Cleat Geeks

Impact & Potential From The 2018 Saints Draft Class

There were many teams that made an impact in their present and future predicament in the 2018 NFL Draft. The New Orleans Saints are one of those teams that found help in multiple needed positions while also taking multiple big risks. The Saints needed to make a few big moves as they found themselves falling in the power rankings to teams they beat like the Los Angeles Rams, who made huge additions to the team via free agency. This 2018 NFL Draft needed to be big for the New Orleans Saints and time will tell for the answers to be discovered. Make no mistake, the Saints made multiple big picks that they think can make an impact immediately.

 

Marcus Davenport and Cameron Jordan to lead a high-velocity Saints pass rush

New Orleans was not going to get a top playmaker with the 27th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, so they traded up to the 14th pick with the Green Bay Packers. Through this trade, the Saints traded away their 27th overall pick, the 147th overall pick (5th round) that originally belonged to the Miami Dolphins, and the Saints’ 1st round selection of the 2019 NFL Draft. By trading up, the Saints were expected to draft LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) or 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville). Instead, the Saints surprised everyone by selecting a raw but physically gifted Defensive End in Marcus Davenport (UTSA).

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Linebacker and Quarterback were positions that were high on the Saints’ list of needs, but they also needed a pass rusher. Last season, 2017 All-Pro DE Cameron Jordan accounted for 13 total sacks in the 2017-2018 regular season. Outside of Jordan, the next highest sack leader was S Vonn Bell and DE Alex Okafor with 4.5 sacks each. Okafor is a playmaker for the Saints but too much is expected from a pass rusher when he is primarily a run stopper. Last season with the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, Marcus Davenport accounted for 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. While he accounted high solo stats, his teammates were not as developed as he was giving him not as much opportunities to make the plays.

Davenport is an excellent pass rusher and a stout run stopper at the line of scrimmage much like Cameron Jordan is for New Orleans. You add in Davenport’s 6’6, 264 lbs. measurements, this makes Davenport a special player with talent and potential of impact too good of a player for New Orleans to pass up with the 14th overall pick. Davenport does have durability issues to go along with his inconsistencies at the beginning of the play. Through a strong rookie mini-camp and a training camp setting, Marcus Davenport could find himself a starter come week 1 of the 2018-2019 NFL regular season. Likely Sheldon Rankins would have to move from the End position to his natural Defensive Tackle position. This also leaves Tyeler Davison and David Onyemata to spilt reps at the other Defensive Tackle position in the Saints 4-3 defensive front.

 

Saints get their #2 Wide Receiver in UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith

The biggest immediate offensive need for the Saints is for them to get another deep threat Wide Out for QB Drew Brees. Two of the top four leaders in receiving yards last season for New Orleans were Wide Receivers. Outside of WR Michael Thomas, the Saints do not have a dominant deep threat Wide Receiver. Ted Ginn Jr. accounted for 787 yards and 4 touchdowns on 53 receptions but can create much more of an impact as a slot receiver. Another top Receiver was needed to deal with the loss of WR Willie Snead via free agency. It would only be fitting that the 2nd player selected by the Saints with the 91st overall pick in the 3rd round was the Saints’ potential #2 Wide Out in UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith.

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Photo by; Underdog Dynasty

Last season, the Saints were 5th in the league in passing yards per game (261.8). This is due to the high-power passing ability of Quarterback Drew Brees, who threw for 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns on an NFL season record 72% completion ratio. Last season, Tre’Quan Smith accounted for 1,171 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on 59 receptions with a Knights team that was ranked 7th in passing yards per game (339.3) and 5th in total yards per game (540). Having Smith bring his durability and explosiveness as a high-velocity Receiver will be an instant impact in the passing game. Smith not only compliments Thomas as a co-deep threat Receiver but it also opens the field for Ginn to be a more diverse target and finally for RB Alvin Kamara, who was the Saints 2nd leading Receiver last season (826 yards).

 

Saints get help and depth at multiple positions later in the Draft

On top of some high picks for the Saints, the midround to late rounds of the Draft is where teams usually build on their depth. The Saints made 5 picks in the 4th to 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Of those five players, two of them were Offensive Linemen in Florida State’s OT Rick Leonard (127th overall pick in the 4th round) and LSU’s C Will Clapp (245th overall pick in the 7th round). Another two players selected in the later rounds by New Orleans were Defensive Backs in Wisconsin’s S Natrell Jamerson (164th overall pick in the 5th round) and Boston College’s CB Kamrin Moore (189th overall pick in the 6th round).

Having those players not only builds depth for those position groups but it also provides security for when those starters go down. Each one of the Saints main Defensive Backs (excluding S Vonn Bell) missed a small number of games that still made a negative impact in the Saints ability to defend against high efficient passing offenses. 2017-2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in CB Marshon Lattimore missed 3 games, CB Ken Crawley missed 3 games, and rookie S Marcus Williams missed one game. Having Jamerson and Moore come in and fill in slots left by the departed players in Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush will be big for New Orleans.

The Offensive Line for the Saints last season improved significantly, much like the Defensive Backs from the previous season, but they too were not immune to the long slate of injuries. OT Terron Armstead got injured early and OT Zach Strief experienced multiple injuries. G Andrus Peat played much more consistently than the previous seasons but had some injury scares as well. Saints brought in depth and security much like they with the Defensive Backs in Rick Leonard and Will Clapp. Perhaps in the future, if the Saints could not afford to keep the former Pro-Bowl Center in Max Unger, Will Clapp could be groomed into a starting spot for New Orleans.

 

6th rounder RB Boston Scott might be able to contribute early for New Orleans

One late round prospect of the Saints that could make an immediate impact on the field is former Louisiana Tech Running Back Boston Scott. The former Bulldog was selected in the 6th round with the 201st overall pick as the Saints needed to add talent and depth to the Saints backfield. The selection of Boston Scott is also important to the Saints due to the possible unavailability of 3rd year Running Back Daniel Lasco after he suffered a bulging disc in his spine in mid-November. Last season at Louisiana Tech, Boston Scott rushed for 1,047 yards and 8 touchdowns on 138 rushing attempts. Scott is a very elusive back due to his speed, motor, and ability to rush for more yards after contact despite his small 5’6 height.

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Scott might be able to make an early with the New Orleans Saints in his rookie season since the starting Running Back in Mark Ingram is currently suspended by the NFL for 4 games from PED violations. The only Running Backs left on the main roster outside of Ingram are Alvin Kamara, Lasco, and Jonathan Williams, who is looking to sticking with a team in a second consecutive season in his 4 years in the league. If Scott makes a big impression in the Saints rookie mini-camps, team workouts, and offseason training camps, he will earn a potential role as a contributing player in the Saints run game come week 1 of the 2018-2019 NFL regular season. If Mark Ingram’s suspension by the league stands then the speedster in Boston Scott can get an early impact and chance with the Saints.

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Schedule Breakdown Weeks 5-8

The Kansas City Chiefs week five opponent will be the Jackson Jaguars. It will be the Chiefs second home game of the season. They last played the Jaguars in 2016 where they won at home 19-14. The Jaguars had a breakout season in 2018. Last year the Jaguars had the second ranked defense in points allowed at 16.8. Jacksonville will be a good test for a young Chiefs offense.

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The Chiefs week six match-up will be on the road against the New England Patriots. Last season the Chiefs faced the Patriots in the NFL season opener where they won 42-27. The Chiefs have won the last two regular season match-ups with the Patriots. Kareem Hunt had a big impact in the game last season. He had 148 yards rushing and one touchdown after fumbling on the opening series. The Patriots have been one of the most dominant teams in the NFL the last few seasons but the Chiefs have been able to play well against them.

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The week seven game for the Chiefs will be at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs last faced the Bengals in 2015 when they lost 36-21. The Bengals have had success against the Chiefs in the last few match-ups. The last time the Chiefs beat the Bengals was 2007. The Cincinnati offense struggled last season finishing last in the NFL in average yards per game at 280.5. The Bengals have played well against the Chiefs recently but they should be a team that the Chiefs match-up well with.

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The week eight match-up for the Chiefs will be at home against the Denver Broncos. It will be their second game against the Broncos in the 2018 season. The Broncos are 5-2 against the Chiefs at Arrowhead since 2011. Denver’s new quarterback Case Keenum last faced the Chiefs in 2013 when he was a member of the Houston Texans. He threw for 271 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs won the game 17-16. Keenum will be an interesting match-up for the Chiefs because he has only faced the them once in his six year NFL career. The Chiefs have played well in the division in recent years but the Broncos are a tough opponent at Arrowhead.

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Schedule Breakdown Weeks 1-4

The Kansas City Chiefs will start the season on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. It will be the second year in a row the Chiefs start the season on the road. Last year the Chiefs swept the season series with the Chargers. Phillip Rivers has struggled against the Chiefs throughout his career. In 25 match-ups he has 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions and an average of 245 yards per game. The Chargers are expected to improve this season and it could be an interesting match-up week #1.

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The second game will be on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season the Chiefs faced the Steelers in week #6. The Steelers won the game 19-13 which ended the Chiefs five game winning streak to start the season. The Chiefs have struggled with the Steelers in recent seasons. The Steelers have won six of the last seven match-ups with the Chiefs. The Steelers have not lost a game to the Chiefs in Pittsburgh since 1986. The Steelers will be a tough match-up for the Chiefs in the early part of the season.

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The Chiefs home opener will be week #3 against the San Francisco 49ers. It is the latest home opener for the Chiefs since the 2007 season. The last time the Chiefs faced the 49ers was in 2014 when they lost 22-17. Jimmy Garoppolo will be the 49ers starter at quarterback this season. The Chiefs faced Garoppolo in 2014 when he replaced Tom Brady in the Chiefs 41-14 win over the Patriots. Garoppolo went 6/7 for one touchdown in that game. The 49ers should be one of the most improved teams this season and will be an interesting test for the Chiefs.

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The fourth game will be on the road against the Denver Broncos. Last year the Chiefs swept their season series against the Broncos. Patrick Mahomes made his starting debut in Denver last season. He went 22/35 for 284 yards and one interception. Mahomes led a 67-yard drive in the last minutes of the game to set up a game winning Harrison Butker field goal. The game was Mahomes first opportunity to get valuable playing time against first-string defenses. Denver is a tough place to play but Mahomes played well last season. Mahomes will need to improve on his performance last season in the week #4 match-up.

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Draft Recap

The Kansas City Chiefs added six players to their roster in the 2018 NFL Draft. Five of the six picks were on defense. The Chiefs focused on depth rather than players expected to make a big impact immediately.

 

The first pick for the Chiefs was 46th overall in the second round. They selected Ole Miss linebacker Breeland Speaks with the pick. Speaks had 67 tackles and seven sacks last season with the Rebels. He did not miss a game in his three-year career at Ole Miss. Speaks projects as an outside linebacker for the Chiefs. He may need a few seasons of development before becoming a full time starter. The Chiefs needed more talent and depth at outside linebacker and Speaks should fill the role well.

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Photo by; SI.com

The second pick for the Chiefs was 75th overall in the third round. They selected Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi with the pick. Defensive tackle was a big need for the Chiefs and Nnadi should improve the position. Last season with the Seminoles Nnadi had 53 total tackles and three and a half sacks. Nnadi could make an immediate impact with the Chiefs because of the lack of depth at the position.

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Photo by; Stack.com

 

The third pick for the Chiefs was 100th overall in the third round. They selected Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel with the pick. O’Daniel had 88 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss last season with the Tigers. He will likely be an inside linebacker with the Chiefs. The Chiefs already have starters at inside linebacker but the depth for the future was an area of concern. O’Daniel will likely not see a lot of initial playing time but could be valuable for the Chiefs in the future.

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Photo by; Tigernet

The fourth pick for the Chiefs was 124th overall in the fourth round. They selected Texas A&M safety Armani Watts with the pick. Watts had 87 total tackles and four interceptions with the Aggies last season. Safety was an area the Chiefs needed to address in the draft and Watts could see some playing time early in his career.

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Photo by; 247Sports

The fifth pick for the Chiefs was 196th overall in the sixth round. They selected Central Arkansas cornerback Tremon Smith. He did not miss a game in his career at Central Arkansas. Last season with the Bears Smith had 41 total tackles and five interceptions. Smith could make an impact at cornerback because of the lack of depth at the position.

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Photo by; NFLDraftDiamonds

The sixth and final pick for the Chiefs was 198th overall in the sixth round. They selected Tennessee defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie. The Chiefs expect to switch McKenzie to offensive guard in the NFL. Kahlil McKenzie is the son of Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie. He will need time to switch to the offensive line but will be a project for the Chiefs. McKenzie probably will not be expected to make an immediate impact but could see playing time in the future.

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Photo by; SaturdayDownSouth

Overall, the Chiefs addressed many of their needs in the draft. Most of their picks will be used for depth and it could take time before they become starters. The Chiefs have had a rookie pick make the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years and could extend the streak with this draft class.

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.

#ManCrush Monday Series: Keenan Allen

This is the sixth in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all. I also encourage you to check out each of the links for a more in depth look at what makes these players so special.

The key to a successful dynasty team is to continue to have youth at all positions and hope that they can be studs for you for many years. In particular, receivers that are featured early in their careers and continue to grow into their prime and sustain a large role into their later years are ideal. For our startup dynasty draft, I was looking for players at the early stage I believed had the potential to be productive through all three phases. In a 0.5 PPR league, players targeted frequently are even more special. In the third round, I drafted Keenan Allen, who I believed to be a steal as I had considered him with my second round pick.

In the 2013 NFL draft, Allen was in fact a third round pick by the San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles) and he had only just turned 21 years old a few days prior. He played at the University of California in college so he was a local guy, despite being from North Carolina originally. As a rookie, Allen surpassed 1,000 yards and 100 targets and finished the season with 71 receptions, 1,046 yards, and 8 touchdowns in 15 games.

In 2016, when I drafted Allen to my team, he was coming off a season that had been cut in half by a fluky lacerated kidney injury he sustained on a touchdown catch in week 8 against the Ravens. At that point in the 2015 season, Allen already had a season line of 67-725-4, which had him on pace for 134 catches (would have ranked 3rd most in one season in NFL history), 1,450 yards, and 8 touchdowns. I was hoping Allen could bounce back from this injury and get right back on track in 2016. While he was ready to go week 1 for the Chargers and started the game off with 6 catches for 63 yards, Allen left the game just before half with a knee injury that ultimately turned out to be a torn ACL that cost him the rest of the season. Allen started drawing the “Injury prone” tag, and although losing him hurt, I still won our fantasy championship and I still believed in him. I just had to wait a bit longer until the 2017 season.

2017 was a career year for Allen. In his first season playing in all 16 games for the Chargers, Allen went for 102 catches (4th in NFL) on 159 targets (5th), 1,393 yards (3rd), and 6 touchdowns. Allen had seven games with 100+ yards, including four in a row from weeks 11-14, racking up 10+ catches and at least one touchdown in three of the four. Coincidentally, the Chargers won all four of those games. This type of production coming off a major knee injury and the lacerated kidney the year prior earned Allen the 2017 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award and his first Pro-Bowl selection.

Allen has been credited as an elite route runner with excellent hands. Much like I’ve talked about previously with Adam Thielen and Cooper Kupp, Allen has the ability to play both as an outside receiver as well as the slot. His size (6’2″, 205), quickness, and toughness allow him to separate quickly and make him a nightmare to cover 1-on-1. Allen ranked 4th in the NFL in yards after the catch (YAC) among wide receivers in 2017. Allen’s chemistry with quarterback Philip Rivers makes them one of the best QB-WR duos in the league. Rivers always knows where Allen is, and looks his way frequently in crucial situations. Allen had an NFL-best 30 first down catches on third down. With the emergence of other weapons for the Chargers like running back Melvin Gordon and tight end Hunter Henry, Allen isn’t a high touchdown player, but certainly makes up for it elsewhere.

Now that we are post-draft and looking ahead to 2018, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Allen and the Chargers offense. With Rivers still at the helm and surrounded by playmakers, the Chargers will use a high powered offense to try to come out on top of the tough AFC West division. In the backfield, Gordon leads the charge, with Austin Ekeler providing an excellent change of pace. The Chargers added Justin Jackson out of Northwestern with their final pick of last weekend’s draft. Alongside Allen, the rest of the receiving corps includes Tyrell Williams, 2017 first round pick Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin, among others. Due to my obsession with Patrick Mahomes, my favorite sleeper wide receiver is his former teammate Dylan Cantrell, who the Chargers selected in round six. The Chargers are moving on from future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates, but still have the young and talented Hunter Henry to create mismatches and serve as a red zone threat. Having all of these weapons means defenses won’t be able to key on Allen, but it also means there are many mouths to feed. While Allen may regress from his 2017 numbers, he is still a prime candidate to reach the 100 receptions mark and easily surpass 1,000 yards. If he can find his way into the end zone a few more times, he will remain a top receiver in 2018 and for the foreseeable future, as he only just turned 26 years old.

 

Thanks for reading! Be sure to go back and read all my other #ManCrush articles if you haven’t already! Stayed tuned for next #ManCrush Monday! Check out all my work and follow me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz.

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Free Agency Recap

The 2018 NFL Draft was this weekend and it will be an opportunity for the Chiefs to add rookies to improve their roster. The Chiefs have already added some players that will improve their roster next season in free agency. They made a couple of big signings that will have an impact on next season.

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Photo by; LA Times

The Chiefs biggest free agency signing was wide receiver Sammy Watkins. They signed him to a three-year, $48 million dollar contract. Watkins was drafted 15th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2014. He spent three years with the Bills before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams last season. Watkins has dealt with foot injuries throughout his career, which have limited his production. 2015 was Watkins best statistical season when he had 1,047 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. Watkins will add talent to a wide receiver group that needed more depth.

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Photo by; Dallas Morning News

Another big signing by the Chiefs was linebacker Anthony Hitchens. The Chiefs needed help at linebacker after the departure of Derrick Johnson this off-season. Hitchens spent four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before signing with the Chiefs. Hitchens signed a five-year contract with the Chiefs. He played every game of his first three seasons. He was limited to 12 games last season due to a tibial plateau fracture. Hitchens should be a reliable linebacker for the Chiefs in the future.

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Chad Henne signed a two-year contract to be a veteran backup quarterback for the Chiefs. Henne has spent most of his career as a backup with the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars. He could help the development of Patrick Mahomes and be the next option in case of an injury. Henne only attempted two passes in the last three seasons with the Jaguars. Henne is not expected to see much playing time with the Chiefs but could be very valuable to the improvement of Mahomes.

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Photo by; Arrowhead Pride

Punter Dustin Colquitt was signed to a three-year contract this off-season. Colquitt is the longest tenured player on the Chiefs. He was a third round pick by the Chiefs in the 2005 draft. Colquitt was named a pro bowler in 2012 and 2016. Last season he averaged 45.2 yards per punt. Colquitt has been consistent throughout his career with the Chiefs.

 

The Chiefs have had a successful free agency so far this off-season. They made signings that will improve their roster. The Chiefs could still make more additions but their foundation had been set for the 2018 season.

The Ravens Were The Most Interesting Team In The NFL Draft

The Baltimore Ravens traded in the 1st round of the 2018 Nfl Draft not once, not twice, but three times! Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome first swaped was with Buffalo, then he traded picks No. 16 and 154 overall (a fifth-rounder) to the Bills for their 22nd overall pick and No. 65 which is the first pick of the third round. Newsome then gave up the 22nd pick and a sixth-rounder to Tennessee for the 25th overall pick and a fourth-round selection. That fourth-round pick went to the Eagles, along with Baltimore’s second-rounder and a second-round pick in 2019, for No. 32 and 132.

When Ozzie Newsome finally got done dealing in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night, he walked away with different picks including one extra pick in the 1st round, but what kind of players did end up with, and how will they effect his team? His coach John Harbaugh said “What happened in that room was a masterpiece,” so it is safe to say he is happy with the day one results.

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Photo by; Baltimore Sun

Tight end Hayden Hurst was the Raven’s first pick of the draft at #25. Hurst who caught 44 passes for 559 yards and two scores as a junior last season is a potential replacement for Benjamin Watson, who led the Ravens with 61 catches in 2017 before leaving as a free agent. “They said they needed a guy to come and stretch the field vertically,” Hurst said. “That suits me perfectly.”

Hurst was actually drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round of the 2012 Major League draft. He played two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, first as a pitcher then as a first baseman, before giving up the sport and joining the Gamecocks as a walk-on. “When I was with the Pirates, I just didn’t have a lot of success,” he said. “It was time for me to make a life change.”

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With the final pick in the draft Newsome was able to swing a deal with the Eagles and then pick Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson hoped to go earlier, but was content to have the Ravens come calling. “There is a chip on my shoulder. Both shoulders,” he said. “I’m not mad. It’s just motivation.” Newsome’s strategy for the night was to move back twice in order to get enough chips to make the trade with Philadelphia. “It was masterful the way it happened in the draft room tonight,” beamed Newsome, who is heading the Ravens draft for the last time. “We added three wide receivers, now we’ve added a young tight end to the mix to continue to provide Joe some targets,” said Newsome, an NFL Hall of Fame tight end himself. What Newsome is referring to are the weeks leading up to the draft. Newsome focused on improving a passing attack that last year ranked 29th in the NFL. He signed three free agent receivers, Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead and he also added free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III.

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Photo by; Ebony Bird

But, before you ask, both he and his coach made one thing clear before there could be a controversy in Baltimore. “Joe Flacco is our quarterback. That’s the thing that you got to remember,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Lamar is going to have a chance to develop.”Joe Flacco is Baltimore’s quarterback for now, but Jackson is sure to get some consideration in the near future after Newsome jumped back into the first round to snag the man who threw a combined 57 touchdown passes over the past two years. Newsome and coach John Harbaugh made it clear that Flacco remains the No. 1 quarterback. But they simply couldn’t pass up the chance to take Jackson, who ran for 50 TDs and threw for 69 more during his spectacular three-run with the Cardinals.

Newsome’s contract expires after this season. He has been in charge of every Baltimore draft since the team moved from Cleveland before the 1996 season. His goal is his final year is to snag enough talent in the draft and in free agency to help the Ravens end a three-year playoff drought. Baltimore went 9-7 last season, losing the finale to Cincinnati 31-27 when a victory would have given the Ravens a wild-card berth.

Rosen’s Quote Gives Me Hope On Cardinals Decision

Josh Rosen was upset after he was taken 10th overall in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night at the NFL draft. Not at the Arizona Cardinals, they showed they wanted him by making a deal with the Oakland Raiders in which they gave up 2 picks for him, one in the third round and another in the fifth round. He just believed he should have been drafted much higher in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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In a press conference, he said, “There were nine mistakes made ahead of me, and I’m going to make sure they all know it was a mistake.”

I personally have always had a problem with the fact that he was talented, but never really seemed to want to play football. I have always questioned his desire, not his talent. I was of the mindset that the Cardinals were just going to stay pat at the 15th selection in the NFL Draft and see if Rosen fell to them. I was surprised when they decided to trade up and get him. At the time of the trade, I actually had mixed emotions about the selection. I wanted the Cardinals to get a cornerback to shut down the passing ability of the other teams in the league. The Cardinals already have one of the top 5 cornerbacks in football with Patrick Petterson, and another young talented corner, to me, seemed to be the way to go making teams one dimensional so they could in turn “load up the box” and stop the run. I felt that if they could do that, they could hold most teams to 17 points or under and thus would have a chance to win virtually game thinking David Johnson and Sam Bradford and Larry Fitzgerald could top 17 points more often than not.

Jaire Alexander and Mike Hughes were both available with the 10th pick, and would both have been available with the 15th pick as well. But both were talented enough that other teams saw the value in them and made them first round selections as the Vikings took Hughes with the 30th overall pick and the Packers made Alexander the 18th overall selection.

Rosen was one of the quarterbacks projected to go early in the first round. But he sat and watched as three other passers – Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (first to the Cleveland Browns), Southern California’s Sam Darnold (third to the New York Jets) and Wyoming’s Josh Allen (seventh to the Buffalo Bills) heard their names called. Perhaps the most pro-ready passer in the entire draft, Rosen is nearly flawless mechanically in terms of his delivery and footwork honed as an accomplished tennis player. He reads the field well at all levels and is highly intelligent. There is still the fact that he suffered two concussions last year and the fact that he is the definition of a pocket passer who won’t make plays with his legs. Now Rosen joins a loaded quarterback division that includes Garoppolo, Russell Wilson and Jared Goff.

I like that Rosen seems to now have a chip on his shoulder. He has the talent, now maybe he has the motivation to make that talent shine on the football field. That was my main complaint with him was his motivation. I am starting to like this pick, and I hope he is motivated to be the franchise quarterback that some think he could be.

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)

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