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GREEN BAY

It started with Mike McCarthy complaining about the manner in which he was fired by the Packers – even though they granted him his wish to speak to the team afterwards.  Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com got the interview:

 

Mike McCarthy ranks 25th in NFL history with 135 coaching wins, including playoffs, and plans to add to that total with his next job.

 

As for his last one, he knew if the Green Bay Packers missed the playoffs in 2018 — something that had happened three other times in his 13 years as head coach — change was possible.

 

But he never expected it to happen the way it did.

 

Not as a coach who is among four coaches to lead a single franchise to at least eight straight playoff appearances, joining Tom Landry, Chuck Noll and Bill Belichick in that category. And not as one who trails only Curly Lambeau in all-time wins in charge of the Packers.

 

“If we missed the playoffs, I expected change might happen,” McCarthy told ESPN.com in his first sit-down interview since he was fired Dec. 2 with four games left in the 2018 season. “But the timing surprised me. Actually it stunned me. It couldn’t have been handled any worse.”

 

It marked the first time in more than 60 years the Packers made a midseason coaching change. And team president Mark Murphy did it to a coach who not only led the Packers to nine playoff appearances, a Super Bowl title and helped rewrite the team’s offensive record books, but also one who endeared himself to the community with the McCarthy Family Foundation, which raised more than $9 million for local, national and international charities, including the American Family Children’s Hospital.

 

McCarthy also served as the spokesman for the franchise during everything from the Brett Favre saga of 2008 to the Fail Mary situation of 2012 to almost every personnel decision that his reclusive former general manager, Ted Thompson, never would publicly address. McCarthy still lives in Green Bay with his wife, Jessica, and their family.

 

He plans to coach again in the NFL and is expected to be one of the top names on candidate lists next offseason.

 

“Time provides the opportunity for reflection and clarity and that’s where I’m at now,” said McCarthy, who interviewed for the Jets’ coaching job that went to Adam Gase. “And it’s clear to me now that both sides needed a change.”

 

In his office at his home in Green Bay, McCarthy discussed with ESPN everything from the end of his tenure and Murphy’s claim that complacency had set in, to left tackle David Bakhtiari’s suggestion of a lack of accountability, coaching Aaron Rodgers, his plans for his year off and what’s next.

 

How are you, and what have you been up to?

 

McCarthy: I’m doing well. Everything’s good with my family. They’re happy and healthy, and frankly that’s all that really matters. I’ve gotten to spend some quality time with my wife and kids, and that’s been a blessing. What I’ve been up to (laughs), I guess you could say I’m trying to figure out this thing you call a normal life. It’s been awhile since I had one.

 

I think around 33 years to be exact since the last time you weren’t coaching …

 

McCarthy: There you go. Wow, that’s a long time.

– – –

Before we talk about next year, I want to go back to last season because you haven’t spoken yet about how it ended. Did you have any indication what was coming before Mark Murphy called you in to give you the news?

 

McCarthy: Frankly, no I did not. As a head coach, I’ve always tried to stay immune to and stand in front of all the outside noise. That was always my focus with my players. It was always to protect them as much as possible from the drama. I think that’s important. And I stayed true to that to the last day. If we missed the playoffs, I expected change might happen. But the timing surprised me. Actually it stunned me. But time provides the opportunity for reflection and clarity and that’s where I’m at now. And it’s clear to me now that both sides needed a change.

 

How so?

 

McCarthy: I go back to really the first thing my wife said to me, the first moment Jessica and I were alone and talking about what happened. She said, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m relieved for you.’ I kinda gave her a look. And she said, ‘The last two or three years, you haven’t been here physically or mentally. Every family loses their husband, father during the season, but you’ve been gone the last two offseasons. I know you’re not happy with the way things were going there, and it’s beat the hell out of you. It’s beat the hell out of you the last couple of years. It’s been hard to watch it.’ That was a couple hours after I got home, and that was the reality, that was the reality that I had to identify with, and that was real.

 

The ending, many people thought you deserved a better ending. Do you agree?

 

McCarthy: Obviously. It couldn’t have been handled any worse. Anytime you lose a close game, it’s a difficult time emotionally afterwards, but when you lose a home game at Lambeau Field in December, it’s really hard. And that hasn’t happened very often. I walked out of my press conference, and I’m thinking about the game, thinking about how our playoff shot was now minimal. That’s where my head was at. And when I was told Mark Murphy wanted to see me — and the messenger was cold and the energy was bad. Mark said it was an ugly loss, and it was time to make change. He said something about the offense and the special teams, and he didn’t think it was going to get any better. There was no emotion to it. That was hard.

 

Every time I released an individual, you get your words right. There’s a personal component to it. You know he has a family. He’s family. There wasn’t any of that. So that was off. The way people leave that building was very important to me. That’s a part of the business. Hopefully moving forward for guys like Clay [Matthews] and Randall [Cobb] and Nick Perry and Jordy Nelson and T.J. Lang, it’s important for them to leave the right way. That way represents the Green Bay Packers standard that I tried to uphold every day.

 

That exit, frankly, Rob, the exit really stuck with me for a while. It was hard to swallow. The emotional challenge of shifting from humiliation to reflection was a very important step in seeking clarity so I could personally grow from the experience of my entire Green Bay Packer career; that’s what I wanted to get to, not just the ending of it.

 

But hey, I’ll never forget the response after because I put my phone away [that night]. I woke up, and I could not believe my phone. When we won the Super Bowl, I received over 200 texts. That week, I had over 500. I got more than twice as many messages for getting fired than I did when I won the damn Super Bowl. It’s remarkable. They were from current and former players, competitors, owners of other NFL teams, politicians, media members, guys I competed against that I had never even talked to. I was blown away by it and still am.

– – –

You said the one thing that bothered you were the comments about complacency and accountability, but did the conversation about the relationship with your quarterback bother you, too? Aaron Rodgers publicly ripped the offense and the game plan after the 22-0 win over Buffalo in Week 4 when the story would’ve probably been about the defense’s first shutout in years. And people on the sidelines told me he would complain about playcalls off the field. How difficult was he to coach?

 

McCarthy: In football, there are things that are said on the sideline that stay on the sidelines for players and coaches alike. As far as that situation, I honestly am not aware of it. Aaron has always been heavily involved in game-planning each week and scheme design each year. I entrusted him and empowered him more than any other quarterback I’ve ever been around, especially at the line of scrimmage.

 

As far as our relationship, you have to put it through the proper lens like you always have to do with reflection and change. Where there’s change, let’s be real, especially the way the change happened, there’s things that come out after the fact. Things get said. He-said, he-said this and things like that. When I think about my relationship with Aaron, you’re talking about 13 years. That’s a very long time. It’s been a privilege to watch him grow in so many different ways and see him do so many great things on the field and off. To think you can be in a relationship that long and not have any frustrations, that’s unrealistic.

 

As far as coaching him, I’d use a lot of words. He’s challenging, very rewarding and fun. We had a lot of fun. Some of my greatest one-on-one conversations, accomplishments, adjustments and adversity we fought through have been with Aaron. The difficulty in coaching a Hall of Fame quarterback is keeping that connection, the efficiency and the fluency with the other players on offense. They want to do more. They’re capable of doing so much more, but the reality is you have to remember is it’s the coordination of 11 men on every play. But yeah, it’s pretty fun to go through your entire offensive playbook and know you can run everything in there with your quarterback. I mean, that’s a joy. His job was to score as many points as he can. My job was to make it all work. We can all grow personally and professionally, but because of the experience I had not only with Aaron but with all my players, I know I’m a much better person and a better coach than I was 13 years ago. I hope Aaron and all the players I coached, I hope they feel the same.

 

Having been through all this, what advice would you give to your successor, Matt LaFleur?

 

McCarthy: Matt LaFleur. Totally embrace the Green Bay community with your family. It’s a phenomenal place to live. It’s a phenomenal place to raise a family. You know that, Rob. Heck, coach your ass off, have fun and enjoy the honor because it goes fast. Enjoy the honor of being the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Make the program your own. That’s very important. You were hired here for a very good reason; don’t get too far away from that. You have a great group of men in that locker room. I think they’re special, and they’ll work their butts for you.

 

The McCarthy interview hit just before today’s tale landed from Tyler Dunne in Bleacher Report.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com with a highlight:

 

If you believe that there are no coincidences in life, then you’ll be convinced it was no coincidence that a mostly-positive interview of Packers coach Mike McCarthy debuted at ESPN one day before Bleacher Report published a comprehensive analysis of the perennial dysfunction the Packers experienced under McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

 

The remarkable story from Tyler Dunne, who previously covered the Packers, deserves a full read. It also will result in at least three different posts here, because we’ve learned that the modern human attention span isn’t conducive to, well, something or other.

 

Here’s the first chunk of the article that caused me to mutter an expletive. In reference to the perception that McCarthy began to check out late in his tenure with the Packers, Dunne wrote this: “About once a week, a meeting would start up and McCarthy was MIA. Players weren’t quite sure where he was while, for example, an assistant coach would run the team’s final prep on the Saturday before a game. Eventually, word leaked that McCarthy, the one calling plays on game day, was up in his office getting a massage during those meetings.”

 

Dunne reports that McCarthy’s massage therapist told a player that McCarthy would “sneak her up a back stairway” so that no one would realize that, while the team was working, the coach was not.

 

“If you’re not a part of meetings, and then you’re trying to be pissed about execution, nobody’s going to really respect you,” an unnamed former Packers front-office member told Dunne. “They’re going to look at you like, ‘Where have you been all week?’ It sounded like he was really just chilling.”

 

Later in the article, Dunne points out that an unnamed Packers player who had heard about McCarthy’s massage habit wondered whether “Rodgers started that rumor and tried spreading it to anybody that’d listen.” That speaks to the toxic nature of the relationship between coach and quarterback, something that reportedly lasted for a very long time.

 

And that will be the topic of our next entry regarding Dunne’s story.

 

The there is this:

 

It had been believed for years that the problems between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Packers coach Mike McCarthy predated his hiring in 2006. The excellent story on more than a decade of Green Bay dysfunction from Tyler Dunne of BleacherReport.com reveals that it does.

 

Dunne explains that Rodgers could never get over McCarthy’s role in Rodgers’ extended stay in the Radio City green room during the 2005 draft, when McCarthy served as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator, and when the 49ers picked Alex Smith over Rodgers.

 

“Aaron’s always had a chip on his shoulder with Mike,” former Packers running back Ryan Grant told Dunne. “The guy who ended up becoming your coach passed on you when he had a chance Aaron was upset that Mike passed on him — that Mike actually verbally said that Alex Smith was a better quarterback.”

 

So when McCarthy became the Green Bay coach in 2006, the notoriously sensitive Rodgers arrived at the relationship bearing a world-class grudge.

 

“Nobody holds a grudge in any sport like Rodgers,” Dunne writes. “When it comes to Rodgers, grudges do not merrily float away. They stick. They grow. They refuel.”

 

That grudge apparently influenced Rodgers’ opinions toward McCarthy for their entire time together. Per Dunne, a “person who was close to Rodgers” recalls that Rodgers “would regularly call to vent that McCarthy didn’t have a clue what he was doing.”

 

“Mike has a low football IQ, and that used to always bother Aaron,” the source told Dunne. “He’d say Mike has one of the lowest IQs, if not the lowest IQ, of any coach he’s ever had.”

 

Dunne characterizes Rodgers as “conflict-averse” and “passive-aggressive to the extreme.” That dynamic became obvious during the 2016 season, when Rodgers complained about the lack of energy on the sideline (without pointing out the obvious fact that the sideline is controlled by McCarthy) and the lack of a healthy fear among players that failure to do their jobs will get them fired (without pointing out that such fear should be instilled by McCarthy). Rodgers specifically dismissed our analysis of his passive-aggressive power play as “crap,” but it clearly wasn’t.

 

Unless Dunne’s reporting is crap. And it clearly isn’t.

 

Here is the link to the Bleacher Report tale.

 

Bleacher Report talked to dozens of players, coaches and personnel men who shared time in Green Bay with Rodgers and McCarthy in search of an answer.

 

Virtually all of them agree this era of Packers football is missing rings. Many rings. And sure, there’s blame to spread. Some cite former general manager Ted Thompson literally falling asleep in meetings by the end of his tenure. Some cite the defense’s innate ability to self-destruct each January.

 

But central to it all are the two Packers who lasted the longest.

 

McCarthy and Rodgers.

 

Where Jermichael Finley, a Packers tight end from 2008 to 2013, sees a self-entitled quarterback and bad leader, Grant thinks it’s idiotic for anyone to complain about such a transcendent talent. Where Greg Jennings, a Packers receiver from 2006 to 2012, sees Rodgers as an ultrasensitive source of toxicity, others lambast McCarthy for wasting a gift from the football gods.

 

One ex-Packers scout puts it on both. He describes Rodgers as an arrogant quarterback quick to blame everyone but himself—one who’s “not as smart as he thinks he is”—yet kindly points out that McCarthy basically quit on his team.

 

Nobody’s sure where Rodgers and the Packers will go from here. How long this next marriage with new head coach Matt LaFleur will last. 

 

But one former teammate, lamenting this colossal what-if, makes one point on the past crystal clear.

 

“If you were going to write a headline,” he says, “that would be it right there: How Egos Took Down the Packers.”

 

And this:

 

Many believe Rodgers, the QB with the best career passer rating (103.1) in NFL history, was 100 percent justified in overruling his coach’s play calls, and that the Packers would’ve deteriorated more precipitously if he hadn’t put that cape on. The personnel man says the Packers’ passing offense was essentially “Get open” and that they basically ran the same routes for seven years straight, to the point where division rivals “constantly” called out plays pre-snap and jumped routes.

 

No wonder the slant route, once so lethal, went extinct.

 

Where were the route combinations? The motion? The misdirection? “It’s like, ‘Dude, you have to adjust! The league changes!'” the personnel man says. “You’ve got to be humble enough to follow it. If you can’t adapt, you die. He definitely didn’t adapt. You can’t run 90 back-shoulders into coverage. I don’t care who you are. Things got so stale.”

 

Rodgers had no choice but to seize control, and each year, he took more.

 

And this:

 

“His No. 1 job, and Mike always missed this point, is to manage Aaron,” the former teammate says. “That’s your driver. That’s your engine. Aaron’s your engine for the whole team. Whether you want to or don’t want to, you have to make sure that guy’s happy. At the end of the day—and it doesn’t sound like a fun job—if he’s happy, you’re winning.

 

“Your job isn’t to go out there and throw and catch passes. Your job is to manage people.”

 

And if Rodgers isn’t Brady as a leader, McCarthy sure as hell never managed like Bill Belichick. Whereas Belichick despises the limelight and “removes himself” every way he can, this player says McCarthy loved anointing himself as a quarterback guru. The coach often bragged to players about his time with Joe Montana…in Kansas City.

 

“He tried to bill himself as this quarterback master,” the player says. “It was like, ‘Buddy, I just want to let you know, Joe Montana did a lot more before he was in Kansas City.'”

 

McCarthy felt he was the one who created this monster of an offense. A personnel man adds: “That was McCarthy’s big mistake. He wanted to be The Guy. He wanted to be The Reason. And he wasn’t that good.”

 

It didn’t help that McCarthy also was rotating his assistants between positions annually. He wanted them to gain more experience, but as Grant points out, this didn’t necessarily help the players. Many times, they felt as though they knew more about their position than their own coach.

 

Many agree McCarthy could have saved himself if he had swallowed his pride and hired a bright offensive mind to challenge Rodgers. One beam of hope emerged in Alex Van Pelt, who coached running backs in 2012 and 2013 before moving over to quarterbacks in 2014. However, team sources say McCarthy felt threatened by Van Pelt, who became close to Rodgers. The Packers opted not to retain Van Pelt when his contract expired after the 2017 season, which didn’t sit well with Rodgers.

 

Which cut that grudge deeper.

 

And the rest of the team? There were mixed opinions on McCarthy.

 

Some interpreted his laissez-faire style differently. It was refreshing. From backups like Jayrone Elliott (“I have nothing but respect for him.”) to starters like Grant (“Mike’s a great coach. I’m surprised he’s not coaching right now.”), again and again they describe him as a player’s coach. But even one defensive starter who begins a conversation by praising McCarthy soon admits the culture he instilled created a soft team.

 

Then there is this on Rodgers:

 

Maybe Rodgers’ ability to sling a football on a rope from any angle every Sunday masked McCarthy’s flaws. But a faction of people who have spent time around Rodgers and the Packers believe you must look beyond the statistics and highlights and understand Rodgers is also responsible for the Packers’ plummet to mediocrity.

 

Then they list the reasons why.

 

He is self-entitled.

 

The moment Rodgers inked his new contract, one that could earn him up to $180 million, Finley knew a storm was brewing. Because Finley, Rodgers’ No. 1 tight end for four-and-a-half years, remembers the entitlement his QB had even as a first-year starter “when he was broke as fuck.”

 

“You gave a man $200 million,” Finley says. “He’s the GM. He’s the organization. He’s the quarterback. And he’s the head coach. He has a sense of entitlement already, and then you give him $200 million? You make him one of the highest-paid in history. It comes with the territory, man. I think Rodgers, man to man, needs to take a little more blame.”

 

He’ll throw you in the doghouse.

 

One former Packers scout says Rodgers can be brutally tough on young players. Sometimes, it’s necessary. Other times? Not so much.

 

The scout points to Jeff Janis, a 2014 seventh-round flier with rare size (6’3″, 220 pounds) and speed (4.42 in the 40) who quickly became a fan favorite—and Rodgers’ favorite whipping boy. It was enough to alarm the scout, even though he also wasn’t high on Janis as a player.

 

“Janis got into the doghouse really quick, and he just never let him out,” he says. “He didn’t even give the kid a chance. And the tough part is Janis is actually a good person. And they used to dog him. Other people did what Aaron did. They used to dog Janis.”

 

What does this doghouse look like? Easy. Rodgers can do no wrong. “He doesn’t make a mistake. It’s always the receiver’s fault.”

 

He is overly sensitive.

 

That word constantly comes up when you ask about Rodgers. Where to begin? “Sensitive is sensitive,” Jennings begins. You hear what you want to hear. Perceive what you want to perceive. Nothing else matters.

 

To illustrate, he points to his own broken relationship with the quarterback, because he is confident that he’s done everything in his power to mend it—while Rodgers has not, he punctuates, “by any stretch of the imagination.”

 

Covering a Packers game as a member of the media, Jennings tried to get Rodgers’ attention, but the quarterback refused to acknowledge him. Jennings spoke to McCarthy. He spoke to the trainers. He spoke to everyone he could to set up a man-to-man chat, no cameras around, and never heard a peep back. Not that he was surprised.

 

This is the same quarterback who scolded him for daring to speak to Brett Favre when Favre was a Viking. Jennings still remembers an incensed Rodgers saying to him after that 2009 game, “Why do you have to do that?” as if he were accusing Jennings of picking sides.

 

This is just part of it.  Read the whole thing.

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

Vic Fangio and the Broncos are going to go old school when it comes to training camp.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Get ready for the Oklahoma drill in Denver?

 

Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay is ready. Lindsay said new head coach Vic Fangio has told the players that they should be prepared for an old-school training camp that’s tougher than modern players may be used to.

 

“He’s already had a few words for us,” Lindsay said, via Mike Klis of 9 News in Denver. “He’s a no nonsense coach. He’s going to be old school. I wouldn’t be surprised if minicamp and training camp is like 1960s back in the day. We need it.”

 

Realistically, no NFL coach can run a 1960s-style training camp today. The Collective Bargaining Agreement simply doesn’t allow coaches to put players through the kinds of lengthy full-contract practices, day after day, that were the norm when Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry were coaching.

 

Nor should they: The sport has changed. Teams are wisely more concerned about keeping players healthy than they were in those days. In the 1960s, NFL players often spent six months doing other jobs in the offseason and showed up to training camp out of shape. Now most players take their conditioning seriously year-round and don’t need to be whipped into shape the way they were half a century ago.

 

Fangio may run a tougher training camp than most NFL coaches in 2019. But no NFL coach in 2019 will run a training camp like the 1960s.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

It’s not quite Jussie Smollett, but DT MICHAEL BENNETT is another social justice warrior benefitting from a woke “prosecutor” as his felony case for assault against a disabled woman disappears.

 

Prosecutors in Texas are dismissing a felony charge against NFL defensive end Michael Bennett, who was accused of pushing the arm of a paraplegic security guard while trying to get onto the field after the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston.

 

The Harris County district attorney’s office announced the decision Wednesday. Bennett, recently traded to the New England Patriots, was indicted by a grand jury in March 2018 on a felony count of injury to the elderly. Vivian King, the DA’s chief of staff, said “a crime could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

 

“Michael and I have always insisted that he was not guilty, and today’s dismissal simply confirms that,” Bennett’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Wednesday. “Whatever happened to the lady on whose behalf the charges were brought — and I have no doubt that she’s a very nice, decent human being — it wasn’t done by Michael.”

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

2016 RE-DRAFT

Before we get to today’s 2019 Mock Draft, let’s review an exercise by Lance Zeirlein of NFL.com where he re-does the 2016 draft armed with three years of knowledge.  He says the top five got it right at the top of the draft.

 

TE: The Patriots were stripped of their 2016 first-round draft pick for the team’s role in Deflategate, so there were only 31 picks in Round 1.

 

1 LOS ANGELES RAMS

 

 Jared Goff, QB

The Rams knew whom they wanted when they traded up to this pick and there is no reason to think they wouldn’t do it all over again.

 

Actual pick: Goff.

 

2 – PHILADELPHIA

Carson Wentz, QB

Here’s another team that aggressively targeted their man in 2016. The Eagles just let Nick Foles walk. So, yeah, they would draft Wentz again.

 

Actual pick: Wentz.

 

3 – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Joey Bosa, edge

Bosa’s 2018 was limited to nine games (including the postseason) due to injury, but his stellar production — averages .81 sacks per game (28.5 through 35 regular season games) — is just what the Chargers hoped for when they made this pick.

 

Actual pick: Bosa.

 

4 – DALLAS

Ezekiel Elliott, RB

Drafting a running back this early was considered unusual, but Elliott’s success shows the Cowboys knew exactly what they were doing.

 

Actual pick: Elliott.

 

5 – JACKSONVILLE

Jalen Ramsey, CB

Arguably the premier cover corner in the NFL, Ramsey can be a little extra in the attitude department, but he’s a great player.

 

Actual pick: Ramsey.

 

6 – BALTIMORE

Chris Jones, DL

The actual pick here — Ronnie Stanley — has been solid for the Ravens, but Jones is a monster and fits perfectly in the Ravens’ defensive front.

 

Actual pick: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame.

 

7 – SAN FRANCISCO

DeForest Buckner, DL

I could have San Francisco take a receiver here, but Buckner has really come into his own and the 49ers were decimated up front at the time of this pick. Buckner stays put.

 

Actual pick: Buckner.

 

8 – TENNESSEE

Xavien Howard, CB

A big, physical, ballhawking cornerback is exactly what the Titans could have used in the 2016 NFL Draft.

 

Actual pick: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State.

 

9 – CHICAGO

Yannick Ngakoue, edge

Chicago tried to fill this spot with Leonard Floyd, but the reality is that Ngakoue has been the type of edge rusher they hoped Floyd would become.

 

Actual pick: Leonard Floyd, edge, Georgia.

 

10 – NEW YORK GIANTS

Tyreek Hill, WR

Sure, in this scenario, Odell Beckham Jr. is still on the Giants. However, New York took Sterling Shepard in the second round in ’16, so it would have made sense to address that need with Hill in Round 1. There’s currently some uncertainty about Hill, given that his status could be impacted by the outcome of an ongoing police investigation into alleged battery of a juvenile in which Hill may be involved, but his on-field performance to this point warrants this selection.

 

Actual pick: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State.

 

11 – TAMPA BAY

Sheldon Rankins, DT

Rankins would give the Bucs another formidable interior defensive lineman, and he could be highly disruptive playing next to Gerald McCoy.

 

Actual pick: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida.

 

12 – NEW ORLEANS

Michael Thomas, WR

This works out pretty well for the Saints. They still get Thomas, although it’s 35 picks earlier than where they originally drafted him.

 

Actual pick: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville.

 

13 – MIAMI

Jack Conklin, OT

The Dolphins grabbed Laremy Tunsil in this spot originally, so there’s no reason not to give them the more consistent option at tackle here.

 

Actual pick: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi.

 

14 – OAKLAND

Deion Jones, LB

Oakland had (and still has) a need at inside linebacker. Jones would have been a great fit given his range as a playmaker.

 

Actual pick: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia.

 

15 – CLEVELAND

Dak Prescott, QB

Prescott goes from the fourth round to Round 1 in this NFL draft do-over. He would have filled the Browns’ biggest need as a high-character starting quarterback.

 

Actual pick: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor.

 

16 – DETROIT

Jarran Reed, DT

The Lions took Reed’s ‘Bama teammate, A’Shawn Robinson, in the second round in 2016, but they don’t wait to address that need this time around. We’ll give them Reed, who showed off impressive rush talent last season.

 

Actual pick: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State.

 

17 – ATLANTA

Keanu Neal, S

The Falcons stick with their enforcer on the backend. A knee injury suffered in the season opener ended his 2018 campaign, but he’s delivered the goods for Atlanta when healthy.

 

Actual pick: Neal.

 

18 – INDIANAPOLIS

Ronnie Stanley, OT

The Colts are able to take a quality tackle and move him to the right side to protect Andrew Luck.

 

Actual pick: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama.

 

19 – BUFFALO

Myles Jack, LB

The Bills selected linebacker Reggie Ragland with the 41st pick of the 2016 draft, but they traded him for a fourth-rounder just a year later. Taking an even quicker, more versatile linebacker is the play this time.

 

Actual pick: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson.

 

20 – NEW YORK JETS

Kevin Byard, S

They took a safety — Jamal Adams — sixth overall a year later, but the need was there in 2016. Let’s give them one of the steals of the 2016 draft in Byard, who went in Round 3 (64th overall).

 

Actual pick: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State.

 

21 – HOUSTON

Cody Whitehair, OL

Whitehair would be the plug-and-play option at center instead of Nick Martin, whom they took in the second round of this draft.

 

Actual pick: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame.

 

22 – WASHINGTON

Tyler Boyd, WR

School: Pittsburgh

In a draft that severely underperformed at the WR position, Boyd gives the Redskins a much-needed consistent option as a pass catcher.

 

Actual pick: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU.

 

23 – MINNESOTA

Laremy Tunsil, OT

Tunsil can play guard or tackle, but he certainly would have provided immediate competition for Matt Kalil at left tackle.

 

Actual pick: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi.

 

24 – CINCINNATI

Kendall Fuller, CB

We’ll stick with a cornerback here for the Bengals and give them an upgrade over their actual pick.

 

Actual pick: William Jackson III, CB, Houston.

 

25 – PITTSBURGH

William Jackson III, CB

Jackson goes one pick later than he did in 2016. Pittsburgh needed DB help so badly that they addressed the position with their first two picks in 2016 ( Artie Burns and Sean Davis).

 

Actual pick: Artie Burns, CB, Miami.

 

26 – DENVER

Jordan Howard, RB

Denver gets a big, zone-scheme running back from Indiana with the ability to handle a heavier workload in that QB-needy offense.

 

Actual pick: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis.

 

27 – GREEN BAY

Kenny Clark, DT

Clark has developed into the difference maker up front that the Packers hoped for when they made this pick.

 

Actual pick: Clark.

 

28 – SAN FRANCISCO

Joe Thuney, OG

We stay with the same position San Francisco addressed with this selection in 2016 but upgrade from Joshua Garnett to Thuney.

 

Actual pick: Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford.

 

29 – ARIZONA

Ryan Kelly, OL

Kelly gives the Cardinals an option at guard or center.

 

Actual pick: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi.

 

30 – CAROLINA

Matt Judon, edge

The Panthers add another physical presence off the edge to help bolster their pass rush in the QB-rich NFC South.

 

Actual pick: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech.

 

31 – SEATTLE

Taylor Decker, OT

The Seahawks pick Decker to fill a glaring need at offensive tackle.

 

Actual pick: Germain Ifedi, OL, Texas A&M.

 

 

2019 DRAFT

It’s not exactly a Mock Draft, but here are the top 50 talents in the draft per Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com (edited):

 

With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine and pro days in the rearview, we’re in the stretch run of prospect evaluation. The 2019 NFL Draft (April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee) is fast approaching, so it’s time to update my top-50 list.

 

In terms of risers, Ed Oliver rides a highly impressive pro day into the top five. Some people doubt the Houston product’s size or sack totals, but his absurd athleticism and elite quickness are impossible to deny. And my top interior offensive lineman, Garrett Bradbury, cracks the top 20. The N.C. State center has knocked the pre-draft process out of the park, checking his last box with an outstanding pro day. On the flip side, Taylor Rapp fell out of the top 40 after posting a 40-yard dash in the 4.7s during his pro day. I really like the Washington safety’s instinctive, sound game, but that lack of speed’s a concern. According to NFL Research, 4.63 is the slowest 40 time for a safety drafted in the first round since 2003. Lastly, one cornerback (Notre Dame’s Julian Love) re-entered the board, while another corner (Michigan State’s Justin Layne) fell out.

 

1 – Nick Bosa

Edge, Ohio State | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 1

Bosa has an ideal frame for a 4-3 DE, and he is consistently disruptive in every game I’ve studied. As a pass rusher, he can win with quickness, power and a variety of hand moves. He often incorporates the same swipe/rip/flatten move that his brother, Joey, has mastered. Nick can convert speed to power, and he also flashes some ability to slide inside and rush over the guard. …Bosa isn’t as big as his older brother, but I expect similar dominance and production at the NFL level.

 

2- Quinnen Williams

DT, Alabama | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Previous rank: 2

Williams has good size for the position and possesses a rare combination of suddenness, strength and football intelligence. … Overall, this is a dominant player who’s capable of emerging as a premier interior defensive lineman very early in his NFL career.

 

3 – Josh Allen

Edge, Kentucky | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 3

Allen is a tall, long edge player with tremendous agility, versatility and production. As a pass rusher, he wins with speed, bend and a nifty inside counter move. He doesn’t possess a lot of power, but he makes up for it with his Gumby-like flexibility at the top of his rush…Overall, the Kentucky product possesses an ideal skill set for today’s game: He can run, rush and cover.

 

4 – Ed Oliver

DT 2, Houston | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 6

Oliver is an undersized interior lineman with exceptional twitch and pass-rush potential. He primarily lined up over the center, but he did move around a bit in Houston’s defense. Against the pass, he has an explosive first step and outstanding change-of-direction quickness..Overall, Oliver isn’t as powerful or polished as the Rams’ Aaron Donald was entering the NFL, but he has similar athleticism and should be a disruptive force for the team that drafts him.

 

5 – T.J. Hockenson

TE, Iowa | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Previous rank: 5

Hockenson is a fun player to watch. In the passing game, he fights through press coverage and will stair-step defenders (fights through pass coverage and understands how to attack the leverage of defenders) down the field, helping to create some separation on crossers and deep-over routes. He tracks the ball naturally, and his high-point skills are on display in the red zone. He is very physical after the catch and possesses adequate speed. Hockenson is at his best in the run game. He rag-dolls defensive ends and linebackers. He had multiple pancake blocks in every game I studied. Overall, Hockenson is one of the best blocking tight ends I’ve ever evaluated, and he is dependable in the passing game. He’s a Day 1 impact player at the next level.

 

6 – Devin White

LB 2, LSU | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 8

White has a thick, sturdy frame and possesses prototypical explosiveness and playmaking skills. Against the pass, he has the speed and agility to cover TEs down the field, and he closes space in a hurry when he’s in zone coverage. He has timing and burst as a blitzer…He is an outstanding, chest-up tackler. Overall, White has what teams are looking for at the position: The ability to run, cover and blitz.

 

7 – Christian Wilkins

DT 3, Clemson | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 4

Wilkins has solid size (6-foot-3, 315 pounds) for the position, and he’s been a disruptive presence along the Clemson line throughout his career… Overall, Wilkins has upside as a pass rusher and penetrator, but you’ll have to live with some deficiencies at the point of attack.

 

8 – Josh Jacobs

RB 1, Alabama | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 7

Jacobs is one of my favorite players to study in this draft class. He has a thick, compact build, and I love his combination of power, elusiveness and versatility. In the run game, he possesses excellent vision, burst and wiggle. His change-of-direction quickness is off the charts. He runs low to the ground and powers through tacklers in every game I studied. Jacobs has the speed to get to the perimeter — he’s a weapon when lined up as a QB in the Wildcat and when he’s used on fly sweeps from the slot. In the passing game, Jacobs runs crisp routes and possesses natural hands; he’s a make-you-miss specialist in space. He does need to improve in pass protection. He must come to balance as a blocker and avoid lunging at blitzers. Overall, Jacobs is a special talent, and his light workload at Alabama (251 carries in three seasons) should be viewed as a positive, not a negative.

 

9 – Devin Bush

LB 5, Michigan | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 14

Bush is a little undersized for the position (5-11, 234 pounds), but he makes up for it with instincts, twitch and production…Overall, Bush is a three-down linebacker, and he’ll provide the team that drafts him with a physical presence.

 

10 – Rashan Gary

Edge 1, Michigan | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 9

Gary is a freak. He has a unique blend of size, speed, explosiveness and power. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always translate to production. As a pass rusher, he has a dynamic get-off and flashes the power to bull through OTs with only one arm extended…Overall, Gary is more of an athlete than football player at this time, but the upside is off the charts, and his effort is exceptional.

 

11 – Kyler Murray

QB 1, Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)

Previous rank: 12

Murray is an extremely explosive quarterback prospect who lacks the ideal height/bulk for the position. He has extremely quick feet in his setup and bounces on his toes at the top of his drop. He has dynamic arm strength and doesn’t need to grind his toes in the ground to generate power. He isn’t as accurate as Baker Mayfield, but he flashes the touch to layer the ball on occasion, accompanying the “wow” power throws…I had two major issues early in the evaluation process, but his full-time commitment to football and surprising bulk at the combine (207 pounds) helped alleviate those concerns. Overall, I see Murray as a solid starting NFL quarterback.

 

12 – Montez Sweat

Edge 2, Mississippi State | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 10

Sweat is a tall, long and athletic defensive end. As a pass rusher, he relies on a quick get-off and his length to pop/separate before bending around the edge to generate sacks. He doesn’t show much snap/power on contact, but he still finds ways to win. His effort is excellent…Overall, Sweat needs to get stronger, but his combination of length, agility and production makes him an easy sell in the draft room.

 

13 – Andre Dillard

OT 2 , Washington State | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 11

Dillard has an athletic frame for the position, and he’s a very easy mover…Overall, Dillard is a pure, pass-protecting left tackle. Yes, he needs to get stronger and more physical, but in a passing league, what he does best is highly coveted.

 

14 – Jawaan Taylor

OT 1, Florida | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 13

Taylor lined up at right tackle for the Gators. He has average height and a broad frame for the position. In the passing game, he has the foot quickness to cover up speed rushers and the athleticism to redirect versus counter moves. He has a bad habit of scooping instead of punching, which allows defenders to get into his chest. However, he is still sturdy versus power rushers, despite giving up his chest. In the run game, he has tremendous upper-body strength to torque and toss defenders. He’s nasty. Some teams will prefer his power inside at the guard position, but I see him as a quality starting right tackle.

 

15 – Noah Fant

TE, Iowa | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 15

Fant has a tall, athletic frame (6-4, 249 pounds) and exceptional explosiveness. He moved around in the Iowa scheme, putting his hand in the dirt, splitting out wide or aligning in the wing. He explodes off the line of scrimmage and is a very fluid route runner….Overall, Fant is a special athlete who is at his best working vertically. He has some shortcomings in other areas, but he’ll be a big-play producer right away for his drafting team.

 

16 – Marquise Brown

WR, Oklahoma | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 16

Brown is a DeSean Jackson clone. He has a similar build and the same explosive playmaking skills as the three-time Pro Bowler…Overall, Brown might lack ideal size, but he’s a polished receiver and a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He did undergo Lisfranc surgery in January, which means he’s probably not a lock for the top 20. I don’t see him falling out of the first round, though.

 

17 – Jeffery Simmons

DT 1, Mississippi State | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 18

Simmons has the ideal frame, athleticism and explosiveness for the position. As a pass rusher, he has an exceptional first step and rolls his hips to uproot blockers…The ACL tear he suffered during a workout in early February might hurt him a little bit in the draft, but he’s too talented a player to fall very far.

 

18 – Garrett Bradbury

C 4, N.C. State | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 22

Bradbury is a slightly undersized player with excellent quickness, balance and awareness. He is a very clean player, rarely falling off blocks or getting caught out of position. In pass protection, he has quick hands and can easily slide mirror while displaying excellent knee bend…He isn’t a mauler, but he stays attached to his assignment. Overall, Bradbury will be a steady, reliable starter, and I see very minimal risk.

 

19 – D.K. Metcalf

WR 2, Mississippi | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Previous rank: 17

Metcalf has a rare blend of size, speed and athleticism. He’s at his best on runaway routes (go, slant, post). He explodes off the ball in his release and uses his big frame (6-3, 228) to wall off opponents on slants and vertical routes… He is exceptional after the catch, breaking tackles and pulling away from defenders. Overall, Metcalf still has room to improve, but he’s built like the Batman suit — extremely explosive and tough. He will be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams as soon as he steps foot on an NFL field

 

20 – Jonah Williams

OG 1, Alabama | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 19

Williams lined up at left tackle for the Tide, but I’m projecting him to guard at the next level. He has outstanding feet in the passing game. He is quick, and he smoothly redirects versus counter moves. He plays with knee bend and keeps his hands in tight. His lack of length does show up on tape, and that is why I’d prefer to see him play inside. He is dominant in the run game. He runs his feet on contact and generates movement at the point of attack. He’s also effective working up to the second level. He takes proper angles and plays on his feet. I love his awareness and toughness. Overall, Williams is an excellent prospect and has a chance to be a Pro Bowl guard early in his career.

 

21 – Dwayne Haskins

QB 1, Ohio State | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Previous rank: 20

Haskins is a pure pocket passer with outstanding arm strength, poise and production. He lacks ideal foot quicks in his setup, but he throws from a firm platform. He has a tight, compact stroke, and the ball jumps out of his hand. He can drive the football into tight widows and displays excellent loft and touch on the deep ball. Haskins will get a little aggressive at times, but his overall decision-making has been solid. His biggest issues arise when he’s forced to move off his spot because he lacks the suddenness to create and get out of trouble. He’s accurate on designed roll-outs to the right, but his accuracy is spotty on the opposite side. He’s used sparingly on designed QB runs, but I love his competitiveness and toughness as a ball carrier (see: Maryland game, when he logged three rushing scores). Overall, Haskins has the necessary tools to win games from the pocket, but his success will depend greatly on his protection.

 

22 – Clelin Ferrell

Edge 1,  Clemson | Year: Junior (RS)

Previous rank: 21

Ferrell has excellent size, length and power. As a pass rusher, he lacks an elite get-off, but he has an effective dip/rip move and can generate some knockback with his hands. He has some stiffness at the top of his rush, but his effort is outstanding and he’s a finisher once he gets to the quarterback. Against the run, he can hold the point of attack and does a nice job shedding blocks. Overall, Ferrell lacks elite athleticism, but I love his combination of size, effort and production.

 

23 – Johnathan Abram

S 2, Mississippi State | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 25

He’s quick to key/read/fill the alley, and delivers some massive hits upon arrival…Overall, Abram is a perfect fit as a down safety, and he’ll be highly valued by teams that incorporate that position.

 

24 – Drew Lock

QB 1, Missouri | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 23

Lock has the desired height and bulk for the position (6-4, 228). He owns a quick delivery and generates plenty of RPMs with minimal strain or effort. He made “wow” drive throws in every game I viewed. He excels on hole shots along the sideline (placing the ball between the corner and safety versus Cover 2) and can jam the ball into the seam, as well. He is more accurate on drive throws than touch throws….Overall, Lock needs to polish his footwork and tone down his aggressiveness, but he has a special skill set and tremendous upside.

 

25 – Dexter Lawrence

DT 7, Clemson | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 32

Lawrence is a hulking defensive tackle at 6-4 and 342 pounds. As a pass rusher, he primarily relies on his strength and power to push the pocket. He does have impressive foot quickness and occasionally flashes a nifty swim move. However, he didn’t get many opportunities, because Clemson brought in more explosive rushers in obvious passing situations…Overall, Lawrence will be an immediate force against the run, and I believe he has the potential to develop into more than a pocket pusher in the passing game.

 

26 – Byron Murphy

CB, Washington | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Previous rank: 26

Overall, Murphy lacks ideal size/speed, but he’s ultra-instinctive and will be very attractive to teams that play a lot of zone coverage.

 

27 – Brian Burns

Edge 3, Florida State | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 24

Burns is a tall, skinny edge rusher with excellent length and athleticism. As a pass rusher, he has an explosive get-off and the ability to bend/wrap at the top of his rush…Overall, Burns needs to get stronger, but his upside is sky high because of his length and speed.

 

28 – Irv Smith Jr

TE 1, Alabama | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 27

Smith has an excellent blend of size, athleticism, ball skills and toughness. He lines up inline, as a wing or split out. He has a nice burst off the line and is a fluid route runner. Overall, Smith doesn’t have the same upside as former Alabama TE O.J. Howard, but he should be a quality starting TE very early in his NFL career.

 

29 – Rock Ya-Sin

CB 1, Temple | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 28

Ya-Sin has ideal size, speed, toughness and ball skills. In off coverage, he has quick feet, and he’s very fluid when he turns and opens up…Overall, Ya-Sin has the competitiveness and athleticism to develop into a quality NFL starter.

 

30 – Cody Ford

OT 1, Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)

Previous rank: 29

Ford lined up at right tackle for the Sooners, and that is where he projects at the next level. He lacks ideal tackle height at 6-4, but he’s long and athletic…Overall, I wish Ford was more consistent from game to game, but he has all of the tools to excel at right tackle in the NFL.

 

31 – Deandre Baker

CB 1, Georgia | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 30

Baker is a tough, gritty cornerback who plays bigger than his size (5-11, 193 pounds). In press coverage, he has quick hands and effectively re-routes wideouts. He is fluid when he turns and opens up, and he has enough speed to carry vertical routes…Overall, Baker is very competitive and has the versatility to play at a high level in multiple schemes.

 

32 – Greedy Williams

CB 1, LSU | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Previous rank: 31

Williams is a tall, lean cornerback with build-up speed and ball skills. In press coverage, he doesn’t shoot his hands, but he uses his gliding stride to match and mirror wideouts. Williams isn’t as effective in off coverage…Overall, Greedy is a tough evaluation. I love his size and ball awareness, but I’m concerned about his lack of short-area burst and physicality.

 

33 – Nasir Adderley

S, Delaware | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 33

Adderley is a slightly undersized safety prospect with outstanding instincts, range and ball skills. He is a former cornerback, and his movement skills reflect that background. He is very fluid in his backpedal, and his combination of recognition and burst allow him to cover a lot of ground. He has no issues locating the ball in the air and possesses strong, dependable hands. Against the run, he is aggressive to the alley and boasts a high batting average as a tackler. He also offers value in the return game, where he displays vision, speed and toughness. Overall, Adderley is an ideal, pure free safety and should be a quality starter immediately in his rookie campaign.

 

34 – Daniel Jones

QB 1, Duke | Year: Junior (RS)

Previous rank: 35

Jones has outstanding size for the position (6-5, 221). He is always under control and throws from a firm platform. As a passer, he relies more on touch than power. He throws with anticipation underneath and puts plenty of loft on deep balls, dropping them in the bucket. He’s more accurate than his stats would suggest (career completion percentage of 59.9); Jones suffered from a lot of dropped passes at Duke…Overall, Jones lacks elite arm strength, but he has a nice blend of size, toughness and football smarts.

 

35 – Jerry Tillery

DT 1, Notre Dame | Year: Senior

Previous rank: 34

Tillery has rare height/length for the position. He is a very streaky player on tape. As a pass rusher, there are games where he dominates (see: Stanford game, when he logged four sacks) with a combination of quick hands, power and effort. However, there are other games where he’s content to hang on blocks and play too high…Overall, Tillery isn’t going to fit every team, but he shows some flashes, similar to DeForest Buckner. He just needs to become more consistent.

 

36 – A.J. Brown

WR 1, Mississippi | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 37

Brown has average height and a thick, sturdy frame…Overall, Brown lacks top-end speed, but he’ll have a Day 1 role as a big slot receiver.

 

37 – N’Keal Harry

WR 5, Arizona State | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 42

Harry is a big, physical wideout with strong hands and run-after-the-catch talent. He isn’t sudden in his release, but he powers through press coverage and he’s adept at using his big frame to wall off defenders underneath and down the field. He wins a lot of 50/50 balls and has a special ability to adjust down the field (see: twirling catch vs. USC).

 

38 – Riley Ridley

WR 2, Georgia | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 36

Ridley has good size (6-1, 199 pounds), and he’s a very polished route runner. He lacks an explosive burst in his release, but understands how to set up defenders and is very efficient at the top of his route…Overall, Ridley is ready to contribute right away. While he doesn’t possess the ideal twitch, he consistently gets open and has strong, reliable hands.

 

39 – Erik McCoy

C 1, Texas A&M | Year: Junior (RS)

Previous rank: 40

McCoy lined up primarily at center for the Aggies, but he also spent some time at guard earlier in his career. He has ideal size, quickness and power for an interior lineman…Overall, McCoy has the ability to start early in his career at any of the interior OL spots.

 

40 – Dalton Risner

OT 2, Kansas State | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 38

Risner lined up at right tackle for the Wildcats and possesses a good combination of power, balance and instincts. In the passing game, he is quick to shoot his hands and he squats on power rushers…Overall, Risner has the tools to become a quality starting right tackle, and he adds value because of his experience at the center position during his redshirt freshman campaign.

 

41 – Deebo Samuel

WR 6, South Carolina | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 47

Samuel is a thick, muscular wideout. He’s been extremely productive when healthy, but he battled multiple injuries during his college career…He was outstanding at the Senior Bowl, proving he’s a capable route runner. Overall, Samuel’s durability is a concern, but he’s dynamic with the ball in his hands and also offers value in the return game.

 

42 – Taylor Rapp

S 3, Washington | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 39

Rapp is slightly undersized for the position, but he’s been very productive throughout his career. …Overall, Rapp is one of the most reliable/dependable players in this draft class. Still, his lackluster speed at Washington’s pro day (where he ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.7s) will impact his draft stock.

 

43 – David Montgomery

RB 6, Iowa State | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 49

Montgomery has an ideal blend of size, vision and short-area burst. On inside runs, he can drop his pads and power through contact or avoid defenders in very tight quarters. His ability to stop/start immediately is unique for a bigger back…Overall, Montgomery has been a steady, consistent performer throughout his college career, and I expect the same results as he transitions to the NFL.

 

44 – Kaleb McGary

OT 3 , Washington | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 41

McGary has outstanding size, quickness and toughness for the right tackle position…McGary isn’t a perfect pass protector, but he has all of the necessary tools to develop, and I love his play temperament and toughness.

 

45 – L.J. Collier

Edge 1,TCU | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 44

Collier has the size and skill set to line up on the edge or inside. He is extremely twitched-up and jars opponents once he gets his hands on them… Collier isn’t the biggest name in this DL class, but it wouldn’t shock me if he emerged as the top player at the position three or four years from now.

 

46 – Miles Sanders

RB 3, Penn State | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 43

A one-year starter at running back, Sanders took over for Saquon Barkley in Penn State’s backfield. He has good size (5-11, 211) for the position and a complete skill set. On inside runs, he can make defenders miss or power through tackles…Overall, Sanders has the tools to emerge as a quality NFL starter, and he has plenty of tread left on his tires (276 carries in three seasons with the Nittany Lions).

 

47 – Jaylon Ferguson

Edge 2, Louisiana Tech | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 45

Ferguson has ideal size, length, power and production…Overall, Ferguson isn’t a bendy edge defender, but I love his physicality and ability to finish. He should be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.

 

48 – Julian Love

CB, Notre Dame | Year: Junior

Previous rank: Not ranked

Love has average size/speed, but he has fantastic instincts, ball skills and toughness…Love reminds me a lot of Desmond King when he was coming out of Iowa, and I see him having similar success as a starting nickel corner.

 

49 – Trayvon Mullen

CB 1, Clemson | Year: Junior

Previous rank: 48

Mullen has a tall/athletic build for the position. He wasn’t challenged much in the five games I studied, but I love his movement skills and play speed…Overall, it’s tough to penalize Mullen for the lack of opportunities. He has the skill set to excel as a press cornerback at the next level.

 

50 – Tytus Howard

OT, Alabama State | Year: Senior (RS)

Previous rank: 50

Howard has ideal height and length for the position…He doesn’t have a lot of knock-off power, but he’s effective. Overall, the only real question about Howard involves the level of competition.