marqise lee

NFL Season Preview: AFC South

Posted by Jack Tumen

Moving right along, we reach the AFC South division; one of the weaker groups in the NFL.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Bob Levey/Getty Images

We begin with Houston; the biggest disappointment in the NFL last season. Gary Kubiak was fired before it was even all said and done while Matt Schaub seemed to be playing for the other team every week. They still owned a top-10 defense but it didn’t matter much; the injury bug bit early and often as major players like Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Owen Daniels, Danieal Manning and Brian Cushing all ended the season on injured reserve. Andre Johnson still managed to be Andre Johnson, finishing 3rd in the league with 109 receptions for 1,407 yards on the second-most targets (181) only behind Pierre Garçon’s 184. However, the star receiver voiced his displeasure with the team this off-season as whispers circulated that he wanted to be traded. But like a good little receiver, Johnson showed up to training camp and they all lived happily ever after.

Bill O’Brien was hired to bring the Texans back to life after seemingly doing the same thing for the heavily-sanctioned Penn State football program. An offensive-minded man and quarterback whisperer, O’Brien’s first task as new head coach was making the first overall selection in this year’s draft; easy, just take the most hyped up, freakishly freakish athlete to ever come to the NFL since Bo Jackson – check – next, find a quarterback to revive the franchise…ok so that’s still on the Texans’ to-do list, but in the meantime, Ryan Fitzpatrick will do some calculus while O’Brien finds out what he has in hyped-up, 4th-round rookie, Tom Savage.

Elsewhere, this roster is patchwork but has potential to grow. There’s a curious mix of depth below Andre Johnson; DeAndre Hopkins has all the tools to become a stud wideout but his production will naturally rely on the quality of quarterback play. Mike Thomas, by all rights, should win the third receiver spot; then it’ll be between DeVier Posey, Keyshawn Martin and the fascinating rookie, Kofi Hughes, to scrap it out for fourth.

The only thing that truly matters for this offense to have success is Arian Foster’s health. If he goes down again, the only emergency parachute remaining is Andre Brown; that’s a parachute with multiple patch jobs.

Other Notables: Young guns on defense like LB Whitney Mercilus and S DJ Swearinger will be counted on to make big plays; Rookie TE, CJ Fiedorowicz, excels in blocking but has an underrated receiving game that could be tapped into; Rookie LB, Max Bullough, has the tools to provide quality depth for this linebacking corps; JJ Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL.

The Indianapolis Colts are lucky…very lucky.

They’re lucky because they play in the worst division in football; a division they swept last year.

They’re lucky because they defeated the three best teams in the NFL last season; the 49rs, Broncos and Champion Seahawks.

But they’re especially lucky because they have…well, Luck.

But it didn’t always feel so lucky. Last season the Colts were average – at best – on offense; On defense? They were below-average at just about everything. They lost starting running back, Vick Ballard, to a torn ACL, then made an atrocious trade by giving up a first-round pick for Trent Richardson, who was out-rushed by 4 other NFL quarterbacks and Bobby Make-It-Rainey. In addition, TY Hilton was asked to do more than he could handle in the wake of Reggie Wayne’s ACL tear with little to no depth behind him.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

But Luck prevailed; Andrew Luck that is. The prodigy’s play was up-and-down at times but he was able to single-handedly carry his team to 11 wins and a divisional playoff berth. He’ll only continue to get better; but that doesn’t mean the same goes for the rest of the team.

In my post-draft write up, I pegged the Colts as the definite “loser” of the 2014 draft. Other than picking WR, Donte Moncrief, they picked only their nose. They seriously would have been better off trading all 5 of their picks to move up and take a franchise-caliber player. In a cant-miss draft, they missed everything.

What remains is a not-so-impressive roster that’s top-heavy at just about every position. Hakeem Nicks was brought in to start opposite Reggie Wayne and move TY Hilton back to where he succeeds the most; in the slot. Tight end, Dwayne Allen, returns to the starting lineup after missing all of last season with a hip injury. He’ll play ahead of Andrew Luck’s college bud, Coby Fleener, who’s career has been unfulfilling since being a 2nd-round pick in 2012. Vick Ballard is once again a goner: this time with a torn achilles. Phillip Tanner was signed for depth and will play the Donald Brown role behind T-Rich.

Their defense consists of Robert Mathis, D’Qwell Jackson, LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis. To be nice, I’ll throw in Cory Redding and Greg Toler. That is IT. There is NOTHING else on that defense. After being a first-round pick last year, Bjoern Werner had one of the most forgettable rookie seasons in recent memory, racking up a grand total of 18 tackles. You kidding me? Puh-thetic.

Other Notables: WR Da’Rick Rogers should take advantage of his athletic ability to see increased playing time; Ahmad Bradshaw just doesn’t do it for me in that backfield; The offensive line is still suspect at this point; QB Matt Hasselbeck is extending his career as Luck’s backup; Rookie kicker, Cody Parkey, was quite good in college and is learning from the best in Adam Vinetiery.

The 2014 season marks the return of Ken Whisenhunt as an NFL head coach; this time, he’ll get his chance with the Tennessee Titans.

This is a young roster that’s in need of much rebuilding and refinement. With only nine players on the wrong side of 30, experience is the main concern for this team. Jake Locker was off to a nice start last year and had the Titans at 3-1 until his season was ended by a foot injury; not only leaving the team in a hole but losing nearly an entire season of crucial development time as well. Since being the 8th-overall pick in the 2011 draft, Locker hasn’t progressed the way many expected him to. He’s on his last life with a new head coach and a GM that didn’t draft him.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The strongest position group for Tennessee might be its receiving corps. Kendall Wright is coming off an under-the-radar season in which he finished 7th in the league with 94 receptions, ahead of Megatron, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant among others. Second year man, Justin Hunter, received much flak from his position coach last year but is now being hyped as the guy who can put this offense over the top with his 6’4″ frame and leaping ability. Not too far behind stands savvy vet, Nate Washington, who brings a calming presence along with much-needed experience to the position.

Running back was possibly the Titans’ greatest position of need going into the off-season. They addressed that by selecting Bishop Sankey in the second round of May’s draft, also making him the first running back off the board. He’ll immediately play a key role in the Titans’ offense with the underwhelming Shonn Greene playing the bell-cow role. Dexter McCluster is a name to watch also, as he returns to his college position of running back after spending his first four seasons as a wideout for the Cheifs. He’s ticketed for the Danny Woodhead role in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense.

I wasn’t a fan of the Taylor Lewan selection at 11th overall in this year’s draft. Offensive line was not a position of need for the Titans as Michael Roos is one of the most solid left tackles in the game and Michael Oher was acquired in the off-season to play right tackle. They had the chance to grab a big-time game-changer like Aaron Donald but curiously passed. It’s one of those moves that doesn’t help this team win now.

This was a middle-of-the-road defense in 2013. Their top corner is Jason McCourty, with Coty Sensabaugh and Tommie Campbell as his backups. Apart from Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan, the big name up front is Jurrell Casey, who’s in the market for a long-term contract extension after a 10.5-sack season. The linebacking corps is a relative strong suit with veteran additions Shaun Phillips and Wesley Woodyard playing alongside up-and-coming Zach Brown, who’s played in every game since being drafted in 2012 out of UNC. Safety isn’t too shabby either with tackling machine, Bernard Pollard and long time Titan, Michael Griffin, holding down the back side.

Other Notables: TE Delanie Walker will be a focal-point on offense; Rookie QB, Zach Mettenberger, might get his chance sooner than later; Rookie DT, DaQuan Jones, should get opportunities to showcase his skills.

There’s no telling what 2014 will have in store for the Jaguars, who have combined for only 11 wins since 2011. The hope is that things will eventually get better under second-year coach, Gus Bradley; but it’s going to be a long process.

Phil Sears / USA TODAY Sports

Phil Sears / USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville’s roster is even younger than Tennessee’s, with only four players age 30 or older; the oldest of which is DE, Chris Clemons, who was a member of Seattle’s historic championship defense last season. He’s joined by another former Seahawk defensive end, Red Bryant. The two of them will bring some much-needed championship experience to an abysmal defense. A lone bright spot in 2013 was LB, Paul Posluszny, who was second in the NFL with 162 tackles in 2013. Second-year safety, Johnathan Cyprien, will be counted on to take the next step after racking up 104 tackles as a rookie.

The Jaguars offense is much more promising at this point in time than the defense. They shocked the NFL by selecting UCF quarterback, Blake Bortles to be the future of the franchise with the third-overall pick in May’s draft. Although they say he won’t start immediately, we can expect him to get a few under his belt before season’s end. They wisely surrounded him with young weapons as well, using two second-round picks on stud wideouts, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. This might have been one of the smartest moves of the entire draft. The shorter Lee brings explosiveness and swagger to the position while the taller Robinson is a jump-ball machine with a sticky set of mitts who can own the red-zone. The two were also my 4th and 5th-favorite receivers in this year’s loaded draft class. It’ll be a balanced attack that could be fun to watch in a year or two.

With the MJD-era over with, one player with loads of promise is running back, Toby Gerhart. He’ll finally get a chance to show the league that he can handle an NFL workload after backing up AP for the first four years of his career in Minnesota. He’s been pegged as the team’s “bell cow” throughout training camp. He was a bowling ball at Stanford and will be an interesting player to follow this season.

Other Notables: QB Chad Henne will essentially be playing for another contract to stick around as Bortles’ backup in the not-so-distant future; Rookie RB, Storm Johnson, brings an athletic dimension to this backfield; RB Denard Robinson needs to start showing he’s an NFL-caliber player; WR Cecil Shorts will be the top option in the passing game as long as he stays healthy; TE Marcedes Lewis is an underwhelming starter in an underwhelming position group for Jacksonville; Sucks about Justin Blackmon.

Final Standings:

  1. Indianapolis: 10-6

  2. Houston: 7-9

  3. Jacksonville: 6-10

  4. Tennessee: 2-14

This is the weakest division in the NFL. Every team is young and going through a transition in some way or another. With the always-tough NFC East and AFC North on the schedule, don’t expect any wild-card teams to emerge from this division. I’m not a fan on the Colts roster but Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano are a wonderful QB/coach duo and can single-handedly carry this team to a second straight division title; Houston could be a pleasant surprise. I don’t think Ryan Fitzpatrick will be that awful, but he certainly won’t be good enough to carry this team to the playoffs. Any improvement is good improvement as Bill O’Brien starts his tenure off on a decent note; Jacksonville certainly won’t be good, but they won’t be as bad as last year. They’ll be much more fun to watch in a few years from now; The Titans have no depth and no leaders. They’re a young squad that lacks experience with a shaky quarterback that’s coming off a season lost to injury. Sure, Ken Whisenhunt took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, but he had Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald too. The Titans have always been one of my favorite teams, but the first-overall pick is what Tennessee need to get back in the game.

Next up: AFC West

Calm Before the Storm: Jacked Up Mock Draft

Posted by Jack Tumen

With the draft only days away, it’s time for my first round mock. The rules are: there are no trades. Let’s do it.



With the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select…

1. Jadeveon Clowney – DE, South Carolina

When a talent like Clowney comes around once in a blue moon, you embrace the opportunity to have that talent on your roster. There’s been chatter about Khalil Mack jumping Clowney to be taken first overall, but I don’t see it happening. Yes, they need a quarterback, but this is the year to wait on one; they can take a Jimmy Garoppolo at the top of the 2nd. The character concerns will always be present with Clowney, but Bill O’Brien knows what kind of beast he has in front of him.


2. Greg Robinson – OT, Auburn

At 6’5″, 332lbs, this mountain of a man anchored the left side of Gus Malzahn’s run-heavy offense that buoyed Auburn’s dream season. Jake Long tore his ACL and MCL after a nice start and Rodger Saffold failed his physical in the attempted Oakland trade. The Rams have whiffed on tackles before with the 2nd overall pick (Jason Smith in ’09) but have a chance to turn the pick that could’ve been RG3 into their franchise left tackle for the next decade.


3. Johnny Manziel – QB, Texas A&M

If there’s anything that Jacksonville needs, it’s a quarterback; if there’s any quarterback that Jacksonville needs, it’s Johnny Football. A franchise that’s been QB-less and struggling for years now (on and off the field) the Jaguars have the opportunity to draft the most polarizing player to ever play college football; and more importantly put booties in the seats.

images-14. Khalil Mack – LB, Buffalo

Mack has seen his stock rise in meteoric fashion over the last few months. Many argue that he’s in fact the most talented player in this draft; but with so much uncertainty this year it’s tough to say. What is certain, however, is that Browns’ head coach, Mike Pettine, is a defensive minded man. After spending a few seasons under the tutelage of Rex Ryan as the Jets’ defensive coordinator, Pettine has quickly ascended the coaching ladder and in my opinion is the best head coach Cleveland’s hired since Bill Belichick. He won’t pass up the opportunity to have a player like Mack in his hands; and with 3 out of the first 35 picks, they have plenty of time to take a QB.


5. Sammy Watkins – WR, Clemson

Staying true to the Raider way, Oakland goes for a speedy wideout with the 5th overall selection. But we all know that Watkins is more than just speed; he’s a freakish playmaker who broke records on records at Clemson. I was tempted to pick a surprise tight end here, but I like Mychal Rivera’s potential to break out with TE-loving Matt Schaub at the helm. I don’t think they’ll draft a QB to hold a clipboard behind Schaub; the only thing he’d learn is how to throw pick-sixes. A game-changing stud out wide is what Oakland needs.


6. Jake Matthews – OT, Texas A&M

Atlanta’s offensive line struggled mightily last season, ultimately leaving them as one of the league’s biggest disappointments. However, starting left tackle, Sam Baker, missed the majority of the season due to injury. After solidifying the interior by signing guard, Jon Asamoah, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Having said that, taking Matthews here makes a lot of sense. He’ll step right in and start at left or right tackle, depending on what they choose to do with Baker’s fluctuating game. Either way, they need to find a way to give Matt Ryan more time to make throws, or else Matty Ice will continue to be ice cold.


7. Mike Evans – WR, Texas A&M

Standing at 6’5″, 231lbs, Evans has received Vincent Jackson comparisons leading up to the draft. You know what would be great for the Buccaneers? Two Vincent Jacksons. Josh McCown proved he can ball with two gigantic receivers like he had in Chicago with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Although he’s just a stopgap at quarterback for now, Lovie Smith sounds like he can deal with McCown as the guy for at least this year. With virtually no other starting-caliber wideouts on the roster besides Jackson, Evans should be the guy for Tampa Bay.


8. C.J. Mosley – LB, Alabama

I was close to taking Bortles here, but the Vikings just re-signed Matt Cassel and still have former first round QB, Christian Ponder hanging around. New Head Coach, Mike Zimmer, is a defensive mind and Chad Greenway is his only true starting-caliber linebacker on the roster. Mosley is one of the most seasoned and mature players in this entire draft class after a four year career at Alabama. He could have come out last year and been a top 10 pick if he wanted to, but he stayed, which speaks volumes nowadays. Some are saying that Aaron Donald is the pick here, but after using one of three first rounders on Sharrif Floyd last year and signing Linval Joseph this offseason, I don’t see it. Mosley might be the safest pick in the draft.


9. Eric Ebron – TE, North Carolina

Buffalo simply needs more on offense. Scott Chandler is a capable tight end but not one to be proud of as a starter. Despite some motivational questions, Ebron is easily the most talented tight end in this draft and will infuse new life into a Bills passing game that just added Mike Williams via trade from Tampa. Robert Woods expects to improve on a modest rookie season while Marquise Goodwin can play burner. Stevie Johnson has been in decline due to injury and E.J. Manuel needs more weapons if he’s to take the next step in his development. In a time of uncertainty for the Bills organization post-Ralph Wilson, Ebron could be a step in the right direction.


10. Justin Gilbert – CB, Oklahoma State

Detroit has needs at both the wide receiver and corner positions, but I think signing Golden Tate is just enough to nudge the scale in favor of a corner here, especially in such a receiver-rich draft. Gilbert is long and athletic; he has the talent to step in and be the guy. Darius Slay hopes to improve on his rookie year but the need is simply too dire here for the Lions not to address it; especially when they face Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery twice a year.


11. Aaron Donald – DT, Pittsburgh

This was a tough pick to predict; Tennessee has a few needs, QB possibly being one but none more glaring than running back. However, RBs go later in the draft nowadays and new HC Ken Whisenhunt has stated the team won’t take a back in the 1st round. Obviously it could be a smokescreen but I think the pick here is to sure up the middle of that defensive line with the best D-Tackle in the draft. Aaron Donald lining up next to an up-and-coming Jurrell Casey would make for an underrated and nasty duo on the Titans front seven.


12. Anthony Barr – LB, UCLA

The Giants are desperate for a tight end; but Eric Ebron is gone at this point and drafting Jace Amaro or Austin Seferian-Jenkins at 12 would be a huge reach. When I look at the Giants’ roster, however, I don’t see too many quality linebackers outside of Jon Beason and Jameel McClain. Anthony Barr is a fluid pass-rusher who can disrupt coming off the edge and was hyped as a possible number-one-overall way back when. Some analysts debate that Barr is superior to Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, but under these circumstances it’s the right fit based off need and value for the G-Men.


13. HaSean Clinton-Dix – S, Alabama

Boy, does St. Louis have it good. In possession of two out of the first 13 picks, the Rams have a chance to get better on both sides of the ball. With four current safeties on the roster that no one’s ever heard of, “Ha Ha” is the droid that Jeff Fisher is looking for. After a really nice career under Nick Saban, Clinton-Dix improved his game every year and is probably the most solid safety in the draft.


14. Calvin Pryor – S, Louisville

We’ve got back-to-back safeties coming off the board. Former Packer, M.D. Jennings, is the top safety on the Bears’ roster while Major Wright has never been able to improve his game. Pryor would bring a vicious swagger to Chicago’s secondary that already has Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings manning the outside. Although he tends to get caught out of position at times, Pryor can lay a lick on a ball carrier like no other player in this draft. It’s the move.


15. Darqueze Dennard – CB, Michigan State

A physical man-to-man corner? Sounds just like what Dick LeBeau ordered. Pittsburgh is doing OK on the offensive side of the ball; Markus Wheaton figures to step in and start across from Antonio Brown at wideout and the offensive line played better than expected last year. Dennard is the most physical corner in the draft, and in my opinion, the best. Now 34, Ike Taylor needs a successor to hold down the fort across from Cortez Allen. Swiping Dennard here makes sense for Pittsburgh.


16. Odell Beckham Jr. – WR, LSU

There’s tons of chatter about Dallas moving up for Johnny Manziel…after they just paid Tony Romo $100 mil. That move is so Jerry Jones, it hurts. But in all seriousness, Dallas needs a body to play across from Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams started coming into his own toward the end of last season, but with Cole Beasley acting as the current number 3 and only 5 wideout bodies on the roster, Odell Beckham should be Cowboy. In my favorite wideouts column, I tabbed Beckham as my number 1 favorite receiver in this draft; the kid’s a freakish athlete and brings good character to a franchise lacking just that.


17. Jimmie Ward – S, Northern Illinois

Two first-round safeties two years in a row should sure up the back side of Baltimore’s secondary post-Ed Reed (Matt Elam last year.) Ward is a thumper and an all around balanced player. He’ll be a nice piece of the puzzle for a Ravens defense trying to find a new identity.


18. Brandin Cooks – WR, Oregon State

The Jets need help at wideout and cornerback. Kyle Fuller is a likely choice given these circumstances but Cooks is a unique weapon. His blistering 4.33 40 yard dash cemented him as the fastest wideout in the draft. He’s been tabbed as a bigger, stronger and faster version of DeSean Jackson, but I’d lean more toward Steve Smith. He’d be a nice add to a Jets offense that already signed Eric Decker and Chris Johnson in free agency. Geno Smith needs more toys if he’s to succeed.


19. Zack Martin – OL, Notre Dame

6’4″, 308lbs sounds like a good way to sure up the offensive line. Following the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin fiasco, Miami has some large holes to fill…literally. Scouts are saying that Martin can play tackle or guard, so the versatility up front will be a plus for Ryan Tannehill and his stagnant development.


20. Blake Bortles – QB, UCF

This was another tough pick to predict. I have Bortles dropping a bit but still being the 2nd QB off the board. There’s been talk about Teddy Bridgewater sliding to the 2nd round after his horrific pro day and I think that Derek Carr will hang around for a few more picks. Had Miami not already taken Zack Martin one pick ahead, I would have used this pick on him; Arizona’s O-line graded out dead last in Pro Football Focus’ 2013 rankings and they could use help there. The once-hyped quarterbacks are now perceived as one of the weakest positions in this year’s incredibly deep draft. Bortles could develop into a nice passer if he holds the clippy for a year or two behind Carson Palmer. Bruce Arians should be able to utilize his Roethlisberger-like skill set to give birth to “Big Blake.”


21. Ryan Shazier – LB, Ohio State

The Packers expect Nick Perry to take the next step going into his 3rd season out of USC. A.J. Hawk’s play has leveled off in recent seasons and Clay Matthews, although a beast when healthy, has trouble staying just so. Shazier clocked a ridiculous 4.36 40 yard dash; faster than nearly every other receiver at the combine. He’d be an instant force on a defense that just added Julius Peppers in the offseason.


22. Bradley Roby – CB, Ohio State

With the top 4 wideouts gone at this point, the Eagles go and grab an immensely talented corner. Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin are 1 and 2 in that secondary and could use some major help from the likes of Roby. Character issues are a concern but I think this is the right move for Philly. Chip Kelly will give Jeremy Maclin a chance to prove himself in the offense while operating on a make-or-break one year deal. I think the breakout potential of Zach Ertz as a move TE is enough that Philly can hold off until the later rounds to grab another receiving option.


23. Allen Robinson – WR, Penn State

Kansas City flat out needs more receiving options. Dwayne Bowe is pushing 30 and their next best guy is Donnie Avery. A-Rob would immediately be the tallest wideout on the roster at 6’3″ and would be a huge help for Alex Smith. A jump ball and screen game specialist, Robinson has the potential to wow at the next level and could force opposing defenses to respect the pass more to take some pressure off Jamaal Charles. After a tremendous pro day, Robinson hears his name called in the back half of the 1st round.


24. Jason Verrett – CB, TCU

Dre Kirkpatrick has done zero since being drafted in the first round a few years back. Adam Jones and Terence Newman are two aging corners that can’t hold down the fort by themselves. Verrett is a feisty slot corner who will be in the right environment in Cincinnati. Although I think Fuller is the better all-around cornerback, Verrett makes more sense for the Bengals here.


25. Kyle Fuller – CB, Virginia Tech

I really like this kid. Fuller is a seasoned four-year starter with good instincts and a strong all-around game. Richard Marshall is currently the best CB on San Diego’s roster; safe to say, the need is dire.


26. Derek Carr – QB, Fresno State

The Browns get their man with the pick they acquired from Indy in the Trent Richardson trade. I think it’s safe to say who won that swap-a-rooskie at this point. Carr is my favorite QB in this draft. Natural throwing ability and excellent leadership skills are the basis of this kid’s chemical make-up. He’ll be sure to find a new best friend in Josh Gordon. Expect Carr to be under center week 1.


27. Dee Ford – DE, Auburn

Cameron Jordan has blossomed into one of the league’s best young pass rushers. Throw the high-motored Ford across from him and you’ve got a D-line to be reckoned with.


28. Marqise Lee – WR, USC

Carolina needs receiving help more than any team in the NFL right now. Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are their top 2 options at the moment, both are age 31 and both are number 3 options at best on a full roster. Lee should have a strong chip on his shoulder after being one of the most forgotten players in this draft. Look for Carolina to take one or two more wideouts down the road as well.


29. Jace Amaro – TE, Texas Tech

The Patriots offense is an anomaly; Julian Edelman is their top receiver; Danny Amendola has been hurt; Rob Gronkowski can’t stay on the field; yet Brady still does his thing. Amaro would be the target the Pats offense has been missing since Aaron Hernandez left the team. This would be considered a reach, but by the time New England picks again he’ll be gone. At 6’5″, 265lbs, Amaro would occupy the field nicely in between the hashes and make for a dangerous connection with Tom Brady.


30. Louis Nix – DT, Notre Dame

This is where the draft starts getting weird and unpredictable; and in an already unpredictable draft, I’ve got the 9ers taking one of the best talents on the board. On a team that has no glaring needs, any choice here is for depth. Maybe a wideout wouldn’t hurt, but there’s plenty of those this year. Nix is a guy that can be a starter from day one. Once thought of as a top 10 pick, Nix can shuffle in and out the rotation along with guys like Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Glenn Dorsey. A great roster gets even better.


31. RaShede Hageman – DT, Minnesota

Hageman is one of those freak athletes who has questions about his motor. Denver took Sylvester Williams in the first round last year but he didn’t produce quite like they would have hoped. Not to say they’ll throw in the towel one year in, but it’s always nice to have that top-tier defensive line talent on your roster; and Hageman provides just that.


32. Xavier Su’a-Filo – OG, UCLA

Hustlin’ Russell hit the deck more than any other QB in the league last year. Solidifying that horrendous offensive line should be GM John Schneider’s priority. Su’a-Filo is one of the best interior linemen available in this class and if Seattle wants to keep grinding away championships, they’re going to need his services to do so.

Notables Left Out: Teddy Bridgewater, Taylor Lewan, Timmy Jernigan…

So there you have it; my first round mock of Thursday’s draft. Chances it actually plays out this way? Zero. Honestly, the draft is so unpredictable this year that if I get even five of these picks right I’ll be ecstatic. All we can do now is sit back and watch. See you in prime time.

NFL Draft: My Favorite Wideouts

Posted by Jack Tumen

I know, I write about receivers a lot. But you know why? Because it’s the coolest position. Everyone loves a great receiver; I’m no exception. Who doesn’t want to be the guy that goes up and grabs the game winning touchdown? So this post is about the guys who will soon have a chance to do that for a living. These are my top 5 favorite receivers in this years draft.

5. Marqise Lee – USC

Jerry Ting/Neon Tommy

Here’s a guy who was considered to be a top 5 pick a year ago. Instead, Marqise Lee is just another brick in the wall of an incredibly deep and talented wide receiver class. At 6 foot, 192lbs, Lee is truly his own receiver; I can’t think of anyone in particular to compare his game to. Maybe a mix of Marvin Harrison and Pierre Garcon; same heights, similar weights. He plays bigger than his height and has the moves to turn a 7 yard gain into a 77 yard gain. He’s got the drive and passion, which is great in today’s NFL where we see less and less emotion on a down to down basis from WRs. Lee is a prospect that I don’t see failing in any situation. He’s going to ascend to number 1 on the depth chart wherever he goes…and quickly at that.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

4. Allen Robinson – Penn State

Ok, so maybe this one’s a little biased. But then again, maybe it’s not. I got to watch all 3 years of A-Rob’s career at Penn State, and I will tell you now, this dude can pah-lay. Some were a bit disappointed by his combine 40 time, but speed is not his game; he’s a go-up-and-get-it guy. He had the 3rd longest broad jump and 6th highest vertical jump at the combine, which still doesn’t do him justice. You just have to see him make a play when he’s got the adrenaline going. I’ll never forget calling the epic 4OT game vs Michigan from the press box last season when he made the play of his career that set up the score to send it to overtime. That’s just one example of how flawlessly he times his jumps. He also thrives in the screen game – a method Bill O’Brien employed to force feed him the ball – which helped to crown him as the best receiver in the B1G for 2/3rds of his career. That same screen/sideline game translated over to his master skill at cutting back between the safety and defensive back to make a score countless times, like he does 15 seconds in to this highlight reel. Being 6’2″, 220lbs doesn’t hurt either. He’s one of a kind.

3. Brandin Cooks – Oregon State

Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The 2013 Biletnikoff award winner has been on my radar for some time now. Mid-season I’d be checking random stats and I see this guy leading the nation in receiving. Who? Brandin Cooks from Oregon State? Is Oregon State even good? Well, by now he’s on everyone’s radar; and rightfully so. After running the fastest 40 time of any wideout at the combine (4.33) and second fastest overall, Cooks has propelled himself into the 1st round conversation. To me, he’s one of the top 5 “playmakers” in this draft. His sticky hands and jackrabbit quicks instantly add a dangerous dimension to any offense; plus, he’s a skilled return man. Cooks is another guy whose game can’t exactly be compared to anyone else’s; he’s short at 5’10”, 189lbs, but has the build and agility to play above the measurables. There’s still room for him to beef up, but Cooks is a top 25 prospect for 2014.

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2. Jordan Matthews – Vanderbilt

Matthews was one of the first receivers to be talked about at the start of last season – and as remarkable of a year as he had (4th nationally in receptions and receiving yards) the attention seemed to stray toward the likes of the Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. Meanwhile, here we have, in my opinion, the most well-rounded player in this entire draft; leadership, consistency, attitude and playmaker are just some of the many words that can be associated with this young stud. Like all the previously mentioned receivers on my list, Matthews’ game is his own; comparisons fall by the wayside. It’s another reason I love this class so much; they’re all unique individuals who will bring a new flare to the NFL. At 6’3″, 212lbs with a flashy 40 time of 4.46, he’d be a heavy value pick in the second round.

1. Odell Beckham Jr. – LSU

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I would go so far as to say that Beckham is one of the top 3 athletes in this draft next to Jadeveon Clowney and maybe Khalil Mack. It’s honestly stupid how freakish he is. At 5’11”, 198lbs, he’s been a star at basketball, baseball, football and soccer at different points in his life. He can catch a ball literally anywhere on the field, run any route type and has the perfect frame to be used in any scheme. Back at LSU, Beckham and Jarvis Landry made up the top wide receiver tandem in the country. I truly believe this kid will be one of the top 10 receivers in the league in 2 years. His aggression and intensity at the catch point are unrivaled. Also not to mention he’s one of the best return men in the nation. If you’re still not convinced, check out this article recapping his remarkable 2013. Odell Beckham Jr. will soon be having his way with NFL defensive backs; just you wait and see.

Notables Left Off This List – Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans & Kelvin Benjamin

Many of you may be pulling your hair out over the fact that I didn’t include at least Watkins and Evans in this list. Sure, they’re amazing athletes and great college receivers, but I’m not thrilled by their intangibles. All 3 of these guys seem like they kind of just go through the motions, assuming they’re going to be a first round pick because Mel Kiper said so. Watkins maybe would be number 6 on this list, but as for Evans, I’m just not a fan of his vibe. And as for Benjamin, if you have Jameis Winston throwing darts at your solar plexus every play, then I haven’t seen enough from you. Let’s talk again when he’s got Christian Ponder or Chad Henne throwing that duck 2 feet in any direction from his head.

So there you have it, my 5 favorite wideouts in the 2014 draft class. Don’t agree? Say somethin’ why don’t ya!