Shaun's NFL Mock Draft

Never fails, I get my mock draft finalized with enough time to either post it and let it breathe, or explain my reasoning and go right up to the start of the draft and have nobody read it. So here it is with no explination other than what the Browns and Giants will do at picks 1 and 2 will make or break every mock draft out there.


Pick #

NFL team





Cleveland Browns

 Josh Allen




New York Giants

 Sam Darnold




New York Jets

 Josh Rosen




Cleveland Browns

 Saquon Barkley


Penn State


Denver Broncos

 Bradley Chubb


NC State


Indianapolis Colts

 Quinton Nelson


Notre Dame


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 Minkah Fitzpatrick




Chicago Bears

 Denzel Ward


Ohio State


San Francisco 49ers

 Roquan Smith




Oakland Raiders

 Tremaine Edmunds


Virginia Tech


Miami Dolphins

 Baker Mayfield




Buffalo Bills

 Mike McGlinchey


Notre Dame


Washington Redskins

 Vita Vea




Green Bay Packers

 Josh Jackson




Arizona Cardinals

 Lamar Jackson




Baltimore Ravens

 Marcus Davenport




Los Angeles Chargers

 Derwin James


Florida State


Seattle Seahawks

 Harold Landry


Boston College


Dallas Cowboys

 Calvin Ridley




Detroit Lions

 Derrius Guice




Cincinnati Bengals

 Will Hernandez




Buffalo Bills

 DJ Moore




New England Patriots

 Kolton Miller




Carolina Panthers

 Mike Hughes




Tennessee Titans

 Rashaad Evans




Atlanta Falcons

 Javen Bryan




New Orleans Saints

 Hayden Hurst


South Carolina


Pittsburgh Steelers

Jaire Alexander




Jacksonville Jaguars

 Christian Kirk


Texas A&M


Minnesota Vikings

Connor Williams




New England Patriots

Isaiah Oliver




Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Goedert


South Dakota St.


Predicting the 2018 MLB Season

Courtesy of Aaron Whelan

AL East

New York Yankees – The Yankees have the potential to put out the most impressive lineup we have seen in years, focused mainly around Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. That said, Stanton is always an injury risk and Judge is a strikeout risk every trip to the plate. Gary Sanchez is as good an offensive catcher as there is in baseball, and may have the strongest arm too, but his receiving ability it downright poor. Drury is a good addition, but Tyler Wade is not a long-term answer at second and Greg Bird is out nearly two months. Having Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar ready to come up and contribute will be huge, but they are 21 and 23 respectively, so they are no sure thing to they will be reliable from the start. The bullpen might be the best in baseball, but the starting rotation is overrated. In the end, the hype train that is the Yankees will still win the division, but I don’t see a deep run in October and I think there will be a real race with the Red Sox for the division title.

AL Central

Cleveland Indians – Francisco Lindor is a legitimate super star quality player at short and they brought in power hitting Edwin Encarnacion to add pop to the lineup. Yonder Alonso is currently tabbed to play first which is a downgrade from Carlos Santana somewhat similar to the upgrade at DH with Encarnacion. They have a strong rotation and really good bullpen, but the loss of Bryan Shaw may hurt. In the end, I just don’t feel the Twins have quite enough to knock off the Indians at the top of the division.

AL West

Houston Astros – The defending World Series champions have only gotten better, if for no other reason than their incredibly young nucleus is a year older. George Springer-Alex Bregman-Jose Altuve-Carlos Correa is as good a top four as any lineup in baseball, and they all play solid to better defense to go with it. They also get a full year of Justin Verlander and have added Gerrit Cole who is currently slated to be their fourth starter, yes, fourth starter. They have a strong bullpen but another arm or two at the deadline wouldn’t hurt. The big thing that stood out this Spring was how long Kyle Tucker stuck around with the big league club. It looks like the 21-year old will start in AA, but he could be up late in the year and be a difference maker in left field.

AL Wild Card

Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox will come up just shy in the division but will win the Wild Card game. J.D. Martinez brings much needed pop to a lineup that simply couldn’t hit home runs last year. The outfield is as athletic as any in baseball, and Mookie Betts is a real MVP candidate. Blake Swihart looks to be an unusual super utility man that can also catch, which will be an interesting dynamic. They still have Kimbrel at the back of the bullpen and have Carson Smith to start the season this year. The top of the rotation is as good as any in baseball with Chris Sale and David Price to go with a solid number three in Rick Porcello. Opening Day will be a question for Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodgriquez, while Steven Wright opens the year on the DL before serving a 15 game domestic violence suspension. There is not a real need in the lineup for the Red Sox despite Dustin Pedroia opening the year on the DL, and Michael Chavis just may be able to provide the team with a big boost late in the year.

Los Angeles Angels – They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, and they brought in the most talked about player this off-season, Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani will be interesting to see how he works out as people may forget he is only 23 and is trying to be the first full time pitcher and position player in decades. He struggled this Spring, and anything he does with the bat is a bonus, but they really need his arm in the rotation. Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs at the top of the rotation is not exactly the best 1-2 punch in baseball, so the Angels still need starters and their bullpen isn’t great. In fact, a Rule 5 pick just may end being the closer at some point this season (check out more on Luke Bard on my post at Minor League Ball today). The lineup is much improved around Trout, bringing in Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton along with Zach Cozart. They still feel like they are a few players shy from being real contenders, and their farm system is improved but not enough to make a blockbuster deal, but there really isn’t a good fifth team in the American League.

NL East

Washington Nationals – The East is a much-improved division this year which may be the only reason the Nationals don’t end up with the best record in the NL, but Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper are big enough pieces in themselves to make the Nats a contender. They still have Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, and a full season of Sean Doolittle as their closer. Adam Eaton is back after tearing his ACL early in 2017 and the rest of the team is largely intact. The Nationals will simply be a force to be reckoned with this season.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs – No Jake Arrieta, add Yu Darvish, no Wade Davis, ok that may hurt. Ian Happ led baseball this Spring in leadoff home runs earning him the nod at the top of the lineup with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo being massive bats behind him. Kyle Schwarber is looking to bounce back from a rough 2017, and Albert Almora Jr. will try to earn a starter’s volume of playing time while splitting time in the OF with Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Ben Zobrist. Unlike years past, the Cubs don’t have the options in the minors to make the big impact like Schwarber, Addison Russell, and Happ did, Mark Zagunis is a decent bat should the outfield not produce, but there isn’t much depth in the pitching pipeline. The gap between them and the Brewers will shrink, but not enough to knock the Cubs off the top.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers – Yeah, the division winners is pretty much stock, but that is because the top teams in each division is pretty clear. The Dodgers lose Yu Darvish, but he lost most faith from the Dodger fans in the World Series, and Hyun-Jin Ryu is far from the worst fifth starter in baseball. Clayton Kershaw is still as good as anyone to ever toe the rubber and Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in baseball. The broken wrist for Justin Turner will hurt to start the year, forcing Logan Forsythe into a starting role, but there is depth on the team with Kyle Farmer being and Austin Barnes both being rare catchers that can also play infield. Alex Verdugo will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on as he will likely find himself in LA at some point this season, but will the power play enough in the big leagues? Walker Beuhler is as good a power arm as there is in the minors, but does his pitch mix work best as a starter or reliver? The Dodgers have all the pieces to make another deep run.

NL Wild Card

Milwaukee Brewers – Unlike the American League, the National League has plenty of good teams that will battle for the Wild Card. I had the New York Mets here at one point, I gave the Philadelphia Phillies a look, the San Francisco Giants are improved, can you really sleep on the St. Louis Cardinals? In the end I give the Brewers the nod not only as a Wild Card team, but I think they win the Wild Card Game. Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are fantastic additions, and Yelich plays a fantastic Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.



Orlando Arcia is an underrated shortstop while the additions of Yelich and Cain have made Eric Thames and Domingo Santana one of the best platoons in baseball. I have long been a fan of Jimmy Nelson, and if he returns to full health around the mid-point of the season, that could be a great addition while Chase Anderson has turned into a solid pitcher at the top of their rotation. Corey Knebel was once a guy I had tabbed as a fantasy monster about a year too early, but he has become an incredibly reliable closer for the Brew Crew. Brett Phillips is a solid outfield prospect, but with the depth already at the position at the big league level, don’t be surprised to see him moved for pitching help during the season.

Arizona Diamondbacks – The Zach Grienke velocity concerns are troubling, but the team is very good. The loss of J.D. Martinez will hurt, and there are few higher on Brandon Drury than me, who is now wearing pinstripes. They have shown faith in the man stepping in for Drury, giving Ketel Marte a 5-year extension, and they also brought in Jarrod Dyson and Alex Avila. None of those moves will make up for the power lost when J.D. moved to Boston, but they are solid pieces. Patrick Corbin is rounding back to form for at the top of the rotation, Robbie Ray is solid, and Taijuan Walker is still one of the more intriguing starters for me. Add that to new closer Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley settling in as a high leverage reliever, and the pitching staff should be able to overcome the regression from Grienke.

World Series

Houston Astros over the Washington Nationals – The Astros repeat as they are one of the more improved teams despite being defending champions. They get past the Yankees in the ALCS as the Yankees just don’t have the starting pitching to keep up. The Nationals get payback on the Dodgers in the NLCS, but still fall short in six games against the Astros.


The Good, Bad, and Confusing of NFL Moves

We aren’t even a week into the new league year, but already there have been a ton of moves that will help shape the 2018 NFL season. Here is a quick take on the teams I feel have gotten better, worse, and completely confused.


Chicago Bears – They have parted ways with Mike Glennon after giving the reigns over to Mitch Trubisky and brought in two solid backups. I feel like the idea of Chase Daniel is better than the quarterback Chase Daniel, but he is now in Chicago to be the primary backup and will land high on many people’s lists of top backups in the league. Time will tell if Tyler Bray will make the team, but he is another backup with experience.  The Bears are where highly thought of college receivers go to die, so it is about time they sign a big time receiver, and Allen Robinson gives Trubisky a real number one target. Add Prince Amukamara, Aaron Lyncch, Sam Acho,  and resign Kyle Fuller, and the defense gets a boost as well.

Green Bay Packers – Getting DeShone Kizer as the new backup to Aaron Rodgers is an upgrade, Muhammad Wilkerson for just $5M is all upside, and Jimmy Graham gives Rodgers a scary weapon at tight end. Will be interesting to see how the loss of Jody Nelson will impact the team.

Kansas City Chiefs – They dealt away Alex Smith to make room for Patrick Mahomes and brought in a stud receiver for him in Sammy Watkins. Kendall Fuller will take the place of the departed headache in Marcus Peters, while they also add linebacker Anthony Hitchens to an already solid defense.

Los Angeles Rams – Speaking of Marcus Peters, he is now in LA with the Rams, along with new acquisition Aqib Talib improve the Rams secondary, although they did lose talent up front.

Oakland Raiders – Goodbye Michael Crabtree, make room for Jordy Nelson. In addition to adding a reliable receiver, they are taking their chances on former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin.

San Francisco 49ers – There won’t be a move that goes further under the radar than the 49ers signing Weston Richburg. He takes over as center along side two underperforming first round guards in Laken Tomlinson and Josh Garnett, making the raw talent in front of Jimmy Garappolo something that could become elite. They replace the departed Carlos Hyde with Jerick McKinnon and were the winners in the rush to get Richard Sherman after he was released.

Tennessee Titans – The Titans had DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, two backs that run very similarly, but now part ways with Murray and bring in Dion Lewis who will serve as an excellent change of pace back and easy underneath target for Marcus Mariota. They also spend the money get Malcolm Butler as corner, and word is they will allow him to play.


Dallas Cowboys – Ready for the list of new players the Cowboys have brought in this season? Ok, here it goes:


Did you miss it? Yeah, they haven’t brought in anyone of note, their big signing has been the re-signing of their long snapper. Meanwhile they have said goodbye to Anthony Hitchens, Keith Smith will no longer be in at fullback, and Orland Scandrick has been released. Not a good sign for the Cowboys.

New England Patriots – Ok, maybe my fandom is getting in the way here, but I am not one to say “they always lose talent and somehow win the division”. I am one to say “you just traded Jimmy G for practically nothing after sending off Jacoby Brissett in the preseason, who is gonna be the QB of the future?” Add to that the departure of Julian Edelman (I don’t care if he didn’t play last year, he is still the best receiver the team had) and replace him with the always underwhelming Cordarrelle Patterson? Oh, and we already touched on the fact that Dion Lewis and Malcom Butler are gone.


Arizona Cardinals – Let’s face it, this tweet perfectly sums up the signing of Sam Braford.


But they also sign Mike Glennon, one who we at The Stain have long been fans of. You also bring back Larry Fitzgerald but lose the Brown brothers, John and Jaron (not really brothers).

Cleveland Browns – Ok, you have picks one and four in the draft and seem to be debating between quarterback and running back…so you trade for Tyrod Taylor and sign Carlos Hyde? I am confused. You trade for Jarvis Landry, a very good WR, but you are going to have to give him a very large contract as he is currently under the franchise tag.

New York Jets – The Jets resigned Josh McCown and went out and brought in Teddy Bridgewater, which would be a solid QB room for a team who just might be a few good pieces away from being respectable…so they go out and trade away their 6th overall pick along with picks 37 and 49 and a second next year to jump up to three where they will no doubt add a QB? What a mess.


LeBron to the Warriors? Don't Laugh.

Here’s the thing. In the digital and social era, where everybody gets their news online from sources ranging from credible to dubious, multiple times a day, sports news isn’t what it once was. Real, hard-hitting news items have gone the way of the dodo bird, while garbage like fabricated narratives and Twitter feuds have taken over.

It is what it is, so we’re stuck with it. But on that note, nowhere does the absurdity go into overdrive quite like it does when it comes to LeBron James. Without a doubt, LeBron IS the greatest player of this generation so he’s going to get more than his share of media coverage. And he hasn’t always done himself favors with his behavior; we’ve turned the “taking my talents to South Beach” dead horse into glue many times on this site, and then of course there’s the condescending and pedantic attitude toward Kyrie Irving (give him the keys, etc).

What am I getting at? I guess my point is, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

So let’s start our own fabricated narrative, that if you think about it, isn’t too much of a stretch. Why wouldn’t LeBron sign with Golden State in the off-season, and all but guarantee himself another four or five titles?

Think about it. What is the magic number all NBA players who have, do, and will consider themselves among the greatest of all time? Michael’s six NBA titles, right? LeBron currently has three. Can you think of any player with a bigger ego than LeBron, and to whom it would mean more to be able to say, “I’m better than MJ?” Exactly.

The big factor obviously is money. I abhor research on stuff like this so I’m not gonna find and list all of the Warrior’s contract figures here. But with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, there are four guys who are technically “worth” max contracts.

However, if adding four more titles to his tally is more important to LeBron than adding a couple hundred million dollars to the couple billion or so he already has in the bank, couldn’t you see him taking a veteran’s exception? Couldn’t you also see the other guys on the team shaving a couple million off of their own salaries to make a little extra room for LeBron?

Here’s why else it makes sense. LeBron, currently at age 33, is playing as well as he ever has. However, he’s also playing as many minutes as he ever has, and Father Time is undefeated. How long could he be expected to keep up his current level or close to it at his age, playing 38 minutes a game? Goodness only knows, but if that were pared back to, say, 28 minutes a game, a luxury most certainly within reason on a team like the Warriors, he could conceivably play well for another six or seven years.

How many titles would that be? Without making the ludicrous assumption that all would remain status quo and the Warriors automatically win every year, you could still comfortably predict at least four if the core pieces stay in Golden State. That would make a total of seven.

The only other argument I can see people making is that a game day roster consists of 12 guys, not just five. What about the rest of the roster? Easy peasy. Sign three guys with limited or no offensive ability but that can protect the rim. Use your draft picks on guys that are good athletes and good defenders with negligible offense. Pick up a couple of veteran free agents for the minimum salary that are known for their D. The Lakers’ Corey Brewer comes to mind, and voila. Roster.

Will this happen? Eh. Doubtful. The ego, especially that of a superstar basketball player, is monstrous and not conditioned to a “sacrifice a little now for immortality later” mindset. But it could. And if it does, you read it hear first. Unless of course, you read it somewhere else first. In which case, darn. 


LA Rams 2017 Retrospective

By anyone’s reasonable standard, the Rams’ 2017 season was a magical one, the success of which nobody could have predicted. For perspective, many football “experts” were surprised at their playoff loss to the Falcons, last season’s Super Bowl runner up. Let that sink in for a moment. People were caught off guard by a franchise that has been synonymous with futility for nearly 20 years not advancing farther in the playoffs. Crazy, right?

Make no mistake, the Rams’ success this year was huge for the NFL. How the league somehow managed to go multiple decades without a team in its second-largest media market is utterly confounding. Then again, the sport is more than a century old and they still haven’t figure out what the fudge a catch is. I digress… Additionally, the Rams’ initial season back in Los Angeles, under the criminally inept stewardship of Jeff Fisher, was catastrophic. After a misleadingly decent start, the team finished the year by getting blown out every week, their number one overall picked quarterback was taking a savage beating every game, and fans (can you blame them?) showed all the enthusiasm for going to the crumbling Los Angeles Coliseum (again, can you blame them?) as they would for a root canal. If this was going to be the on-field product, what was really the point of having football back in L.A.?

Oh, what a difference a year makes. Initially, the Rams (as well as the newly transplanted Chargers) were treated with a degree of apathy, but within a few weeks, it was plain to see things were a little bit different this time around.

After their playoff defeat, the players and Coach Sean McVay remained upbeat, optimistic about the positive direction the team was going in with its foundation of young stars. The prevailing sentiment on Twitter among fans was an odd combination of despondency and wait ‘til next year resolve. One might think after year upon year of snowballing failure, fans and pundits alike would be more skeptical that 2017 was a sign of bright things to come for the Rams, but it really wasn’t that way. Let’s take a look at why.

The kids are alright: The Rams have an embarrassment of young talent at key positions. Todd Gurley was, if not the best, at least in the top three running backs this season. Jared Goff looked like a number one overall pick. Cooper Kupp may already be among the league’s best overall slot receivers. Aaron Donald is an unstoppable force of nature. To a slightly lesser degree, cornerback Troy Hill showed signs of developing into a potential star. Linebacker Cory Littleton showed a knack for making big plays, including multiple blocked punts. Johnny Johnson looked good after taking over for the appallingly bad Maurice Alexander. There are a few more guys but not to belabor the point, none of these guys are in danger of exiting their mid-20s.

The main kid is alright too: How often do you see “the youngest guy” at anything have instant success? Exactly. Nevertheless, Sean McVay lived up to his billing as an offensive whiz kid, and rounded out that reputation nicely by being a coach that his players look up to, and having a philosophy they buy into. One season does not a career make, but it’s beyond significant doubt that he’s the real deal.

The NFC West: The NFL schedule makers rarely do the Rams any favors. But the team can count its lucky stars it plays in the NFC West. The Seahawks aren’t the powerhouse they once were. The Cardinals are in need of a rebuild. The 49rs are trending up with their acquisition of the excellent Jimmy Garoppolo, but are still a few holes being filled away. The division is, and projects to remain for the near future, eminently winnable. For perspective, the NFC South has the Saints, Panthers, and Falcons; three teams who could have represented the NFC in the Super Bowl and nobody would bat an eyelash. Even division doormat Tampa Bay can play, and their dreadful 5-11 record is as much a result of their brutally tough division as anything else.

But, as they say, nothing is ever a sure thing until it’s a sure thing. Does anyone actually say that? Well, if they don’t, they should. Anyway, the point is, with all the glitz and glamour of their feel-good-story season, the Rams do have some issues to address. Success, if you’re not the Patriots, is fleeting, and must continually be nurtured. In spite of all the reasons for optimism, the Rams do have concerns to alleviate and pitfalls to avoid.

But he’s still a kid… For all his brilliance, there were times McVay showed his inexperience. Modern conventional wisdom dictates, correctly so, that you can’t give your star running back 500 touches in a year and expect him to have any real longevity. But in a win or go home game, McVay got Todd Gurley 18 touches (14 carries, 4 receptions). That isn’t enough. In fact, you can point to nearly all losses the Rams endured in 2017, and the common theme is Gurley didn’t the ball enough. McVay has been good about his mea culpas, admitting where he’s been lacking, but not giving the best player on your team the ball in the biggest game of the year is stunning. Additionally, it looked like McVay and the Rams took for granted they’d be able to move the ball on Atlanta’s talented but burnable defense, and it just didn’t happen. There wasn’t nearly enough Gurley, sure, but there also wasn’t any invention or creativity – the very hallmark of the team’s historic offense. Was it ego or arrogance? Who knows, but if it was, that has to get checked at the door if they make the playoffs again.

The roster is scarily shallow:  For all the young talent on the squad, there is almost no depth. The additions of Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan transformed the offensive line, but man did we get lucky with injuries. As we saw in week 17 and the second-string line’s utter inability to even slow down a very poor San Francisco pass rush, if anyone gets hurt, the implications are terrifying.  It’s not limited to the O-line either. Alec Ogletree is already not very good. Surprising right? But Pro Football Focus grades him abysmally, and a closer look reveals that he’s pretty much a volume tackler (when he’s not letting running backs run right by him) who makes the occasional big play with his freakish athleticism. If something happens to him, or worse, Mark Barron, you’ve got Bryce Hager and Samson Ebukam playing key roles, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Generally speaking, backups are backups for a reason, but one would hope a winning team doesn’t have such a precipitous drop off from their starters to their reserves. It’s a point of need in Los Angeles, and anyone who denies it is…well, in denial.

Wade @#$%ing Phillips: The history of coaching names in the NFL whose reputations far exceed their track records is a long and illustrious one, and Phillips is firmly on the list. No, his place on there is not as extreme as Fisher’s (reputation: quality coach. reality: historically awful) but he’s got this tag of being a transformatively impactful defensive coordinator and the reality is, he’s just a guy. He seems to do well when his defenses are stacked with talent (see; his career with the Broncos) but if given a roster that doesn’t have an entire manifest of sure-fire hall of famers, he’s just ok. Case in point, the Rams have an incredible amount of talent on their defensive line, and their inability to stop the run was a bugaboo all season. To further underscore the point, both safeties (LaMarcus Joyner and the aforementioned Johnson) are good tacklers that can support the front seven, and still teams ran roughshod over the Rams.

So where does that leave us? Well, with my wish list of course!

1)     Bring back Sammy Watkins. Yeah, it was a weird year for him. He didn’t become the number one guy we hoped he might but his impact as a blocker alone was profound. Sure, you’d like to see fewer unnecessary attempts at one-handed catches when both hands are an option, and maybe a bit better chemistry between he and Goff, but there is zero doubt. He plays a complete game.

2)     Cut Tavon Austin. I don’t even care who takes his place. The mere removal of Austin from the roster will curb the temptation to give him the ball. Sure, his game-breaking speed makes you WANT to get him the ball in space, but he’s simply one of the worst football players in history. He makes Ted Ginn’s questionable hands look like Larry Fitzgerald’s legendary paws. Stevie Wonder has better field vision. And he costs so much damn money. Get. Rid. Of. Him.

3)     Bring back Sullivan and spend every draft pick on offensive linemen. I know, I cheated and put two things on one line item. Sue me.

Did I miss anything? Let us know on Twitter @thestainsports. Thank you for reading.