Cleat Geeks

College Football Preview

Hello fellow college football fans, welcome to my weekly college football season preview series. From now until the college football season starts, I will be previewing two college football teams a week. I plan to cover all major programs within all the conferences. I plan on looking at teams from the ACC to the SEC. I will give you my predictions for what these teams will do this year. Please feel free to interact and debate my conclusions, I enjoy interacting with all college football fans. So without further ado let us get this party started.

For my fourth installment, I decided to go with the Big Ten Conference. The first team I am looking at is the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State went 7-2 in conference and 11-2 overall. Penn State ended their season on a four game winning streak. They lost at Ohio State 39-38 and at Michigan State 27-24 in two good games. Penn State has an underrated quarterback with Trace McSorley throwing for 3228 yards with 26 touchdowns. He also has rushing ability running for 431 yards and 11 touchdowns. What makes him effective is his very low turnover number of just eight interceptions. Penn State will have to replace Saquon Barkley and his rushing and play making ability. Penn State has a good receiving corps led by Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins who had over 100 yards receiving against Michigan State. Looking at Penn State’s schedule, they get Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin at home, and their toughest test on the road will be at Michigan on November 3rd. I have Penn State going 11-1 this year and making it to the Big Ten Conference Championship game.

Image result for Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins

The other team in the Big 10 is one of my favorite teams the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin went 9-0 in conference play last year and 13-1 overall. To me they are a hard working team with a SEC mentality. They run the ball and play great defense. Their points for was 288 and points against was only 114. Wisconsin features a beast at running back with Jonathan Taylor. I think this kid is special and will lead the conference in rushing. Wisconsin will ensure that the rushing attack is featured and have quarterback Alex Hornibrook throw out of a lot of play action. The problem is that Alex Hornibrook had too many turnovers last year with 15 interceptions. By playing to their strengths of running the ball and good defense, I can see Wisconsin steamrolling through their schedule headed into a showdown at Michigan on October 13thand at Northwestern on October 27th. The game at Penn State on November 10thwill be a barn burner and we will see these two team playing again in the Big Ten Conference Championship. I have Wisconsin going 11-1, winning the Big Ten Conference Championship and getting a playoff spot. The only thing that could hurt Wisconsin is their non-conference schedule but in the end, it will not affect them if they handle their business.

Image result for jonathan taylor wisconsin

Let me know what you think and I will see you next week.

College Football Preview

Hello fellow college football fans, welcome to my weekly college football season preview series. From now until the college football season starts, I will be previewing two college football teams a week. I plan to cover all major programs within all the conferences. I plan on looking at teams from the ACC to the SEC. I will give you my predictions for what these teams will do this year. Please feel free to interact and debate my conclusions, I enjoy interacting with all college football fans. So without further ado let us get this party started.

Image result for kyler murray oklahoma

Photo by; Tulsa World

For my third installment, I decided to go with the Big 12 Conference. The favorite in the Big 12 Conference every year has been Oklahoma but this year will offer a challenge for the Sooners. They must look to replace Baker Mayfield at the quarterback position. The Sooners were looking at Kyler Murray as a possible replacement but he was drafted by the Oakland A’s this week in the MLB draft. He has reached a deal with the Oakland A’s that will guarantee him close to five million dollars. The question is what is in that contract as it pertains to him playing football this year? In addition, will that contract affect his eligibility? Those are two big questions to ask this summer for Oklahoma. With that being said, I see Oklahoma looking at Rodney Anderson to carry the load on the ground. He had 960 yards last year and shined against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU. The Sooners will be solid again on defense this year and should be the best defense in the Big 12 conference. Their toughest test will be FAU to open the season, than at TCU and ending the season at West Virginia. Even with questions at quarterback, I can see Oklahoma going 10-2 but not winning the Big 12.

Image result for kenny hill tcu

Photo by WholeHogSports

The other team in the Big 12 I am looking at are The TCU Horned Frogs. TCU went 7-2 in conference play and 11-3 overall. They will have Kenny Hill returning as a senior quarterback. He threw for 2838 yards and 21 touchdowns. In addition, Darius Anderson will be coming out of the backfield along with Kyle Hicks; these guys are a two headed monster and give each other breaks during the season. TCU always has a solid defense running different packages and schemes at opponents. I love the blitz packages that TCU throws at quarterbacks from different directions. TCU’s biggest game will be against Ohio State on September 15th. In addition, they get Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at home this year, having said that I see TCU going 11-1, they will win the Big 12 this year. TCU can be that team that no one sees coming that can just win and put themselves in position for a college football playoff berth at the end of the season.

Let me know what you think and I will see you next week.

College Football Preview

Hello fellow college football fans, welcome to my weekly college football season preview series. From now until the college football season starts, I will be previewing two college football teams a week. I plan to cover all major programs within all the conferences. I plan on looking at teams from the ACC to the SEC. I will give you my predictions for what these teams will do this year. Please feel free to interact and debate my conclusions, I enjoy interacting with all college football fans. So without further ado let us get this party started.Image result for kelly bryant wallpaper

For my third installment, I decided to go with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The first team I am previewing this week are the Clemson Tigers. The Clemson Tigers can make the case that they are becoming the second most powerful program in the nation. This team went 7-1 in conference and 12-2 overall, the season after winning the National Championship. Dabo Swinney has done a wonderful job putting Clemson in the National spotlight every year. This year I see Kelly Bryant improving from an average season where he threw for 2678 yards and just 13 touchdowns. Although he ran for 646 yards and 11 touchdowns, I would like to see him have more of an impact by making big plays with his arm. I can see Travis Etienne making an impact following a good season. Sometimes he gets lost in the offensive shuffle so we will see how many carries he gets. Their receiving corps is good not great and the defense will continue to be a strong point for their team. Looking at the upcoming schedule for the Clemson Tide I feel that their biggest threat could be at Texas A&M on September 8th, at Florida State on October 27th, and versus South Carolina to close out the season. I can see Clemson losing to an improved Texas A&M on the road and running the table the rest of the season. I see Clemson going 11-1 winning the Atlantic Coast Conference and making the playoffs.

Image result for travis homer miami hurricanes

Photo by; Althlon Sports

The other team in the Atlantic Coast Conference I am looking at is the Miami Hurricanes. Miami took the Nation by storm last year by playing excellent defense and introducing everyone to the “turnover chain.” They were an exciting young team that was winning games and having fun. They went 7-1 in conference and 10-3 overall. They ended the season losing their last three games. Mark Richit has done an excellent job coming over from Georgia and infusing new life into a great football program. The biggest question for the Hurricanes going into this season will be the play of quarterback Malik Rosier who threw for 2917 yards with 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Although his last three games to end the season, he threw only three touchdowns to five interceptions. I see the offense leaning more on Travis Homer who ran for 902 yards and seven touchdowns. The Hurricanes receiving corps is good but will have to replace Braxton Berrios who had 634 yards last season. The Hurricanes defense will keep them in every game this season and I see them winning some close games. The Hurricanes biggest test is right out of the gate in Arlington vs the LSU Tigers in week one. The match-up with Florida State is a rivalry game that could swing either way, and the match-up at Virginia Tech on November 17thcould be a trap game following a trip at Georgia Tech. Having said all of that I see the Miami Hurricanes going 10-2 winning the Atlantic Coastal title in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Let me know what you think and I will see you next week.

Top 100 College Football Players of 2018: 51-76

Every year, there are many great players in the sport of College Football. This year is no exception with multiple players on the Heisman Trophy watch as well as other players looking to make a name for themselves and their team. This is my list of the top 100 players that are best, regardless of position, going into the 2018 College Football season. Below the players’ name are their stats from last year’s 2017 College Football season unless noted.

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  1. QB Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State) – Sr.
12 games, 159/286, 55.6%, 1782 yards, 6.2 YPA, 15 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 117.5 rate – 162 rushes, 984 yards, 6.1 avg, 14 touchdowns
Fitzgerald is one of the most explosive and dangerous dual-threat Quarterbacks in the SEC since Dak Prescott, who is also a former Mississippi State Bulldog. So far in his collegiate career, Fitzgerald has accounted for 72 total touchdowns (24th most in SEC history). With Joe Moorhead (former Offensive Coordinator of the Penn State Nittany Lions) now the Head Coach of Mississippi State, Fitzgerald will be able to create more of an impact as a team player than individually when Dan Mullen was his Head Coach/ QB coach.
  1. OT Andrew Thomas (Georgia) – So.
Last season for an offense that was ranked 20th in points per game (35.4), 9th in rushing yards per game (258.4), and 32nd in total yards per game (435.3) – 3rd team Athlon Sports All-American
The Georgia Bulldogs had multiple Freshmen that were huge contributors to their offense last season. QB Jake Fromme is a big part of the Bulldogs offensive success outside of the run game but he had fantastic blocking from a fellow freshman in the 6-5 foot, 320 pounds Left Tackle Andrew Thomas.
  1. S Taylor Rapp (Washington) – Jr.
13 games, 59 total tackles, 42 solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Rapp gained the  College Football nation’s attention in his Freshman season in 2016 where he was named as the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. His impact in accounting for Interceptions has decreased but his production in making key tackles needed to stop opposing offenses has improved significantly last season.
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  1. RB Justice Hill (Oklahoma State) – Jr.
13 games, 268 rushes, 1467 yards, 5.5 avg, 15 touchdowns – 31 receptions, 190 yards, 6.1 avg, 1 touchdown
Last season, Justice Hill accounted for over 1400 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns all while the Cowboys had a star Quarterback in Mason Rudolph and two top Wide Outs in James Washington and Marcell Ateman. Watch for Hill to break out more to have the Cowboys continue to be one of the best offenses in the Big 12.
  1. S Justice Wingard (Wyoming) – Sr.
13 games, 114 total tackles, 70 solo tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 3 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery, 2 forced fumbles
Wingard is a tackling machine as a Strong Safety as he ranked tied for 28th in total tackles in the regular season (111 total tackles). He also ranked 3rd among Safties and other Defensive Backs in total tackles accounted for.
  1. LB Shaquille Quarterman (Miami) – Jr.
13 games, 83 total tackles, 43 solo tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 5 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery
The Miami Hurricanes have always been gifted high talent at the Linebacker position. Shaquille Quarterman is no exception as he is a pure open-field tackler with great zone coverage skills. He is also very reliable in play recognition in stopping drives from continuing especially on 3rd downs.
  1. TE Noah Fant (Iowa) – Jr.
12 games, 30 receptions, 494 yards, 16.5 avg, 11 touchdowns
Fant’s versatility as multiple set Tight End is very useful with the Iowa Hawkeyes’ multiple Offensive tight sets. Although Fant can be used as a Line of Scrimmage Tight End, his height and break out speed makes him a great deep threat target that has caused him to average 16.5 yards per average reception.
  1. RB A.J. Dillion (Boston College) – So.
13 games, 300 rushes, 1589 yards, 5.3 avg, 14 touchdowns
Dillon is one of the most feared Offensive players in the nation due to his ability to overpower defenders with his legs and run over them with brute force. With Dillon having more experience, he could become the Golden Eagles’ top offensive player and possibly the ACC.
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  1. WR Deebo Samuel (South Carolina) – Sr.
3 games, 15 receptions, 250 yards, 16.7 avg, 3 touchdowns – 2 rushes, 30 yards, 1 touchdown in 2017
10 games, 59 receptions, 783 yards, 13.3 avg, 1 touchdown – 15 rushes, 98 yards, 6.5 avg, 6 touchdowns in 2016
The Gamecocks have yet to see the best of Deebo Samuel for multiple reasons. At his best, Samuel is a breakout speed Receiver with elusiveness and the ability to separate himself from opposing Defensive Backs in his route running. He also great hands and focus to make the hard catches. Unfortunately, so far in his College Football career, it has been filled with injuries. This year could be different for him as him and QB Jake Bentley can make one of the best dou College Football.
  1. LB T.J. Edwards (Wisconsin) – Sr.
14 games, 81 total tackles, 53 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, 63 yards, 1 touchdown, 7 pass deflections
The Badgers defense takes pride in their Linebacker squad every year. Edwards is a versatile Linebacker that can provide coverage in defending the pass to reading the plays quickly after the opposing offense snaps the ball. His ability to spread throughout the field makes him a great multi-purposeful player in every phase of the defense.
  1. DT Jeffrey Simmons (Mississippi State) – Jr.
13 games, 60 total tackles, 21 solo tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 defensive touchdown, 2 forced fumbles
Being a preseason All-SEC Defensive Lineman is a huge award especially being that Simmons is one of the most gifted pass rushers in-between the Tackles. Simmons’ effort and his aggressive puts him in the mix of making plays consistently, whether he is making a solo tackle or an assist.
  1. CB Mark Gilbert (Duke) – Jr.
13 games, 35 total tackles, 19 solo tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions, 15 pass deflections
Last season, Blue Devils were gifted with one of most talented Cornerbacks as he is very efficient in reading where the ball is thrown and where the Receivers’ shoulders are. Gilbert’s 15 pass deflections were the result of him quickly making plays towards the ball with his reactions.
  1. RB Cam Akers (Florida State) – So.
13 games, 194 rushes, 1025 yards, 5.3 avg, 7 touchdowns – 16 receptions, 116 yards, 7.3 avg, 1 touchdown
Akers was one of the most progressive Seminole last season due to his fast breakout speed once he patiently allows his Offensive Line to pull and make their blocks. He was very efficient for the Seminoles last season as they were dealing with an injured Quarterback in Deondre Francois and a poor O-Line.
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  1. OT Michael Deiter (Wisconsin) – Sr.
Started last season in the nation’s 28th ranked scoring offense (33.8 PPG) and 23rd rushing offense (222.9 RYPG) – 3rd team Athlon Sports All-American
Deiter is apart of the most talented Offensive Line unit in College Football. He is one of the most efficient pass protectors of the Badgers O-Line. His ability to climb to the second unit to efficiently block the opposing Linebackers makes a very Lineman for the Badgers top running game.
  1. LB De’Jon Harris (Arkansas) – Jr.
12 games, 115 total tackles, 66 solo tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections
Harris is a pure tackler in open space and overshadowed to the Razorback’s poor performance in games. Their new defensive schemes make Harris much more valuable as a star defensive player against opposing rushing offenses.
  1. RB Deandre Swift (Georgia) – So.
15 games, 81 rushes, 618 yards, 7.6 avg, 3 touchdowns – 17 receptions, 153 yards, 9 avg, 1 touchdown
Being the 3rd string Running Back isn’t necessarily a bad label especially when Swift was one of the most versatile Offensive players in the nation. Now with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in the NFL, Swift will be the #1 Running Back for the Bulldogs now and will create much more of an impact this season.
  1. WR K’Neal Harry (Arizona State) – Jr.
13 games, 82 receptions, 1142 yards, 13.9 avg, 8 touchdowns – 1 passing touchdown
Harry is one of the best Receivers in the nation in terms of winning matchups with either his speed or his athletic ability by timing his catches against opposing Defensive Backs. Having an accurate and smooth passing Quarterback in Manny Wilkins could make the Sun Devils one of the best offenses in the nation.
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  1. QB McKenzie Milton (UCF) – Jr.
13 games, 265/395, 67.5%, 4037 yards, 10.2 YPA, 37 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 179.3 rate – 106 rushes, 613 yards, 5.8 avg, 8 touchdowns
Last season, the UCF Golden Knights had one of the best seasons in the nation that brought them back into the College Football spotlight. Milton was the biggest playmaker on offense due to his dangerous speed in the run game and his accuracy in his Receivers’ route progression once he has time to time to throw the ball.
  1. LB Kendall Joseph (Clemson) – Sr.
12 games, 96 total tackles, 36 solo tackles, 5 tackles for loss, .5 sack, 1 interception, 1 pass deflection, 1 fumble recovery, 2 forced fumbles
To along with College Football’s best Defensive Line unit overall, the Clemson Tigers have a reliable tackler with fast reactivity and lightning speed in Kendall Joseph. He has the ability to make open field tackles consistently but also to pass rush and provide great coverage against the opposing team’s passing offense.
  1. RB David Montgomery (Iowa State) – Jr.
13 games, 258 rushes, 1146 yards, 4.4 avg, 11 touchdowns – 36 receptions, 296 yards, 8.2 avg
This Running Back is one of the most difficult Backs in the nation to bring down due to his ability to make defenders miss with his athletic jukes and cuts. Montgomery was the bright side to an offense that was having an identity crisis at the Quarterback position.
  1. DE Curtis Weaver (Boise State) – So.
14 games, 33 total tackles,  20 solo tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 1 interception, 2 pass deflection, 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive touchdown, 1 forced fumble
One of the best pass rushers in the group of 5 teams, Weaver is a speedy pass rusher who can often make plays in the backfield. Weaver and LB Kyle Vander Esch (the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft) were responsible for the defense that was ranked 17th in rushing yards allowed per game (120.3).
  1. OT Greg Little (Ole Miss) – Jr.
Started and led the Rebels to be ranked 33rd in points per game (32.8), 11th passing offense (328.4 PYPG), and 18th total offense (462.3 TYPG) – 2nd team Athlon Sports All-American
Greg Little is surprisingly quick and nimble than what his 6-6 foot, 325 lbs size and stature would indicate. His quick feet and the ability to stay on his blocks makes him a very good pass protector against SEC Defensive Linemen.
  1. QB Nathan Stanley (Iowa) – Jr.
13 games, 196/351, 55.8%, 2431 yards, 6.9 YPA, 26 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 135.1 rate
Despite playing in a predominately run orientated offense, Stanley is a very efficient passer who can pass the ball with great progression to his Receivers in a smooth precise path. He has the ability to make the deep passes happen if given the chance.
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  1. TE Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri) – So.
9 games, 29 receptions, 415 yards, 14.3 avg, 11 touchdowns
At 6-5, Okwuegbunam is a solid blocker and excellent red zone target for QB Drew Locke. The Tigers did lose their #1 Receiver last season in J’Won Moore to the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite the talent at the other Receiver positions, Locke might find more comfortability in the short passing game.
  1. K Matt Gay (Utah) – Sr.
13 games, 40/40 (extra points), 30/34 (FGA/FGM), FG% (88.2%), 130 points – 2017 Lou Graza Award winner
Gay is the reigning Lou Graza Award winner as the nation’s top kicker. He led the nation in field goals made in the regular season (27). He is also the only player to kick five 50-yards or more field goals last season (5-for-6) along with San Jose State’s Bryce Crawford (5-for-8).

College Football Preview; Will UCF Go Undefeated This Season?

Hello fellow college football fans, welcome to my weekly college football season preview series. From now until the college football season starts, I will be previewing two college football teams a week. I plan to cover all major programs within all the conferences. I plan on looking at teams from the ACC to the SEC. I will give you my predictions for what these teams will do this year. Please feel free to interact and debate my conclusions, I enjoy interacting with all college football fans. So without further ado let us get this party started.

Image result for ucf knights football

For my first installment, I decided to go with the American Athletic Conference; after all, they do have the self-proclaimed National Champions within their conference. So let us look at the UCF Knights, the team that went 8-0 in conference and 13-0 overall. UCF made a statement by beating Auburn in there bowl game, the same team that beat Alabama. I would say that was a direct result of the school claiming to be the rightful National Champions. I see UCF looking very different this year. Scott Frost left UCF to take the same position as the Nebraska Head Football Coach. Therefore, UCF will be starting the season with Josh Heupel running the program. They will have McKenzie Milton under center again who threw for 35 touchdowns to just nine interceptions for 3795 yards. But the receiving corps has lost Tre’Quan Smith to the NFL Can Dredrick Snelson step his game up to become the number one threat in the passing game? Junior Adrian Killins will lead the backfield after averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Losing outside linebacker Shaquem Griffin to the NFL will be a factor, he was a special talent and the anchor of that defense. Looking at the schedule UCF will be at UConn to open the season to a somewhat soft schedule again. I am glad they will play at North Carolina and FAU at home on September 21st. I think UCF will score many points and the game with FAU will be competitive but other than that, I see nothing impressive from them. I got UCF going 11-1 losing to FAU. They will be a good team and receive a good bowl bid.

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The other team in the American Athletic Conference we are looking at is the USF Bulls. Last year the South Florida Bulls went 6-2 in conference and 10-2 overall. USF will be looking for a new quarterback to take over for Quinton Flowers who was a dual threat throwing for 2600 yards and rushing for 972 yards. In addition, USF lost their top receiving threat in Marquez Valdeswho who led the team with 746 yards. To me that’s a lot of offense lost and they might have to lean more on Darius Tice running the ball. With that said, I do not see them maintaining the success that they had last year. At a minimum I can see them struggling against Georgia Tech on September 8th,losing at Houston on October 27th, losing at Cincinnati, falling to the Temple Owls, and getting blown out to end the season at UCF. Therefore, I have USF rebuilding this year and ending the season 7-5.

 

Top 100 College Football Players of 2018: 76-100

Every year, there are many great players in the sport of College Football. This year is no exception with multiple players on the Heisman Trophy watch as well as other players looking to make a name for themselves and their team. This is my list of the top 100 players that are best, regardless of position, going into the 2018 College Football season. Below the players’ name are their stats from last year’s 2017 College Football season unless noted.

Listing 76-100

 

  1. OT Bobby Evans (Oklahoma) – Jr.
Started and led the Sooners to 3rd in the nation in scoring (45.1), 27th in rushing (217.8 RYPG), 3rd in passing (361.8), and 1st overall in total offense (579.6 TYPG) – 3rd team Athlon Sports All-American
Evans is a big athletic Lineman, who has the strength to easily knock defenders out of the tackle zone as well as the endurance to finish the blocks. Evans has displayed the availability to be efficient in both run plays and passing plays.
Image result for khaleke hudson michigan

Photo by; The Michigan Daily

  1. LB/S Khaleke Hudson (Michigan) – Jr.
13 games, 77 total tackles, 46 solo tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 9 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles
Michigan has always benefitted from great athletes who display a lot of input at multiple positions. Khaleke Hudson is another star defensive player, who can create an impact at the pass rush, making tackles behind the line of scrimmage, staying in zone coverage, or providing excellent man-to-man coverage.
  1. S Lukas Denis (Boston College) – Sr.
13 games, 83 total tackles, 46 solo tackles, .5 tackles for loss, 7 interceptions, 185 interception return yards, 2 forced fumbles
If there is one player in College Football that matches the all-around playmaking ability as a true Safety like Landon Collins (now with the New York Giants), it would be Lukas Denis. He is one of the best defenders in the nation in terms of play recognition and the ability to make those tackles, pass deflections, or interceptions afterward.
  1. DE Landis Durham (Texas A&M) – Sr.
13 games, 55 total tackles, 29 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 3 forced fumbles
Durham has a high-motor where he can pass rush by beating the Offensive Tackles with speed on the outside shoulder or on the inside shoulder with his hard-pressed penetration ability. He also possesses the availability to play the Defensive End position or at the Outside Linebacker position.
  1. CB A.J. Green (Oklahoma State) – Jr.
13 games, 47 total tackles, 39 solo tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 1 forced fumbles
Green plays in a conference where the passing offense exhibits high statistics week-by-week. Green is a lockdown Corner due to a mixture of Green’s height at 6-1 and his athleticism to stay on the one-on-one coverage against to the opposing Wide Out.
  1. CB T.J. Carter (Memphis) – So.
13 games, 69 total tackles, 54 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 4 interceptions, 11 pass deflections, 2 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble
In his first snap as a Memphis Tiger, Carter was one of the best Corners, not only on the team but in the conference. Carter finished 2nd in the AAC with 5 total interceptions in the whole season due to his highly-efficient lockdown coverage skills.
Image result for brian lewerke michigan state

Photo by; MLive.com

  1. QB Brian Lewerke (Michigan State) – Jr.
13 games, 246/417, 59%, 2793 yards, 6.7 YPA, 20 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 127.7 rate – 124 rushes, 559 yards, 4.5 avg, 5 touchdowns
Lewerke is a Pro-style Quarterback with great arm strength that is delivered in a highly efficient progression. He is also very fast and athletic dual-threat Quarterback than he looks. He will be in a competition for top Quarterback in the conference with incoming Michigan QB Shea Patterson.
  1. G Nate Herbig (Stanford) – Jr.
Started and led the Cardinal to be ranked 38th in scoring offense (32.4 PPG) and 30th rushing offense (202.4 RYPG) – 2nd team Athlon Sports All-American
At 6-4, 348 pounds, Herbig is one of the best pulling Guards in the nation who bullies opposing defenders to the ground. RB Bryce Love can thank many of his rushing yards from the huge running room that Herbig has helped opened up. He was also named as the Freshman All-American team.
  1. DE/DT Christian Rector (USC) – Jr.
10 games, 35 total tackles, 20 solo tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles
Rector is a true Defensive Linemen with a unique blend of size and athleticism who can be used in a very versatile set of defensive formations. He is big enough and strong to play Defensive Tackle to close running room on the inside and he is quick enough to make efficient pass rushes and sacks at the End position.
  1. WR KeeSean Johnson (Fresno State) – Sr.
14 games, 77 receptions, 1013 yards, 13.2 avg, 8 touchdowns
One of the Mountain West’s most productive Wide Out last season also possesses great hands and focus especially in tight man-to-man coverage. He has great ability to shed man-to-man with either his feet through his jukes or through his athleticism to separate the ball and the defender.
  1. LB Te’von Coney (Notre Dame) – Sr.
13 games, 116 total tackles, 56 solo tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble
Coney is one of the most talented Fighting Irish Defensive players in terms of versatility to pass rush, stay in spy coverage, and stick to man-to-man coverage. He also has a quick play recognition to quickly get involved with the play and tackle.
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Photo by; Saturday Blitz

  1. WR Denzel Mims (Baylor) – Jr.
12 games, 61 receptions, 1087 yards, 17.8 avg, 8 touchdowns
Despite being undervalued due to team’s poor performance (1-11 last season), Mims is a high-velocity Wide Out. Quickly became the fast deep-threat #1 Receiver after the early season-ending injury to fellow WR Chris Platt. Mims is the top returning Wide Out in the Big 12 in average receiving yards per game (90.6).
  1. QB Ryan Finley (NC State) – Sr.
13 games, 311/478, 65.1%, 3514 yards, 7.4 YPA, 17 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 136 rate – 69 rushes, 194 yards, 2.8 avg, 3 touchdowns
Great decision making Quarterback with a strong arm to make the deep accurate throws but follows through his Receivers’ routes.  Finley studies the opposing defense well to avoid making mistakes. Easily the best Quarterback in the ACC this upcoming season.
  1. DT Terry Beckner Jr. (Missouri) – Sr.
13 games, 35 total tackles, 20 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 2 pass deflections
Bulldozing Defensive Lineman with great instincts to make quick moves at the line of scrimmage and ability to quickly penetrate the backfield. Beckner Jr. is coming from a school that grooms Defensive Linemen for the NFL such as Kony Ealy, Shane Ray, Sheldon Richardson, and Markus Golden.
  1. CB Lorenzo Burns (Arizona) – So.
13 games, 81 total tackles, 59 solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 7 pass deflections
Speedy and high-athletic Defensive star who could shed blocks is very rare in a Cornerback. His versatility as an all-around play-maker labels him as a very reliable player to put into any defensive systematic. He can also be put into any Offensive skilled position and thrive off his high-level of intensity and athleticism.
  1. QB Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin) – Jr.
14 games, 198/318, 62.3%, 2644 yards, 8.3 YPA, 25 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 148.6 rate
Hornibrook will be starting his 3rd straight season with the Badgers. His strong arm mixing with his durability of deep throws as well as accuracy makes him a tough Quarterback to beat. He will have to make better decisions when throwing the ball.
  1. C Toa Lobendahn (USC) – Sr.
Started and led USC to 16th passing offense (299 PYPG) and 13th total offense (484.1 TYPG) – 2nd team Athlon Sports All-American
Lobendahn originally started at Left Tackle for the past couple of seasons. His fast hands, consistency to follow through run blocks, and ability to efficiently get to the 2nd level (Linebackers) will be better suited at the Center position where the holes can collapse more quickly from opposing Defensive Line.
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Photo by; Zimbio

  1. DT Daniel Wise (Kansas) – Sr.
12 games, 53 total tackles, 33 solo tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Huge Defensive Tackle with brute strength with surprising athleticism and speed. This combination of attributes is rare to find in a pure 1-technique or 3-technique. Wise has NFL level attributes that make him a playmaker.
  1. LB Joe Giles-Harris (Duke) – Jr.
13 games, 125 total tackles, 54 solo tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 interception, 4 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble
Hard-hitting Middle Linebackers with great instincts to make an interception or go to create a sufficiently heavy pass rush. Might be an All-ACC selection to possibly All-American at the end of the season.
  1. CB Byron Murphy (Washington) – So.
6 games, 16 total tackles, 13 solo tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 7 pass deflections, 1 forced fumbles – 1st team Athlon Sports All-American
Remarkable athleticism mixing with Murphy’s tenacious man-coverage and zone-coverage skills makes him one of the dangerous Corners to throw against. Would be ranked higher on the list if it weren’t for a broken foot that made him miss 7 games in the middle of the season.
  1. K Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia) – Jr.
15 games, 63/63 (extra points), 20/23 (FGM/FGA), 87%, 123 points
Blakenship had the 6th highest field goal percentage in the regular season (88.2%). He was also very reliable for the Georgia Bulldogs high power offense.
  1. QB Manny Wilkins (Arizona State) – Sr.
13 games, 260/410, 63.4%, 3270 yards, 8.0 YPA, 20 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 142.6 rate – 138 rushes, 282 yards, 7 touchdowns
Wilkins is a consistent, reliable dual-threat and great decision making Quarterback. Not flashy or explosive but potent enough to account high yards and make efficient passes. An underrated leader and Heisman dark horse candidate.
  1. P Mitch Wishnowsky (Utah) – Sr.
13 games, 52 punts, 2282 yards, 43.9 avg in 2017
13 games, 64 punts, 3053 yards, 47.7 avg in 2016 (won the Ray Guy Award)
The most experienced Punter in the nation this upcoming season. Wishnowsky averaged 47.7 yards per punt (2nd in the nation), an indication of how he won the Ray Guy Award in 2016.
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Photo by; Roll Bama Roll

  1. S Mark McLaurin (Mississippi State) – Sr.
13 games, 79 total tackles, 36 solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery
Reliable deep threat Safety with pure open field tackler. A fantastic reader of the ball when thrown. Accounted for 11 total tackles, 8 solo tackles, and 3 interceptions against Heisman trophy winner QB Lamar Jackson and the Louisville in the 2017 Taxslayer Bowl.
  1. DE Ben Banogu (TCU) – Sr.
14 games, 55 total tackles, 32 solo tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 3 forced fumbles
A Defensive End that has a high motor and great instincts to make the play. Lacks speed and brute strength but has the quick reactivity after the first move after the first hit at the line of scrimmage.

Missing You College Football

Saturday mornings are a special time for me during the college football season. I get up at seven in the morning and put on my college football gear (LSU). I head out to the store and pick up the food I plan to throw on the grill. My preference is ribeye or T-bone steaks along with turkey burgers. Once I make it back home, I go upstairs to my game room and watch my favorite show College Gameday on ESPN. No matter where the show is, being broadcast from the atmosphere is always great. Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstriet, and Lee Corso do a great job breaking down all the games and interacting with the crowd. How can you not love the Lee Corso headgear picks which are always a great way to end the show. After the show, I watch my favorite sport from the first to last game. Over twelve hours of the most passionate sport, that fills my day with emotion from start to finish.

Image result for Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso

College football resonates with me because of the students (which I am a LSU graduate student) and the tradition of all the programs. How could anyone not feel the tradition and pride of the Army vs Navy game? The rivalries in college football are unmatched, how can you not love the Auburn vs Alabama rivalry? I have heard directly from Auburn and Alabama fans how that rivalry has split family ties. The upsets in college football are also unmatched; when you have, an unranked team take down a powerhouse program. Last year Troy shocked me by beating my LSU Tigers at home during homecoming of all things. Yes, I did the surrender cobra standing with my mouth wide open as that game ended. However, my fortune turned around as LSU responded by coming back and beating Auburn and going 6-2 in SEC play. Still losing to Troy will define that season, come on Coach O get it together (sorry I had a homer moment). People still talk about Appalachian State beating Michigan in 2007 in Ann Arbor or James Madison beating Virginia Tech in 2010 and not to mention Boise State beating Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Image result for Boise State beating Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl

Every year college football provides me with a level of excitement that no other sport can match. As I look at this upcoming season, I can already anticipate the big game feel of Saturdays starting with some big week one match-ups like Florida Atlantic vs Oklahoma, Alabama vs Louisville, LSU vs Miami, Virginia Tech vs Florida State, and Michigan vs Notre Dame. These games will have an impact on the rankings one way or another. In addition, not to mention the anticipation of the weekly rankings coming out from the AP and Coaches poll. Debating with my friends about the rankings and the College Football Playoff system always takes things to another level. My best friend Big Mike and I talk every day during the season for at least an hour breaking down the rankings.

During the off-season, I watch other sports but nothing gives me the satisfaction that college football provides. During the off-season, I follow recruiting and the spring games, but honestly I just wait for the start of a new season. I cannot wait until August 25 for my love to return, and because it cannot come soon enough just know that I miss you college football.

Alabama Had An SEC & Team Record 12 Players Selected In The 2018 NFL Draft

There are many ways to distinguish a team that is very good for a number of years and a team that is considered a dynasty. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, the continuing success of Head Coach Nick Saban with the Alabama Crimson Tide even after his player’s time in College Football. Last weekend in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Alabama Crimson Tide had 4 players selected in the 1st round as well as 12 total players selected in all 7 rounds of the Draft. This breaks the Alabama school record as well as the SEC record for most players selected in one NFL Draft from one school. The 2003-2004 Ohio State Buckeyes have the all-time Draft record of 14 total players selected in all 7 rounds of the 2004 NFL Draft.

It is certainly worth noting that all 11 starters from Alabama’s 2016 opening day game against the USC Trojans in the neutral site game in Atlanta have been drafted either in the 2017 or 2018 NFL Draft. Each of the players selected in this Draft from the Alabama Crimson Tide was certainly one of the best players available on the board for the team that picked them. While some of them slid deeper than what they wanted to, they were acquired by their selected teams based on a combination of potential, how they fit into their new team’s system, and how they were groomed in college by Nick Saban.

 

Each of the 4 players selected in the 1st round were steals

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Photo by; Stack.com

The first Crimson Tide player to come off the board was voted the Defensive Player of the year in College Football in S Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins. This was a big pick for the Dolphins considering how Minkah might not have been available for Miami to acquire. Fitzpatrick slipped to the concern by major analysts that he wasn’t a true Safety or Cornerback based on his “Star position” with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Fitzpatrick was one of the best defensive players in this Draft overall, especially at Safety and Cornerback. The Miami Dolphins took advantage of another Offensive heavy Draft as Minkah was the 4th defensive player of the 11 players selected players due to the huge need of Quarterbacks. Although many experts believed Miami would draft a Quarterback, adding talent to the Defense was the biggest need. Last season, the Dolphins were 16th in total yards allowed per game (335.7), 16th in passing yards allowed per game (225), and 31st in pass deflections (53).

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Photo by; The Sporting News

Despite DT Vita Vea (Washington) being selected with the 12th overall pick, the Washington Redskins still need a stout Nose Guard to help with their 32nd ranked (last) rush defense (134.1 rushing yards allowed per game). The Redskins selected DT Da’Ron Payne with the 13th overall pick to solidify the Defensive Line. Payne is a solid run stopper and a surprisingly athletic pass rusher with his huge size and will a bigger impact against highly talented NFC East offenses. The Tennessee Titans traded up multiple spots after acquiring more picks for their biggest position to address with the 22nd pick overall pick. The Titans found a reliable replacement to Avery Williamson (now the Jets) in LB Rashaan Evans, who is one of the most athletic and versatile Linebackers in the Draft. Head Coach Mike Vrabel is very fond of high-efficiency playmaker from the Linebacker position. Evans is a player who can start at Middle Linebacker, where he can make great blitzes, zone reads, and tackle in space, as well as play Outside Linebacker with Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo having to play their natural Defensive End positions.

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Photo by; SBNation.com

The Atlanta Falcons made one of the biggest surprises in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft by making a moderate need in Wide Receiver their top priority. With the 26th overall pick, the Falcons selected WR Calvin Ridley despite worries that he will be a bust as claimed by many Draft experts because of his poor NFL Scouting Combine performance. The Falcons had the 3rd ranked passing offense (295.3 yards per game) and the 1st overall ranked scoring offense (33.8) in 2016. Last season, the Falcons offense were 8th in passing yards per game (364.8) and 15th in points per game (22.1). There were misconnections between Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian and the Falcons offense. Instead of tearing the building process, the Falcons draft a star Wideout that he knew while he was at Alabama in the 2016 season when he was an Offensive Analyst for the season and the Offensive Coordinator for the National Championship loss against the Clemson Tigers.

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Photo by; SaturdayDownSouth.com

Round 3 through 7 is loaded with Crimson Tide talent

There were many questions on whether the Jacksonville Jaguars would be addressing their offense or their defense mainly in the 2018 NFL Draft. The defense was the big area to address when the Jaguars selected DT Taven Bryan (Florida) in the late 1st round. The Jaguars continued to address when they selected S Ronnie Harrison in the 3rd round with the 93 overall pick. Harrison can make an immediate impact as a very reliable reserve who is needed to make the tackles in open field as well provide deep zone coverage. DE Da’Shawn Hand was the 114th overall (4th round) for the Detroit Lions as they needed depth and more efficient run stoppers at the line of scrimmage. Run stopping and disruption through penetration is a specialty of Hand, as he was never the pass rush specialist that Alabama needed him to be.

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Photo by; 247Sports.com

Former Alabama Crimson Tide Tight End, NFL Hall of Famer, and Baltimore Ravens participated in his NFL Draft as he is stepping down as GM of the Ravens after the 2018-2019 season is over. The Ravens made some big splashes in this Draft but two of them are drafting huge playmakers at his alma mater. The Ravens drafted CB Anthony Averett in the 4th round with the 118th overall pick with the acknowledgment that they need depth and the possibility of Jimmy Smith being opted out after this upcoming season. The Ravens were ranked 12th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (214) but this is with the Ravens Defensive Line creating much impact and support to the Secondary. The Ravens were 9th in the league in sacks yards accounted for (280). With the 215th overall pick (6th round), the Ravens drafted C Bradley Bozeman with the likely situation that he could start immediately. Last year’s starting Center in Ryan Jenson was performing up to expectations for Baltimore and he is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For a team to draft a Punter in the 5th round shows that need a more reliable Punter immediately. The Green Bay Packers selected P J.K. Scott with the 175th overall pick, who was the first Punter off the board. The Packers, last season, were ranked 22nd in punt yards (3,155), 23rd in average yards per punt (44.4), and tied for 30th (last) for punts secured inside the 20-yard line (19). The Washington Redskins continued to provide more support on defense with more Alabama defenders. With the 197th overall pick in the 6t round, the Redskins drafted LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, who stock fell because of his major injury that accorded late in the season. Hamilton now joins Payne, DE/DT Jonathan Allen (1st round selection last year), and DE/OLB Ryan Anderson (2nd round selection last year) of Alabama defenders under Nick Saban the past two seasons.

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Photo by; The Landry Hat

The Crimson Tide had two more players selected in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Dallas Cowboys selected RB Bo Scarbrough with the 236th overall pick to provide more run support for the Cowboys and to relieve Ezekiel Elliot from so much pressure in the run game. Finally, the 12th player selected was DT Joshua Frazier by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 246th pick overall. Frazier was a depth player at Alabama under Da’Ron Payne and will fit perfectly at the Nose Guard position in the Steelers’ 3-4 defensive front.

2018 NFL Mock Draft 5.0 (3 rounds) – Final Draft

Round 1

1. Cleveland Browns – QB Sam Darnold (USC)
2. New York Giants – RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
3. New York Jets – QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
4. Cleveland Browns – DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
5. Buffalo Bills (trade w/ Denver) – QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
6. Indianapolis Colts – G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
8. Arizona Cardinals (trade w/ Chicago) – QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)
9. San Francisco 49ers – LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
10. Oakland Raiders – CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
11. Miami Dolphins – ILB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
12. Denver Broncos – OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
13. Washington Redskins – DT Vita Vea (Washington)
14. Green Bay Packers – S Derwin James (Florida State)
15. Chicago Bears – DE/OLB Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
16. Baltimore Ravens – OT Connor Williams (Texas)
17. Los Angeles Chargers – WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
18. Seattle Seahawks – CB Joshua Jackson (Iowa)
19. Dallas Cowboys – DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
20. Detroit Lions – C/G James Daniels (Iowa)
21. Cincinnati Bengals – G Will Hernandez (UTEP)
22. Denver Broncos – RB Derrius Guice (LSU)
23. New England Patriots – CB Mike Hughes (UCF)
24. Carolina Panthers – DE/OLB Harold Landry (Boston College)
25. Tennessee Titans – DT Taven Bryan (Florida)
26. Atlanta Falcons – WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
27. New Orleans Saints – LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Courtland Sutton (SMU)
30. Minnesota Vikings – CB Isaiah Oliver (Colorado)
31. New England Patriots – QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
32. Philadelphia Eagles – OT Kolton Miller (UCLA)


Round 2

33. Cleveland Browns – G Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
34. New York Giants – CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville)
35. Cleveland Browns – WR D.J. Moore (Maryland)
36. Indianapolis Colts – DE/OLB Arden Key (LSU)
37. Indianapolis Colts – TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State)
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Ronald Jones (USC)
39. Chicago Bears – OT Brian O’Neil (Pittsburgh)
40. Denver Broncos – QB Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)
41. Oakland Raiders – WR James Washington (Oklahoma State)
42. Miami Dolphins – DT Maurice Hurst (Michigan)
43. New England Patriots – DE/OLB Lorenzo Carter (Georgia)
44. Washington Redskins – C/G Billy Price (Ohio State)
45. Green Bay Packers – RB Nick Chubb (Georgia)
46. Cincinnati Bengals – S Ronnie Harrison (Alabama)
47. Chicago Bears (trade w/ Arizona) – TE Hayden Hurst (South Carolina)
48. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)
49. Indianapolis Colts – OT Tyrell Crosby (Oregon)
50. Dallas Cowboys – S Justin Reid (Stanford)
51. Detroit Lions – RB Sony Michel (Georgia)
52. Baltimore Ravens – TE Mike Gesicki (Penn State)
53. Buffalo Bills – WR D.J. Chark (LSU)
54. Kansas City Chiefs – DE Sam Hubbard (Ohio State)
55. Carolina Panthers – CB Donte Jackson (LSU)
56. Denver Broncos – CB Carlton Davis (Auburn)
57. Tennessee Titans – WR Antony Miller (Memphis)
58. Atlanta Falcons – DT Harrison Phillips (Stanford)
59. San Francisco 49ers – RB Rashaad Penny (San Diego State)
60. Pittsburgh Steelers – QB Kyle Lauletta (Richmond)
61. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE/OLB Uchenna Nwosu (USC)
62. Minnesota Vikings – G Braden Smith (Auburn)
63. New England Patriots – WR Dante Pettis (Washington)
64. Cleveland Browns – OT Martinas Rankin (Mississippi State)

Round 3

65. Buffalo Bills – CB Anthony Averett (Alabama)
66. New York Giants – C/G Frank Ragnow (Arkansas)
67. Indianapolis Colts – WR Deon Cain (Clemson)
68. Houston Texans – ILB Josey Jewell (Iowa)
69. New York Giants – DE/OLB Dorance Armstrong (Kansas)
70. San Francisco 49ers – WR DaeSean Hamilton (Penn State)
71. Buffalo Bills (trade w/ Denver) – TE Mark Andrews (Oklahoma)
72. New York Jets – DE/OLB Shaquem Griffin (UCF)
73. Miami Dolphins – CB Quenton Meeks (Stanford)
74. San Francisco 49ers – CB Holton Hill (Texas)
75. Oakland Raiders – OT Chukwuma Okorafor (Western Michigan)
76. Green Bay Packers – G Austin Corbett (Nevada)
77. Cincinnati Bengals – OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Oklahoma)
78. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Darius Leonard (South Carolina State)
79. Arizona Cardinals – S DeShone Elliot (Texas)
80. Houston Texans – OT Jamarco Jones (Ohio State)
81. Dallas Cowboys – WR Michael Gallup (Colorado State)
82. Detroit Lions – CB M.J. Stewart (North Carolina)
83. Baltimore Ravens – S Jessie Bates III (Wake Forest)
84. Los Angeles Chargers – S Kyzir White (West Virginia)
85. Carolina Panthers – OT Desmond Harrison (West Georgia)
86. Kansas City Chiefs – G Wyatt Teller (Virginia Tech)
87. Los Angeles Rams – G/C Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)
88. Carolina Panthers – WR Cedrick Wilson (Boise State)
89. Tennessee Titans – TE Ian Thomas (Indiana)
90. Atlanta Falcons – G Brendan Mahon (Penn State)
91. New Orleans Saints – QB Luke Falk (Washington State)
92. Pittsburgh Steelers – RB Royce Freeman (Oregon)
93. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Riley Ferguson (Memphis)
94. Minnesota VikingsDE/OLB John Sweat (Florida State)
95. New England Patriots – RB Nyheim Hines (NC State)
96. Buffalo Bills – C Bradley Boseman (Alabama)
97. Arizona Cardinals – DT Rasheem Green (USC)
98. Houston Texans – RB Kerryon Johnson (Auburn)
99. Denver Broncos – DT R.J. McIntosh (Miami)
100. Cincinnati Bengals – TE Dalton Schultz (Stanford)

 

Trades involved:

Buffalo Bills get 5th pick (1st round) and 71st pick (3rd round)
Denver Broncos get 12th pick (1st round), 22nd pick (1st round), 53rd pick (2nd round), and 2019 5th round pick

 

Arizona Cardinals get 8th pick (1st round)
Chicago Bears get 15th (1st round), 47th pick (2nd pick), 152nd pick (5th round)

Defense Dominates; QB Jalen Hurts Struggles In 2018 Alabama A-Day Game

The defense will always be the main support for the Alabama Crimson Tide. That was evident when the 1st team defense bullied the 1st offense in the 2018 Alabama A-Day Spring game. This was the fans and the media’s first real look into the 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide team before they start their work in the summer and then to the first game of the season against the Louisville Cardinals on September 1st. This Spring Scrimmage was a confirmation as to the details of what might be the Tide this upcoming fall. The Crimson squad, composed of the 1st team defense and 2nd offense, won the game with a 24-12 score.

 

The Defensive Line eased the transition of the new starting Secondary

The defense for both units took over the A-Day game from the beginning and they did not look back. Of the 618 total offensive yards accounted in the game, only 134 yards came from running the ball. This was due to the heavy pressure from the Defensive Line led by DT/DE Raekwon Davis and DE Isaiah Buggs. Davis had himself a big game by accounting for 8 total tackles (3rd most with the Crimson squad), 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. Davis was huge in multiple variations on defense where he was either at the 3-technique or at the End. NG Quinnen Williams was also huge on defense 6 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, and QB hurries. Alabama has found great hybrid players at Defensive End/Outside Linebacker in Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis. Each one of the starting Defensive Linemen made a huge impact in disrupting the run game and efficiently pass rush.

DT/DE Raekwon Davis, Photo by; Michael Hanich

One of the biggest headlines for Alabama, outside the Quarterback competition between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, was them having to replace all 5 Defensive Backs. After the end of the National Championship win, Alabama lost 5 starting Defensive Backs, who either left early for the NFL or graduated. Trevon Diggs got the start at the main Cornerback spot for the Crimson Tide after being a reserve last season. Throughout the majority of the Scrimmage, Diggs was matched up against DeVonta Smith and did fairly well locking down Receivers and even accounted for a great interception of a bad Jalen Hurts pass. Shyheim Carter was lined up at the Star position, which is a versatile position for a Safety and Slot Cornerback. Savion Smith was lined up at opposite Corner and Deionte Thomson and Xavier McKinney started at the two Safety spots. Thompson and Diggs played the most consistent and rarely made mistakes. McKinney and Smith did very well in spurts and Carter played at Minkah Fitzpatrick’s old position but has a lot to progress before he is at the level of Fitzpatrick’s production.

S Deionte Thompson. Photo by; Michael Hanich

The impact of the Defensive Line made the new DB’s encounter an easy transition to the starting roles. There were times where Carter and McKinney used their whole bodies and shoulders to make the tackles. Often times, RB’s Damien Harris and Najee Harris avoided those tackles. The new DB’s were highly consistent in their coverages and rarely made a mistake. When asked about having to replace all 5 Defensive Backs from last year, S Deionte Thompson mentioned, “We have to kind of guide our guys to step up, we have to step up at each of the positions. We’ve been doing a very good job of that this spring. We still have a lot of stuff to improve on but we’re heading in the right direction.” Thompson also added, “All the guys are improving, we are improving as a unit.”

 

QB Jalen Hurts struggled at the worst time possible time

The biggest headline of A-Day was to see if Quarterback Jalen Hurts could handle the pressure and excel in the passing. Jalen is in a competition with Tua Tagovailoa, who took over the 2nd half of the 2018 National Championship for the Tide and beat the Georgia Bulldogs with a 26-23 score in overtime. The pressure was high for Jalen in this game with Tua out of the game with an injury to his throwing hand. At the time when Jalen Hurts needed to play his best, he couldn’t against the Tide’s 1st team defense. Hurts passed for 195 yards on 19 completions (out of 37 attempts) and an interception. Throughout the spring, Jalen was determined to progress his attributes as a passer and make better decisions.

In the game, however, Hurts exhibited the same problems he always occurred with the Tide the past two season. After the Secondary secured coverage on his intended targets, he would either hold onto the ball for too long or rush for more yardage. While not many defenses have stopped Jalen as a playmaker, there comes a point to where his decision-making is predictable. There were many opportunities for him to toss the ball deep but he only averaged 5.3 yards per passing attempt.

His best pass was a 59-yard throw to DeVonta Smith late in the 4th Quarter on a double coverage where Smith had an athletic leap over CB Trevon Diggs and S Deionte Thompson. 2nd team Quarterback Mac Jones was more consistent in his throws and play reads. Jones threw for 289 yards on 23 completions (out of 35 attempts) for 2 touchdowns and 1 interceptions. Jones was Co-MVP (with Kicker Joseph Bulovas) of the A-Day game. This spring has put Jalen Hurts into a more tough position as it was after he was benched in the National Championship over Tua Tagovailoa. With Tua healing quickly, Jalen might be in a hole-too-deep for him to get out of for the starting Quarterback position. Hurts has a highly calm but competitive spirit, so he will not give up the spot easily. There were rumors of Jalen looking to transfer if he were to lose the starting spot but that remains to be seen if it’s true.

 

DeVonta Smith is turning into the Tide’s main Receiver

Despite the loss to potential 1st round pick in Calvin Ridley, Alabama will have a deep Receiver Corp. Sophomore Receivers like Irv Smith Jr., Jerry Jeudy, and DeVonta Smith all had an impact for the Tide last season despite 35.7% of the receiving yards and 30.9% of the receptions going to Ridley. DeVonta Smith will be remembered forever by Alabama fans for his game-winning touchdowns against Mississippi State and in the National Championship against the Georgia Bulldogs. Earlier in the spring, Jerry Jeudy suffered a meniscus injury and took the spring off to as a precaution. This left both DeVonta and Irv Smith Jr. to pick up the pace for the Tide’s main Receiving Corp.

In the A-Day game, DeVonta accounted for 5 receptions for 87 yards including the 59-yard reception in the 4th quarter. It isn’t the huge play that DeVonta had, it was his different routes he was given. He was the deep right Wideout in the 59-yard reception. There was also a play where was a far left Wideout catching a pass from Jalen on a hook route. Finally, there was a cross route coming from the left side of the field. These are types of plays that Calvin Ridley last season for the Tide. When Jeudy comes back from recovery, he will also be one of the Tide’s best route runners. It wouldn’t be unlikely that DeVonta and Jeudy turn the Crimson Tide’s offense into a high-power passing group much like SMU’s Courtland Sutton & Trey Quinn or Oklahoma State’s James Washington & Marcell Ateman.

 

The future is bright for these reserves and newcomers

RT Alex Leatherwood

With the Tide shuffling around the Offensive Line, the important step to rebuilding is creating depth. As a true Freshman last season, Leatherwood stepped in and played exceptionally in bursts. Leatherwood played reliably and with high efficiency in the 2018 National Championship against the Georgia Bulldogs. Leatherwood started at Right Tackle in the A-Day game with Matt Womack injured with a foot injury. Alex Leatherwood was one of the most reliable blockers against the Tide’s tenacious Defensive Line. Leatherwood was one of the best pass protectors last Saturday, which says a lot with Jonah Williams starting on the opposite side of the line.

K Joseph Bulovas

For years, the Crimson Tide have been struggling with the kicking game. Last year, the kicking game was so unreliable that star Punter J.K. Scott had to come in for a couple of more efficient kicks. On Saturday, Tide fans were relieved to Joseph Bulovas take his time and make efficient field goals between the goal posts. Bulovas was brought on for both offenses and was 5-for-7 with the only two misses hitting the middle bar or the wind coming with a sudden gust. Bulovas kicked an average of 38.2 yards per field including a field goal from 49-yards and 48-yards. The freshman kicker was voted Co-MVP of the A-Day with QB Mac Jones.

RB Brian Robertson

Throughout the spring, there were reports that sophomore Running Back Brian Robinson Jr. was one of the most impressive in practices and scrimmages. Last Saturday, Robinson was showing his explosiveness, versatility, and athleticism for the 2nd team offense. Robinson has a tremendous 1st quarter with a 16-yard run and then scoring the game’s first touchdown. This was before the game turned into an all-passing performance on both sides. Robinson finished the game with 7 rushes for 30 gain yards and 1 touchdown as well as accounted for 6 receptions for 59 yards.

DE LaBryan Ray

From the start of the game, Ray was in the offensive backfield creating chaos and making plays left-to-right. At 6-5, 280 pounds, Ray consistently tortured OT Chris Owens through bull-rushing and quickly defeating him off the edge. LaBryan Ray finished with 4 solo tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hurries, and 1 pass breakup. Coach Saban singled out Ray as a player who made high progress through his performance in the game. The Defensive Line is always an area that the Crimson Tide take pride in making dominant. Expect LaBryan Ray to find himself on the playing field often through multiple rotations. He could also appear in a pure pass rush package where he is an End and Isaiah Buggs could be a Defensive Tackle.

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