NFL Draft Primer

So I’m taking a brief break from my hiatus. This will be the one blog I post before one of my papers is done, though. My Hulk Hogan paper is most of the way done and the due date got pushed back a couple days so I feel comfortable briefly getting back to the blog for today. I won’t be regularly posting again until I’m done with both papers, however. I’ve got an interview for my other paper set up for Wednesday, though. He’s a guy who gives great insight so hopefully his interview will write a large chunk of my paper for me. So anyways, with the blog, the original plan with this week’s Draft thing was going to be just a Big Board, however I thought about it and I think I want to do a little bit more. Basically superlative stuff that will lead into the Big Board. I think that would be a little more interesting than just ranking 50 prospects with no explanations. So let’s get to the Superlatives. The one superlative I won’t do is “best prospect” because that would spoil my Big Board rankings.

Most NFL-Ready Quarterback: Josh Rosen-UCLA

Rosen is the one quarterback I’d be comfortable with starting Day 1. He does everything well on the field. The complaints about him are mainly questions about his love of football, but I doubt that it’s as profound as people are making it out to be. He’s just a guy who has lots of interests, football being one of them. He’s about as good a quarterback prospect as I’ve seen since Jameis Winston and Rosen doesn’t have the off-field baggage the former Florida State Heisman winner had.

Prospect I Just Don’t Understand the Hype For: Vita Vea-DL-Washington

Vita Vea is huge (6’5 340 pounds) and a really good athlete for his size. But every time I watch footage of him to try and understand why scouts love his game so much, I leave just as confused as before. Yeah he clogs space, but his get-off is so slow that any quality NFL offensive lineman is going to get the edge on him. He also kind of just plays patty-cake with offensive linemen when he does eventually get off the ball. Granted, he is my #2 interior defensive lineman, but that’s mainly because I do see potential with him. If he can work on his reaction to the snap, then I think he could be a beast and be impossible to run on.

Prospect I Like More Than Other People Do: Deshon Elliott-S-Texas

Elliott’s a guy that a lot of people have going in the third or fourth round of this year’s draft. I think he’s a high second-rounder, maybe even late-one if my defense needs a centerfielder-type safety. His instincts are really impressive to me and he always seems to be around the football, as he takes good routes to the ball-carrier. My one issue with him is that he looks like he lacks confidence as a tackler. He’ll make the tackle, but he seems hesitant to shoot the gap and deliver the hit. But he is as good a ball-hawk as there is in the nation. Just watch the USC game. He seemed to have Sam Darnold’s number all night. And one thing to note about guys that I like more than others. In the past, that honor has been held by the likes of Keenan Allen, Justin Houston, and Alex Collins. Just saying.

Most Impressive Prospect: Shaquem Griffin-LB-Central Florida

It kills me that I haven’t gotten a real chance to blog about this dude yet because he really is an inspirational story. He had to get his hand amputated when he was young due to a birth defect and for a lot of people, that would be the end of their usefulness. But Griffin instead became one of the top linebackers in the country and absolutely blew up the NFL Scouting Combine. He needed to use a prosthetic hand so that he could do the bench press, but he then went on to do 20 reps at 225 pounds. I have 2 perfectly functioning hands and the best I’ve done on the bench press is 5 reps at 165 pounds. Oh and there’s the whole thing about how he ran the fastest 40-yard dash ever recorded by a linebacker at 4.38. I watched his Auburn tape after this and he pretty much took over that game. He’s so quick that he can make offensive linemen look really stupid when he’s rushing the passer. He’d probably be a top-5 pick if he had two hands based on the tape I’ve seen and his Combine performance. But the guy has 4 career interceptions for God’s sake. I really do think he could be the steal of the Draft.

Most Intriguing Prospect: DJ Chark-WR-LSU

I had heard nothing about this guy until the Combine. Then he measured at 6’4 and ran the fastest 40-yard dash at 4.34. Those are Calvin Johnson-like measurables. However his production at LSU was limited. He did have over 800 yards as a senior but poor quarterback play I think hindered his ability to reach his potential. He could be one of those lesser-known guys that really blows up once he hits the NFL.

And now, on to the Big Board.

50. Shaquem Griffin-LB-Central Florida

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49. Courtland Sutton-WR-SMU

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48. James Daniels-C-Iowa

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47. Harrison Phillips-DL-Stanford

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46. Donte Jackson-CB-LSU

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45. Mason Rudolph-QB-Oklahoma State

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44. Ronald Jones II-RB-USC

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43. Mike Gesicki-TE-Penn State

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42. Uchenna Nwosu-EDGE-USC

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41. Deshon Elliott-S-Texas

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40. Taven Bryan-DL-Florida

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39. Maurice Hurst-DL-Michigan

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38. Carlton Davis-CB-Auburn

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

37. Sam Hubbard-EDGE-Ohio State

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36. Will Hernandez-OG-UTEP

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35. Brian O’Neill-OT-Pittsburgh

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34. Derrius Guice-RB-LSU

at Neyland Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

33. Mike Hughes-CB-Central Florida

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32. Malik Jefferson-LB-Texas

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31. Jaire Alexander-CB-Louisville

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30. Ronnie Harrison-S-Alabama

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

29. Dallas Goedert-TE-South Dakota State

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28. Isaiah Wynn-OG-Georgia

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27. Leighton Vander Esch-LB-Boise State

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26. DJ Moore-WR-Maryland

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25. Justin Reid-S-Stanford

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24. Isaiah Oliver-CB-Colorado

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23. Rashaan Evans-LB-Alabama 

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22. Kolton Miller-OT-UCLA

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21. Mike McGlinchey-OT-Notre Dame

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20. Josh Jackson-CB-Iowa

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19. Harold Landry-EDGE-Boston College

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18. Vita Vea-DL-Washington

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17. Da’Ron Payne-DL-Alabama

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16. Josh Allen-QB-Wyoming

during the first half of a game on December 21, 2016 in San Diego, California.

15. Christian Kirk-WR-Texas A&M

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14. Connor Williams-OT-Texas

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13. Baker Mayfield-QB-Oklahoma

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12. Derwin James-S-Florida State

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11. Calvin Ridley-WR-Alabama

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10. Roquan Smith-LB-Georgia

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9. Sam Darnold-QB-USC

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8. Josh Rosen-QB-UCLA

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7. Marcus Davenport-EDGE-UTSA

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6. Tremaine Edmunds-LB-Virginia Tech

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5. Quenton Nelson-OG-Notre Dame

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4. Denzel Ward-CB-Ohio State

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3. Minkah Fitzpatrick-S-Alabama

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2. Bradley Chubb-EDGE-North Carolina State

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1. Saquon Barkley-RB-Penn State

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So that’s it for today’s blog. Again, I won’t be posting consistently until my papers are done. But I will guarantee that I will have my mock draft ready for next Thursday’s event. Let me know what you think of the primer in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

2018 NFL Draft Positional Rankings

With the 2018 NFL Draft just a couple weeks away, I thought I’d do things a little different. The week of the Draft (more specifically, April 26) I will have my final Mock Draft published. The week before, I’ll have my final Big Board. This week, as you can see because you’re reading it, we’ve got my positional rankings. These rankings are based on my personal feelings about each prospect. I haven’t gotten to watch film on all of them so there are a bunch that will be there based on reports I’ve read and other rankings I’ve seen. These rankings also won’t be reflective about where I think they’ll go in the Draft, as team fits and needs will play a factor in that. However, they will somewhat reflect my Big Board. So without further ado, let’s get to the positional rankings.

Quarterback

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1. Josh Rosen-UCLA

2. Sam Darnold-USC

3. Baker Mayfield-Oklahoma

4. Josh Allen-Wyoming

5. Mason Rudolph-Oklahoma State

6. Lamar Jackson-Louisville

7. Luke Falk-Washington State

8. Mike White-Western Kentucky

9. Kyle Lauletta-Richmond

10. Logan Woodside-Toledo

Runningback

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1. Saquon Barkley-Penn State

2. Derrius Guice-LSU

3. Ronald Jones II-USC

4. Sony Michel-Georgia

5. Nick Chubb-Georgia

6. Rashaad Penny-San Diego State

7. Nyheim Hines-North Carolina State

8. Bo Scarbrough-Alabama

9. Royce Freeman-Oregon

10. Kerryon Johnson-Auburn

Wide Receiver

at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

1. Calvin Ridley-Alabama

2. Christian Kirk-Texas A&M

3. DJ Moore-Maryland

4. Courtland Sutton-SMU

5. DJ Chark-LSU

6. Anthony Miller-Memphis

7. James Washington-Oklahoma State

8. Tre’Quan Smith-Central Florida

9. Jaleel Scott-New Mexico State

10. Dante Pettis-Washington

Tight End

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1. Dallas Goedert-South Dakota State

2. Mike Gesicki-Penn State

3. Hayden Hurst-South Carolina

4. Ian Thomas-Indiana

5. Mark Andrews-Oklahoma

6. Troy Fumagalli-Wisconsin

7. Durham Smythe-Notre Dame

8. Dalton Schultz-Stanford

9. Jaylen Samuels-North Carolina State

10. Tyler Conklin-Central Michigan

Offensive Tackle

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1. Connor Williams-Texas

2. Mike McGlinchey-Notre Dame

3. Kolton Miller-UCLA

4. Brian O’Neill-Pittsburgh

5. Tyrell Crosby-Oregon

6. Jamarco Jones-Ohio State

7. Geron Christian-Louisville

8. Martinas Rankin-Mississippi State

9. Orlando Brown-Oklahoma

10. Chukwuma Okorafor-Western Michigan

Offensive Guard

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1. Quenton Nelson-Notre Dame

2. Isaiah Wynn-Georgia

3. Will Hernandez-UTEP

4. Braden Smith-Auburn

5. Wyatt Teller-Virginia Tech

6. Tyrone Crowder-Clemson

7. Sean Welsh-Iowa

8. Taylor Hearn-Clemson

9. Colby Gossett-Appalachian State

10. Sam Jones-Arizona State

Center

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1. James Daniels-Iowa

2. Billy Price-Ohio State

3. Frank Ragnow-Arkansas

4. Bradley Bozeman-Alabama

5. Mason Cole-Michigan

6. Will Clapp-LSU

7. Austin Corbett-Nevada

8. Brian Allen-Michigan State

9. Scott Quessenberry-UCLA

10. Coleman Shelton-Washington

Edge Rusher

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1. Bradley Chubb-North Carolina State

2. Marcus Davenport-UTSA

3. Harold Landry-Boston College

4. Sam Hubbard-Ohio State

5. Uchenna Nwosu-USC

6. Lorenzo Carter-Georgia

7. Josh Sweat-Florida State

8. Arden Key-LSU

9. Dorance Armstrong Jr-Kansas

10. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo-Oklahoma

Defensive Line

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1. Da’Ron Payne-Alabama

2. Vita Vea-Washington

3. Maurice Hurst-Michigan

4. Taven Bryan-Florida

5. Harrison Phillips-Stanford

6. Rasheem Green-USC

7. BJ Hill-North Carolina State

8. Tim Settle-Virginia Tech

9. Derrick Nnadi-Florida State

10. Will Geary-Kansas State

Linebacker

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1. Tremaine Edmunds-Virginia Tech

2. Roquan Smith-Georgia

3. Rashaan Evans-Alabama

4. Leighton Vander Esch-Boise State

5. Malik Jefferson-Texas

6. Shaquem Griffin-Central Florida

7. Josey Jewell-Iowa

8. Jerome Baker-Ohio State

9. Tegray Scales-Indiana

10. Micah Kiser-Virginia

Cornerback

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1. Denzel Ward-Ohio State

2. Josh Jackson-Iowa

3. Isaiah Oliver-Colorado

4. Jaire Alexander-Louisville

5. Mike Hughes-Central Florida

6. Carlton Davis-Auburn

7. Donte Jackson-LSU

8. Duke Dawson-Florida

9. MJ Stewart-North Carolina

10. Anthony Averett-Alabama

Safety

Alabama at Vanderbilt

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick-Alabama

2. Derwin James-Florida State

3. Justin Reid-Stanford

4. Ronnie Harrison-Alabama

5. Deshon Elliott-Texas

6. Jessie Bates III-Wake Forest

7. Jordan Whitehead-Pittsburgh

8. Quin Blanding-Virginia

9. Terrell Edmunds-Virginia Tech

10. Marcus Allen-Penn State

Those are my positional rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft class. Let me know what you think of them in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

General Sports: April 3

Before I get into General Sports, I would like to apologize for my April Fool’s joke about Kraft firing Belichick. That day I had nothing to write about and then the realization that April Fool’s Day was the next day crept up and I knew what I had to do. I went to the topic that terrifies New Englanders the most and played with their fears. I apologize. But it was funny so I feel like I was justified in doing so. I also want to apologize for there not being a blog yesterday. I have 3 10-page papers due at the end of the semester and the first draft of one was due Monday night so I spent all of Sunday working on it and by the time I was done, I was so burnt out from writing that a blog was out of the question. Admittedly it was an enjoyable paper to write. I was talking about the adaptation from book to film for the Lord of the Rings trilogy for a Writing Media Criticisms paper. Even so, writing almost 3000 words when your grade is on the line takes a lot out of you. So with that being said, let’s get to General Sports.

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-I admittedly didn’t watch nearly as much of the National Championship game for college basketball as I would’ve liked. I was in a games class and we were playing Dungeons and Dragons in it. My character is a gnome paladin named Gnome Sain (say it out loud). But enough nerd shit, congratulations to Villanova for winning their third title and second in 3 years. Nova is the fourth team this millennium to win all of their tournament games by double digits and they covered the spread in every single game. Michigan looked really good for the first 10 minutes, but suddenly they couldn’t find the bottom of the net and Villanova got hot and never looked back. As for my bracket, this is the third time I picked the champion, first time since 2012 when Anthony Davis’ Kentucky squad was the easiest pick on the planet. I also picked Kemba Walker’s UConn team the year before, not to brag. My bracket this year finished in the 97.3 percentile, that’s the real victory of this college basketball season.

-It is being reported that the Browns’ plan for the Draft is to take Josh Allen #1 and take Saquon Barkley with their 4th pick. The odds of this happening intensify by the news that leaked that the Giants intend on taking Sam Darnold if the Browns do pick Allen. I hate the decision by the Browns to take Allen, but again, with Tyrod Taylor there for a year he doesn’t need to start immediately. Allen is extremely talented but raw as Hell and he will need time to sit and learn. Hoping that Barkley is still there may be wishful thinking, however given that the Giants seemingly are all in on Darnold, that really only leaves the Jets as their competition for Barkley, who traded up with the Colts seemingly for the purpose of taking a quarterback, which would be either Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield. If the Browns can leave with a haul of Allen and Barkley, they’ll be in really good shape.

-More Draft news, it is being reported that the Bills are trying “desperately” to trade into the top 5 to select a quarterback. Right now AJ McCarron is the starter and he’s unproven despite a decent three game stretch with the Bengals a couple years ago. The top 4 teams, as outlined in the previous bullet point, seem to be set with what they want to do so it’s really Denver that they’re likely going to be trying to deal with. The problem is the Broncos also need a quarterback despite signing Case Keenum. Despite the fact that the Bills have two first round picks in 2018 (#12 and #22), I think they’re going to have a tough time pulling this off. The Bills would also need to be totally set on all 4 quarterbacks because odds are they’re going to end up with whichever guy gets picked last because there’s a pretty solid chance the Browns, Giants, and Jets all take one. Based on my rankings, Josh Allen would be the fourth quarterback, however the Browns may see him as #1, which would shift Baker Mayfield to that spot. But again, we also don’t know how the Jets see things, so that pick could be Josh Rosen. Based on the rumors we do have, though, it seems clear that Sam Darnold won’t be a Bill. If your head hurts, then you know it’s Draft season.

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-Former UCLA head football coach Jim Mora had some less than encouraging words about his former quarterback Rosen, who is trying to get drafted. He said that Rosen “needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored” and this comes a week after saying the Browns should take Darnold over Rosen. This alone is a huge red flag for Rosen as his own head coach isn’t giving him a roaring endorsement. I’m ignoring the part where Mora blames this on Rosen being a millennial because that really doesn’t matter when it comes to one’s focus. Plus it just sounds like “old man screams at cloud.” Rosen is my top-rated quarterback but perhaps his dedication to football may be in question. But if I’m Rosen, I’m feeling completely betrayed here. The most intimate relationship between a coach and a player in any sport is typically that of the head coach and quarterback in football and for Mora to say things like this for the public and hurt your draft stock during the most important time of your life has to feel like a knife in the back. I did hear one take that said that Mora could’ve been doing this to ensure that Rosen doesn’t get taken by the Browns, which is something that has been public knowledge for some time, but if so, why would you ever go to the general public about that? You realize every team has access to that, not just the Browns, right? I’d believe that a little more if it was a private conversation that got leaked. Mora did backtrack and say the comments were supposed to be positive, but the damage had been done, especially considering the Darnold comments.

-Aaron Donald is terrifying.

Those are knives in his blocking “dummy’s” hands. What the Hell, dude. That’s your Defensive Player of the Year, though. That guy is going to be lining up alongside Ndamukong Suh next season. Offensive lines beware.

-And lastly, my family is getting a new puppy. It’s a girl and she’s supposed to be ready for pickup on April 16. Here’s a picture.

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We’re still deciding on names. Right now the favorites are “Molly” and “Maizie Blue” (my mom is a Michigan alum). Any other name suggestions would be very welcome. If you want a point of reference, the other two dogs we have are named Fred and Izzy, if that helps your naming decision at all.

That’s going to do it for this edition of General Sports. Let me know what you think of the topics discussed and how cute my new puppy is in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10. Also be sure to share your suggestions for the puppy’s name.

2018 NFL Mock Draft #3

With about a month left until the 2018 NFL Draft, I figured it’d be a good time to do another NFL Mock Draft now that the Combine and Pro Days are pretty much concluded. I will do one more to publish the morning of the Draft on April 26. So look out for that. As for this mock, it’s going to follow the same rules they always do: I won’t be projecting trades and I base the selections on what I would do if I were making decisions. So let’s get to the mock.

1. Cleveland Browns-Sam Darnold-QB-USC

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I’ve let it be known that Sam Darnold isn’t my #1 QB, but I think that he’ll be the Browns’ top selection in the Draft. Darnold had a really good pro day, if reports are to be believed, and a large portion of the Browns’ brass was present for it. My one knock against Darnold is his throwing motion and that’s something that needs to be worked on, but after the Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor, whose contract expires after the 2018 season, Darnold is under no pressure to start right away and can get the prep work he needs. So it’s a rare case of actually being in a good position being drafted by the Browns for once.

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

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This very easily could be a quarterback or an edge rusher like Bradley Chubb after the Giants traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers. But I think Barkley’s the pick here as the Giants take the best player in the Draft. With ODell Beckham’s future in New York suddenly in doubt, the Giants’ need for a playmaker in the backfield intensifies. Barkley is the safest runningback prospect since Ezekiel Elliott and upon joining the Giants, there will be a RAGING debate over who is better between him and Barkley between the arch rival fans of the Cowboys and Giants.

3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts)-Josh Rosen-QB-UCLA

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After the Jets traded 3 second round picks to the Colts to move up 3 spots, it makes me think that they are adamant about taking one of the top quarterbacks. Rosen is my top-ranked quarterback and really the only knock against him is off the field as there are concerns over his love of football and his being kind of a douche. But on the field he has everything you look for and I think is the only quarterback in this class I genuinely believe could start right away. The Jets signed Teddy Bridgewater and are bringing back Josh McCown so he doesn’t need to be rushed into a starting role if he is the pick here.

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

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Browns go best player available here and they fill the need of a playmaker in the secondary. Fitzpatrick is a very similar player to Jabrill Peppers, whom the Browns took 25th overall last year, but Fitzpatrick is better suited as a centerfielder-like safety while Peppers is better suited as a slot corner. This selection would allow both guys to slot in where they fit best as the Browns tried Peppers in that centerfielder role, where he struggled.

5. Denver Broncos-Baker Mayfield-QB-Oklahoma

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I’m going based on my rankings between the picks of Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. The Broncos signed Case Keenum so Mayfield doesn’t have to start right away, which is perfect for him as he played in an air raid system that translates poorly to the NFL. He, like Pat Mahomes last year, needs a year to learn how to run an NFL offense and his playmaking ability could make him a star in Denver. There are concerns over his character but I’m not worried about that. I see his on-field antics as intensity and passion rather than arrogance like it was with Johnny Manziel.

6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets)-Bradley Chubb-EDGE-North Carolina State

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If the Colts are still able to land Chubb after moving back from the third overall pick and acquiring 3 second rounders in the process, new GM Chris Ballard is going to look like a freaking genius. Chubb and Fitzpatrick are 1A and 1B in terms of best defensive players in this class and Chubb was a monster at the NFL Combine, further cementing himself as the top edge prospect. The Colts need help pretty much anywhere on the defensive side of the ball so getting a game wrecker like Chubb helps every unit.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Denzel Ward-CB-Ohio State

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I can see the Buccaneers going for another edge rusher even after acquiring JPP from the Giants, however I think Marcus Davenport might be a bit of a reach at this point given how raw a player he is so I think getting some secondary help would be huge here. Vernon Hargreaves is a solid corner but his lack of size limits who he’d be able to cover. Denzel Ward is a decent size for a corner at 5’11 190 pounds and his coverage skills are tremendous so it’ll allow Hargreaves to focus more on the smaller, shiftier receivers while Ward takes the bigger guys.

8. Chicago Bears-Calvin Ridley-WR-Alabama

Alabama at Vanderbilt

Despite acquiring Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, you can never have enough weapons for Mitchell Trubisky. Calvin Ridley is the best receiver in the class and he had a decent combine. I think this is a bit of a reach at this slot and the Bears could easily go for Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson to help shore up the offensive line, but we’ve seen what having a ton of weapons to throw to has done for a guy like Carson Wentz (and eventually, Nick Foles) and new head coach Matt Nagy likes to run basically the same offense that Doug Pederson and the Eagles ran (both are former OC’s with the Chiefs).

9. San Francisco 49ers-Quenton Nelson-OG-Notre Dame

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I’ve seen some people have Quenton Nelson as high as second overall to the Giants, which is unheard of for a guard. Nelson’s really good but I don’t know if he’s second overall pick good. I saw too many instances where he looked caught off guard by complex blitz packages in pass protection. However he would be an immediate upgrade over anyone on the 49ers offensive line, which needs some serious help to protect Jimmy Garoppolo, who too frequently had to rush his throws.

10. Oakland Raiders-Tremaine Edmunds-LB-Virginia Tech

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Tremaine Edmunds is a genetic freak at 6’5 250 pounds and playing middle linebacker. He runs a 4.5 40 yard dash as well, a blazing time for a linebacker and was only overshadowed because Shaquem Griffin ran a 4.38. But Edmunds’ only real concern is his occasional mental lapses. Otherwise he’s as good a linebacker prospect as you’re going to find. Jon Gruden’s defense NEEDS linebackers and why not start with a guy whose potential is as unlimited as Edmunds’.

11. Miami Dolphins-Roquan Smith-LB-Georgia

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I like Roquan Smith but I think he gets pushed off the ball a little too easily by offensive linemen. If he gets stronger, then combine that with his instincts and pursuits, we could be talking about another Ray Lewis (who was considered undersized when he was drafted in the mid-90’s). The Dolphins are reportedly enamored with Baker Mayfield and I’m sure they’ll try and make a trade into the top 5 to take him, but if that fails, getting Smith should be the next best option. They lack linebackers outside of Raekwon McMillan.

12. Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati Bengals)-Josh Allen-QB-Wyoming

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Josh Allen is the most polarizing quarterback prospect I’ve ever seen. He has everything you look for in a quarterback prospect in terms of dimensions and arm. The problem is all his physical gifts seem to go out the window when he plays. Perhaps it’s poor talent around him at Wyoming, perhaps it’s poor coaching, perhaps he’s not even that good, but it’s really confounding. I think the Bills will try and trade up to take him, but since I don’t project trades, they luck into him after making a trade with the Bengals to move up here. Allen needs some time to grow and the Bills signed AJ McCarron so he can have a couple years to sit and learn.

13. Washington Redskins-Marcus Davenport-EDGE-UTSA

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Davenport’s a monster and the only reason he’s not in discussion for number 1 overall pick is because he played at UTSA and the competition he was going up against was horse crap. Granted, he destroyed opposing tackles like you would expect a guy of his talent at that level of competition, so that’s encouraging. He got off to a slow start at the Senior Bowl but was dominating by the end of it, which suggests that he may face a smoother transition to the NFL than we might think. The Redskins could use somebody opposite Ryan Kerrigan now that Trent Murphy is gone and Davenport could be the impact pass rusher they need.

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

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The Packers need DB help as aside from Haha Clinton-Dix, they don’t really have a whole lot to be excited about especially after trading Damarious Randall to the Browns. While any of the remaining corners would be a little rich at this point in the first round, getting a safety like James would not only help the secondary, but also the linebackers as he’s very effective in the box.

15. Arizona Cardinals-Christian Kirk-WR-Texas A&M

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After signing Sam Bradford to a 3-year deal, quarterback is no longer an immediate issue in the wake of Carson Palmer’s retirement. Now they need to move on to wide receiver as Larry Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger (though you’d think otherwise based on how he’s played these last couple years) and their other receivers have disappointed. Christian Kirk is one of the best athletes in this class and he would not only help the Cardinals’ receiving corps, but he’s also dynamite in the return game.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Da’Ron Payne-DL-Alabama

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Da’Ron Payne really helped his stock in the CFP games, as he was the most dominant player on the field in both the Sugar Bowl and the National Championship game. The Ravens’ top need is no longer wide receiver after acquiring Michael Crabtree and John Brown so they can look to bolster their defensive line, which could use some 3-4 defensive ends like Payne.

17. Los Angeles Chargers-Connor Williams-OT-Texas

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The Chargers need offensive linemen and Connor Williams is the top tackle on my board. They appear to have hit the mark on Dan Feeney at left guard and the jury is still out on Forrest Lamp, who missed his rookie year due to injury, but tackle is still a concern. Some think Williams may be better served as a guard but I think he’s fully capable of playing left tackle for this team. He’s coming off a rough knee injury but he did manage to make a return.

18. Seattle Seahawks-Mike McGlinchey-OT-Notre Dame

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After gutting their entire defense, the Seahawks could go a number of routes with this pick but I’m a firm believer in the necessity of a good offensive line. Duane Brown was good as their left tackle and Ethan Pocic showed some flashes that he could also be really good. They have nothing at right tackle and that’s where Mike McGlinchey is best suited to play. McGlinchey could also slide in at guard if need be (which the Seahawks also need).

19. Dallas Cowboys-Josh Jackson-CB-Iowa

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Josh Jackson has slid down some boards after a mediocre combine, but his tape is still some of the best amongst all corners and he has the numbers to back it up, leading the country in interceptions last season. The Cowboys got a solid season out of rookie corner Jourdan Lewis but there is still a need at the position and Jackson is the type of playmaker that they’re going to need in order to keep up with some of the other athletic receivers in that division.

20. Detroit Lions-Harold Landry-EDGE-Boston College

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The Lions just franchise tagged Ziggy Ansah but that doesn’t solve their pass rushing woes. They still need someone opposite him to draw pressure away from their star pass rusher. Harold Landry is one of the best athletes in this draft class. He’s not great against the run but the Lions are in greater need of his pass rushing abilities, especially if they can’t lock up Ansah long term.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills)-James Daniels-C-Iowa

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After acquiring Cordy Glenn in a trade with the Bills, the Bengals’ left tackle situation seems to be in good shape. However they lost center Russell Bodine in free agency, making an already weak offensive line even weaker. James Daniels is a guy whose stock has skyrocketed in recent weeks. Not only is he a better athlete than what you traditionally find with a center, but he also has a very high football IQ and his presence alone could be a huge boost for this Bengals offensive line.

22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs)-Vita Vea-DL-Washington

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Kyle Williams is in his mid-30’s and the Bills traded Marcell Dareus at the trade deadline so defensive tackle will quickly become a big need. Vita Vea is about as athletic as you’ll find in a 350-pounder. My one issue with him is his slow get-off. I feel like whenever I watch tape of him, it’s as if a whole second passes before he reacts to the snap, which could be really problematic at the next level. If he can improve on his reactions, he could be a deadly force on the interior defensive line.

23. Los Angeles Rams-Rashaan Evans-LB-Alabama

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After trading Alec Ogletree, there’s suddenly a hole in the middle of the Rams’ defense. Rashaan Evans is an athletic linebacker in the mold of CJ Mosley and he set the tone of the National Championship-winning Alabama defense. Evans has been dealing with injuries, but when on the field, he’s an impact player at one of the most important positions on defense.

24. Carolina Panthers-DJ Moore-WR-Maryland

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This is a little bit of a reach for my tastes, but the Panthers lack wide receivers after the trade of Kelvin Benjamin. DJ Moore is a guy I like but don’t love, however he put on a show at the Combine, which quelled some of the fears I had about him (such as his overall speed, which turns out is 4.4). Maryland used him on screens a lot and Moore could fit right in to this Panthers offense with that role as they already have the big red zone threat in Devin Funchess. Curtis Samuel underwhelmed as a rookie and I think Moore better fits the slot receiver role than Samuel does.

25. Tennessee Titans-Maurice Hurst-DL-Michigan

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On tape, Maurice Hurst is my favorite interior defensive lineman in this class. His snap reaction and getoff are incredible. The big concern is the heart condition he was diagnosed with at the Combine that caused him to have to miss the event. He has since been cleared by doctors, however the fact it popped up in the first place has me concerned and is the reason he drops out of the top 20 for me. That being said, the Titans will be thrilled to have him line up alongside Jurell Casey and wreak havoc up the middle. The bigger need is edge rusher right now but there isn’t anybody available at this point that merits this high a selection. Having a good interior can set up one-on-ones for the edge rushers, though, and allow them to create more pressure.

26. Atlanta Falcons-Taven Bryan-DL-Florida

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The Falcons need some interior line help after the departure of Dontari Poe and quite frankly I think it’s the team’s only weakness right now. Taven Bryan is one of the more underrated players in this Draft class and I think his raw strength could be valuable to this Falcons defense that relies a lot on speed. Bryan is also athletic for his size and I think the Falcons could move him all over the defensive line.

27. New Orleans Saints-Dallas Goedert-TE-South Dakota State

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Dallas Goedert might not be well known to most who follow college football, having played at South Dakota State, but he’s got a similar build to Rob Gronkowski at 6’5 255 pounds and he dominated at the FCS level. The Saints are clearly in the market for a tight end as they tried to bring back Jimmy Graham in free agency before he signed with the Packers. Right now the Saints’ top tight end is Coby Fleener so an upgrade could be in order with the addition of Goedert.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers-Leighton Vander Esch-LB-Boise State

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Ryan Shazier has already been ruled out for the 2018 season due to his spinal injury and his football career is in question, which makes middle linebacker a sudden need for the Steelers. I flip flop between Leighton Vander Esch and Malik Jefferson for this spot in the linebacker rankings as they’re pretty similar players. However Vander Esch gets the slight nod because I think he fits the Steelers’ scheme a bit better and I’m going to go with him at this spot. He’s a big, physical linebacker and while he’s not quite as athletic as Shazier was (hard to be much more athletic than him as a linebacker), he brings a certain level of fight to his game that I enjoy watching.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars-Brian O’Neill-OT-Pittsburgh

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I don’t know if anybody on the offensive side of the ball helped his stock more than former Pitt tackle Brian O’Neill. O’Neill outran some linebackers in the 40 yard dash and looked good in drills and I think he propelled himself from mid-second rounder to late first. I’ve got him going to the Jaguars and lining up on the right side in this situation. The Jaguars’ biggest need is tight end but with Goedert gone, there aren’t any first round-caliber tight ends available at this slot so I think the Jags would be wise to get some O-Line help. SMU receiver Courtland Sutton could be the pick here, but the Jaguars reached the AFC title game with an undrafted rookie as their leading receiver so I’m not so sure they’ll put a high priority on the position.

30. Minnesota Vikings-Isaiah Oliver-CB-Colorado

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The Vikings have very few holes, if any now that they signed Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson so they can afford to go for a luxury pick. Isaiah Oliver is a corner I’m a little higher on than most, as he’s a bigger corner whom I’ve never seen truly get beat. He’s a little underwhelming in terms of overall athleticism but given the big receivers in the NFC North like Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, and Marvin Jones, the Vikings could use a guy who can match up with them.

31. New England Patriots-Malik Jefferson-LB-Texas

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Left tackle is the biggest need for the Patriots after Nate Solder signed a huge deal with the Giants, but I think this spot’s a little rich for UCLA tackle Kolton Miller, who I think will still be there when New England picks next at 43. I think they’d be smart to invest in a linebacker like Malik Jefferson after the patchwork linebacking group the Patriots sent out there after Dont’a Hightower’s injury. Kyle Van Noy played well in Hightower’s absence but after that the linebackers left something to be desired and it showed in the Super Bowl. Jefferson is a good athlete who has solid sideline-to-sideline speed and can line up pretty much anywhere a la Jamie Collins.

32. Philadelphia Eagles-Carlton Davis-CB-Auburn

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I think Carlton Davis could be a steal in this Draft. He’s a big corner who runs pretty well and can cover, which is something the Eagles are lacking and it really showed in the Super Bowl as they were the first defense in Super Bowl history to let up a 500-yard passer in the big game despite the fact they came out on top. A safety could also be an option here but my next best safety, Ronnie Harrison of Alabama, doesn’t really fit the type of safety the Eagles need, which is a ballhawk rather than an enforcer. I think Davis better fits what the Eagles are looking for.

So that’s it for the third edition of my mock draft. Like I said in the intro, I’m going to do one more to publish the morning of the Draft. I haven’t decided if I’m going to do multiple rounds or just stick to the first just yet but again, I’ve got a whole month to decide. Let me know what you think of my picks in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

The Quarterbacks of the 2018 NFL Draft Class

As much as people like to say that the 2018 draft class is the weakest since 2013 (which it kind of is), there is still at least one redeeming factor: the quarterback class. I think this group has the potential to be as good, if not better, than the 2012 group that saw the likes of Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, and Robert Griffin III (for one season) emerge. I’m going to go through a few guys that I like that have the potential to go in the first round. These aren’t necessarily rankings as much as they are just going down the list of guys and saying what I like and don’t like about them and what type of future I see in them.

Josh Allen-Wyoming

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So far, for the underclassman quarterbacks, Allen is the only one who has declared for the Draft. There were talks that he could’ve come out last year and potentially been a high pick, but he elected to return to school to develop, which I thought was a smart move. However his season didn’t go that great, though a bum shoulder can certainly be a contributing factor. But he did deliver his best performance of the 2017 season in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (what a stupid fucking name) yesterday against Central Michigan. He didn’t throw the ball much, only 11 completions on 19 attempts, but he made the most of his throws, including 3 touchdowns in the first quarter. Wyoming ran the ball a TON in that game (42 times) but it was what they needed as they scored an easy victory over the Chippewas.

Strengths: Size, Arm, Mobility

Just look at this throw from Allen as you try not to vomit from looking at the uniform/field combinations.

That, folks, is what we call a laser. Allen has an absolute cannon and as you saw right up there, is accurate enough to squeeze the ball into tight spaces. He’s got the prototypical size you look for in a QB, as he stands at 6’5 233 pounds, which puts him at about the same size as Carson Wentz. He’s also deceptively quick for a guy his size, as Wyoming would often have him running the football, which he did as many as 18 times in a game this season.

Weaknesses: Level of Competition, Poor Showings Against Power-5 Teams, Health

As far as physical traits go, Allen is about as perfect a specimen as you could ask for. It’s the other stuff that might make you nervous. He played in a very weak conference in the Mountain West and the Cowboys couldn’t even win it, as they went 7-5 prior to their bowl win. He also had a chance to show what he could do against tougher competition like Iowa and Oregon, but both games were disasters for him, as he combined to go 32-64 (50% completions), 238 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. That’s just awful. To be fair to Allen, the talent around him is pretty bad, so perhaps he can be forgiven for those showings, but for being as highly touted a quarterback as he is, he needs to be able to elevate the play of his teammates. These aren’t fair comparisons to make, I know, but you see guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers make their teammates significantly better by just being on the field. I don’t see that from Allen. Health is also a concern, as he missed the final two games of the regular season while nursing that bum shoulder. He also missed basically all of his 2015 season with a broken clavicle, a bone located in the shoulder region.

Draft Thoughts:¬†I wouldn’t draft Allen in the first round unless I had a veteran who was on the way out that he could sit behind and not only learn from, but adapt to the higher level of competition as well as a strong supporting cast around him. This kid has all the ability in the world but he really hasn’t shown it to the extent that one would think of with a kid who has been in the discussion for number 1 overall pick. Some potential landing spots could be the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pro Comparison: 

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Carson Wentz. Both came from small schools where they played against inferior competition but showcased some high level skills and prototypical measurables that get scouts excited.

 

Sam Darnold-USC

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Before the season began, Darnold was the consensus number 1 overall pick in the Draft. He had won the starting job for USC midseason and led the Trojans on an absolute tear en route to a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State. However, his encore left a lot to be desired. He struggled MIGHTILY with turnovers this season, leading all players in that category, whether it be interceptions or fumbles. Darnold’s throwing motion also became widely criticized as being “funky.” Nonetheless, he showed some really good things as well, such as his ability to make big time throws and great mobility.

Strengths: Size, Arm, Mobility, Elevating Teammates, Winner

When Darnold took over the starting job in 2016, USC was 1-3 and head coach Clay Helton’s job was in SERIOUS danger. Once Darnold took over for Max Browne, however, USC’s fortunes flipped and they didn’t lose another game the rest of the season. He’s got excellent arm strength and can put balls in spots that a lot of quarterbacks can’t. I watched a couple of games this year and a few of his 12 interceptions were the result of his receivers dropping the ball and it landing in a defender’s arms. I think Darnold really missed Juju Smith-Schuster this past year because the only quality receiver on the Trojans was Deontay Burnett and he’s a marginal NFL prospect at this stage. This is also something Darnold does that Allen doesn’t: he makes his teammates better. Guys like Burnett really aren’t that great of talent, but they perform beyond their talent because Darnold gives them the opportunity to make plays with where he puts the ball at times. Also has very good footwork in the pocket, as he’s always in a position to scurry away from the rush when needed.

Weaknesses: Delivery, Decision-Making

Watch how long it takes Darnold to throw the ball after beginning his motion.

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Now look at how Tom Brady throws it, which is widely considered to be the ideal throwing motion.

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What’s different is where the ball is when they begin their throwing motion. Darnold basically has the ball at his hip where he starts, Brady’s is practically at his shoulder. Darnold’s also kind of winding up like a pitcher in baseball instead of just slinging it like what the best quarterbacks do. That’s something that can be worked with though, as a good coach can help tweak that. But the reason Darnold’s isn’t great is because that extra split second is the difference between the pass rusher getting a sack or just getting pressure. Or a receiver open and a safety cutting him off. His elongated throwing motion very easily could have led to a lot of his interceptions or strip sacks. Perhaps on some picks the guy was open when he started his motion, but he took so long to get the ball there that the defender was in position by the time the ball was out.

Draft Thoughts:¬†I personally think that returning to USC for one more season could be really beneficial for Darnold to have a full season to refine a new throwing motion before getting thrown to the wolves like he would be in the NFL. But I think he’s going to declare for the Draft and he’s so gifted and played against such good competition, he’s not going to make it past the top 5 picks. How he performs against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl will be a huge barometer for how well he might transition to the pros. That’s about as close to an NFL defense as he’ll face all year and if he performs really well, he could justifiably be the top pick. I think quarterback-needy teams such as the Browns, Giants, and Broncos should all be in on this kid.

Pro Comparison: 

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Philip Rivers. Both guys have similar thick builds and have similar throwing motions and have a tendency to make the best of what they have. Rivers rarely ever has Pro Bowl-caliber receivers (Keenan Allen has been the one exception the last few years) but he gets them to play beyond their ability (Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, among others).

Lamar Jackson-Louisville

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Lamar Jackson is the most exciting player in college football. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and actually improved in 2017. At first, I thought no chance is he an NFL quarterback, but after watching some throws he was making, I started re-evaluating things. I still think he would make a better wide receiver in the NFL, where his elusiveness can be better utilized, but if he can continue to grow as a passer the way he did between 2016 and ’17, then we could be looking at the next Michael Vick

Strengths: Running Ability, Arm Strength

If a defense isn’t careful, Jackson can take over games with his legs. I mean, human beings shouldn’t be this athletic.

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But Jackson is. Not only that, but in 2017 his passing numbers skyrocketed while his rushing totals kept pace with his monstrous 2016 season. Just look at this throw right here.

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This is a beautiful job of reading the safeties and hitting his receiver in stride.

Weaknesses: Size, Gimmick Play Style

You might notice that Lamar Jackson is PAINFULLY skinny, especially at a position where it’s become of heightened importance to have some build to you due to how much damage you take. Add in the fact that Jackson is a running quarterback that by nature will take a lot of hits, and you have the potential of a guy who may have a shortened career. Also, when was the last time a run-first quarterback had long-term success in the NFL? The only one I can think of is Michael Vick and he was a once-in-a-generation talent. You could argue Russell Wilson, but his passing game has developed so well that he’s kind of shed the mold of a run-first quarterback. Jackson will need to follow Wilson’s developmental model if he wants to have a long career in this league.

Draft Thoughts:¬†Again, I would prefer it if Jackson were to move to wide receiver, as I think that would be where he’d have the most success in this league. I wouldn’t take him in the first round just on the reputation of running quarterbacks and their lack of sustained success alone. However I do think that there will be a team that will be interested enough to take a chance on him in the first round, though I think as a quarterback he’s a third rounder. I think a team like the Buffalo Bills could be a landing spot for him, as he plays a similar style of game to the incumbent Tyrod Taylor, who has been handled about as poorly as an organization can handle a quarterback.

Pro Comparison: 

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Colin Kaepernick. They basically have identical frames with great athleticism and strong throwing arms. Kap is one of the aforementioned run-first quarterbacks that fizzled out as their careers went along.

Baker Mayfield-Oklahoma

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Baker Mayfield is about as polarizing a quarterback prospect as I can find. On the one hand, I see a lot of Russell Wilson in him. He’s short for a quarterback (6’0) but he plays with a lot of intensity and is able to use his legs to make plays, whether that be scrambling for a first down or moving out of the pocket to buy his receivers time to get open. On the other, he shows some Johnny Manziel traits that scare me. Mayfield is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and has led Oklahoma to a CFP berth for the second time in the last 3 years.

Strengths: Playmaking Ability, Athleticism, Accuracy, Intensity

Look at this play from Oklahoma’s bowl game last year.

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Notice how he never took his eye away from downfield but was still able to react accordingly to the unblocked defender that his guard absolutely WHIFFED on. A lot of quarterbacks in that situation will panic and chuck it away or into coverage, including Tom Brady. But Mayfield is so confident in his running ability that he doesn’t panic and uses his peripherals to his advantage, then drops a dime to Dede Westbrook. Which brings me to another point of strength with him: his accuracy. Mayfield led the nation in completion percentage this season and being accurate is something that translates to the NFL extremely well. Also that play above was on a fourth down, showing how cool under pressure he can be.

Weaknesses: Height, Decision-Making (not interception-related)

My main concern with Mayfield is that despite having the potential to be the next Russell Wilson, I could also just as easily see him being the next Johnny Manziel. Mayfield’s had three instances this season where his maturity was called into question. The first came in the offseason when he was tackled by campus police after trying to flee while publicly intoxicated. The next time was planting the OU flag at midfield after their win against Ohio State. Finally, the whole grabbing his nuts and cussing at the Kansas bench. The first his just him being an idiot college kid, but Manziel had a host of incidents like that. The other on-field incidents could result in fines and some unwanted media attention were they to occur in an NFL game.

Draft Thoughts:¬†As much as it seems like I might be criticizing Mayfield’s antics, I actually chalk this up more to just him being really intense and getting really amped up during games rather than him just being a prick, which was the vibe I got when Manziel would do his antics. I think it’s more likely that Mayfield becomes the next Russell Wilson than the next Johnny Manziel but I’d like to see him sit a year behind a veteran before being thrust into a professional offense, as he was in an air raid system at Oklahoma, which translates about as poorly to the NFL as any offense in college football outside of the wishbone. I personally would take him in the second round, but I think someone will take a chance on him in the first. I think some potential landing spots could be the Jaguars, Bills, and Cardinals.

Pro Comparison: 

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Russell Wilson. I’ve already made the comparison enough in this so I’m just going to leave it at that.

Josh Rosen-UCLA

at Rose Bowl on November 24, 2017 in Pasadena, California.

This is my favorite quarterback in this class and if I were the Cleveland Browns, I’m taking him #1. He literally has everything, the only issue I’ll get into later. I was extremely impressed by some of the throws he made when he squared off with Darnold to the point where I couldn’t believe they were even being compared to each other. Rosen has been the starting quarterback at UCLA since he set foot on campus. He showed a lot of promise as a freshman, but was lost in his sophomore season due to injury. Then his junior season he picked up right where he left off from his freshman season, opening the season with an incredible comeback against Texas A&M.

Strengths: Arm Talent, Pocket Presence, Experience

Are you kidding me with this ball placement right here?

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If this is thrown in any other spot, it’s picked off and based on how few Bruins are in the vicinity, it likely would’ve resulted in great field position for the Aggies. But he’s able to thread the needle and put the ball in the spot where only his receiver could get it. He’s also great in the pocket, as he seamlessly navigates the pocket and avoids pressure.

Weaknesses: Personality, Winning Percentage

The main knock I keep hearing from NFL scouts is that Rosen is a huge turnoff, with one scout going so far as to call him an “entitled prick.” They didn’t go into much detail about why that was, but it wasn’t a one-time occurrence. Rosen also hasn’t generated a ton of wins for UCLA, as his career record is only 17-13 (Darnold’s is 20-2 for comparison). However I think that has more to do with the talent around him, as his defense was pretty bad this season.

Draft Thoughts:¬†I would take Rosen with the top pick in the Draft. I think he has all the measurables you could ask for in a quarterback and despite complaints from scouts about his personality, he has gotten the backing of his teammates, who seem to like him, which matters significantly more to me than whether scouts think he’s a dick or not.

Pro Comparison: 

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Matt Ryan. Both have similar builds and similar play styles with great pocket presence.

Mason Rudolph-Oklahoma State

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Mason Rudolph was the orchestrator of some of the most exciting games in college football this season, particularly his duel with Baker Mayfield in the Bedlam Game. Despite losing the game 62-52, Rudolph was spectacular against his Heisman-winning counterpart. Rudolph also seems to develop great relationships with his receivers, as both James Washington and Marcell Ateman had tremendous seasons catching passes from Rudolph.

Strengths: Arm Talent, Size

Rudolph is basically the exact same size as Allen, 6’5 230 so the benefits between these two are basically identical. Rudolph played in an offense that elevated your stats, but he took advantage of that better than anybody outside of Pat Mahomes. He may have run an air raid offense, but his ball placement and arm talent often made up for the lack of playbook. Look at this throw right here.

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Yes his receiver missed the catch, but that ball went right through his hands and that ball could not have been thrown more perfectly. You’ve got to catch that if you’re the OK State receiver. Also, notice where that ball was thrown from: the 50. He was able to hit a touch throw 50 yards downfield and he didn’t even have to get much of a crowhop under there. Rudolph’s arm will be very enticing to NFL Teams.

Weaknesses: Type of Offense Run, Mobility

The type of offense run is a big one, mainly because he hasn’t had to make very many different kinds of throws. The routes the Cowboys receivers run are about as simplistic as they come and he’s never had to learn a playbook, which is what he’ll need to be able to do in the NFL. He’s probably going to have the biggest learning curve out of all the guys on this list but the talent is there. He’s also slow as dirt and his pocket presence and his ability to avoid pressure could use some work.

Draft Thoughts:¬†Rudolph has a lot of talent but he might need a year or two to learn how to operate an NFL offense before being thrust into a starting role. I wouldn’t take him higher than the second round but I also wouldn’t be surprised if a desperate team falls in love with him and takes him earlier than they probably should. I think the Saints would be the perfect landing spot for him, as that would probably be the smoothest transition for him, the Saints offense being the closest we have to an Air Raid offense in the NFL. Plus their success on the ground could take a lot of pressure off him when Drew Brees decides to hang them up.

Pro Comparison: 

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A better version of Bryce Petty. Both guys had similar skillsets and flaws coming out of college, however I think Rudolph is a bit more refined than Petty, who has shown the occasional flash in the NFL but the entire body of work hasn’t been great. I think if Rudolph is thrusted into the starting role too soon, then his career will be disastrous.

Those are my thoughts on a potentially stacked 2018 quarterback class. Agree? Disagree Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman 10 and contribute to my Patreon.

College Football Bowl Picks

Regular Season Record: 86-34       Conference Title Record: 8-0        Army-Navy: 0-1

This is going to get interesting. Bowl season is totally unpredictable but I’m going to do my damndest to try. I nailed the conference championship games but the task is a little more daunting this time around, as I’ve got about 40 games to do. For that reason, I’m going to keep this intro short. Let’s get to it.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy (-6) vs North Texas

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Troy is best remembered this season for beating LSU at their Homecoming but they really were a lot better than just that. These guys won the Sun Belt Conference this year and while that’s probably the least impressive conference in all of college football, it still says a lot about the success you’ve had this season. They face a tough offense in North Texas, led by quarterback Mason Fine, who could eclipse 4000 yards passing on the season in this game, which would be the first time in school history that has happened. He’s already CRUSHED the previous school record set back in 1994. I’m going with Troy in this one. They’ve shown they’re capable of winning the big game, North Texas hasn’t (their only win that can be deemed as quality is Army).

Projected Score: Troy 31 North Texas 27

Autonation Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky (-4.5) vs Georgia State

Despite losing former head coach Jeff Brohm to Purdue before the start of the season, Western Kentucky hasn’t lost much of a step in terms of the passing game. Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White should eclipse 4000 yards on the season barring an unbelievable performance from the Georgia State defense, which has been pretty inconsistent this season. They shut out Charlotte for their first win of the season but that came a week after losing to Penn State 56-0. Now yes, it’s Penn State, but that’s still not a good look to have a score like that on your resume. They also only barely beat god-awful Georgia Southern 21-17 towards the end of the season. I’ve got Western Kentucky big in this.

Projected Score: Western Kentucky 41 Georgia State 17

Las Vegas Bowl: #25 Boise State vs Oregon (-6.5)

I find the Las Vegas Bowl often has some pretty good matchups and this year is no exception. Boise State is the first ranked team to play their bowl game this year and they’re playing an Oregon team that’s just a couple years removed from appearing in the National Championship game. Now granted, a LOT has changed for the Ducks in that time, but there are still some players from that team on the current roster. However, not on the roster is head coach Willie Taggart, who was hired away by Florida State. His interim will be Mario Cristobal, who does have some head coaching experience, as he was the head man at FIU from 2007-2012. I don’t think it will help a whole lot, though, I think Boise State is going to come away with this one.

Projected Score: Boise State 28 Oregon 24

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs Colorado State (-5.5)

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If you do manage to catch this game, look out for Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup. He’s among the best there is in the country and doesn’t get a lot of exposure due to the fact he plays for Colorado State. 94 catches for 1345 yards and 7 TDs on the year for the senior from Monroe, GA. I don’t care what your level of competition was, that’s impressive. They face a Marshall team that is ice cold right now, losing 4 of their last 5 games, though 3 of those 4 games were decided by 5 or fewer points and the one that wasn’t was decided by 11. I’m giving the edge to Colorado State, I just think they have too many weapons on offense for Marshall to keep up with.

Projected Score: Colorado State 35 Marshall 28

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs Arkansas State (-4)

What’s Camellia? I’ve never heard that word in my life, but my autocorrect seems to think it’s fine. Seems like an odd thing to name your bowl game, but I’m sure Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas State aren’t complaining, as MTSU had to win their final game of the season to become bowl eligible while Arkansas State had their game against Miami (FL) cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and were put at a slight disadvantage in having to reach the required 6 wins in 11 games. Well they got 7 and will try and carry that season-long success into back-to-back bowl wins. I think they’ll do it, too. They’ve had a lot of success throwing the ball this season and I think MTSU will have some problems defending the plethora of receivers they have.

Projected Score: Arkansas State 38 Middle Tennessee State 27

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: Akron vs Florida Atlantic (-18.5)

I’m not going to get too deep into this one. Akron is a team that kind of lucked into a bowl appearance while Florida Atlantic has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. I think they’re going to stampeded the Zips. This is one of the few bowl lines that is in double digits and there’s a reason for that, Lane Kiffin’s ground attack is too dominant.

Projected Score: Florida Atlantic 45 Akron 14

DXL Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs SMU (-5.5)

Louisiana Tech is a pretty average team and that’s going to be a problem when you face an offense as potent as SMU’s. Not only can quarterback Ben Hicks sling it, but he’s got two of the best receivers in the nation in Trey Quinn and potential first round draft pick Courtland Sutton. The Mustangs are going to score a ton of points as they also have an effective ground game, as Xavier Jones is over 1000 yards rushing on the season. I’ve actually got SMU in a blowout.

Projected Score: SMU 52 Louisiana Tech 24

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: Temple (-7) vs Florida International

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. What a name for a bowl game. I’d argue it’s an even better name than the now-defunct Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. This game will also be played at my least favorite baseball stadium in Tropicana Field, so that’s about as perfect a combination of complete crap as you could ask for. Classic random-ass bowl games. Oh and there’s a football game that’s going to be played between Temple and Florida International. Temple has very little going for them offensively and defensively they’re not much better. Looking at their overall stats, I’m amazed they made it to 6-6. I think Florida International is going to come away with this one relatively handily.

Projected Score: Florida International 34 Temple 21

Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs Ohio (-8)

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What a journey it’s been for UAB. A few years back they got their football program cut despite going 6-6, which resulted in an exodus from many top players, including Jordan Howard to my Indiana Hoosiers, who as you may know is currently tearing it up in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. There was enough backlash from the UAB faithful that the school brought the program back. Now, in their first year back after a 2-year hiatus, the Blazers are bowl eligible for only the second time in school history. This is probably going to wind up being my favorite storyline of the college football season when the Blazers lift that Bahamas Bowl trophy in their victory over Ohio. Also UAB’s logo is a fire-breathing dragon and that’s awesome. Can’t not subconsciously root for them.

Projected Score: UAB 27 Ohio 21

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs Wyoming (pick ’em)

This is going to be a battle between two talented quarterbacks. Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris showed all the talent in the world at Michigan but just couldn’t put it together before transferring to the Chippewas while Wyoming features potential top-10 draft pick Josh Allen. Despite being as talented as he is, Allen didn’t really have that great of a season. That can be due in part to a lack of real talent around him and in part due to the fact that Wyoming didn’t throw it a whole lot. But it is also most likely due to the fact that Allen has been playing on a bum shoulder for much of the season, which of course is a pretty big deal for a quarterback. I’m still looking for that one big performance that tells me that Allen is going to be a successful NFL QB but I just don’t know if that’s going to be in the cards. That shoulder injury is going to hurt Wyoming’s chances.

Projected Score: Central Michigan 31 Wyoming 24

Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs South Florida (-2)

This could be the highest-scoring game of the bowl season. We all know how much Texas Tech likes to throw the ball, it’s been pretty well-documented, but USF’s Quinten Flowers is one of the most dynamic players in the country and has the ability to score on anybody at any time. Add in the fact that the Red Raiders can’t defend for shit and you’ve got the makings of a 5-hour game that ends with both teams over 50 points. I think that’s what we’re going to get and I’ve got South Florida taking home the trophy.

Projected Score: South Florida 55 Texas Tech 52

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs Army (no line)

If Army’s going to have any shot at this game, they need to keep Rashaad Penny off the field. Penny is a monster with the ball in his hands and Army will need to dominate the time of possession if they’re going to stop him. If any team can do it, though, it’s the men at West Point. Their offense is built around the ground game and controlling the tempo. I think they’ll have some success early, but I think they will struggle to contain Penny and the Aztecs will pull away late.

Projected Score: San Diego State 31 Army 20

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs Toledo (-8)

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Toledo is among the best mid-major teams in all of college football. Quarterback Logan Woodside is one of the more underrated passers in the game today and while the Appalachian State Mountaineers have a pretty good defense, they’re going to struggle to contain all of Toledo’s weapons. Appalachian State won a share of the Sun Belt title with Troy and it was on the strength of an effective ground game. They’re going to struggle to keep up with Toledo, though.

Projected Score: Toledo 35 Appalachian State 30

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs Houston (-2)

I don’t know why this game is a Christmas Eve tradition, but it is. Usually it’s kind of a shitty matchup but this year it pits two of the best mid-major teams in the country. Fresno State nearly won the Mountain West a year after going 1-11 and Houston has continued to play well despite losing Tom Herman to (arguably) greener pastures in Texas. It’s going to be a defensive battle as Fresno State has one of the toughest defenses in the nation while Houston features perhaps the nation’s best overall defensive player in defensive tackle Ed Oliver. I’m going to give the edge to Houston in this one, as it’s more of a gut feeling than anything at this point.

Projected Score: Houston 17 Fresno State 10

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah (-5) vs West Virginia

Utah started out the season so nicely but then face-planted so hard. They started the year 4-0 but finished the season losing 6 of their last 8 and had to win the season finale over Colorado in order to even be bowl eligible. Normally, I would say they’re screwed for their game, but West Virginia isn’t sure if they will have quarterback Will Grier, who is nursing a broken finger on his throwing hand. Had it been his left hand, you could probably wrap it up with another finger and have him go out there, but not when it’s on your right hand where it will directly affect how you throw. But to be honest, his replacement, Chris Chugunov (what a name) didn’t play that badly against Oklahoma in his start. Was he particularly good? No, but he kept West Virginia reasonably in the game. They still ended up losing by 28, but that’s because Oklahoma scored 59 points. Leading your team to 31 points against the second best team in the country isn’t half bad. That’s why I’m going with the Mountaineers in this game, with or without Grier.

Projected Score: West Virginia 38 Utah 24

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke (-3.5) vs Northern Illinois

Duke’s offensive line is going to have their hands full with Northern Illinois. The Huskies have arguably the best pass rusher in the nation in Sutton Smith, who led all of college football with 14 sacks to go along with 28 tackles for loss. Duke started the year 4-0 before losing 6 straight and had to win their last two in order to become bowl eligible, but they were able to pull it off, beating two pretty good teams in Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. But I think Duke is going to struggle to protect quarterback Daniel Jones in this one. They were 80th in the nation in sacks allowed and they go up against the team that led the nation in sacks. I’ve got Northern Illinois taking this one.

Projected Score: Northern Illinois 20 Duke 17

Cactus Bowl: Kansas State (-3) vs UCLA

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Kansas State is going to struggle to throw the football in this one. They used three different quarterbacks this year and none of them were particularly successful. Despite this, they have one of the better defenses in the Big 12, which is saying nothing.¬† This team is going to get eaten alive by Josh Rosen, though. They simply can’t keep up with him on offense and I think this is going to be the game that solidifies him as the number 1 pick in the Draft.

Projected Score: UCLA 42 Kansas State 24

Walk On’s Independence Bowl: Southern Miss vs Florida State (-15)

Normally, I would wonder how in the Hell this matchup is even legal. But losing Deondre Francois in Week 1 derailed Florida State’s season so hard, Jimbo Fisher skipped town for Texas A&M. They’ve still managed to become bowl eligible, though and will look to try and pick up the win against Southern Miss. Southern Miss has one of the best rushing attacks in the country, led by Ito Smith and his 1300 yards on the ground. The defense has also been solid this year, as they’ve pitched two shutouts. But I’m going with Florida State here, but I don’t think it will be nearly as big a blowout as the line might suggest.

Projected Score: Florida State 27 Southern Miss 24

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa (-3) vs Boston College

This is the one bowl I’ve ever attended, when Indiana played Duke and Indiana lost in OT after a Griffin Oakes field goal was incorrectly called no good. It traditionally has some pretty good games in their Big Ten-ACC matchup. Iowa has perhaps one of the most damaging victories all season in that their 31-point win over Ohio State most certainly knocked the Big Ten out of the playoff picture. Boston College, meanwhile, has been one of the more up-and-down teams I’ve seen in a while. One week they’ll absolutely DESTROY Florida State and then the next they’ll lose to NC State (not a knock against the Wolfpack, but BC’s offense in particular can’t seem to find a consistent rhythm). I’m going with Boston College for this one, as aside from that one performance against the Buckeyes, Iowa hasn’t been that impressive this year.

Projected Score: Boston College 24 Iowa 20

Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona (-3.5) vs Purdue

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So as you may have read, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is my favorite to win the Heisman next season because of the dominant stretches he displayed. However he does need to improve as a passer if he’s going to reach those heights. Purdue is a pretty solid run defense, especially with Ja’Whaun Bentley at linebacker. Tate might need to whip out that passing ability if Arizona is going to keep pace, but I think they will. Tate is such a talented runner that I think overall he’s going to overpower Purdue and Arizona will get the win.

Projected Score: Arizona 28 Purdue 21

Academy Sports+Outdoors Texas Bowl: Texas vs Missouri (-1)

Both teams were quietly pretty solid this season mainly because it was below their traditional standards, but definitely better than the last couple years. Texas showed some promise under Tom Herman but it may be a couple of years before they return to the Longhorns of old. Missouri’s Drew Lock had a fantastic season throwing the football, as he led the nation in passing touchdowns this season. I’m going to give the edge to Texas in this one. It’s a toss up but the game is being played in Houston, where the Longhorns will essentially have a home field advantage, which is big in college sports.

Projected Score: Texas 30 Missouri 27

Military Bowl: Virginia vs Navy (no line)

Virginia actually had a pretty good season this year. After going 2-10 in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season at the helm, the Cavaliers turned it around nicely and find themselves in a bowl game. Also, quarterback Kurt Benkert is getting some looks from the NFL as a result of his successful season. They face a Navy team that lost a heart breaker to Army in the snow and I just don’t know if they have what it takes to take down this surprisingly talented Virginia squad. I’ve got the other Cavs in this one.

Projected Score: Virginia 24 Navy 14

Camping World Bowl: #22 Virginia Tech vs #19 Oklahoma State (-6.5)

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This is too good a matchup to be relegated to the likes of the Camping World Bowl, but at least in most cases by the time the game actually kicks off, you kind of forget which bowl you’re playing in. The number 3 scoring offense in Oklahoma State vs the number 5 scoring defense in Virginia Tech. Something’s gotta give. I think I’m going to give the edge to Oklahoma State here. Yes, I know, a matchup of this type usually ends up favoring the defense, but the Cowboys have far too many weapons that the Hokies have to compete with.

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 35 Virginia Tech 30

Valero Alamo Bowl: #13 Stanford vs #15 TCU (-2.5)

This is going to be a really close game as both teams have the ability to be really explosive on offense while also featuring some of the best defenses in their respective conferences. Heisman runner-up Bryce Love leads the Cardinal to face TCU and their duo of talented defensive ends in Ben Banogu and Mat Boesen. While I do think Love is going to have a big game for the Cardinal, I don’t think it will be enough to compete with the TCU offense. Kenny Hill’s been having a tremendous season for the Horned Frogs and I think he leads them to an Alamo Bowl victory over Stanford.

Projected Score: TCU 28 Stanford 23

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: #18 Washington State (-2.5) vs #16 Michigan State

Like the Oklahoma State-Virginia Tech matchup, this game features one of the top offenses in the country in Washington State vs one of the top defenses in Michigan State. The Cougars are the second best passing offense in the nation, trailing only the aforementioned Oklahoma State while the Spartans allowed under 200 passing yards per game this season. It’s going to be a tough matchup but I think Washington State is going to come out on top. Michigan State has been too careless with the football offensively, as they’ve fumbled it more than any team in the country that doesn’t run a run-only offense, which I think the Cougars will find ways to capitalize on.

Projected Score: Washington State 31 Michigan State 24

Belk Bowl: Wake Forest (-3) vs Texas A&M

Wake Forest was quietly a pretty good team this season, as they went 7-5 this season, including wins over a Lamar Jackson-led Louisville team and a late-season win over then-#19 NC State. They take on a Texas A&M team that is getting a major face lift, as they fired Kevin Sumlin only to turn around and hire Jimbo Fisher away from the Florida State Seminoles. Fisher, however, will not be leading the Aggies in this game, as that task will fall on Jeff Banks. I’m actually going to go with the Demon Deacons in this game. There’s too much turmoil going on with the Aggies in this game and I think it could become a distraction, which is the last thing you want when you face a pesky team like this.

Projected Score: Wake Forest 24 Texas A&M 21

Hyundai Sun Bowl: #24 NC State (-6.5) vs Arizona State

Like Texas A&M, Arizona State also hired a new head coach in Herm Edwards, who has previously coached in the NFL with the Jets and Chiefs. It’s an odd situation because despite firing the incumbent Todd Graham, Graham will still be coaching this game for the Sun Devils. This could go one of two ways: Graham could be salty and sabotage this game for his former employer, or he could try and go out with a bang and give his best performance. I don’t think it’ll matter a whole lot what he ends up doing because I think NC State’s Bradley Chubb is going to give a similar performance to what we saw Solomon Thomas give for Stanford in their bowl game last year: a performance that will solidify him in the Top-5 pick discussion. I’ve got the Wolfpack in this game.

Projected Score: NC State 27 Arizona State 20

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs #21 Northwestern (-8.5)

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Kentucky is quietly a pretty good team this year as they went 7-5, including wins over South Carolina, Missouri, and Tennessee. Mark Stoops has done a Hell of a job with his team this year, but I think they’re going to run into some problems against Northwestern. The Wildcats had one of the best seasons in school history, as they went 9-3, including winning each of their last 7 games, including an OT win over Michigan State. Northwestern plays some really sound and fundamental football and I think they’re going to frustrate this Kentucky offense that is predicated on being able to run the football. I’ve got Northwestern in this game.

Projected Score: Northwestern 23 Kentucky 13

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs Utah State (-3)

The battle of the Aggies, this game might slip under the radar a bit because it’s not a matchup of household names. Which is a shame, because when they’re on, they can be two of the most exciting offenses in college football. New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers ranked among the best passers in the game with his 3825 passing yards this season while Utah State preferred a more balanced attack that spreads the ball around to various different options. I’m going to go with New Mexico State for this game. Utah State’s defense has had its struggles this season and I think Rogers is going to have a field day.

Projected Score: New Mexico State 38 Utah State 27

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: #8 USC vs #5 Ohio State (-7)

So in an 8-team playoff format, this would be the 4 vs 5 matchup and dammit if I’m not pumped for it. Getting a chance to watch Ohio State live twice this season, I was able to see firsthand just how much better this team got over the course of the season. Their defense, which struggled to contain Indiana’s Richard Lagow and Simmie Cobbs, were lights out in the Big Ten championship, absolutely shutting down Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor. Their defense will put potential top pick Sam Darnold to the test, as this will be by far the toughest defense he faces all year. How he performs in this game will go a long way in determining whether he really is the top quarterback everybody projected him to be. I think he will have his struggles, though I don’t think it will necessarily be because of him. I think USC’s offensive line will struggle to protect him against the monster of a front that Ohio State has and they will wreak havoc on the Trojans.

Projected Score: Ohio State 30 USC 20

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville (-6) vs #23 Mississippi State

Lamar Jackson may have finished third in the Heisman voting this year, but I would argue that he actually played better in 2017 than he did in his banner 2016 season. Louisville wasn’t quite as good as they were last year and that’s really what hurt Jackson’s Heisman chances. They face a Mississippi State team that can be very dangerous, as they came the closest to beating Alabama before Auburn was able to pull it off in the Iron Bowl. But I think they will struggle to contain Lamar Jackson. Limiting Jalen Hurts is one thing, but Jackson is so much better a passer that it’s going to be too much for the Bulldogs to keep track of.

Projected Score: Louisville 38 Mississippi State 30

Autozona Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs #20 Memphis (-3)

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Memphis’ Riley Ferguson can sling it with the best of them, as he showed in Memphis’ early-season win over Josh Rosen’s UCLA Bruins, where Ferguson was able to outduel the potential top draft pick. He’s also got a lot of weapons on offense that will cause Iowa State a lot of problems, however if anybody is up to the task, it’s the Cyclones. Iowa State is the only team to beat Oklahoma this season and they also were able to hand TCU their first loss of the season. Both teams ended up playing in the Big 12 title game, so Iowa State does a great job of playing up to their competition. However I think the combination of Ferguson and receiver Anthony Miller is going to be too much for Iowa State to handle and I think Memphis will come away with this one.

Projected Score: Memphis 42 Iowa State 38

Playstation Fiesta Bowl: #11 Washington vs #9 Penn State (-3)

This is a matchup made in heaven. Two teams that boast not only talented offenses, but talented defenses as well. They each had a couple of rough goes, Penn State likely would have played for the Big Ten Title game had JT Barrett not pulled off a miraculous comeback to knock off the then-second-ranked Nittany Lions. Then they lost to Michigan State after a 3-and-a-half-hour storm delay midway through the contest that likely threw off their groove. Washington also had a couple of ugly defeats, as they were upset by Arizona State midway through the season, then a loss to Stanford that effectively eliminated them from Pac 12 title contention. Both teams will be looking for a bit of redemption for their once promising seasons and I think this will go down to the wire. I’m going to go with Penn State to get the win, though. I think their offense is too explosive for Washington to keep up with for four quarters.

Projected Score: Penn State 31 Washington 28

Capital One Orange Bowl: #6 Wisconsin (-6.5) vs #10 Miami (FL)

The Turnover Chain is dead. Clemson buried it.

The Hurricanes are suddenly ice cold as they’ve delivered back-to-back duds to close out their schedule. They lost in embarrassing fashion to Pittsburgh, then got obliterated by Clemson in the ACC Championship game with a playoff berth on the line. Then Dabo Swinney’s bunch destroyed what had been the emblem of the Hurricanes’ season in the Turnover Chain and Miami fans can’t be feeling much lower right now. They take on a Wisconsin team that may have been exposed a little bit in their loss to Ohio State. While the Badgers did manage to keep the game close, it was mainly because Ohio State shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions. That being said, I think this defense is going to cause a lot of problems for Malik Rosier and company and Wisconsin will come away with the victory.

Projected Score: Wisconsin 24 Miami (FL) 10

Outback Bowl: Michigan (-8.5) vs South Carolina

These two teams have met in the Outback Bowl before.

However South Carolina doesn’t have anybody who evenly remotely resembles JaDeveon Clowney this year. Michigan has had their struggles at the quarterback position this year but if they can get the ground game working, then I think they will be okay. Defensively they’re so good they can practically take over games. I’ve got the Wolverines winning this one.

Projected Score: Michigan 21 South Carolina 17

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: #12 UCF vs #7 Auburn (-10)

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Why Auburn is ranked 7th despite being a 3-loss team is beyond me, but it doesn’t really matter anymore as long as they aren’t in the playoff. They looked good to start the SEC Championship game, marching down the field and scoring a touchdown on their first possession. Then Georgia unraveled them and scored 28 unanswered. They face the lone unbeaten team in college football in UCF. Despite being hired by Nebraska, UCF head coach Scott Frost will coach the Knights in this game to close out the season, which I wish more coaches would do. It is for that reason that I think UCF will compete with Auburn, even give them a scare for most of the game, but I think the Tigers will outlast them. Eventually, talent often wins out, though if any team were to be on upset alert for this bowl season, I’d say it’s Auburn.

Projected Score: Auburn 20 UCF 17

Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s: #14 Notre Dame vs #17 LSU (-2.5)

These are two teams that like to run the ball and play physical defense and on paper are pretty evenly matched. LSU has recovered really well after their homecoming debacle against Troy, as they’ve won 6 of 7 games since that loss, their one defeat being Alabama. The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, ended the season rather meekly, losing 2 of their last 3 after having been in the playoff hunt for much of the season. Granted, those two losses were Miami and Stanford, but both teams ended up getting beaten in their conference title games, Miami pretty soundly while Stanford kept it close. Notre Dame is capable of beating up on good teams, though, and I think the difference is going to be quarterback play. I trust Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush more than I do LSU’s Danny Etling and for that reason, I’m picking the Irish.

Projected Score: Notre Dame 31 LSU 27

Rose Bowl: #3 Georgia vs #2 Oklahoma (-1)

The first of the two playoff games, this will be Baker Mayfield’s first game after winning the Heisman Trophy. It will also be an opportunity for him to increase his draft stock even further, as he goes up against a really tough Georgia defense. If he can have a big game, then I think NFL teams will be far more intrigued by the possibility of drafting him high. As for Georgia, they look to break the 3-seed curse, as the team in that slot has yet to win a playoff game (Florida State, Michigan State, and Ohio State have all failed to get the job done). It’s going to be an uphill battle for them, as they will have to ask Jake Fromm to outduel the Heisman-winning Mayfield. It won’t be impossible, as Oklahoma will likely be without stud runningback Rodney Anderson as he faces domestic assault charges, but I don’t see that happening, and I’m picking the Sooners reaching the National Championship for the first time since the 2008 season, when Sam Bradford was outplayed by Tim Tebow.

Projected Score: Oklahoma 31 Georgia 26

All State Sugar Bowl: #4 Alabama (-2) vs #1 Clemson

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Part 3 of this CFP rivalry, though it’s the first matchup in this series that won’t be taking place with the National Championship on the line. Alabama will be very thankful it’s not Deshaun Watson under center for Clemson, as he absolutely lit them up in each of the previous matchups. Kelly Bryant will be tasked with taking on the Crimson Tide defense. He’s not Watson, but he has proven capable of winning big games, as he led Clemson to wins over the likes of Auburn, Virginia Tech, and a blowout of Miami for the ACC title. Offensively, Alabama will have to compete with the most efficient defense in the country in Clemson, as their defensive front that includes the likes of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Clellin Ferrell will make it tough to move the ball. Having seen eachother each of the last few years, I think both Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney will have made the adjustments they will need to come away with the victory. In the end, I think Clemson will come away as the winner of this best-of-3 series and will take on Oklahoma for the National Championship.

Projected Score: Clemson 34 Alabama 31

*Exhales.* Finally, I’ve made all the picks and it only took me 5530 words, more than doubling my previous high word count (which I think was an NFL picks segment). I’m going to wait to do the National Championship game until the night before, as I don’t want to predict a matchup that hasn’t been set up yet. But based on what I’ve predicted, I think that Clemson will beat Oklahoma to win back-to-back championships. I just think they’re more well-rounded than Oklahoma is and I think the Sooners’ deficiencies on defense will come back to haunt them in this one. Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

College Football Picks: Week 12

Last Week: 9-3                    Season Record: 69-27

I may end up sabotaging my own picks segment because I enter the week at exactly 69 wins. This is going to hurt to try and pick winners. Last week my misses were NC State against Boston College (so damn close to picking that upset), Auburn over Georgia, and Miami (FL) over Notre Dame. This is the second to last week of the college football regular season, but do not fret, I will keep doing this segment. I’m going to do an expansive picks blog for the Army-Navy game, every conference title game, and every bowl game. So with that, let’s get picking.

Rutgers vs Indiana (-11)

Indiana needs this win if they are going to have any chance of remaining bowl eligible, as they currently sit at 4-6. Rutgers has given the Hoosiers problems in the past, as they’re 2-1 against Indiana since joining the Big Ten, including a 55-52 victory in 2015 where the Hoosiers held a 20-point lead late in the game. The Scarlet Knights are definitely better than they were last season, which isn’t saying much because they were easily the worst team in the Big Ten in 2016. Hell, Indiana played their worst game of the season last year against Rutgers and still won 33-27. I have the Hoosiers again though it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Rutgers beat the spread.

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Tegray Scales has been the leader of a resurgent Hoosiers defense (photo credit: Indiana Daily Student)

Projected Score: Indiana 31 Rutgers 24

#24 Michigan vs #5 Wisconsin (-7.5)

This game is huge in terms of Big Ten postseason implications. Not only could Michigan set itself up for a shot at the Big Ten Championship game with a win, but a Wolverines win would likely eliminate Wisconsin from CFP contention given how weak their schedule is. These are two pretty evenly matched teams as they play the same style of classic Big Ten football, in which offense is predicated on the run game and the defense is stingy and physical. Michigan has looked like their old selves again since switching from John O’Korn to Brandon Peters and I think they give Wisconsin a run for their money, but I think the Badgers escape this one and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Projected Score: Wisconsin 24 Michigan 20

Texas vs West Virginia (-3)

Texas isn’t back yet, but they’ve shown some good things under Tom Herman, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, as they are probably the only Big 12 team that actually plays defense. Malik Jefferson has been as advertised and they will need to be at their best if they hope to top Will Grier’s West Virginia squad. The Mountaineers have been a tough offense to stop and that’s thanks in large part to Grier’s comfort in head coach Dana Holgorsen’s system. The Mountaineers are coming off two of their worst offensive performances of the season in their last two games, however both resulted in victories, showing that the defense can step up when needed. I’m taking West Virginia in this one.

Projected Score: West Virginia 30 Texas 21

Minnesota vs #23 Northwestern (-7)

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have struggled in Big Ten play this season, as they’re only 2-5 in conference play, their two wins being lowly Illinois and Nebraska. Defensively they’ve been decent, however, as aside from being unable to tackle Michigan runningbacks, they’ve held their own. It’s on the offensive side of the ball where they’ve struggled, though they are coming off a 54-21 drubbing of Nebraska last time out. Northwestern has had similar success on the defensive side of the ball but they’ve been a lot more consistent offensively and that is thanks in large part to the growth of quarterback Clayton Thorson and the continued dominance of runningback Justin Jackson. I do think Northwestern wins this game, they just have more weapons on offense than Minnesota does.

Projected Score: Northwestern 23 Minnesota 17

SMU vs #21 Memphis (-12.5)

A rare non-Power 5 game in my picks, but this game intrigues me mainly because this is probably the best matchup of wide receivers we’re going to get all season. SMU receiver Courtland Sutton is my top receiver in the upcoming draft and Memphis’ Anthony Miller is my number 5 pass catcher. SMU’s Trey Quinn has also been extremely impressive this season, as he is approaching 100 catches on the year and is already over 1000 yards. So this may not look like much on paper, but if you like wide receivers, turn this game on. I do see this game being high scoring but I’m going to give the edge to Memphis. Quarterback Riley Ferguson has outdueled the likes of Josh Rosen this season and I would certainly give him the edge over SMU’s Ben Hicks.

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Anthony Miller is arguably the best player you’ve never heard of (photo credit: NDT Scouting)

Projected Score: Memphis 45 SMU 41

Kentucky vs #7 Georgia (-21.5)

Tough loss for Georgia. They went into Jordan-Hare Stadium and got ROCKED by the Auburn Tigers last week, dropping in the rankings from #1 to #7. Their playoff hopes are definitely still alive and well, but they will have to win out in order to become one of the final four. Their first test will be the Kentucky Wildcats, who have quietly been pretty good this season. They’re 7-3 and have beaten the likes of Vanderbilt and Tennessee this season so this won’t be a cake walk for Georgia. However I think Kirby Smart will have his guys ready after the beatdown they suffered at the hands of Auburn and they will get themselves back on track this week.

Projected Score: Georgia 35 Kentucky 21

Kansas State vs #13 Oklahoma State (-20)

Oklahoma State is still alive to get a rematch with Oklahoma in the first ever Big 12 title game, but they will need to win out and they need TCU to lose one of their next two games (TCU faces Texas Tech and Baylor). The Cowboys offensively have been an absolute juggernaut with Mason Rudolph, James Washington, and Justice Hill leading the way. Kansas State has had their share of struggles this year but they were competitive to the very end against Oklahoma and their defense held tough in their loss to TCU. I think Oklahoma State will win, but I don’t think it will be by nearly as much as the spread might indicate.

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 35 Kansas State 24

Navy vs #8 Notre Dame (-18)

Notre Dame is pretty much eliminated from playoff contention after getting shellacked by Miami (FL), handing them their second loss of the season. With no conference title game to play for, that pretty much spells the end for the playoff hopes of the Fighting Irish, barring complete insanity. They face an always scrappy Navy team that has given Notre Dame a lot of problems over the years and I actually think this game will come down to the wire. I do think the Irish will pull away and win this game, but the Midshipmen will give them quite the scare.

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The Notre Dame ground game has caused opposing defenses lots of problems this season (photo credit: UHND.com)

Projected Score: Notre Dame 27 Navy 24

#19 NC State vs Wake Forest (-1.5)

NC State narrowly escaped Boston College last week with a 17-14 victory despite the fact that the Eagles were without star edge rusher Harold Landry (whom I had hyped up for that matchup without knowing he was dealing with a bum ankle. Such is life.). Wake Forest is a scrappy team, as they have kept the game close in all of their losses this season, which includes Clemson and Notre Dame. I’m actually going to go on a limb and say Wake Forest takes this game. It’s a gut feeling for this one because they’ve come close to beating ranked teams on multiple occasions this season, I think this is the week they get it done.

Projected Score: Wake Forest 20 NC State 17

UCLA vs #11 USC (-16)

All the eyes of NFL scouts will be on this game. Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold could be the top 2 picks in the draft this season and they’ve both played some stellar quarterback. Both quarterbacks rank in the top 10 in the nation in passing yards and this is despite Rosen missing the Utah game due to injury. He is very healthy now, coming off a 381-yard showing against Arizona State last time out. Darnold has struggled with turnovers this season, he leads all of college football in that category, but that hasn’t kept him from being a top-tier quarterback this season. I really hope this game ends in a shootout and I think we’ll get it. These quarterbacks are too gifted for it not to end as such. I have USC winning because they have more weapons on defense to get a stop against Rosen.

Projected Score: USC 49 UCLA 42

California vs #22 Stanford (-15.5)

Another edition of the rivalry most famous for that time Stanford’s band was on the field during Cal’s game-winning run. Both squads have been pretty inconsistent this season, with Cal blowing out a top-10 Washington State team one week, then losing to Arizona the following week (though it has since been discovered that Arizona is actually pretty good). Bryce Love had a bounceback game in the win over Washington last week, rushing for 166 yards after being limited to just 69 (nice) the week prior against Washington State. I think Love carves up the Cal defense and Stanford wins handily.

Projected Score: Stanford 42 California 21

Utah vs #18 Washington (-18)

Utah has been ice cold since beginning Pac 12 play, as they’ve lost 5 of their last 6 and their one victory was over a UCLA team that was without superstar quarterback Josh Rosen. Washington is pretty healthy and I think Myles Gaskin will have a field day with this Utes defense. He is at 1038 yards on the season on just 166 carries (6.3 YPC) and Utah has just been okay against the run this season. Jake Browning hasn’t been the stud he was last season, but he won’t need to be in order for Washington to get the victory over Utah.

Projected Score: Washington 35 Utah 17

Those are my picks for this week in my second-to-last shot at a perfect week. Agree? Disagree? Are there other games you want my thoughts on? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Preview

College basketball is always one of the tougher sports to predict typically because it is ALWAYS experiencing turnover, with all the one-and-dones that enter and leave the league before we really get a chance to see what they can do. It’s hard to blame them, with how messy the NCAA can get it’s no wonder these players jump to the NBA first chance they get. So that being said, I’m anticipating a fun year of college basketball. In this preview, I will try and project who will win each of the Power 5 conferences as well as putting in my own Top 25 and my preseason All Americans. I will not be predicting who I think will be the champs, as March Madness is so insane every year that I feel like trying to predict how it’s going to go in November doesn’t give the tournament its full due. I will, however, give who I think will be the number 1 overall seed, if that helps. Let’s get to the conference champs.

ACC: Duke Blue Devils

Duke Countdown To Craziness

photo credit: Sports Illustrated

The ACC is probably the best conference in college hoops right now. You’ve got the blue bloods such as Duke and reigning champs North Carolina, but the second tier of this conference is typically super competitive as well, such as Notre Dame, Miami (FL), and Louisville (though with the whole Rick Pitino situation, Louisville may be removing themselves from this discussion). I’m going with Duke to win the ACC this year for two main reasons: Coach K and the recruiting class. Mike Krzyzewski is arguably the best college basketball coach on the planet right now and he always turns out a plethora of NBA talent, whether that be from one-and-dones or guys who stay all four years. This year he has a particularly talented group to go with Grayson Allen. Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Trevon Duval, and Gary Trent Jr are all in the TOP EIGHT of ESPN’s Top 100 Recruits for the class of 2021 (whether these guys are here that long is another story). Bagley is the highlight here as he is a big time recruit who was able to reclassify in order to be a part of this Duke roster. He’s 6’11 with all the tools you can look for in a player: athleticism, shooting, and post moves being major positives with this kid. The one thing that may hold this team back is Grayson Allen. Yes he is a supremely talented point guard, but his emotional outbursts are more renowned than his game is and that can become a distraction. He’s got to be the leader of this young team, being a senior this year, and if he’s having hissy fits on the bench then it could do a lot of damage to this team.

SEC: Kentucky Wildcats

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photo credit: A Sea of Blue

Was there really any other choice here? While the SEC may be a dominant conference in football, they are essentially a one-man race in basketball, with Kentucky having won the conference each of the last 3 years (feels like it should be more than that). John Calipari rivals Coach K as the best coach in the game but the main challenge Kentucky deals with every year is the one-and-done. Kentucky goes through these types of players more often than seemingly any team in the country, but Cal also encourages it. He feels that his guys should take the opportunity to go to the NBA as soon as they feel they’re ready, but has all his guys declare for the NBA Draft anyway so they can all get a sense of their draft stock before deciding whether they want to go forward or return to school. And with his coaching prowess and skills as a recruiter, he has no problem finding replacements for the guys he lost the year prior. This season, Kentucky’s top players are Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, Nick Richardson, Hamidou Diallo, and Jarred Vanderbilt, joining a roster that returns very little from last year’s SEC champs. Kentucky’s only real competition this season will likely come from Florida, Texas A&M, or Alabama, but I think the gap between these schools are big enough that everyone else is playing for second place in the SEC.

Big Ten: Michigan State Spartans

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Tom Izzo’s Spartan squad has never been one that typically deals with the one-and-dones, as Deyonta Davis is the only player in recent memory to leave for the NBA after one season in East Lansing. That bodes well for Michigan State because they’ve got a lot of good returning talent, particularly Miles Bridges (who may be my favorite player in all of college basketball) and Lourawls “Tumtum” Nairn. Michigan State also landed Jaren Jackson, ESPN’s #9 recruit, who looks to be a major contributor for this season. In the Big Ten, Michigan State’s main competition will likely come from Wisconsin, Purdue or even¬† quietly good Minnesota and Northwestern teams. Indiana’s potentially a wild card because it’ll be interesting to see how Archie Miller transitions to major college basketball after great success at the University of Dayton. But Michigan State is so loaded and have a Hall of Fame head coach, making it awfully difficult to pick against them.

Big 12: Kansas Jayhawks

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photo credit: KUSports.com

Do I really even need to do this one? The Big 12 has been OWNED by Kansas of late, as the Jayhawks have won the Big 12 every year since 2005. That’s THIRTEEN STRAIGHT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS! Despite this, Kansas only has one national championship victory to show for it (2008) but they will be looking for another run this year. They lose Player of the Year Frank Mason to the NBA, but they do have Devonte Graham returning, which was huge for Bill Self’s squad, as Kansas’ recruiting class was a little light this season. Billy Preston was their only recruit in ESPN’s Top 50. But having another season of Devonte Graham will likely be good enough for the Jayhawks to hold off such competition as West Virginia, Baylor, and possibly Iowa State for a fourteenth straight conference title.

PAC-12: Arizona Wildcats

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photo credit: Arizona Daily Star

Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins are back for Arizona and they’ll be running this offense with one new toy to play with: DeAndre Ayton, the 7-foot 250-pounder out of Phoenix. Ayton is the #3 overall recruit according to ESPN, trailing only Bagley and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr (both guys are in the discussion for number 1 pick in the NBA Draft). Ayton is arguably as good as either of these guys and will be key to replacing Lauri Markkanen. Head Coach Sean Miller (older brother of Indiana coach Archie Miller) has had Arizona playing some really good basketball these last few years and it wouldn’t shock me to see these guys unseat UCLA as best in a weak conference, as only the Bruins and USC are expected to be competitive in this conference.

Preseason Top 25:

1.Duke Blue Devils

2.Michigan State Spartans

3.Kentucky Wildcats

4.Kansas Jayhawks

5.Arizona Wildcats

6.Villanova Wildcats

7.North Carolina Tar Heels

8.Florida Gators

9.Wichita State Shockers

10.West Virginia Mountaineers

11.Miami (FL) Hurricanes

12.USC Trojans

13.Notre Dame Fighting Irish

14.Cincinnati Bearcats

15.Minnesota Golden Gophers

16.Louisville Cardinals

17.Purdue Boilermakers

18.Gonzaga Bulldogs

19.Xavier Musketeers

20.Wisconsin Badgers

21.Northwestern Wildcats

22.UCLA Bruins

23.Baylor Bears

24.St. Mary’s Gaels

25.Seton Hall Pirates

Preseason All Americans

First Team:

G-Collin Sexton-Alabama

G-Devonte Graham-Kansas

F-Miles Bridges-Michigan State

F-Marvin Bagley-Duke

C-DeAndre Ayton-Arizona

Second Team:

G-Joel Berry-North Carolina

G-Trevon Bluiett-Xavier

F-Michael Porter Jr-Missouri

F-Johnathan Williams-Gonzaga

C-Mohamed Bamba-Texas

Projected Player of the Year: Miles Bridges-F-Michigan State

Mississippi Valley State v Michigan State

photo credit: CBS Detroit

Bridges is one of the most exciting players in the game and as a freshman last year, he scored 16.9 points per game with 8.3 rebounds while shooting almost 50% from the field and 39% from 3. He’s got another year under his belt and I think given his abilities, we are in for a tremendous season from the sophomore forward from Flint, Michigan.

Projected #1 Seed: Duke Blue Devils

Duke is just too stacked on paper for it to be anyone else at this point in the year. As I mentioned, in a sport typically dominated by freshman, Duke has 4 of the 8 best, including the number 1 overall player as well as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. However, we often see these super teams fall apart under the weight of media expectations, as teams with this much hype rarely ever live up to it, so while I am super high on Duke, it also wouldn’t shock me to see them underwhelm.

Those are my predictions for this college basketball season. Probably going to look WAY different when I do the postseason edition. Do you agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

College Football Picks: Week 9

Last Week: 10-2                                 Season Record: 45-15

I once again had a strong showing in my picks last week. My two misses were Boston College against Virginia (which I missed BADLY) and Arizona State vs Utah, which I admitted in the blog was a big toss up. So with that, let’s get picking.

#11 Oklahoma State (-7.5) vs #22 West Virginia

This has the potential to be a shootout and quite frankly is the only 12:00 game I have any real interest in (hence it being the only 12:00 game on my picks today). Mason Rudolph and Will Grier have been two of the best quarterbacks in college football this season and we can expect them to put up a massive amount of points between them. It’s going to come down to which defense can make a stop and based on what I saw last week, I have to give that edge to OK State.

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 48 West Virginia 41

#2 Penn State vs #6 Ohio State (-6.5)

Ohio State is favored by almost a touchdown in this game? Seriously? I mean I know they’re good but have you seen Penn State this season? The last time I ripped a line was the Michigan State vs Iowa game and it came back to bite me in the ass. This is going to be a really tight game as both JT Barrett and Trace McSorley are having really strong seasons and are probably the two best quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Ohio State’s defensive line is arguably the most dangerous unit at any position in football, with two potential first round picks this year (Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard) and another next year (Nick Bosa). But after watching Saquon Barkley dice up the 2nd best defense in the nation in Michigan last week, I have to think that Ohio State’s defense will also struggle to contain the Heisman frontrunner. Penn State wins.

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Trace McSorley has Penn State in the hunt for a second consecutive Big Ten title (photo credit: PennLive.com)

Projected Score: Penn State 24 Ohio State 21

#3 Georgia (-14) vs Florida

I don’t know what to make of Florida. Their offense is so inconsistent it makes it nearly impossible to predict their games. The defense has been tough, though, and I think they’re going to keep this interesting because Georgia is clearly the better team. Their ground game is a sight to behold and their defense has been reminiscent of head coach Kirby Smart’s Alabama days. Georgia will win fairly handily but the scoreboard will suggest it was a closer game than it actually was.

Projected Score: Georgia 27 Florida 19

#4 TCU (-7) vs #25 Iowa State

TCU has been a juggernaut this season and it came to a head last week against Kansas. They won the game 43-0, outgained the Jayhawks 475-21, and held them to -25 rushing yards. You read that right. They’re going to face a much better Iowa State team, which in the past that wasn’t always the case, but Iowa State has played really well this season, highlighted by their upset victory over Oklahoma a few weeks ago. I actually think they will hang with TCU for a while in this game even though TCU has only played in a single one-score game all season (a 31-24 win over West Virginia). TCU will win, but Iowa State will put up a fight.

Projected Score: TCU 34 Iowa State 24

#14 NC State vs #9 Notre Dame (-7.5)

Bradley Chubb has been a MONSTER this season for the Wolfpack. He is second in the nation in tackles for loss and seventh in sacks and is a big reason why NC State has won 6 in a row after losing on the opening weekend. He’s going to face a tough offensive line in Notre Dame, as Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson are two of the best O-Linemen in the country that block for a top rushing attack. Brandon Wimbush and Josh Adams are about as explosive a QB-RB rushing duo as their is in the country and this NC State defense is going to have their hands full. I’m going to give this one to Notre Dame, as they get another big win to add to their playoff resume.

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Bradley Chubb has arguably been the best defensive player in the country this season (photo credit: Pro Football Focus)

Projected Score: Notre Dame 27 NC State 23

UCLA vs #12 Washington (-18)

Washington is coming off a stunning loss to Arizona State and they’ve had two weeks to sit on it. I think that works as motivation in their favor and I think the offense is going to come out guns blazing. However defensively they will struggle against Josh Rosen, who only trails Mason Rudolph by 30 passing yards for the national lead. I think UCLA easily beats the spread, but Washington still comes out on top in the end.

Projected Score: Washington 38 UCLA 34

#16 Michigan State (-2.5) vs Northwestern

This game is going to be miserable. It’s expected to be 46 degrees and raining for this tilt between to stout defenses. Ball security is going to be key here and that’s something that Michigan State has struggled with all season. Only Air Force, Georgia Southern, and San Jose State fumble more often than the Spartans and the former two run wishbone offenses that heavily feature the run. You can bet Pat Fitzgerald’s team is going to be gunning for that football and I think they will create the takeaways. I’ve got Northwestern with the upset.

Projected Score: Northwestern 14 Michigan State 10

Indiana (-4.5) vs Maryland 

Indiana has yet to win a game in the Big Ten this season but their schedule hasn’t done them any favors. They’ve faced Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State, all of which have been ranked at some point this season (they have a date with #5 Wisconsin next week) and 3 of them have been in the top 10. It gets easier against Maryland, a team that IU thrashed on the ground last season with the Big Bacon package (they subbed out Richard Lagow and Devine Redding for the speedy Zander Diamont and the 270 pound Tyler “Big Bacon” Natee). Maryland has been without quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome for most of the season and his backup Max Bortenschlager has completed fewer than 50% of his passes (was going to say “less than” but that would’ve been grammatically incorrect. Thanks, Stannis). I think Indiana’s stingy defense is going to have a field day and make Maryland completely one dimensional and get on the board this Big Ten Season.

Projected Score: Indiana 27 Maryland 17

Mississippi State (-1) vs Texas A&M

Both teams have been pretty good in the SEC this season and it’s going to be a tightly contested ballgame. Defensively, Mississippi State has been relatively consistent in that they’re bad against good teams (Auburn and Georgia) and good against bad teams and LSU. So it’s tough to say what we’ll get out of them when they take on Christian Kirk and the Texas A&M offense, which has been pretty solid all season to go with a defense which, aside from two outliers against UCLA and Arkansas, has been exceptional this season. I’m going to give the advantage to the Aggies for this.

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Christian Kirk is the biggest threat on the A&M offense (photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

Projected Score: Texas A&M 35 Mississippi State 24

Georgia Tech vs #7 Clemson (-14)

Clemson is coming off a SHOCKING loss to Syracuse, a game that saw Kelly Bryant leave with an injury. He’s expected to be ready to go for this game against one of the top defenses in the nation in Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets would likely be ranked had they been able to hold on late against the U and I think they’re going to give Clemson a run for their money. Clemson knows that if they lose this game, their bid for a third straight playoff trip is dead, so I think they come out with a little more intensity this week than they did against Syracuse.

Projected Score: Clemson 28 Georgia Tech 17

#15 Washington State (-7) vs Arizona

Washington State is coming off a big bounceback win over Colorado after getting wrecked by California. They shut out the Buffaloes 28-0 and will try and do something similar against a scrappy Arizona team. The Wildcats are 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in Pac12 play after very low expectations to start the season. Khalil Tate has been an animal, with 780 rushing yards on only 56 carries (10.2 ypc) and Wazzu is going to have their hands full with him. I think this will be a high scoring game and the Cougars are better built for those types of games than Arizona is.

Projected Score: Washington State 42 Arizona 28

#21 USC (-3.5) vs Arizona State

This could be a real trap game for USC. Arizona State has been playing spoiler all season, beating the likes of Washington, Utah, and Oregon despite a mediocre record (4-3). USC has yet to play up to its potential all season and if they aren’t careful they could find themselves dropping out of the rankings. I think they will win this one, but the Sun Devils will give them quite the scare.

Projected Score: USC 28 Arizona 27

Those are my picks for this week, I’m in search of that perfect week now after a pretty solid overall record on the season. Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10

 

College Football Picks: Week 8

Last Week: 8-4                    Season Record: 35-13

So I took a few more chances last week than usual. I had two big upset picks, Indiana over Michigan and Georgia Tech over Miami (FL). Indiana took Michigan to OT but lost 27-20 and Georgia Tech was about to upset the U until Darrell Langham made a terrific catch on 4th down to keep Miami alive in time to make a game-winning field goal to win 25-24. I came close, but that doesn’t make my record look any better. My other losses were Auburn against LSU and Navy against Memphis, though both games were 1 score games. So I came THIS close to being 12-0 last week. My point is my picks for college football are really good and you should definitely listen to what I say. So with that, let’s get picking. Spoilers ahead.

#10 Oklahoma State (-7) vs Texas

The Cowboys have been really solid this season, especially on offense where Mason Rudolph and James Washington have been unstoppable. Their one loss was against an unbeaten TCU team in which they put up their lowest scoring output of the season. That would be 31 points. There is a ton of fire power on this offense that goes into Austin to take on the Longhorns who have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after taking Oklahoma to the limit. They’ve played well against good teams this season as they also looked good in a loss to USC. They aren’t quite back just yet but they will make this game with OK State interesting. I have the Cowboys winning.

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James Washington is second in the nation in receiving at 882 yards. (photo credit: Tulsa World)

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 45 Texas 35

Louisville vs Florida State (-6.5)

So looking at this game on the schedule in preseason, I’m sure a lot of fans circled this on their calendar as must-see TV. Here we are in Week 8 and these two teams have NOT had things go well this season. I talked in my Heisman blog, which you can read here,¬† about Louisville’s struggles this season so I won’t talk your ear off about that here, but Florida State has just imploded without Deondre Francois. Derwin James continues to be an animal but the rest of this Seminoles team has just kind of phoned it in this season and the underclassmen are looking towards next year. They’re favored in this game, but I like Louisville’s chances in this one. Lamar Jackson is still killing it this year and while he does struggle with turnovers, I think he puts up enough points where it doesn’t bite the Cardinals too hard.

Projected Score: Louisville 38 Florida State 28

Boston College vs Virginia (-5.5)

Traditionally these two teams are in the cellar of the ACC, but they’re both having some solid seasons. Boston College is coming off a BIG win at Louisville on the strength of AJ Dillon’s 270 yard performance on the ground, as well as this VICIOUS stiff arm.

Virginia is 5-1 on the year, their one loss being to Big Ten opponent Indiana in Week 2. The Cavaliers admittedly have had a pretty easy schedule to start the year, Indiana and Boise State being their best opponents until the end of the year, but they are getting the job done. Defensively they’ve been very solid. The most points they’ve allowed all year is 34 against Indiana and they are consistently between 10 and 21 points allowed each game. Boston College isn’t consistent enough an offense to do to Virginia what they did to Louisville and I think Virginia wins this game and becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.

Projected Score: Virginia 21 Boston College 14

Arizona State vs Utah (-10)

Arizona State has been playing spoiler all season. They competed to the end with Texas Tech and Oregon and beat a good Stanford team and are coming off a huge upset over a top-5 Washington squad. Utah has been a similar type of team this season in that they make good opponents nervous. Their two losses are by a combined 4 points to Stanford and USC. So basically this is a game between two trap game teams. Both have been overall pretty inconsistent and this game is a pretty big toss up. I think Utah wins and that’s mainly on the strength that I trust them a little bit more because they are a play or two away from being 6-0.

Projected Score: Utah 30 Arizona State 24

Indiana vs #18 Michigan State

Indiana is coming off a near upset of the Michigan Wolverines and now they head to East Lansing to face a Michigan State team that actually did manage to beat Michigan in the Big House. The Hoosiers defense was really impressive aside from the fact they couldn’t stop Karan Higdon last week but they face a Michigan State offense that may be without runningback LJ Scott, who was arrested a couple nights ago for driving with a suspended license. It is unknown what his availability will be for this game. But both defenses are really tough and physical and I think this is going to be a dogfight. However I think Michigan State outlasts Indiana at the very end and gets some revenge for their loss last season.

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Simmie Cobbs Jr has been a problem for opposing defenses this season (photo credit: The Herald Bulletin)

Projected Score: Michigan State: 21 Indiana 17

#9 Oklahoma (-14.5) vs Kansas State

Kansas State is struggling right now. Their one win over a Power 5 team is Baylor and they’re winless right now. They’ve lost two in a row to a solid Texas team and an excellent TCU team. They’re home against Oklahoma, who has looked a little shaky the last couple of weeks. They lost to Iowa State and got taken to the brink against Texas. That one I’m not so sure would’ve been too different regardless of what happened the week prior against Iowa State, when Texas and Oklahoma play you can use any cliche imaginable and it’ll fit. But I think this is where Oklahoma re-enters the CFP discussion, as they put the smackdown to Kansas State.

Projected Score: Oklahoma 49 Kansas State 21

Kentucky vs Mississippi State (-13)

Kentucky is surprisingly 5-1 on the season, their one loss coming against the Florida Gators, but a botched coverage late in the game is what’s keeping them from being 6-0. They’ve had a weak schedule thus far but they played really well in their win against a pretty good South Carolina team, however they have let lesser teams like Eastern Michigan and Southern Miss keep it close, which would have me nervous about their ability to go into Starkville and get a win against Mississippi State. Mississippi State has been the bane of my existence when it comes to picking. I felt like they’d be competitive against Georgia and I thought they would beat Auburn in back to back weeks a few games ago. They got blown to kingdom come by both teams. Yet those came after thrashing a pretty good LSU team. They’re coming off a smacking of BYU and I think Nick Fitzgerald has them keeping up momentum against Kentucky, however Kentucky will beat the spread, as they’ve kept it close against good teams this season.

Projected Score: Mississippi State 27 Kentucky 23

Oregon vs UCLA (-6.5)

I’ve tried to pick Oregon to get big wins for the last couple weeks now and they’ve let me down each time. Royce Freeman is having a big season for the Ducks, with 797 yards on 133 carries with 10 TDs but they’ve been without quarterback Justin Herbert with a broken collarbone and freshman Braxton Burmeister has just simply not been good. He’s completed 52% of his passes with 172 yards with 1 TD and 4 interceptions and that won’t be enough to outscore Josh Rosen’s UCLA Bruins. Rosen has been terrific this season and although UCLA’s record hasn’t been where I’m sure Bruins fans want it to be, you have to feel really good about their chances this week.

Projected Score: UCLA 42 Oregon 17

#24 LSU (-7) vs Ole Miss

I have no idea what to make of this LSU team. They lose to Troy on homecoming then follow that up with back-to-back wins over ranked teams, Florida and a top-10 Auburn team. So really I haven’t the slightest clue of what to expect with Ed Orgeron’s team. Ole Miss got embarrassed about as badly as a team can get embarrassed against Alabama a few weeks ago (66-3) and it took until last week to show some life, beating Vanderbilt 57-35. Ole Miss doesn’t seem to show up when they face big time teams and I think they will struggle against a physical LSU defense. Whether LSU is able to put up big time points is another question entirely. I think LSU wins it but Ole Miss may make them nervous.

Projected Score: LSU 24 Ole Miss 21

#19 Michigan vs #2 Penn State (-9.5)

Michigan barely escaped Indiana last week after losing to Michigan State the week prior, which explains why they dropped from #8 to #19 in two weeks. The defense is EXTREMELY impressive, in fact Indiana was the first team all season to score 20 points on the Wolverine defense. They face a tough challenge in Penn State, but I think they will struggle to score against Michigan. Saquon Barkley has been held under 100 rushing yards each of the last two weeks and they go up against the toughest defense they’ll face all year, as Michigan has yet to ALLOW a hundred yard rusher this season. Michigan will also struggle to score, however, as the offense has no passing game with John O’Korn under center and they were struggling with a healthy Wilton Speight. I think Penn State wins a low scoring affair and Michigan’s tumble down the rankings will continue.

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Donovan Peoples-Jones has been one of the most impressive freshmen in the country this season (photo credit: The Michigan Daily)

Projected Score: Penn State 20 Michigan 13

#11 USC vs #13 Notre Dame (-3.5)

This is going to be a fun game. Both teams are vying for a playoff berth for the first time in either school’s history and the loser will likely be effectively eliminated from contention. There’s a lot on the line, needless to say. Sam Darnold has been inconsistent for USC but he’s always found a way to win with the exception of the Washington State game, however if he wasn’t strip-sacked on that final drive, who knows what a guy of his caliber could’ve done. Notre Dame’s one loss was against the current #3 team in the nation in Georgia and it was a narrow loss early in the season. The defense is significantly better than it was last season and while Brandon Wimbush has had some struggles, he has more than proven he is capable of leading this team on a big run. This game is a toss up but I trust Notre Dame a little bit more to get the job done as they’ve been a bit more consistent than the Trojans.

Projected Score: Notre Dame 28 USC 24

Colorado vs #15 Washington State (-10)

Yikes, doesn’t get much uglier than Wazzu’s performance against Cal. Though to be fair, nobody could’ve beaten the Golden Bears the way they played in that game and something looked really wrong with Luke Falk health-wise. Falk has had some injuries but Washington State doesn’t disclose injuries to the media in-game and we haven’t gotten a whole lot out of the Cougars’ locker room following up last week’s performance. If he’s okay, I’d consider Washington State a lock against Colorado. The Buffaloes have struggled mightily in conference play, their one win being last week against the lowly Oregon State Beavers. If he’s not okay, then I think it will be close, but I still think Washington State gets the win.

Projected Score: Washington State 41 Colorado 21

Those are my picks for this week. I noticed a lot of good teams are on bye this week, such as Georgia, Clemson, and Ohio State, so that makes the matchups a little more toss-uppy this week. If there are any other games you want my opinion on, let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.