NFL Picks: Week 1

Last Season: 144-81

After a slow start, I thought I recovered nicely last season to come up with a pretty solid season winning percentage. And now I can use PFF stats. So yeah, since nobody donated to my Patreon (except one, thanks Dad), I couldn’t pay for a PFF account to better analyze these picks, so I just went and got a job with them. Go figure. But anyway, picks are back and I’m off to a slow start, as I picked the Falcons to beat the Eagles on Thursday night, which didn’t happen so let’s hope this goes better.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns

This season of Hard Knocks may have been the best ever. It was funny, interesting, and eye-opening. It really makes me root for this Cleveland Browns team. However it also showed me another thing: Hue Jackson is a shitty head coach (great guy, though, would not mind having a beer with him). That coaches meeting from the first episode was all I needed to see to know why the Browns are 1-31 under Jackson. So despite the fact that the Steelers won’t have Le’Veon Bell, I still think they beat the Browns, though the influx of talent will make this a close game.

Projected Score: Steelers 31 Browns 24

Cincinnati Bengals vs Indianapolis Colts

San Francisco 49ers v Indianapolis Colts

Frank Reich’s debut as an NFL head coach comes at a perfect time as Andrew Luck is back from a shoulder injury that many believed could derail his career. We have yet to see whether that holds true, but Colts quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett and Scott Tolzien) carried the 6th worst PFF grade in his absence. In 2016, the last time we saw Luck, Colts passers carried the 4th best PFF grade. So Luck makes a huge difference. It’ll be a challenge against the Bengals, who I think will quietly have one of the NFL’s best defenses. It’ll be interesting to see how Andrew Luck is protected against that vaunted defensive line. I think the Bengals come away with this one.

Projected Score: Bengals 24 Colts 17

Tennessee Titans vs Miami Dolphins

Another head coaching debut, Mike Vrabel now has the reins of the Titans and will begin his tenure in South Beach against the Dolphins. A lot has been made of the Titans trying to become the Patriots 2.0 by acquiring all their old players (Logan Ryan, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler, even Vrabel himself played 8 years there), but obviously they’re not going to replicate the same results. Marcus Mariota had a weird season last year, as he appeared to struggle with 13 touchdowns and 15 picks, but PFF actually graded him pretty well at 76.2 (for comparison, Kirk Cousins was a 70.0 and Cam Newton was 66.5). I think they get the win against the Dolphins, who are returning Ryan Tannehill but seemingly nothing else.

Projected Score: Titans 27 Dolphins 21

San Francisco 49ers vs Minnesota Vikings

I probably should abstain from this one like I did Clemson-Texas A&M yesterday because I’m working this one for PFF, but my work doesn’t start until well after the game ends so I think I’m okay to pick this. The Vikings are my pick to win the Super Bowl this year and they go up against Jimmy Garoppolo and his unbeaten record as a starting quarterback. Something has to give. I think I’m going to go with the Vikings, as I think they’re much more well-rounded.

Projected Score: Vikings 31 49ers 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings

Jameis Winston’s 3 game suspension for groping an uber driver begins and it’ll be Ryan Fitzpatrick taking on the Saints. I’m not going to lie, this game is going to get ugly. Yes the Bucs have a revamped defensive line, but the Saints have one of the best offensive lines in football and loads of weapons like Michael Thomas and last year’s rookie of the year Alvin Kamara. They’re going to be fine even without Mark Ingram, who is serving a 4-game suspension for PED’s.  Saints win easily.

Projected Score: Saints 38 Buccaneers 14

Houston Texans vs New England Patriots

The Texans are getting a LOT of key contributors back from a season that was lost due to injury so I think this will be a fun game as they take on the Patriots. But it’s still the Patriots, even with all the players they lost from last season. So I think they still win, but I think the Texans will make them sweat.

Projected Score: Patriots 28 Texans 24

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New York Giants

The Jaguars had a fantastic season on defense last year and basically everyone from that unit is back. The Giants are getting ODell Beckham back and Saquon Barkley will be making his debut but it won’t be enough as Jacksonville’s defense suffocates them and leads them to a victory. It won’t be a bloodbath like their opener against the Texans last year, but it will still be a relatively easy win.

Projected Score: Jaguars 34 Giants 17

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens

It’s going to be a long season for the Bills, especially if they think Nathan Peterman was the best option at quarterback. I get not starting Josh Allen right away, because based on his up-and-down preseason, he could use some time on the bench, but did you have to trade AJ McCarron? I don’t know, man. The defense should be solid but the offense is going to struggle and I think the Ravens will win easily.

Projected Score: Ravens 28 Bills 10

Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs

The Pat Mahomes era has officially begun and it comes against a very tough Chargers defense. Cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams will have their hands full with Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins running under Pat Mahomes’ passes, but he’s only going to be able to get the ball down there if the offensive line holds up, which is going to be tough with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming off the edge. I think the Chargers win a fun back-and-forth affair.

Projected Score: Chargers 31 Chiefs 28

Dallas Cowboys vs Carolina Panthers

It’s the end of an era, as the Cowboys will play a game without both Jason Witten (retired) and Dez Bryant (released) for the first time since 2003. They take on the Panthers, who remain mostly unchanged from the team that made the playoffs last season. I think it’s going to be a low-scoring game, as both teams bring strong defenses to the table, but I think Carolina is going to come out on top.

Projected Score: Panthers 20 Cowboys 17

Washington Redskins vs Arizona Cardinals

Alex Smith debuts for the Redskins after a career year in Kansas City against the Cardinals, who get David Johnson back from a wrist injury. The Cardinals are a tough team to place this season. Sam Bradford is the new quarterback after Carson Palmer retired and while he is an accurate passer and has played well when on the field, his problem is he can’t stay on the field. There’s also a lot of talent on the Arizona defense but they did lose a BIG piece in Tyrann Mathieu this offseason. I think I’m going to go with Washington this week.

Projected Score: Redskins 24 Cardinals 20

Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos

This is a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch but both teams could not look more different. The Legion of Boom has pretty much completely dissolved while Denver is starting Case Keenum at quarterback. Seattle still doesn’t have an offensive line so I think I’m going to pick a Von Miller-led defense to take apart this Seahawks offense and lead the Broncos to victory.

Projected Score: Broncos 23 Seahawks 17

Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers

Pittsburgh Steelers v Green Bay Packers

The oldest rivalry in the NFL is renewed with some new faces in Chicago. Matt Nagy is at the helm and he has a brand new toy after the team sent to first rounders to Oakland for Khalil Mack. All of a sudden this Bears defense looks formidable for the first time since 2012. But the Packers are also getting Aaron Rodgers back and their young secondary looks like it could have a similar effect on this year’s team as it did for the Saints last year and I think I’m going to take Green Bay.

Projected Score: Packers 28 Bears 20

New York Jets vs Detroit Lions

The first Monday Night game of the year features a couple debuts. Sam Darnold is the new rookie quarterback getting the start for the Jets while Matt Patricia is making his head coaching debut for the Lions. Darnold looked really sharp in the preseason and was doing things you don’t see 30 year-olds do. The Lions are in a similar position to the Cardinals in that they have some talent with a rookie head coach but I have no idea what to make of them. So I think I’m going to pick the Jets to come away with the win.

Projected Score: Jets 23 Lions 14

Los Angeles Rams vs Oakland Raiders

The other Monday Night game, this is going to be a blowout. I’m picking Oakland to pick first in the 2019 NFL draft as they have absolutely no defense, especially now that they’ve traded Mack. Meanwhile the Rams stocked up on talent in the offseason. This won’t be close, Rams win.

Projected Score: Rams 42 Raiders 14

So that’s it for my picks this week. Like I’ve said many times, I’m going to keep trying to do this every week, but I can’t promise I’ll be able to. Let me know what you think of my picks in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

NFL Draft: Day 2

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I’m not going to go pick-by-pick with this. That would be absolutely insane. It’s more going to be in the format of General Sports but it’s all going to pertain to what happened with Day 2 of the NFL Draft. So let’s get to it.

-Before the Draft even started, we got news that Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is retiring and will be joining the broadcast booth. The timing seems a bit unfortunate for the Cowboys as they likely had to dramatically change their draft plans now that tight end has become a need. However there was some insult to injury with what happened. The division-rival Eagles traded up in front of them and took South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert and former Eagles kicker David Akers, who announced the pick, had a little fun with the Dallas crowd.

So not only do the Cowboys not get their tight end (who happens to be named “Dallas”) but they get the pick stolen right out from under them by their division rivals and then get put in a body bag by a retired kicker. Rough night. The Cowboys ended up taking Texas tackle Connor Williams, who was my top-rated tackle in this class. Some people think he could play guard and there’s an opening at left guard on this offensive line.

-Speaking of pick announcements, this was pretty awesome.

I’m not crying, I’ve just got something in my eye. You’re crying. Pussy. *sniff* Pancho Billa got to announce the pick of Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who appears to be the heir to Kyle Williams and quite frankly, I was shocked he was still there. I had him pegged as an early second rounder and he nearly lasted all the way to the 4th.

-The Patriots traded the 95th pick in the Draft for 49ers tackle Trent Brown, an absolute mammoth of a human being at 6’8 360, though his weight was an issue with the 49ers last season as he showed up to camp over 400 pounds. He played really well, though grading out as the 9th best tackle according to Pro Football Focus. This allows the Patriots to push the 23rd overall pick Isaiah Wynn to guard where he’s better suited. Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason are the incumbents but Thuney struggled last season and the selection of Wynn in the first round might suggest that the Patriots are losing confidence in him. As a result of this trade, though, the Patriots only had 1 pick on Day 2 after a bunch of other trades and they ended up with Florida cornerback Duke Dawson. I like him, I think he’s really good in coverage, particularly as a press guy. But he sucks against the run. I watched some film on him against LSU and LSU kept running end-arounds right at him all game and they kept working. However he did a pretty good job in covering DJ Chark and shut down Christian Kirk, both of whom I had as top-5 receivers in this class. He’s probably going to be a nickel or dime corner for the Patriots on passing downs as a rookie.

-The Steelers may have drafted their future franchise quarterback in Mason Rudolph with the 76th overall pick. The Oklahoma State product is pretty raw and his offensive scheme from college translates pretty poorly to the NFL. But he has a lot of arm talent and a big frame that is pretty similar to current Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has made it clear his days in the league are numbered, as he almost retired this season. It appears that the Steelers had been targeting Rudolph all along because they also selected his top target in James Washington. The two were a dynamic 1-2 punch with Oklahoma State and the Steelers hope they can translate that chemistry to the next level.

-Former LSU runningback Derrius Guice fell pretty hard in the Draft. In my mock, I projected that the Buccaneers would trade back into the first round with the Patriots to take him. Well that didn’t happen, the Pats took Georgia runningback Sony Michel, then the Buccaneers stayed put in the second round and took USC runningback Ronald Jones II. Apparently, as Mike Mayock reported while Guice was in his slide, there’s an investigation going on with Guice that could potentially be “embarrassing” for the team that drafts him. As to what that exactly is, we’re unsure, but the Redskins took a chance on him at 59 so perhaps they feel comfortable that he’s going to be cleared.

-Speaking of falling in the Draft, every year we see guys take a tumble simply because that’s the way the board falls. There’s no real reason behind it, whether it be character concerns, injury problems, or just something showing up on tape. But every year, there’s a guy who falls out of nowhere. This year, that player was Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison. He doesn’t have any character concerns, no injury red flags, and he’s okay in coverage but we already knew that and we know he’s better against the run. I really like this guy and he’s an enforcer-type safety who can deliver some nasty hits. He was my 30th overall player on my Big Board and he ended up going 93rd to the Jaguars. As if that defense needed another playmaker. As of right now, this is the steal of the Draft in my opinion.

-Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown had possibly the worst NFL Combine ever, yet he didn’t fall too far, as the Ravens selected him in the third round, 83rd overall. The analysts noted when he was selected that Brown’s 40 time of 5.65 was the exact same time as his father’s, who passed away in 2011. Another interesting thing to note is that Brown’s father, Orlando Sr, also played for the Ravens and wore #77. That number is currently available on the Ravens roster. Could be something cool to look at.

So with 3 rounds done and the rest of the Draft on Saturday, here’s the remaining players from my Big Board that are still available, ordered by ranking along with possible reason why they fell.

39. Maurice Hurst-DL-Michigan (diagnosed with a heart condition at the Combine that has clearly scared teams away because he’s too good to still be available)

41. Deshon Elliott-S-Texas (I liked him a lot more than other people anyway so I’m not surprised he’s still available. Mark my words he’s going to be a steal)

50. Shaquem Griffin-LB-Central Florida (Has one hand, otherwise he’s basically the perfect linebacker prospect)

And that’s it. I expect all three guys to be taken pretty early in the 4th round on Saturday. Let me know what you thought of Day 2 of the NFL Draft in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Every Team’s Biggest Draft Steal of the 21st Century

Yesterday I listed each team’s biggest miss in the Draft. Today we’re going to be a little more positive. We’re going to take a look at the biggest steal for each team since 2000. Some ground rules for this. First off, the steal cannot come in the first two rounds, so Brett Favre and Drew Brees going in the second round will not qualify. The 2017 draft class will once again be excluded because even though guys like Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara shined as rookies despite being later picks, we don’t know if they were just flashes in the pan yet. Later rounders will also carry more weight when I consider this, so a steal in the 7th will be worth much more than a steal in the 3rd. Also, their candidacy as a steal applies only for the team that drafted them. So even if Favre were eligible as a steal, he was drafted by the Falcons and traded after his rookie year. I will also be including some players who were taken before the steal in question that were much less successful in their careers to hype up the steal.

Cleveland Browns-Ahtyba Rubin-DL-Iowa State (190th Overall in 2008)

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Not a flashy name by any means, but Rubin has quietly been one of the best interior defensive linemen for some time. He’s a space eater and made life for Browns linebackers much easier.

Players picked ahead of him: Glenn Dorsey-LSU, Sedrick Ellis-USC, Kentwan Balmer-North Carolina, Trevor Laws-Notre Dame, Andre Fluellen-Florida State, Marcus Harrison-Arkansas, Dre Moore-Maryland, DeMario Presley-North Carolina State, Jason Shirley-Fresno State, Carlton Powell-Virginia Tech

New York Giants-Justin Tuck-EDGE-Notre Dame (74th Overall in 2005)

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I still get nightmares over Justin Tuck’s performance in Super Bowl XLII. He absolutely battered the Patriots offensive line in that game and, quite frankly, I think Eli Manning won Super Bowl MVP for that game due to quarterback bias. Tuck was the biggest reason the Giants pulled off the biggest upset in recent memory and he parlayed that success into an excellent NFL career.

Players picked ahead of him: Erasmus James-Wisconsin, Matt Roth-Iowa, Dan Cody-Oklahoma

New York Jets-Demario Davis-LB-Arkansas State (77th Overall in 2012)

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During training camp of his rookie year, Davis was compared to Ray Lewis by his own head coach, Rex Ryan. Pretty high praise for a rookie third rounder out of tiny Arkansas State. Davis hasn’t quite been Ray Lewis, but he’s been one of the best linebackers in the game since he entered it in 2012.

Players picked ahead of him: Nobody ahead of him really sucked, 2012 was a REALLY good year for linebackers.

Houston Texans-Eric Winston-OT-Miami (FL) (66th Overall in 2006)

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This was almost Glover Quin, but I had to go with Winston for two reasons. Number 1, he’s been one of the best right tackles in the game seemingly from the get-go. Number 2, he’s so well-respected around the league that he’s the player’s representative in the Players Association. He’s one of the main guys that negotiates new deals with the NFL. Hard to argue with that.

Players picked ahead of him: Winston Justice-USC, Daryn Colledge-Boise State, Marcus McNeill-Auburn

Denver Broncos-Malik Jackson-DL-Tennessee (137th Overall in 2012)

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There were a lot of options for this spot, such as Brandon Marshall (the wide receiver) and Elvis Dumervil, but I’m going with Jackson just because he went much later than the other two. Jackson has been a dominant force on the interior defensive line for both the Broncos and the Jaguars.

Players picked ahead of him: Kendall Reyes-UConn, Jerel Worthy-Michigan State, Devon Still-Penn State, Mike Martin-Michigan, John Hughes-Cincinnati, Alameda Ta’amu-Washington

Indianapolis Colts-TY Hilton-WR-FIU (92nd Overall in 2012)

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This could’ve been Pierre Garcon or Antoine Bethea, but Hilton hit the ground running as a rookie and he’s been the Colts’ best offensive player and one of the top receivers in the league. In fact, I would argue that he’s the Colts’ best player, period.

Players picked ahead of him: Justin Blackmon-Oklahoma State, Jonathan Baldwin-Pittsburgh, AJ Jenkins-Illinois, Stephen Hill-Georgia Tech, Ryan Broyles-Oklahoma, DeVier Posey-Ohio State

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Kwon Alexander-LB-LSU (124th Overall in 2015)

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Alexander is one of the most underrated linebackers in the game and he’s formed a deadly 1-2 punch with Lavonte David in Tampa’s linebacking group.

Players picked ahead of him: Stephone Anthony-Clemson, Paul Dawson-TCU, Ramik Wilson-Georgia

Chicago Bears-Jordan Howard-RB-Indiana (150th Overall in 2016)

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This might be a little bit of a bias because we’re both IU guys, but Howard IS the Chicago Bears right now. The entire offense has revolved around him since he took over the starting job as a rookie, when he finished 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards.

Players picked ahead of him: Tyler Ervin-San Jose State, Kenneth Dixon-Louisiana Tech, Paul Perkins-UCLA

San Francisco 49ers-Frank Gore-RB-Miami (FL) (65th Overall in 2005)

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I really wanted to pick NaVorro Bowman or Delanie Walker, mainly because Gore is the earliest pick in this steals list (he was the first pick of the 3rd round). But Gore is the all-time leading rusher for one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. That’s going to win out. Plus, most of Walker’s success came with the Titans.

Players picked ahead of him: Ronnie Brown-Auburn, Cedric Benson-Texas, Cadillac Williams-Auburn, JJ Arrington-California, Eric Shelton-Louisville

Oakland Raiders-Jared Veldheer-OT-Hillsdale (69th Overall in 2010)

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Veldheer went to Hillsdale, a college I’ve never heard of, yet was still a third round pick. Not only that, but he’s been one of the best tackles in the game. There weren’t a ton of options for the Raiders, whose draft track record this millennium has been pretty poor. But Veldheer was definitely a steal.

Players picked ahead of him: Vlad Ducasse-UMass, Charles Brown-USC

Miami Dolphins-Lamar Miller-RB-Miami (FL) (97th Overall in 2012)

of the game at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

This was almost Jay Ajayi, however Ajayi got traded midway through last season to the Eagles after ineffectiveness and attitude, so Miller’s going to get the nod. He was able to turn his success with the Dolphins into a big contract with the Texans. This also could’ve been Olivier Vernon, but I thought Vernon’s best year came with the Giants this past season and he was kind of irrelevant for most of his Dolphins career.

Players picked ahead of him: Trent Richardson-Alabama, David Wilson-Virginia Tech, Isaiah Pead-Cincinnati, LaMichael James-Oregon

Buffalo Bills-Kyle Williams-DL-LSU (134th Overall in 2006)

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Williams has been one of the best defensive tackles and personalities in the game and it says a lot about a guy when he was a 5th round pick in 2006 and he’s still with the team that drafted him. Williams finally made it to the postseason for the first time in his career last season and watching it unfold was a joy.

Players picked ahead of him: Brodrick Bunkley-Florida State, John McCargo-North Carolina State, Claude Wroten-LSU, Dusty Dvoracek-Oklahoma, Gabe Watson-Michigan, Orien Harris-Miami (FL)

Washington Redskins-Kirk Cousins-QB-Michigan State (102nd Overall in 2012)

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Cousins never got the respect he deserved from the Redskins organization. He wasn’t even the first quarterback Washington took in that year’s draft (he went 100 picks after RG3) and they refused to give him the extension he wanted despite his being the best quarterback they’d had in some time. Cousins just got a huge deal with the Vikings, though so we’ll have to see how that goes.

Players picked ahead of him: Brandon Weeden-Oklahoma State, Brock Osweiler-Arizona State

Green Bay Packers-Mike Daniels-DL-Iowa (132nd Overall in 2012)

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Daniels has been the enforcer on the Packers defense and has wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lines for years.

Players picked ahead of him: See Malik Jackson (Daniels was the DL taken right before Jackson)

Arizona Cardinals-Tyrann Mathieu-S-LSU (69th Overall in 2013)

XXX at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.

This was ALMOST David Johnson, who might be my favorite runningback in the NFL. However Mathieu gets the nod because Johnson had one season of dominance before getting hurt last season while Mathieu had been doing it for 5 years. He just signed with the Texans, though. The Cardinals are going to miss him.

Players picked ahead of him: Matt Elam-Florida

Baltimore Ravens-Marshall Yanda-OG-Iowa (86th Overall in 2007)

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Yanda was drafted as a tackle but upon moving to guard, he flourished. Yanda is arguably the best guard in the NFL and has been for quite some time.

Players picked ahead of him: Arron Sears-Tennessee, Justin Blalock-Texas

Los Angeles Chargers-Keenan Allen-WR-California (76th Overall in 2013)

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This very easily could’ve been Darren Sproles, but I think Sproles’ best years came with the Saints. As for Allen, he’s been terrific when healthy for the Chargers. Last season he got to prove it and one could argue he’s the Chargers’ best player.

Players picked ahead of him: Cordarrelle Patterson-Tennessee, Justin Hunter-Tennessee, Aaron Dobson-Marshall

Seattle Seahawks-Richard Sherman-CB-Stanford (154th Overall in 2011)

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There are a LOT of candidates for this spot, such as Russell Wilson and Kam Chancellor, but Sherman’s getting the nod here. Sherman has been arguably the game’s best corner and he’s become the prototype for big-bodied corners in today’s game.

Players picked ahead of him: Ras-I Dowling-Virginia, Brandon Harris-Miami (FL), DeMarcus Van Dyke-Miami (FL), Johnny Patrick-Louisville, Curtis Marsh-Utah State, Chimdi Chekwa-Ohio State, Jalil Brown-Colorado, Roc Carmichael-Virginia Tech, Robert Sands-West Virginia, Brandon Burton-Southern Utah, Rod Issac-Middle Tennessee State

Dallas Cowboys-Jason Witten-TE-Tennessee (69th Overall in 2003)

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Another guy that went 69th overall. I swear I’m not doing this on purpose. But Witten is the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver despite being a tight end and he’s still going strong 15 years later. A first ballot Hall of Famer if ever there was one.

Players picked ahead of him: Bennie Joppru-Michigan, LJ Smith-Rutgers, Teyo Johnson-Stanford

Detroit Lions-Cliff Avril-EDGE-Purdue (92nd Overall in 2008)

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This one might be a bit of a stretch because Avril’s best years are probably as a Seahawk, but he was playing very well with the Lions even before getting picked up by Seattle. This easily could’ve been DeAndre Levy as well but Avril was more consistent than Levy was.

Players picked ahead of him: Vernon Gholston-Ohio State, Derrick Harvey-Florida, Lawrence Jackson-USC, Phillip Merling-Clemson, Quentin Groves-Auburn, Chris Ellis-Virginia Tech

Kansas City Chiefs-Jamaal Charles-RB-Texas (73rd Overall in 2008)

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Tyreek Hill was also considered here, but Charles wins out. Owner of the best career yards-per-carry of all time, Charles has been the most electrifying runningback in the game despite having been a third round pick.

Players picked ahead of him: Felix Jones-Arkansas, Kevin Smith-Central Florida

Cincinnati Bengals-Geno Atkins-DL-Georgia (120th Overall in 2010)

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Atkins has been one of the most dominant interior defenders since he came into the league despite being considered undersized coming out of college. Despite the fact he just turned 30, he’s shown no signs of slowing down.

Players picked ahead of him: Brian Price-UCLA, Torell Troup-Central Florida, Terrence Cody-Alabama, D’Anthony Smith-Louisiana Tech

Los Angeles Rams-Richie Incognito-OG-Oregon (81st Overall in 2005)

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Despite some apparent attitude concerns, Incognito has been one of the best guards in the league. He just retired a couple weeks ago. Incognito was a driving force on the offensive lines of the Rams, Dolphins, and Bills. This might’ve been a stretch because Incognito’s best years were probably in Buffalo, but there weren’t a ton of options to choose from for the Rams.

Players picked ahead of him: Marcus Johnson-Ole Miss

Carolina Panthers-Steve Smith-WR-Utah (74th Overall in 2001)

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Josh Norman and Charles Johnson were considered here, but Steve Smith was the face of the Panthers when he was there. Smith was able to show that his diminutive stature didn’t matter, as his leaping ability more than made up for it. He was also one of the game’s best trash talkers and he will surely be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he’s eligible.

Players picked ahead of him: David Terrell-Michigan, Koren Robinson-North Carolina State, Freddie Mitchell-UCLA, Quincy Morgan-Kansas State, Robert Ferguson-Texas A&M

Tennessee Titans-Jurrell Casey-DL-USC (77th Overall in 2011)

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People are just now starting to appreciate just how good Casey is and has been for the Titans. He’s one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game and he wreaks tons of havoc in opposing backfields.

Players picked ahead of him: Phil Taylor-Baylor, Jarvis Jenkins-Clemson, Marvin Austin-North Carolina, Terrell McClain-South Florida

Atlanta Falcons-Devonta Freeman-RB-Florida State (103rd Overall in 2014)

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Freeman broke out in his second season with the Falcons and is one of the quickest backs in the game. He and fellow draft steal Tevin Coleman form arguably the deadliest runningback 1-2 punch in the NFL. Freeman’s getting the nod over Coleman because Freeman went a round later and typically gets more touches.

Players picked ahead of him: Bishop Sankey-Washington, Tre Mason-Auburn

New Orleans Saints-Marques Colston-WR-Hofstra (252nd Overall in 2006)

at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Saints’ all-time leading receiver was drafted 4th-to-last out of a school that doesn’t even have football anymore. Had Colston played one more season, he likely would’ve joined the exclusive 10,000 yards club (he’s 241 yards away).

Players picked ahead of him: Too many to list. 28 receivers were picked before him, only about 3 or 4 of them ended up being really good.

Pittsburgh Steelers-Antonio Brown-WR-Central Michigan (195th Overall in 2010)

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What more can you say about Antonio Brown? Not a lot of people realize that the best wide receiver in the game today was drafted around the same spot as Tom Brady, just ten years later. 194 players went before a guy who makes extraordinary catches like it’s nothing.

Players picked ahead of him: Arrelious Benn-Illinois, Damian Williams-USC, Jordan Shipley-Texas, Armanti Edwards-Appalachian State, Taylor Price-Ohio, Mardy Gilyard-Cincinnati, Marcus Easley-UConn, Jacoby Ford-Clemson, David Reed-Utah, Kerry Meier-Kansas, Carlton Mitchell-South Florida, Dezmon Briscoe-Kansas

Jacksonville Jaguars-Telvin Smith-LB-Florida State (144th Overall in 2014)

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Smith has been one of the league’s very best for a while now even though he didn’t start getting the recognition he deserved until the Jaguars broke out in 2017. Smith is a sideline-to-sideline tackler and is amongst the most athletic linebackers in the game.

Players picked ahead of him: Carl Bradford-Arizona State, Khairi Fortt-California, Prince Shembo-Notre Dame

Minnesota Vikings-Everson Griffen-EDGE-USC (100th Overall in 2010)

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It took Griffen a couple of years to really get going, but now that he has he’s become the best pass rusher on arguably the league’s best defense. Stefon Diggs was also considered but I feel that Griffen is more valuable to the Vikings right now than Diggs is.

Players picked ahead of him: Alex Carrington-Arkansas State, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim-Washington

New England Patriots-Tom Brady-QB-Michigan (199th Overall in 2000)

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Biggest draft steal of all time. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by trying to defend this pick any further than that.

Players picked ahead of him: Giovanni Carmazzi-Hofstra, Chris Redman-Louisville, Tee Martin-Tennessee, Spurgon Wynn-Texas State

Philadelphia Eagles-Trent Cole-EDGE-Cincinnati (146th Overall in 2005)

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Cole was the premiere pass rusher for the Eagles for nearly a decade and for a while was the most dangerous player they had. Brian Westbrook was also considered here, but Cole’s lengthy run near the top of the pass-rushing charts gets him over the top.

Players picked ahead of him: everyone ahead of Justin Tuck as well as Vincent Burns-Kentucky, Chauncey Davis-Florida State, David McMillan-Kansas

I hope this blog was your friendly reminder that just because a guy was picked late doesn’t mean he doesn’t matter. Often times these are the guys that change franchises. So don’t sleep on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. You never know when your team picks a Tom Brady. Let me know what you think of these draft steals in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Has there been an uglier coaching search than Tennessee?

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This has to be one of the most frustrating times to be a fan of a college sports program or to work in that school’s athletic department. Since Tennessee fired Butch Jones a few weeks ago, they have had miss after miss in trying to name their new head man. While teams like Florida have already gotten their new coach, Tennessee has gone through seemingly endless problems in trying to find Jones’ replacement. Here is a list of candidates that have not worked out.

Duke’s David Cutcliffe said no.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy said no, even though Tennessee would’ve made him the highest paid coach in the SEC.

Purdue’s Jeff Brohm was reportedly targeted, then falsely reported that he was going to be given the job (which really broke my heart, Brohm is a heck of a coach and I really wanted him out of West Lafayette so the Boilermakers can be bad again).

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was considered.

SMU’s Chad Morris was called about the job, no word if he said “no” or if Tennessee decided he wasn’t a fit.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was reportedly considered.

And worst of all, Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was announced as the hire, but Tennessee students protested his hiring so hard that the Vols athletic department backed out.

So the reason Tennessee students were protesting Greg Schiano’s hire was because he was a coach at Penn State during the whole Jerry Sandusky business that rocked the college football world. Allegedly, according to court documents, Schiano had witnessed Sandusky do something to a boy in a shower, briefly mentioned it to former Penn State quarterback Mike McQueary, and then did nothing after that.  This was both a social media protest and a physical protest, which you can see below:

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photo credit: CBS News

Yeah, that’s going to be hard to ignore if you’re trying to make a guy the face of your football program. Both Schiano’s former employer and current employer Penn State and Ohio State, respectively, have come to the defense of Schiano’s character. Penn State has even come out and said Schiano had nothing to do with the Sandusky situation, but that still has Tennessee taking the safe route and backing out on their hire of him. As of this writing, Tennessee is still without a head football coach.

This might be the first time that I’ve ever seen a team back out from a coach, especially the very day he was announced as the hire. Schiano had basically signed on the dotted line but because of these protests from Tennessee fans, they took the safe route and changed their minds. I really do feel bad for Schiano in this scenario. Hear me out. Before I get into this, I should preface this by saying obviously child molestation or any form of sexual assault is horrifying and Sandusky totally deserved what he got. What I’m about to say may be a bit controversial and if I offend any of my readers, please tell me because the last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable as a reader. This is a really touchy subject that I’m going to try and word as carefully as humanly possible. But put yourself in Schiano’s, Hell even Joe Paterno’s, shoes in this situation. Sandusky was a close friend (I don’t know if he and Schiano were ever close, I was only 5 years old when Sandusky retired). Now close your eyes and picture your closest friend, someone who has been your ride-or-die for as long as you can remember. Now picture them doing what Sandusky did. Would you straight away go to the police in this situation? The right thing to do in this situation is of course, yes, you would go to the police. But if I picture any of my friends doing something like this, I’m not so sure I would go straight away to the police. I would probably end up doing what Paterno did and tell him to cut the shit. Hell in Schiano’s case, he did tell somebody, that being a young quarterback on the roster. And this happened 20 years ago. But because of the severity of what Sanudsky did, anybody who was linked to him is considered partly responsible. I find it really hard to blame Schiano or Paterno for what happened or loop them into the same boat as Sandusky because I’m not so sure I would have done anything differently, same goes for many other people. The right thing to do isn’t always the easy thing, in fact, more often than not the right thing is often the harder thing to do. But Sandusky had been close to these guys and they considered him a good friend, even though he really wasn’t because a good friend wouldn’t put them in this situation in the first place. But while Paterno passed away when the details of the scandal were still coming out, Schiano has to live with the repercussions and it just cost him the top job at a major college football program.

As for Tennessee’s coaching search, there are a few more options they can look at. Texas A&M just fired Kevin Sumlin, who I think could be a good replacement. He’s had good success at A&M in the past, they’d just been trending in the wrong direction the last couple years and it was time for a change. I think he can be really beneficial for their program. Jim McElwain could also be a guy to target, as he had been fired from Florida (a decision I disagreed with) midway through a down season following an appearance in the SEC title game. So despite not landing Schiano, there are still plenty of quality options on the market for the Volunteers without checkered pasts.

Well that blog got uncomfortable. Again, if you had any issue with what I said about the whole Sandusky situation, please let me know. I tried to word that as carefully as I could because it really is a subject you have to tiptoe around. Also, one last bit before I close this thing out, Tennessee really considered Jason Witten? You do realize he’s still the starting tight end of the Dallas Cowboys right? A guy that’s making $7.4 million to play a sport he loves and has been great at for 15 years? Okay, then. Good luck with that. Let me know what you think of Tennessee’s coaching situation in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.