’s ever held such a title, when he was DC at East Tennessee State in 2002. Wilks spent one year as a head coach at the college level at Savannah State in 1999 before moving to Illinois State as defensive backs coach. He’s been an NFL coach since 2005, primarily as a defensive backs coach. He had spent the last 5-6 years in the Panthers organization, where he helped create guys such as Josh Norman into what they are today. His best work has easily come as a member of the Panthers, particularly in the last couple of seasons. Carolina’s secondary had been about as weak a defensive unit as there is in football but always got masked by a great front seven. Last year, Carolina boasted the 7th best defense in the NFL in total yards and helped lead the team to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. He joins an Arizona team that has talent but has to reload after the retirements of both former head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer. I don’t think it’d be fair to expect a ton out of Wilks and the Cardinals in his first year, as that offense is going to need to undergo a lot of changes, however I do think Arizona will continue to field a strong defense.

Indianapolis Colts Are Going to Hire New England Patriots’ OC Josh McDaniels


Josh McDaniels is arguably the best offensive coordinator in the NFL, as the Patriots are consistently at the top of the NFL in terms of points and yardage year-in and year-out. He does have head coaching experience with the Denver Broncos, however after starting his career 6-0, he crashed and burned horribly. What I think went wrong was McDaniels tried to be Belichick with his new team before he had earned that right in his players’ eyes. He traded their quarterback and top wide receiver (Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall) before even coaching a game, which probably should’ve been the first sign of things to come. I think McDaniels will have learned a lot from his failures in Denver, however, and I expect his tenure with the Colts to go much better. He has still yet to be announced as their head coach but all signs point to McDaniels becoming the head man after the Super Bowl. The Colts offensively won’t become the Patriots overnight, but I think if they can boast just an average offensive line, then I think they could be deadly if McDaniels is able to transition his system over from New England to Indy.

Detroit Lions Are Going to Hire New England Patriots’ DC Matt Patricia


Same situation with Patricia as McDaniels, as he hasn’t been announced as the head coach yet since he’ll be coaching in the Super Bowl, however it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he’s getting the Lions job. There’s a lot of talent on the Lions that went unrealized under previous head coach Jim Caldwell however they could never get over the hump. It is unknown how Patricia will do as a head coach because he’s never been a head coach at any level before. He’s been the Patriots’ DC since 2012 and before that served as an offensive assistant, O-line, linebackers, and safeties coach. Patricia’s defenses in New England have been the personification of bend-but-don’t-break, as they’re routinely near the bottom in yards allowed but near the top in points allowed. Patricia is notoriously well-liked by his players and it will be interesting to see how he gels with the Lions. I really don’t know what to expect out of the Lions under Patricia just because there’s nothing to go off of since he’s never been a head coach before. I think the Lions will fall somewhere between the 6-9 wins range next season.

New York Giants Hire Former Minnesota Vikings’ OC Pat Shurmur


Pat Shurmur has been in coaching since 1988 when he was a grad assistant at his alma mater at Michigan State. He’s been in the NFL since 1999 with the Eagles’ staff and has had one stint as a head coach and another as interim head coach. He led the Browns in 2011 and 2012 and posted a 9-23 record. He was also the Eagles’ interim head coach after they fired Chip Kelly in 2015 and won his only game at that position before the Eagles hired current head coach Doug Pederson. Shurmur has spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. In 2016 he was the tight ends coach before becoming interim offensive coordinator, then keeping the job on a full-time basis for 2017. In 2017, the Vikings were able to find a lot of success on offense despite the injuries to key offensive players. Stud rookie Dalvin Cook tore his ACL in Week 4 and Sam Bradford suffered a leg injury that effectively ended his season. But I think the biggest thing that got Shurmur the Giants’ gig is the rise of Case Keenum under his watch. When a journeyman quarterback leads his team to an NFC Championship game while posting the numbers that Keenum did, the OC is going to get some looks. I think this could wind up being a sneaky good hire. There’s lots of talent on the Giants, who simply underperformed in 2017 and if Shurmur can get the most out of a guy like Keenum, doing the same for Giants players will be a breeze. I think there will be a hefty win improvement in 2018. The intriguing thing for me is going to be what he decides to do with the #2 pick in the Draft. Do the Giants take Eli’s heir or do they take a playmaker like Saquon Barkley? We’ll have to wait and see.

Tennessee Titans Hire Former Houston Texans’ DC Mike Vrabel


Like Matt Patricia, Mike Vrabel is also getting his very first head coaching gig at any level. Vrabel was a stud linebacker with the Patriots during their initial dynasty in the early 2000’s, as he was a major part of the team that won 3 super Bowls in a 4-year stretch from 2001-2004. He has since served as linebackers and defensive line coach at his alma mater Ohio State from 2011-2013 before joining Bill O’Brien on the Houston Texans’ staff in 2014 as linebackers’ coach. When Hard Knocks focused on the Texans in 2015, we got a chance to see Vrabel’s coaching style firsthand and man, is he tough. He’ll get in your face and yell and call your mother a bitch but you also get the sense that he really cares about his guys. In 2017, he was promoted to defensive coordinator and the Texans ranked 20th in yards allowed and last in points, however a large part of that was all the injuries to key players the team had to deal with. But Vrabel’s personality is the type of thing I think the Titans need. At times they seemed a little relaxed and I think a good kick in the pants could be what takes them from an inconsistent and mediocre team to one that contends for division titles every year. I’m not so sure the Titans will make the playoffs next year like they did this year, though, especially with the rise of the Jaguars and a healthy Texans team. But again, we don’t know what to expect with a true rookie head coach in Vrabel and how his players might respond to his coaching style.

Oakland Raiders Hire Monday Night Football Broadcaster Jon Gruden


This is easily the highest-profile coaching hire of the offseason. Jon Gruden was a pretty well-decorated coach with the Raiders from 1998-2001, then with the Buccaneers from 2002-2008, including a Super Bowl XXXVII victory with Tampa over the same Raiders team that had fired him the year before. He also holds the distinction of being the winningest coach in Buccaneers’ history and was inducted into their Ring of Honor this past season. Since being fired from the Buccaneers in 2008, however, Gruden has been the color commentator for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, where his antics had become endearing to many fans. He now rejoins a Raiders team that really regressed last season but there are a lot of talented pieces in place. The AFC West appears to be wide open next season as both the Chiefs and Chargers, who finished ahead of Oakland, were wildly inconsistent while the Broncos struggled mightily. I think Gruden gets the Raiders back in the thick of things, though we may see some early-season rust.

Chicago Bears Hire Former Kansas City Chiefs’ OC Matt Nagy


Matt Nagy was the first coach hired this offseason, as he was introduced as Bears’ head coach one week to the day that John Fox was fired. He may have the smoothest transition out of any of these coaches as he has a quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky that has a very similar skillset to his previous quarterback, Alex Smith, and an excellent runningback in Jordan Howard. Nagy is only 39 years old and had been playing football professionally as recently as 2008 with the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League. Nagy has been a coach since 2010 as a coach’s assistant with the Eagles and was an offensive quality control coach there until 2012. He had been with the Chiefs since 2013, where he served as quarterbacks coach until 2015 when he was promoted to offensive coordinator, a position he had held up until his hiring with the Bears. Under Nagy, the Chiefs experienced a lot of success on offense through ball control and ball security, as they were #1 in turnover differential in 2016 and #2 in 2017. We’ll have to see if the transition is as seamless as I think it has the potential to be, considering the similarities I find between Trubisky and Smith, because if it is, then I think the Bears could be dark horses in 2018, perhaps becoming next year’s version of the Rams. Young head coach, young quarterback, complete overhaul in offensive philosophy. It worked in LA, can it work in Chicago?

That’s going to do it for my thoughts on the NFL head coaching hires. Let me know what you think of these hires in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Conference Championship Picks

So it’s come down to this. The final 4 teams left with a shot at Super Bowl LII on the line. The New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and Minnesota Vikings are the only teams left standing after a grueling NFL season. It’s also possibly the most interesting group of quarterbacks remaining as well, as it’s down to Tom Brady, Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, and Case Keenum. One is the greatest of all time, one is basically a meme at this point in his career, and the other two were backup quarterbacks when the season started. So let’s see who I think will go to the Super Bowl. One quick thing to note if you’re a gambling man. I’m 2-6 in the postseason so far. I’ve gone 1-3 in each round, including being winless in all of my NFC picks (the only ones I’ve hit were Jags-Bills and Pats-Titans). So take what I say with a grain of salt.

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) vs New England Patriots (13-3)

The Jaguars showed up to play in the AFC Divisional Round against the Steelers while Pittsburgh was thinking about New England. In fact, there has been so much dysfunction in that organization that one has to wonder if Mike Tomlin’s job is safe or not. But that’s for another blog entirely. But the Jaguars have had an incredible turnaround after having gone 3-13 last season. Doug Marrone has done a terrific job in his first year at the helm in Jacksonville and the biggest part of that resurgence has been the defense. Despite the fact that they gave up 42 points last week, I still thought the Jaguars defense played well. On all four of Ben Roethlisberger’s touchdown throws, he had to squeeze the ball into the tightest of windows or drop a perfect deep ball right into his receiver’s lap. The one rushing touchdown was a weird lateral play to Le’Veon Bell that I think would’ve caught most defenses off guard anyway. Plus, Yannick Ngakoue’s strip sack of Roethlisberger resulting in a Telvin Smith scoop-and-score was the point of no return in my opinion, especially considering Pittsburgh had been gaining some momentum. Meanwhile the Patriots started off slowly against the Titans, trailing 7-0 after the first quarter and their offense looked pretty stagnant. Then Tom Brady remembered that it was the Titans and the offense got their act together and dropped 35 unanswered en route to a 35-14 win. The defense played great, particularly the pass rush, which hasn’t been a strong suit for New England. They registered 8 sacks, bullying Jack Conklin’s injury replacement seemingly the moment he stepped into the game. The Patriots open this game as double-digit favorites, however things aren’t going as smoothly as one might expect. Tom Brady is dealing with a bum right hand after a teammate (which we just found out was Rex Burkhead) ran into it and created a lot of pain for the 5-time champ. The fact that it was Burkhead that caused the injury tells me that perhaps it occurred on a botched handoff in practice rather than some defender not respecting the red jersey. Jacksonville’s defense is a scary one to face when you aren’t 100% but if anybody can do it, it’s Tom Brady. However it does level the playing field a bit, as before it was unthinkable to ask Blake Bortles to defeat Tom Brady, but now that Brady isn’t at his best, it seems to be a more realistic belief for the Jaguars to reach the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl. I’m anticipating a lot of dinks and dunks from New England, particularly to runningbacks such as Burkhead and James White, whom I think will be the X factors in this game. I’ve got New England winning it just simply because I don’t think that Jacksonville will be able to score enough points to top the Patriots, who will be headed to the Super Bowl for the third time in 4 years and 8th time overall under the Brady-Belichick regime.


Projected Score: Patriots 23 Jaguars 17

Minnesota Vikings (13-3) vs Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

The ending of the NFC Divisional Round between the Vikings and Saints was probably the craziest ending I’ve ever seen in a football game. While I was watching it and saw Case Keenum heave the ball toward the sideline, I immediately figured Stefon Diggs would go for a toe-tapper to stop the clock with about 3 seconds left. He turned upfield and I thought to myself “what the Hell are you doing?!” until I realized there was only green grass ahead of him after Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffed on the hit. Diggs scored the walkoff touchdown as time expired and perhaps the greatest moment in Vikings history (so far) had been cemented. One thing to say before I get to this matchup: lay off of Marcus Williams. That could’ve been anybody. It looked to me like he was trying to balance a lot of things with that tackle attempt. First of all, no, he was not going for the knockout hit like an idiot. Anybody watching could see that. He also had to make sure he didn’t get there too early or else it would be pass interference, the ball would be placed at the spot of the foul, which was well within Vikings kicker Kai Forbath’s range, and the clock would’ve stopped and he’d still be the pariah. Plus, he wanted to make sure that he tackled Diggs in bounds so that the clock would tick down to zero since the Vikings had no timeouts left to stop it. However, all those things racing through his mind appeared to throw him off his game because it amounted to nothing as he missed the tackle and Diggs trotted into the endzone, ending New Orleans’ season. Now onto the matchup itself, the Vikings will look to host the Super Bowl with a victory over the Eagles after a pretty unlikely season. After Sam Bradford torched the Saints in Week 1, it looked like it would be him that would lead the Vikings charge. However he got injured in practice, forcing Case Keenum into the starting lineup. Keenum has pretty much entered journeyman status at this point in the league, getting opportunities in both Houston with the Texans and St. Louis/Los Angeles with the Rams before being forced out of both. He was seemingly on his last legs in Minnesota and likely would’ve been the third string quarterback there had Teddy Bridgewater not still been recovering from a gruesome ACL injury a year prior. But there he was in the starting lineup and he played great, throwing for 3547 yards, 22 TD’s and only 7 INT’s with a quarterback rating of 98.3. There was a brief moment where the Vikings tried to reinsert Bradford into the starting lineup, but Bradford clearly wasn’t ready and Keenum was able to save the game by beating the Bears. They face an Eagles team who is also on their backup quarterback in Nick Foles. Carson Wentz had been fantastic all year for the Eagles heading into their Week 14 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. He was arguably the frontrunner for NFL MVP and had the Eagles at 10-2. Then he tore his ACL diving for the goalline and Nick Foles had to be inserted into the lineup. It had been a mixed bag for Foles as Eagles starter. He played well in the Eagles’ comeback victory over the Giants in his first start, was unimpressive in their Week 16 win over the Raiders, and downright sucked in Week 17 against the Cowboys before being sat for Nate Sudfeld. Eagles fans were a little tense about how Foles would play in the Divisional Round against the defending NFC champion Falcons and their fears were not consoled very well when he threw a duck on his first pass that got knocked down by the wind. Foles recovered nicely, though, and finished the game with a solid line of 23-30 for 246 yards with no TD’s and no turnovers. The Eagles were able to come away with a 15-10 victory over the Falcons after some poor playcalling by Atlanta doomed them on the final drive. Both the Eagles and Vikings feature very impressive defenses that helped carry the team through their occasional offensive struggles and I expect a low-scoring affair in this one. However I do believe that the Vikings will prevail in this and will take on the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in their home stadium.


Projected Score: Vikings 20 Eagles 14

That’s going to do it for my Conference Championship picks. I’m predicting it will be Patriots-Vikings for the Lombardi Trophy. Let me know what you think of my picks in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Divisional Round Picks: Day 1

The Wild Card Round was rough for my picks segments, as the only game I hit on was Jaguars-Bills (one of the worst playoff games I’ve ever had the privilege to miss most of due to being on a plane). But now the winners of those games face the teams that had a week to prepare for them but history has shown that it’s not always a guarantee the team with the extra week will win. So with that, let’s get to the picks.

Atlanta Falcons (10-6) vs Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

The Falcons dispatched an inexperienced Rams team in Los Angeles in their 26-13 victory. The Rams special teams unit made botch after botch, most of them revolving around Pharoh Cooper and the Falcons managed to take advantage. They take on an Eagles team that is actually quite similar statistically. The Eagles averaged exactly one more yard per game than the Falcons did offensively and defensively both teams sport top 10 defenses. The Eagles were the talk of the NFL for most of the year, getting out to a 10-1 start and finishing the year as the 1 seed in a stacked NFC at 13-3. Quarterback Carson Wentz was having an MVP-caliber year and may be the favorite had he not torn his ACL in the Eagles’ 43-35 win over the Rams in Week 14. Nick Foles has been the Eagles quarterback since then and he hasn’t been particularly great, just good enough to get the job done. The Eagles were 2-1 in his starts, the one loss being when he didn’t play a whole lot in Week 17 against the Cowboys and was sat to rest in favor of former Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who actually finished with the highest completion percentage amongst quarterbacks playing their first game at 83% (minimum 20 attempts). Foles’ line as starter was 47-87 for 439 yards with 5 TD’s and 2 INT’s in 3 starts, which isn’t awful overall, but it’s a far cry from what Carson Wentz was doing. The Eagles’ rushing attack was also quietly very good, as the stable of LeGarrette Blount, midseason acquisition Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood combined to be the 3rd best rushing attack in the NFL. They also got a potentially career-saving year out of Nelson Agholor at receiver and a breakout season from tight end Zach Ertz. Defensively, the Eagles thrived under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who may be in line for his second head coaching gig when all is said and done. They were 4th overall in scoring and total yards and were best in the NFL at stopping the run. However I think they’re going to run into some problems against the Falcons. They’re going to have to ask Nick Foles to keep up with the reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan and I just don’t think he’ll be able to do that. It’s not 2013 where that isn’t so ridiculous a thought (seriously, go back and look at Foles’ stats when he was the Eagles’ starter in 2013. He was fantastic). But despite how good the Eagles have been defensively overall, stopping the pass has been more of a weak point for them, as they’re only average at that (17th against the pass). Their corners will have a hard time stopping the trio of Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel. Plus, the Falcons were a top-10 defense this season and have guys that can fly around the field and cause problems for the Philly offense. I’m actually going to pick the Falcons to advance to the NFC championship game for the second consecutive year. However had Carson Wentz been healthy, I think this might be a different story.


Projected Score: Falcons 27 Eagles 20

Tennessee Titans (9-7) vs New England Patriots (13-3)

What a game between the Titans and Chiefs. I expected the Chiefs to win in a bloodbath, which it looked like they were well on their way to doing. However Travis Kelce suffering a concussion late in the first half plus a lack of touches for Kareem Hunt really hurt the Chiefs as the game went along and allowed the Titans to creep back into the game. It was 21-3 at halftime in favor of the Chiefs, then Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass to himself and momentum seemed to swing in the exact opposite direction. The Titans were able to pull out a 22-21 victory over the Chiefs and will take on the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The Patriots had a year that seemed akin to their 2014 run with a blend of 2015 in it. They got off to a slow 2-2 start to the point where everyone was questioning if this was the year the Patriots would finally fall off. But then the Patriots remembered they’re the Patriots and finished the year going 11-1 and seemingly fixing every problem they had in the first four games. Except there’s one little blemish for New England that makes there some resemblance to the 2015 team: injuries. It started with Julian Edelman tearing his ACL in a preseason game against the Lions and it hasn’t let up since. The list of Patriots on IR include Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, Derek Rivers, Malcolm Mitchell, Vincent Valentine, Shea McClellin, Cyrus Jones, Nate Ebner, and Martellus Bennett. That’s a lot of key contributors. But the Patriots have had guys step up in big ways. Kyle Van Noy was able to adequately fill the void left by Hightower’s injury. The combination of La’Adrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming have adequately filled in for Cannon. The Patriots have continued to follow their “next man up” mantra and it has helped them finish near the top in the NFL in many major categories. They’re the #2 scoring offense, #1 in total yards, #2 in passing, #10 in rushing, and #5 in scoring defense despite being #29 in yards allowed. That’s the definition of a bend-but-don’t-break defense right there. One of the breakout stars for the Patriots has been Dion Lewis, who has reinvented himself from just a scat back that was used as a change of pace to an all-around back that isn’t afraid to run through defenders from time to time. In fact, Lewis led the NFL in rushing in the second half of the season to finish with 896 yards rushing on just 180 carries (5 yards per carry). I’m predicting in this game that Lewis will again be a big factor in a Patriots victory over the Titans to advance to their 7th straight AFC Championship game against either the Steelers or the Jaguars.

at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Projected Score: Patriots 30 Titans 17

That’s going to do it for my picks for day one of the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Let me know what you think about this slate of games in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Wild Card Round Picks: Day 2

Welp the Titans made me look pretty stupid. But that’s why I don’t gamble on sports, things like that happen. Though I think Travis Kelce getting knocked out with a concussion was a huge blow for the Chiefs, as I don’t think they scored a single point after he went to the locker room. That was, to me, the biggest factor in their blowing a 21-3 lead (just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it that 28-3 does). There was a brief shining moment as it appeared Marcus Peters had stripped Derrick Henry of the football and Derrick Johnson took it to the house, only to have it overturned by replay, which was the correct call as Henry was clearly down before the ball left his possession. As for Falcons-Rams, I may have gotten that pick wrong, but I feel that if the Rams’ special teams didn’t dig them into an early hole like it did, then they probably would’ve beaten the Falcons because as the game went along, that offense looked more and more comfortable until the Falcons regained their footing. Though I could have sworn I read somewhere that Julio Jones and Marcus Mariota were both going to be scratches from their games. Maybe I misread or read fake accounts. *UPDATE* I figured out what happened with that. PFT Commenter of Barstool Sports was quote tweeting injury reports for both players from past seasons and making them out to be for these games and I fell for the trap. It happens to the best of them. So with that, let’s get to the Sunday picks. Make sure you read all the way through, because I do have an announcement to make at the end of this blog.

Buffalo Bills (9-7) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

This will be the Bills first playoff appearance since 1999, which had been the longest such drought in the major four sports. It was kind of an odd season for them. They went 9-7 after starting out 5-2 and included a disastrous quarterback switch. For whatever reason, Tyrod Taylor was benched in favor of Nathan Peterman against the Chargers. Peterman promptly threw 5 first half interceptions (not all of them were his fault, but they’re still charged to him). He was benched in the second half for Taylor, who played reasonably well in what was basically the perfect moment for Taylor to establish himself as the unquestioned starter. Week 17 came along with their playoff hopes on the line and they got the job done by beating Miami. They just needed the Ravens to lose to the Bengals, since the Titans and Chargers had won their games, in order to make the playoffs. 4th and 12, Andy Dalton hits Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard TD and the Bills are going to the playoffs. It came at a price, though. In their victory over Miami, Buffalo lost star runningback LeSean McCoy due to an ankle injury, where he had to be carted off the field. Good news for Bills fans, though, McCoy said the injury wasn’t as bad as he thought and he’s hoping to suit up against Jacksonville. I’m not so sure if that’s going to help them a whole lot. McCoy is at his best when he’s able to make hard cuts and juke guys out. That’s hard to do on a bad ankle. I don’t think it’s going to go well for him in this one, especially against a Jaguars defense that’s as dominant as this one. Jacksonville has been a revelation this season. They recorded their first winning season in a decade and were the breakout team of the AFC en route to a 10-6 record despite inconsistent play from quarterback Blake Bortles. However Bortles looked pretty good to close out the season and I think it may have the higher-ups in Jacksonville rethinking their plans to move on from him. The only way I think Bortles has 100% job security is a Super Bowl victory, though. But the story of this Jaguars team has been the defense. I’ve raved about the impact signing Calais Campbell has been ad nauseam, but he really has been the difference. The Jaguars were just okay defensively prior to his arrival from Arizona with a lot of young players with potential. Campbell arrives, then suddenly they’re the #2 overall defense in the NFL behind only the Vikings. Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye (whose arrival I also think contributed heavily to the defense’s success) have been shutdown corners, Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler have been absolute studs rushing the passer, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack have been holding down the second level, really no matter where you look on this Jacksonville defense, you’ve got guys that are kicking ass. It’s that fire on defense that I think is going to give the Jags the win in this game, though I think the Bills will be competitive throughout. Their defense is pretty underrated.


Projected Score: Jaguars 20 Bills 17

Carolina Panthers (11-5) vs New Orleans Saints (11-5)

In my opinion, this is the game of the Wild Card Round. This will be the third time these two teams will square off this season, each of the prior two meetings being won by the Saints, which gave them the tie-breaker for the division crown. The Panthers defense has looked similar to the one that helped lead them to an appearance in Super Bowl L, as Kawann Short continues to dominate on the interior of the defensive line, which sucks because he’s a Boilermaker. The Boilermaker on the other sideline, Drew Brees, has also been damn good for the Saints, as his connection with Michael Thomas is reminiscent of when he was hitting Marques Colston on a consistent basis. But the biggest matchup I’m going to watch for is Saints runningbacks vs the Panthers front 7. The Saints offensive line has been very good this year despite injury troubles. Rookie tackle Ryan Ramczyk has been very good like I expected him to be (which unfortunately wasn’t published because this blog didn’t exist back then) and Andrus Peat has adjusted very well to a move to guard. Larry Warford has also been terrific and Max Unger has been his usual self. Their runningbacks Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have been the deadliest 1-2 punch in the game this season. To think, this group included Adrian Peterson for a few weeks before getting sent to the Cardinals. Imagine if that trio had been able to gel. Turns out it took Peterson leaving for this group to really come together. Ingram finished with 1124 yards rushing, fifth in the NFL, while Kamara had over 1500 yards of total offense. Both players’ play styles complement each other so well that defenses have a hard time keeping up. But the Panthers defensively have one of the best front 7s in football, as you’ve got guys like Short and Star Lotulelei clogging the interior, Mario Addison on the edge, and Shaq Thompson, the ageless Thomas Davis, and Luke Kuechly at linebacker. So if any team were to match up with well with the Saints, it would be the Panthers. However that hasn’t been the case this season, as the Saints beat the Panthers twice by scores of 34-13 in Week 3 and 31-23 in Week 13. So perhaps the Panthers are figuring things out, as that margin of defeat was cut significantly the second time around. I really want to pick the Saints for this game but I just have the weirdest gut feeling that the Panthers are going to pull this one out. I’m going with the Panthers, however my brain doesn’t feel good about it.


Projected Score: Panthers 24 Saints 20

That’s it for the blog. As promised, I have an announcement to make. I’ll be adding a new writer to my staff. When that will be I’m not sure, we’re still working out how we want to do things. But I’m very excited to get another guy producing content, as writing 1000+-word articles a day while balancing school and work can get a bit rough. Let me know what you think of my picks or my new “hire” (I say that very loosely, as I still don’t have a revenue stream to pay anyone with) and hit me up on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Wild Card Round Picks: Day 1


Last Week: 8-8                      Season Record: 144-81

So first I want to address the story everybody seems to be talking about with the whole “there’s drama in the Patriots organization” story that ESPN published at 1am yesterday. That’s about as exaggerated a piece as I’ve heard in my life. People are really digging for things to knock the Patriots down a peg at this point. While I do think that Brady is terrified of his career’s mortality and Alex Guerrero may have a bit more real estate in Brady’s head than some may care to admit (some of the stuff in the TB12 Method is a bit ridiculous), the idea that there’s some kind of power struggle between him, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft is just ludicrous. It ends with a line that suggests that Belichick won’t return after this season to coach somewhere else. For a guy who has written as many hit pieces about the Patriots as author Seth Wickersham has (and there have been a few), this seems to be a pretty uninformed statement. Every single source he had in that paper was anonymous, which harms your story’s credibility. Believe it or not, if you request to remain anonymous or want to say something off the record, there is nothing that holds the journalist back from using that stuff. That’s all fair game to use and a reporter can say “no” to anonymity. There are no legal grounds for any of that so the fact that not a single source was named puts things into question for me. But it’s not like anything was that damaging, either. It suggested that Brady was basically a 40 year-old child, saying that he never won “Patriot of the Week” from the coaching staff during the 2017 season, which is about as preposterous a gripe as I’ve ever heard in my life about Brady. The guy has 4 Super Bowl MVP’s and 2 regular season MVP’s, you think he gives 2 shits about “Patriot of the Week?” Get the fuck out of here. Now that that’s done, I’m going to get to my first set of Wild Card Round picks then I’m going to have a Wachusett Bella Czech Pils in support of the Patriots. That’s not a plug, I promise. If it were, I’d be using it a lot more frequently. But just look at this can:


I feel a strange urge to cut off half of each sleeve on my sweatshirts, scowl at everyone I come across and give one word answers to every question. That’s a very odd buzz. Enough rambling, Wild Card picks time.

Tennessee Titans (9-7) vs Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

I was pretty disappointed to see the Titans make the playoffs. I don’t know if there’s ever been a more undeserving 9-7 team in league history. Offensively they were 23rd in total yards and 19th in points scored (they scored fewer than the Texans for Christ’s sake). Defensively, they were 13th in total yards and 17th in points allowed. Their turnover differential was -4 on the season. So how the Hell is this team 9-7 and not 6-10 like they statistically probably should be? Marcus Mariota regressed in a big way in 2017, as he threw for just 3232 yards with only 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. This is the same guy that had a touchdown-turnover ratio of 42-4 in his final year at Oregon. I have a strange suspicion that if the Titans get blown out of the water in this game, then the front office may make some changes to the coaching staff because Mariota is too skilled a player to be putting up a garbage stat line like that. Nevertheless, the Titans are in the playoffs for seemingly doing the bare minimum to get by. That’s going to hurt them when they face the Chiefs. Nobody started the season better than the Chiefs did. Their first two games they beat up both the Patriots and Eagles, the two 1-seeds in the NFL playoffs, en route to starting out 5-0. But that’s when the roof seemingly caved in on them. They became predictable offensively and teams were able to snuff them out. They lost 6 of their next 7 games before Andy Reid relinquished playcalling duties. They won their last 4 to close out the season. They seem to be back on the right track, looking more like the early season world-beaters vs the pathetic midseason team each day. Kansas City’s main strength is that they don’t turn the ball over, as they only did so 11 times this season for a turnover margin of +15, second best in the NFL after the Baltimore Ravens at +17. If the Titans are going to have any chance of beating the Chiefs given the talent on each roster, they’re going to need to get takeaways and that’s just not going to happen. I’ve got the Chiefs winning pretty easily and will take on the Patriots if the Jaguars beat the Bills or the Steelers if the Bills beat the Jaguars.


Projected Score: Chiefs 38 Titans 14

Atlanta Falcons (10-6) vs Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

The last time the Falcons were in LA, they steamrolled the Rams in what proved to be Jeff Fisher’s final game as Rams head coach. This year will be COMPLETELY different circumstances, as the Rams have been amongst the best teams in the league this year. They did a complete 180 offensively, as in 2016 they were the worst scoring offense in the league but the best in 2017. Defensively, the Rams were pretty good in their first year with Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, though I felt they were capable of much better. They were +7 in turnover margin, which really helped because they ranked just 19th in total yards allowed and 12th in points allowed. There are some fantastic players on the Rams defense, particularly Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, and Alec Ogletree who can really take over games if you let them. Jared Goff’s development was HUGE for their success and it didn’t hurt that Todd Gurley had an MVP-caliber season (as you may have read, I picked Gurley for MVP in my awards blog). The Falcons barely made it into the playoffs after barely losing Super Bowl LI after at one point holding a 28-3 lead over the Patriots. Defensively, Atlanta continued to make strides in the right direction, as they were 9th in yards allowed and 8th in points allowed. Not bad for a team that didn’t crack the top 20 last year. However they did struggle to get turnovers, as they ranked 27th in that category, falling behind the likes of the Colts and 49ers of all teams. Offensively they took a step backward, however that’s to be expected when you’re coming off a season where you scored the most points in the league and lose your offensive coordinator to a head coaching position elsewhere (Kyle Shanahan with the 49ers). They were still very good offensively, though, as they finished 8th in total yards but 15th in points. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they were -2 in turnover margin, which will hurt your total output. But Todd Gurley did lead the NFL in fumbles and we saw with Deion Jones in Super Bowl LI that he’s more than capable of ripping that ball out to create turnovers. I think if the Falcons’ defense is able to step up and create turnovers, then they will win this game. If not, then the Rams are going to have their way with them. This is probably the hardest game to pick in Wild Card weekend, though I guess I kind of deserve it considering how easy a pick I think Chiefs-Titans is going to be. I think I’m going to give the edge to the Rams just because I think they’ve got more guys having breakout seasons than the Falcons do and will face the Vikings in the divisional round.


Projected Score: Rams 27 Falcons 24

Those are my thoughts on the Patriots “bombshell” and the first two games of the Wild Card round. Tune in tomorrow when I do Sunday’s set of games. You can leave a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.


2018 NFL Mock Draft #1

As promised, the series finale of my NFL postseason series, here is my first NFL Mock Draft. Now a lot is expected to change between now and April. Some of these guys I select to be drafted may even return to school and not even be in the Draft. The top 20 picks are pretty much set in stone (I think there’s a tie breaker between the Raiders and 49ers for the 9th and 10th picks that has yet to be decided). Also, for picks 21-32, since those aren’t solidified yet, I’m going to order them based on their current playoff seeding, but keep in mind that those slots are more than likely going to change based on how the playoffs work out. I will also not being projecting trades, though I may mention if a trade is a possibility. I’m going to provide explanations for each pick, so here goes nothing.

1. Cleveland Browns-Josh Rosen-QB-UCLA


This could be a bit controversial because Rosen has gone on the record stating that he does not want to play for the Browns and that he would rather fall down the draft board a little bit and play for the right team. We could see wind up seeing a similar situation to what happened in 1983 with John Elway and the Colts or 2004 with Eli Manning and the Chargers if Rosen gets taken by the Browns. Knowing this, perhaps the Browns could continue to build draft capital and trade this pick to a QB-needy team desperate for one of the top 2 arms. In fact, I think the Broncos at 5 could try and move up and send the Browns an absolute haul. With their newly acquired pick, the Browns could take a chance on someone like Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield with the 4th or 5th pick. But for now, as it is, I think Rosen is the top pick, though I wouldn’t be surprised come April if it’s another team making that pick.

2. New York Giants-Sam Darnold-QB-USC


A lot of people have hopped on the “Sam Darnold is Overrated Bandwagon” after getting his ass kicked by Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. I am not one of them. While I have been critical of his delivery and propensity for turnovers, I think Darnold will be fine given more talent around him. I don’t think returning to school to develop would have been the best idea because there really isn’t much of a supporting cast at USC right now to help him grow like there would be in the NFL. Especially a team like the Giants, where he’d have a healthy ODell Beckham and a continuously developing Evan Engram to throw to. I think Darnold made the right decision by declaring for the Draft. Granted the Giants will also need to solve their offensive line problems, but this isn’t the class to do it. I think free agency would be a better bet.

3. Indianapolis Colts-Connor Williams-OT-Texas


This might be a bit of a reach because Connor Williams is merely the best of a weak tackle class, however the need for the Colts is so great that it trumps overall value. Williams is talented, sure, but he missed most of the year with a knee injury, which is something that has haunted the Colts the last few years. But Indianapolis NEEDS offensive line help. They gave up the most sacks in the NFL last year and have been a big reason why Andrew Luck has yet to reach his potential and missed the entire 2017 season due to injury. I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade down to settle for a similar talent in Mike McGlinchey and build draft capital, much like I think the Browns could.

4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans)-Saquon Barkley-RB-Penn State


The Browns need playmakers. Period. Aside from Josh Gordon, there is nobody on their offense that opposing defenses really need to worry about. Isaiah Crowell isn’t a bad runningback, but he’s not the difference-maker the Browns need to get them over the top. Saquon Barkley could be that back. I think wide receiver is a bigger need, as Josh Gordon needs a battery-mate to take some of the pressure off and Corey Coleman can’t seem to stay healthy, but I think the Browns would be better off waiting until the second round for a guy like DJ Moore or Simmie Cobbs. Barkley reminds me a bit of Ray Rice in that he’s not the biggest guy, but he packs so much punch and can be so quick in his cuts that it really doesn’t matter. Plus he hasn’t openly stated that he doesn’t want to play for the Browns, so that’s a positive.

5. Denver Broncos-Josh Allen-QB-Wyoming


This could be a fallback option if the Broncos can’t strike a deal for the top 2 picks and are forced to remain at number 5. While I don’t think Josh Allen is a finished product by any means, I do think he has all the potential in the world. Whether the Broncos are going to be able to develop that talent remains to be seen. I think they’ve gotten the most out of Trevor Siemian but Paxton Lynch has been a major disappointment and we’ve all seen what Brock Osweiler can do in a starting role, so quarterback is really what’s holding this team back from returning to contention. But don’t be surprised if the Broncos also go for a free agent acquisition or some kind of trade (Kirk Cousins, perhaps?).

6. New York Jets-Bradley Chubb-EDGE-North Carolina State


The Jets’ approach to the Draft has typically been “best player available.” Chubb isn’t my best available player at this stage, but that’s mainly because my highest ranked player from my initial big board, Minkah Fitzpatrick, is a safety; a position that the Jets have a plethora of young talent at. However, I’m of the belief that a team can never have too many pass rushers and the Jets could use a guy like Bradley Chubb to wreak havoc on offensive lines. They have a ton of holes on offense, but aside from the guys I have already being taken, there is nobody worth this draft slot on that side of the ball. I think they’ll start addressing the offense in round 2.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Minkah Fitzpatrick-S-Alabama


Minkah Fitzpatrick is the top player on my big board, yet I have him going 7th to the Buccaneers. That’s just the way the Draft shakes out sometimes. The Buccaneers ranked last in yards allowed in 2017 and can use an upgrade pretty much anywhere on the field. I could also see this pick being Boston College pass rusher Harold Landry, however I think Fitzpatrick’s versatility will earn him the Bucs’ preference. He can play both corner and safety and I’ve seen him play up on the line of scrimmage at times (and seen him cause problems in the backfield to boot!). Fitzpatrick could add a much-needed boost to this Bucs defense that’s a long ways away from the days of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch.

8. Chicago Bears-Harold Landry-EDGE-Boston College


Harold Landry is one of the quickest and fastest defensive linemen I’ve ever seen, which is something the Bears need more of. Leonard Floyd is a nice player, but aside from him there isn’t much of a pass rush to speak of. Chicago’s secondary played reasonably well in 2017 but an improved pass rush could help them out immensely. Enter Landry, who led the nation in sacks in 2016 and actually managed to show improvement in 2017. I think he could be a big lift for the Bears defense.

9. Oakland Raiders-Arden Key-EDGE-LSU


Arden Key’s a little raw, but he is oozing with talent. He kind of reminds me of Aldon Smith given his skinnier frame and elite athleticism. I watched some highlights on him and he has a tendency to disappear from games at times, but I think the right coach can get the most out of him. Enter Jon Gruden, who appears to be the next Raiders head coach. Gruden is a guy who has a history of firing up his team and getting the most out of his guys. Plus, Key will have Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin to learn from as this Raiders defense looks to improve on a very unimpressive 2017 season.

10. San Francisco 49ers-Mike McGlinchey-OT-Notre Dame


Watching Jimmy Garoppolo play well with the 49ers is like watching my son succeed. That’s why is pains me when I see him get drilled by pass rushers while trying to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. He needs a better offensive line so that he can go through his reads more easily. A lot of scouts think McGlinchey would be better at right tackle as opposed to left, where he played in college, and that’s probably where the biggest hole on the 49ers offensive line is. At least, when I watch Garoppolo highlights it is. McGlinchey can step in day one and protect Garoppolo for at least the next 10 years.

11. Miami Dolphins-Derwin James-S-Florida State


Derwin James showed a lot of promise as a freshman before getting injured and missing most of his sophomore season, then having a disappointing junior season in 2017. However that talent would emerge in flashes and I think given the right circumstances, he can reignite the spark that had scouts so excited for him when he was a freshman. James is a similar type of player to Jamal Adams of the Jets, who went 6th overall last year, in that he’s a traditional all-around safety in the mold of Brian Dawkins who can not only cover well, but bring the boom. The Dolphins need a guy like this roaming the secondary, as they really lack an enforcer away from the defensive line.

12. Cincinnati Bengals-Quenton Nelson-OG-Notre Dame


Quenton Nelson is probably the safest pick in this year’s class, as he consistently goes up against top competition on the defensive line and puts up great performances. Plus, I find that top-end guards tend to transition to the NFL really well. The Bengals need someone like that badly. After the departure of Kevin Zeitler, Cincinnati’s offensive line was a mess and was a big part of the team’s struggles offensively. Nelson won’t fix their problems by himself, but he could become this team’s version of Zack Martin.

13. Washington Redskins-Courtland Sutton-WR-SMU


This one was kind of tough because Calvin Ridley is also a very viable option here and I’m not 100% sold on Courtland Sutton’s ability to transfer from playing at SMU to the pros. I think he has the highest ceiling of any of the receivers in this class, as he reminds me a lot of Alshon Jeffery, but I also think he has the lowest floor, as he never really had to face any top-caliber corners. The Redskins need more receivers. Josh Doctson is still figuring out how to play in this league and Jamison Crowder can’t be your top guy if you hope to compete in the NFC East. If Sutton can have the type of impact I think he’s capable of, the Redskins will be right back in the hunt for a division crown.

14. Green Bay Packers-Derrius Guice-RB-LSU


Overall I thought Derrius Guice was kind of a disappointment in 2017. As Leonard Fournette’s backup for the first couple years of his college career, Guice showed to practically be his counterpart’s equal, as he would torch defenses on days that Fournette couldn’t go. Perhaps it was for a similar reason to Todd Gurley in 2016 as to why Guice didn’t have the breakout year I hoped for, as he was his team’s only real option on offense, allowing defenses to stack the box to stop him. Nonetheless, he still finished with over 1000 yards rushing on the season and could provide a huge boost to a running game in Green Bay that has had its struggles since Eddy Lacy’s rookie year.

15. Arizona Cardinals-Baker Mayfield-QB-Oklahoma


With the retirements of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer, the Cardinals may be in a state of panic, as they appear to be in limbo. They need a new quarterback and they need him now because the ACL-less Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert aren’t going to cut it for the long haul. Baker Mayfield is a guy I think has an extremely high ceiling but an extremely low floor. We saw a bit of both in Oklahoma’s Rose Bowl defeat against Georgia. When Mayfield was on, like in the first half and fourth quarter, the vaunted Bulldogs defense stood no chance at stopping him. When he was off, like he was in the third quarter, he played like how I would in that spot. There’s plenty of talent on offense in Arizona and I think this could be a great spot for Mayfield to land depending on who the Cardinals’ brass decides on for their next head coach.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Calvin Ridley-WR-Alabama


Calvin Ridley is a lot of peoples’ favorite receiver in the 2017 class, and he might even be mine, too. However he doesn’t do a whole lot that really stands out to me. He’s got good hands, good route running skills, and he’s reasonably quick. But there isn’t really anything that just makes you say “wow!” However, a team in need of a good receiver like the Ravens probably won’t care too much about “wow” factor as long as he can move the sticks. Ridley has kind of been kept under wraps since Jalen Hurts became the starting quarterback and Alabama became a more run-heavy offense (they’ve always been run-heavy, but under Hurts it feels like it’s gone up a notch). With a guy with an arm like Joe Flacco, I think Ridley can unlock his full potential.

17. Los Angeles Chargers-Rashaan Evans-ILB-Alabama


Rashaan Evans has battled injuries throughout the year but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best linebackers that have come out in a while. He’s not as polished as Reuben Foster was coming out last year, but he does a lot of things similarly to the young 49ers stud. For a team that missed out on the playoffs, the Chargers surprisingly don’t have that many holes. Ideally, I think they’d like to get someone opposite Keenan Allen, but I’d give Mike Williams a chance to get healthy before pulling the trigger on another guy this early. I think the Chargers can afford to go with the best on the board and for me, that’s Evans.

18. Seattle Seahawks-Denzel Ward-CB-Ohio State


Denzel Ward is a guy I’ve gone back and forth on. He didn’t impress me in the season opener against Indiana, but he was lights out against Wisconsin. Granted, he was on Simmie Cobbs much of the night against Indiana and Wisconsin doesn’t have anybody near that caliber, but still, holding any opponent to zero catches when targeting you is something special, which is what Ward did on the Big Ten’s biggest stage. Offensive line is still the biggest need for the Seahawks, but I don’t see any quick fixes in this class worth spending a high pick on so I think solidifying their secondary should be a priority. Shaq Griffin looks like he could be a solid player, but after him and Richard Sherman, there isn’t a whole lot in terms of long-term ability. The Seahawks’ secondary was super inconsistent after Sherman and Chancellor went down for the season and adding a guy like Ward could make Pete Carroll a little more comfortable with their depth.

19. Dallas Cowboys-Maurice Hurst-DT-Michigan


Maurice Hurst is a guy I want to highlight on future scouting segments so I won’t go into TOO much detail about why I like him so much, but just know now that he’s probably the best defensive tackle in the nation in my opinion and I think he could really help the Cowboys, who once again dip into the Michigan well after taking two Wolverines defenders with early picks in last year’s Draft (Taco Charlton and Jourdan Lewis). Dallas could be losing DeMarcus Lawrence to free agency and they’ll need other guys to pick up the slack in case Taco Charlton doesn’t develop the way they hope. This pick could be Clemson’s Clellin Ferrell if they aren’t confident in him, however.

20. Detroit Lions-Ronald Jones II-RB-USC


The Lions have no ground game whatsoever. Ameer Abdullah has struggled in the feature back role and I think he’s better suited as a change of pace guy. Theo Riddick is purely a pass catching option. They really lack that one guy that can carry the load. Ronald Jones II can do that and then some. He kind of reminds me of a bigger Alvin Kamara with his skills not only as a runner, but as a receiver running routes. Watch his performance against Texas early in the season to see what I mean. He could be the feature back the Lions haven’t had since Barry Sanders.

21. Buffalo Bills-Lamar Jackson-QB-Louisville


I’m not in love with Lamar Jackson as a passer, I’d be a lot more intrigued by his potential if he were to convert to wide receiver, where I think is where teams can best utilize his abilities for the long term. However the former Heisman trophy winner does bring a lot to the table in terms of athleticism and he did improve his passing game from 2016-17, so it’s not unreasonable to think he can continue to grow in an NFL system. The Buffalo Bills clearly don’t envision Tyrod Taylor as their future, hence why he was randomly benched for Nathan Peterman midseason. Jackson plays a similar type of game to Taylor so they won’t have to adjust their playbook too much to accommodate his skillset like they might have to with a less mobile quarterback like Mason Rudolph. Plus the Bills already have a guy like LeSean McCoy at runningback, who could form a DEADLY read-option combination with Jackson.

22. Atlanta Falcons-Da’Ron Payne-DL-Alabama


Da’Ron Payne was the star of Alabama’s Sugar Bowl semifinal win over Clemson, as he had an interception AND a touchdown reception as a 310-pound defensive tackle. That’s the big man’s dream right there. Payne is also an excellent run stuffer, which could be very useful for a team like the Falcons, who currently employ Grady Jarrett and had to release Ra’Shede Hageman amidst domestic violence charges. Jarrett is set to become a free agent after the 2018 season, so establishing a running mate or potential heir would be beneficial in clogging the middle of the defense for the foreseeable future.

23. Tennessee Titans-Clellin Ferrell-EDGE-Clemson


The Titans are fairly old on the pass rushing front, as both Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are hovering around the age of 30 (Orakpo is 31, Morgan is 28). Both are also set to become free agents after 2018, heightening the need for an heir. Ferrell isn’t a finished product, but he’s super athletic and can really benefit from learning from the veteran pass rushers.

24. Carolina Panthers-Orlando Brown-OT-Oklahoma


The Panthers have always been in need of offensive linemen, though in 2017 they weren’t too bad, though Cam Newton was sacked 35 times, tied for 9th in the league. You’d like to bring that number below 30 if you can help it and if you’re going to grab an impact tackle in this Draft, you have to pull the trigger right now because after Orlando Brown there is a pretty steep drop-off in offensive line talent. Brown is pretty raw, but he is so freaking huge (6’7 340 pounds) that you can’t help but take a chance on him. He was Baker Mayfield’s chief protector at Oklahoma and helped Rodney Anderson rush for over 1000 yards.

25. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs)-Christian Kirk-WR-Texas A&M


Time to give Lamar Jackson a new toy to play with. Bills receivers had a pretty rough year in 2017, even after the acquisition of Kelvin Benjamin from the Panthers, as Antonio Brown outpaced their entire group by himself. They’ve got some size to them, as Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, and Zay Jones are all at least 6’2, but they lack that quick route runner that can act as kind of a safety blanket. Enter Christian Kirk. What he lacks in size (5’11 201 pounds), he makes up for in quickness and agility. No matter who is quarterbacking the Bills in 2018, I’m sure they’d love to have this guy in the slot.

26. New Orleans Saints-Christian Wilkins-DL-Clemson


Christian Wilkins was a guy a lot of people had in their preseason top 10 players, but he kind of fell off as the season went along, with some experts leaving him out of the first round altogether. I watched footage from the Auburn game and I can kind of see why Wilkins might have fallen off. He doesn’t really do anything particularly special. His technique is good, but I think he lacks the ideal strength you want out of your interior linemen, though I will admit, watching that tape, he improved in that as the game went along. But he is pretty quick and athletic and I think with a few more trips to the weight room, he could become a dangerous force. The Saints don’t have a single hole on their team that I can see so they can afford to draft and stash a guy like Wilkins and bank on his development.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars-Ronnie Harrison-S-Alabama

at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama.

Quarterback is the biggest need for the Jaguars, but given that Blake Bortles is set to hit free agency after this season, you would need that quarterback to start immediately and none of the remaining QBs are day one starters. I think the Jaguars will franchise tag Bortles before looking for a potential replacement (though he has looked really good these last few weeks). They could also go receiver here, but I think they’ll get another defender to add to that ruthless defense like Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison. Barry Church is up there in age and finding another enforcer-type in the secondary could help turn the Jaguars defense from a really exciting one to an all-timer. Harrison’s hit in the photograph above was one of my favorite plays from the Iron Bowl, as Kerryon Johnson was trying to make his way for the pylon before getting earholed by Harrison.

28. Los Angeles Rams-Joshua Jackson-CB-Iowa


Joshua Jackson led all of college football with 8 interceptions and the Rams could use a ball hawk like that at corner. Trumaine Johnson has been in the perpetual franchise tag so finding a potential successor could be in the Rams’ benefit. Jackson played with Chargers rookie standout Desmond King at Iowa so one would be forgiven for thinking he could provide a similar boost to an already strong defense. Plus, like with pass rushers, I feel that one can never have too many good corners.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers-Malik Jefferson-LB-Texas


I disagree with a lot of scouts on Malik Jefferson when watching footage. I read that he’s super athletic and he’d be best suited as an edge defender. Watching that footage, I didn’t think Jefferson looked that athletic, though I did like his technique a lot and he looked like he had a solid future as an off the ball linebacker. He rarely ever goes for the risky knockout hit, he consistently wraps up, and he’s pretty good in zone coverage (his man coverage leaves some to be desired). The Steelers could be in need of an inside linebacker soon. Vince Williams was a revelation this season, but the scary injury to Ryan Shazier could be career threatening and the Steelers may need to find a guy to fill the potential void.

30. Minnesota Vikings-Vita Vea-DL-Washington


A guy built like Vita Vea should not be as quick as he is. He’s 6’5 340 pounds but he moves like a guy 100 pounds lighter. Analysts, myself included, seem to be all over the map about where his projected value is and I think how he does at the Combine could be a huge barometer as to where he might end up. My main beef with him is I think he has a slow get-off. When I watched some of his early-season highlights, it seemed like the ball would be snapped, a whole second would pass by, and then he’d break out of his 3-point stance. If he can work on anticipating the snap, he’ll be unblockable. As if the Vikings need another impact defender, though I think defensive tackle is a weak spot for them. Sharrif Floyd is a really good player, don’t get me wrong, but he’s often injured and the Vikings fear they may have seen the last of him in the NFL. Plus, current starters Linval Joseph and Tom Johnson will each be in their 30’s next season, so getting younger at that position seems to be the wise move.

31. Philadelphia Eagles-Isaiah Oliver-CB-Colorado


On paper, it seems that the Eagles’ weakest position would be runningback and Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrogh, or Damien Harris could all be the pick here. However they seem to have found a way to make it work so I don’t think they will go that route. Instead, I think they go with the big corner in Isaiah Oliver. I only watched footage of one game on Oliver, I don’t even remember who they were playing, but he never got beat once in coverage by any receiver. He doesn’t appear to be particularly fast, but that’s not really his game a la Richard Sherman. I think he could struggle against smaller, shiftier receivers, but in a division with bigger receivers like Dez Bryant, Josh Doctson, possibly Courtland Sutton based on this mock draft, and ODell Beckham, a big corner to match up is a must.

32. New England Patriots-Mason Rudolph-QB-Oklahoma State


Patriots fans, settle down. I can explain. Quite frankly, I think the Patriots’ biggest needs are edge defender and potentially cornerback, depending on what happens with Malcolm Butler. If there isn’t a guy they like when they pick, I fully believe they will trade out of the pick. However I’m not projecting trades, so they have to stick here and in this mock I have them drafting a potential successor for Tom Brady. Bill Belichick is always grooming quarterbacks and they’ve all been used as trade pieces in the past. In fact, I thought Jacoby Brissett was far more raw than Mason Rudolph is when the Patriots took him in the third round of the 2016 Draft and he was able to start an entire season for the Colts. Rudolph has some pretty good arm talent, which I highlighted in my scouting quarterbacks blog, he just comes from a system that transitions pretty poorly to the NFL. However if he lands with the Patriots, I think he will be in the perfect situation to develop. Who better to learn from than Tom Brady and what better offense to work with than the Patriots? Plus, if Brady continues to play well into his 40’s and Rudolph impresses in practices and preseasons, the Patriots could have another trade chip on their hands.

That’s it for my first mock draft of the year. Let me know what you thought of it in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

NFL Picks: Week 17

Last Week: 13-3                 Season Record: 136-73

The regular season finale of my NFL Picks. This will likely be the hardest week to pick since the early season picks (you may remember those as the ones where I would consistently whiff horribly, including one week where I only hit on a single 1:00 game) because a lot of teams could be either resting their guys for the playoffs, or have nothing to lose and will try and play some young guys to see what they can do. Wouldn’t shock me if this week ends poorly for me. Not that I’m trying to use that as an excuse for bad picks or anything…

Detroit Lions (8-7) vs Green Bay Packers (7-8)

Two teams whose seasons will not be ending the way they had hoped. The Lions and Packers both had promising seasons as they each got off to good starts in the first quarter or so of the year. However the Packers’ season was basically canned the minute Anthony Barr landed on Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone and the Lions would shoot themselves in the foot with untimely poor play. This could potentially be Brett Hundley’s final audition should a QB-needy team become desperate and try to acquire his services. I think he plays with a little extra fire in him and leads the Packers to victory.

Projected Score: Packers 27 Lions 20

Houston Texans (4-11) vs Indianapolis Colts (3-12)

Like the Packers, the Colts’ season was over the minute Andrew Luck’s injury was discovered to be serious and wound up costing him his season. The Colts out of desperation acquired Jacoby Brissett from the Patriots in exchange for disappointing receiver Philip Dorsett, who has played sparingly for New England. Brissett played about as well as one could expect given how little time he had to learn the playbook, but the Colts struggled mightily in what may be the final season in Indy for Chuck Pagano. However, the Texans have also had a season from Hell, as injuries ravaged this young team. I actually think the Colts will win this game, though. This is really just a gut feeling.

Projected Score: Colts 21 Texans 13

Chicago Bears (5-10) vs Minnesota Vikings (12-3)


If the Vikings win this game, they will lock up the 2 seed in the NFC and a first round bye with a home game in the divisional round at the very least, so there’s still plenty to play for here. For the Bears, this season went about the way I expected it to, as they’re under .500 but not so bad that they can be deemed an embarrassment. Mitchell Trubisky has shown some flashes of a potentially solid career and I think the Bears would be wise to try and let him loose this week to see what he can achieve. What have you got to lose? However whether they make that call or not, I still believe that the Vikings will win. They’re just that much better than the Bears.

Projected Score: Vikings 31 Bears 17

New York Jets (5-10) vs New England Patriots (12-3)

The Jets seem to always play the Patriots hard and they nearly came out with a win several weeks ago (that weird Austin Seferian-Jenkins non-touchdown is still one of the more bizarre things to happen this season). The Patriots still have the 1 seed to play for, which they will obtain with a victory. The Patriots were in basically an identical situation last year and they put the beatdown on the Dolphins, so I expect a similar approach this year. The Jets have really outperformed their talent this year, so much so it earned head coach Todd Bowles an extension. However they still aren’t on the Patriots’ level.

Projected Score: Patriots 34 Jets 13

Washington Redskins (7-8) vs New York Giants (2-13)

I’m so glad I didn’t have this blog up at the start of the season in time for NFL season predictions because I do not want to have any sort of record of me thinking the Giants were going to win the NFC East this year. Thank God for small miracles. The Giants will start Eli Manning, however since Geno Smith will be inactive, I think they will give Davis Webb a chance at some point to show what he can do. I don’t think it will be enough for them to beat the Redskins, though. They gave up on this year a long time ago.

Projected Score: Redskins 30 Giants 10

Dallas Cowboys (8-7) vs Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

The Eagles have already locked up the 1 seed in the NFC and the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs with their loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve, so there really isn’t anything to gain from this game. I think the Eagles will play their starters for a little bit just to keep them warm and the Cowboys will try and end this disappointing season on a high note. I’m picking the Cowboys to win this game.

Projected Score: Cowboys 20 Eagles 16

Cleveland Browns (0-15) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)


Sorry, Browns fans, I don’t see this one happening, which really hurts to say because I hate seeing teams go winless. It sucked seeing it happen to the Lions in 2008 and it’s going to suck this year. Which is a shame, too, because I think there are some talented pieces in Cleveland. The Steelers are playing for a shot at the one seed so I don’t envision them holding back.

Projected Score: Steelers 35 Browns 7

Carolina Panthers (11-4) vs Atlanta Falcons (9-6)

This is an extremely important game for both teams. For the Panthers, they have a shot at a division title and possibly a first round bye with a win, wild card game with a loss. Meanwhile the Falcons are in the playoffs with a win while their future will be uncertain with a loss. It will depend on what happens with the Seahawks. I think the Falcons will win this game, though. I think they’ve got just a tad bit more incentive than the Panthers, which can go a long way for a team on the bubble.

Projected Score: Falcons 24 Panthers 20

Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) vs Baltimore Ravens (9-6)

The Ravens are in perhaps the best situation of the four teams vying for the final two Wild Card spots in the AFC. A win and they’re the 5 seed, however a loss could eliminate them depending on what happens with the Titans, Chargers, and Bills. The Bengals’ season is over and Marvin Lewis’ tenure in Cincinnati will pretty much be over after this game. I’ve got the Ravens taking care of business and returning to the postseason.

Projected Score: Ravens 28 Bengals 17

Buffalo Bills (8-7) vs Miami Dolphins (6-9)

The Bills need a win and some help in order to make the playoffs. In order to get in for the first time in the 21st century, they will need to win and 2 out of the 3 teams they’re competing with to lose, that being the Ravens, Titans, and Chargers. There’s still a chance, but their odds are the lowest of the four. I do think they will do their part and beat Miami, though. But I think Miami will give them a fight. This team has struck me as the type that will enjoy playing the role of spoiler.

Projected Score: Bills 17 Dolphins 13

New Orleans Saints (11-4) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11)

at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Saints clinch their division with a win, as they hold the tie breaker over the Panthers. The Buccaneers have been a major disappointment this season, though reports are that head coach Dirk Koetter will be retained for next season, as I had suggested in my head coach hot seat blog. It may end up being next year that the Buccaneers take that next step, but this game will be about trying to salvage what you can out of a lost season. I think the Saints will win and clinch the NFC South.

Projected Score: Saints 38 Buccaneers 20

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5) vs Tennessee Titans (8-7)

If the Titans win, then they’re in. The Jaguars have nothing to gain from this game, as they’re already locked into the 3 seed, so if I’m head coach Doug Marrone, I’m considering resting my star players in preparation for the playoffs, which very easily could be a rematch against this very Titans team. Despite the Titans having everything to lose in this game, I do think the Jaguars will pull this one out despite not utilizing all of their talent. Just a hunch.

Projected Score: Jaguars 34 Titans 27

Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) vs Denver Broncos (5-10)

Both teams will be starting their young quarterbacks in this game. Since the Chiefs have nothing to gain, as they’re locked into the 4 seed, Andy Reid will be starting rookie first rounder Pat Mahomes to give Alex Smith some rest. The Broncos will be going with Paxton Lynch in a last ditch effort to see if he’s going to be worth waiting on. The former first rounder really hasn’t shown much, if anything in his two years in the league and this game could be extremely important in establishing confidence in him for the future. If not, I expect the Broncos to be a team to watch for in the 2018 Draft. I think Mahomes will do okay overall, as I believe he will make a few throws that will show you why he was the 10th pick in the draft. However I actually think the Broncos will win this due to the fact the Chiefs will be going half-staffed, so to speak.

Projected Score: Broncos 17 Chiefs 10

Oakland Raiders (6-9) vs Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)


The Raiders were the preseason darlings of the AFC after a stellar 2016 season, however things just haven’t gone their way in 2017. I think they need to look to improve their defense in the offseason. The Chargers have a chance to make the playoffs after starting the year 0-4, which if things go the way my blog predicts, they’ll have an opportunity to do with a win, considering I predicted the Titans to lose. I think for that reason, the Chargers will get the job done and will get into the playoffs with a win over the Raiders.

Projected Score: Chargers 28 Raiders 24

San Francisco 49ers (5-10) vs Los Angeles Rams (11-4)

Last week I predicted the Jaguars would be Jimmy Garoppolo’s undoing. Then he went and dropped 44 on them. The Rams also boast a tough defense with the potential to throw him off his game, but after what he did to Jacksonville, I’m not so sure they’ll be able to do it, especially considering the Rams have already locked up the NFC West. Offensively the Rams have been an absolute revelation this season and they’ve been really fun to watch under Sean McVay, who could very easily win coach of the year. I do have the Rams winning, though. However Jimmy G will probably make me look dumb for saying so.

Projected Score: Rams 27 49ers 24

Arizona Cardinals (7-8) vs Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

There are no primetime games this week so this here is essentially the final game of the regular season. If I weren’t working, I’d be living on NFL Red Zone all day, as every single game will be featured on it. Based on what I have happening, the Seahawks will have already been eliminated before this game even starts, as I predicted the Falcons to win. However, if the Panthers wind up beating the Falcons, then a win would clinch a playoff berth for the Seahawks. I think they will win regardless, though, and be the casualties of what has been a very tough NFC this year.

Projected Score: Seahawks 28 Cardinals 21

That’s it for my regular season NFL picks. The first week of the New Year will be my end-of-year series for the NFL, which will be something similar to what I did with the MLB season. I can’t promise that will start New Year’s Day, though. Pretty much from 11 am until sometime after midnight on New Year’s Day I will be busy. I’d give it a 25% chance of there being a blog. Please leave a comment below or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon. Happy New Year everybody.

Coaching Hot Seats in the NFL

First off, my apologies for no blog yesterday, I couldn’t think of anything to write about. But I’ve got a few ideas in my brain now so it shouldn’t be an issue. I’m also somehow more busier when I’m home than I am when I’m at school so sometimes life gets in the way for me.

Now that that’s out of the way, Black Monday is coming up in the NFL and Week 17 will be a huge deciding factor for a lot of organizations about the future of their head coach. Of course, there are some coaches who will never ever have to worry about their job security (Bill Belichick) but others aren’t so fortunate. Whether that’s because of the situation they’re in or a lack of success, football can be a cruel game, especially when it comes to the coaches. I don’t remember who said this, but the perfect quote is “you’re hired to get fired” about an NFL coach’s career. It’s mainly just the all-time greats who have total job security and even then that’s not always the case. So with that, let’s take a look at the coaches on the hot seat.

Hue Jackson-Cleveland Browns


2017 Record: 0-15

Record with current team: 1-30

Jesus that record. Hue Jackson’s not a bad coach but you wouldn’t know it based on what his record says. He was 8-8 in his one year as the head coach of the Raiders but was randomly fired by Al Davis, despite the fact that record was the best they had since losing Super Bowl XXXVII. He was also beloved by his players while he was runningbacks coach with the Bengals. So I think he will find a job somewhere if the Browns do fire him, most likely as a coordinator or position coach. Front office people have said that Jackson will return in 2018, but I think that was also said with the confidence that the Browns wouldn’t go 0-16. But they’re 1 game away and they face a Steelers team that one could make an argument is the best in the NFL. So I think if the Browns go 0-16, Jackson will be given his pink slip. But I actually do believe that if the Browns win that game, then he will save his job. Just a gut feeling because that is a very untalented Browns team, particularly on offense, and it’s unfair to place the totality of the blame on him.

Seat Temperature: Pretty Damn Hot

Chuck Pagano-Indianapolis Colts


2017 Record: 3-12

Record with current team: 52-43

The Colts have taken an absolute nosedive since getting blown out in the 2014-15 AFC Championship game against the Patriots (and no, I’m not going to mention what that game is most known for). Pagano was looking like one of the top coaches in the league but the lack of talent on the roster was rearing its ugly head. I think what happened was it was Bill Polian’s guys that Pagano was succeeding with and once they started getting older (Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Reggie Wayne) or retiring, the Ryan Grigson guys started rearing their ugly heads. Thankfully for Colts fans, Grigson was canned and I thought they had a pretty good draft in 2017, as Malik Hooker was playing really well until his injury and Quincy Wilson has really emerged in the last couple weeks. The next step is to get a new head coach to take the next step. I can’t imagine Pagano returning, no matter what happens in Week 17.

Seat Temperature: Volcanic

Marvin Lewis-Cincinnati Bengals


2017 Record: 6-9

Record with current team: 124-112-3

I’m not sure how Marvin Lewis made it this long. If he couldn’t get fired after that AFC Wild Card debacle against the Steelers a couple years ago, then his job was eternally safe. But it appears that he won’t be returning as head coach of the Bengals. He’s been one of the best coaches the franchise has ever had but his lack of playoff success (he’s never won a playoff game) is really what looms large as well as the downward spiral the Bengals have been on the last couple years. I’m sure somebody else will hire him to become their next head coach, though. He’s had too much success in Cincinnati to be relegated to position coach. Somebody else will sign him, whether it be for 2018 or sometime after, if he decides to take a break from coaching.

Seat Temperature: Scorching

Bill O’Brien-Houston Texans


2017 Record: 4-11

Record with current team: 31-32

I hate talking about him being on the hot seat because I actually played on a football team with his nephew my freshman year of high school. But Bill O’Brien might be on the hot seat after a disastrous season in Houston. Quite frankly, I think he’s going to be fine. The Texans showed a ton of promise when Deshaun Watson started taking off. But the story of the Texans’ season has been injuries. Watson, JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, CJ Fiedorowicz, and Brian Cushing all either missed substantial time or were put on IR at some point. I think Bill O’Brien will be back next year just simply because everything that went wrong was kind of out of his control.

Seat Temperature: Pretty Comfortable

Mike Mularkey-Tennessee Titans


2017 Record: 8-7

Record with current team: 19-21

This might be a little surprising because the Titans are in the thick of a playoff race, however I think Mularkey might be in trouble if they don’t make the postseason simply because of how much the team has regressed based on the eye test, particularly Marcus Mariota. Mariota struggled mightily in 2017 and this was supposed to be the year where the former #2 pick took the next step. Somehow the Titans control their own destiny to make the playoffs despite all their issues but it’s not encouraging for the future. This kind of luck isn’t sustainable. I think if the Titans lose to the Jaguars on Sunday and miss the playoffs, then Mularkey will get canned. If they win and get in, though, then I think he will be fine.

Seat Temperature: Pretty Warm

Jay Gruden-Washington Redskins


2017 Record: 7-8

Record with current team: 28-34-1

The Redskins didn’t really get much better in 2017 and a lot of that can be due in part to all the turnover on offense from last season, as basically their entire receiving corps left in free agency. A lot of people think Gruden might get the axe just because the Redskins have been kind of stagnant the last couple years. This to me is probably the trickiest one to pinpoint because I feel like I’d want to keep him if I’m Dan Snyder but I’d also understand if they wanted to fire him just because they’ve been running in place the last couple years. A part of me does feel like he might be on his way out, though. Just a gut feeling. I personally think I would keep him for next year, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went another direction. If he does, I do think he will eventually get another head coaching gig.

Seat Temperature: Room Temperature

John Fox-Chicago Bears


2017 record: 5-10

Record with current team: 14-33

Fox is a good coach, as evidenced by his tenures in Carolina and Denver. But it was just a bad situation with Chicago. He probably kind of figured he’d be rebuilding, but the Bears just don’t really have anything exciting going for them as offensively they’ve been really stagnant with the exception of Jordan Howard. There’s no passing game and that’s really what ends up being the deciding factor. I think the Bears and Fox will mutually part ways, I don’t think this will be an outright firing, I get a sense that Fox would want a fresh start as well. This isn’t based on anything I heard this is just another vibe I’ve got.

Seat Temperature: Mutually Hot

Dirk Koetter-Tampa Bay Buccaneers


2017 Record: 4-11

Record with current team: 13-18

It’s only been two years for Koetter, but the Bucs took a HUGE step backward in 2017. They showed about as much promise as any team headed into this season especially after watching Hard Knocks. There was just this spring in everyone’s step that had you really excited for these guys. But then their kicking game started killing games for them and I think that really put a damper on this team’s confidence. I’ve heard a lot of people saying they want Koetter gone, but I don’t think that’s fair. I would give him another year to kind of righten the ship. But they need to do something because it’s basically the same situation as with Tennessee, where Jameis Winston, who was primed for a breakout year, took a huge step backward. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get fired for that reason but I also think there’s potential with him.

Seat Temperature: Reasonably Warm

Vance Joseph-Denver Broncos


2017 Record: 5-10

Record with current team: 5-10

Vance Joseph did not have the time of his life this year. The Broncos really struggled, especially on the offensive side of the ball and a lot of that is due to poor quarterback play. I don’t think Joseph will get fired because the defense kept the status quo for the most part this year. But to give him a chance, they NEED to draft a quarterback with their high pick. They have to land either Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. Perhaps if the Browns are comfortable with Deshone Kizer then maybe they could pull off a blockbuster, which I think would be worth it to get the quarterback of the future.

Seat Temperature: Cold

Ron Rivera-Carolina Panthers


2017 Record: 11-4

Record with current team: 64-46

This is kind of a weird one. The Panthers are having a great year but the whole Jerry Richardson situation may put Rivera’s job security in question. Normally, Rivera would have nothing to worry about, but anytime there’s new ownership, which could include P Diddy, Steph Curry, and Colin Kaepernick, change is inevitable. I think they will retain Rivera just because of the success he’s had in Carolina, but I feel like he may be on the hot seat in the near future.

Seat Temperature: Moderately Temperate. 

And obviously the Giants will need to find a new guy, as they’ve already fired Ben McAdoo. Kind of a no-brainer there. So those are my thoughts on potential coaching changes. After Black Monday I’ll discuss the inverse of this, who I think could get hired, which will be a much more positive blog. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.