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. 


Mock Draft...Yes, Another One...

It comes down to simple math, really. There's two of us here at The Stain, so you get two mock drafts. For those of you who remember, Shaun nailed the first seven picks last year, after much trash talking by me. So this year, I'm doing it a little bit differently. Humbly, I... ah, who am I kidding. I'm still talking trash. The following is my first round mock for the 2016 NFL draft. Couple of disclaimers, I'm not projecting trades, though as Shaun and I agree, there could be many. And second, these picks are a combination of how I think the draft will play out, and my opinion of what should be done by the team. And without further ado.

1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal. I'd take Wentz. And as a Rams fan, I didn't like the trade. But I get it. QB is an issue, the move to LA, gotta appeal to a new/old fanbase and make a splash. Wentz has the higher ceiling, but Goff the higher floor, and is therefore a safer pick. And though it might be the first time in nearly five years with Fisher as coach that the team does something that makes sense from a roster perspective, it kind of does.

2. Philadelphia Eagles: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, OSU. You moron, they didn't just trade up for the second pick to take a running back! Didn't they? I mean, all signs point to Wentz, but why would they spend a Brinks truck on Bradford and Chase Daniel, and then draft a quarterback? It just sounds too weird to me. 

3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss. Quietly, Phil Rivers is putting together a Hall of Fame career. And the Chargers are paying him as such, so it would behoove them to keep him protected. Tunsil could replace King Dunlap at left tackle immediately.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB, FSU. If they're pissed about missing out on Elliott, they won't show it too much. Ramsey is a superstar at a position the 'Boys sorely need to shore up.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ronnie Stanley, OT, ND. This Jags offense is going to be pretty good, but they need to protect Blake Bortles better. This is a good way to start doing that.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Joey Bosa, DE, OSU. He was once projected to be the first overall pick. He seems to be a bit of a one trick pony, but he's certainly exceptional at it. 

7. San Francisco 49rs: DeForest Buckner. Here's where it gets really interesting. There's a quarterback still on the board who isn't a reach. But since Justin Smith retired and Aldon Smith went all criminal and stuff, pass rusher is a huge need. Like...yuuuuuge.

8. Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, NDSU. If this happens, Cleveland wins the draft. I don't even care what they do with the rest of their picks. 

9. Tampa Bay Bucs: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville. I don't know if the scheme fits here, but the Bucs need defensive line help. They've got nearly everything else covered. They're not far away from being good.

10. New York Giants: Darron Lee, LB, OSU. My favorite player in the draft. You could argue he's smallish but he is one of the best players in the entire draft irrespective of position and will play at a Pro Bowl level from day one. 

11. Chicago Bears: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson. The Bears aren't just one player away, so if they can find a taker, they will probably trade down. If not, Lawson can fill one of the 48 holes they have on defense.

12. New Orleans Saints: Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss. What good is a transcendent quarterback if he has nobody to throw to? This could also be Doctson or Fuller... or if you really want to reach, Shepard. 

13. Miami Dolphins: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida. Cornerback isn't really a giant need, but he's a Florida kid and a plug and play starter. I'm surprised I didn't have him gone to someone else before this.

14. Oakland Raiders: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama. Again, the scheme might be conflicting but he could sort of be a poor man's Aaron Donald, and anyone who has seen the Rams play the last two seasons can tell you that is the highest of compliments. Some rating systems had him as ranked as high or higher than JJ Watt. 

15. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, MSU. Young stud quarterback. Newly acquired star running back. Blocking for them makes sense. 

16. Detroit Lions: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU. Knee jerk reaction? Hey, why not. Players like Calvin Johnson are irreplacable, but you have to start working toward filling the void in production his retirement created. 

17. Atlanta Falcons: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama. In the oversimplification of oversimplifications, a really good player on a really good defense makes sense to pick just about anywhere. But especially here. 

18. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, OSU. If Andrew Luck's emulsified inner organs last season weren't the wake up call the Colts needed, then I don't know what will be. I don't know if it's Decker, or maybe Ryan Kelly or Cody Whitehair on the interior, but if they don't draft offensive line help here, I quit. Well, no I don't. But Colts fans should.

19. Buffalo Bills: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss. This is kind of a huge risk here, but think about who the coach is in Buffalo and tell me this doesn't at least make some sense to you. How far do you expect a kid to drop over a measly fall from a hotel window anyway?

20. New York Jets: Eli Apple, CB, OSU. Revis and Cromartie aren't getting any younger. Just sayin'...

21. Washington Redskins: Cory Coleman, WR, Baylor. The 'Skins receivers aren't exactly poster children for durability. And Coleman is a burner in the DeSean Jackson mold. 

22. Houston Texans: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama. Kelly can play anywhere on the interior line. The Texans' investment in Brock Osweiler is not as absurd as it seems on the surface, but it's still an investment worth protecting.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia. This would be a huge value here for the Vikes. It's adding to a nice accumulation of riches already on defense, but I don't see any real offensive weapons to add here that won't have a reasonable facsimile available next round.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Artie Burns, CB, Miami. The Bengals got excellent play from Pacman Jones last season, but he's 32. There aren't a ton of holes on this very good team. You could maybe make a case for Sterling Shepard here, but I'm going DB.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: William Jackson, CB, Houston. The Steelers got ruinously bad cornerback play last year, and only slightly better offensive line play. Take your pick, but one has to be addressed.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A & M. Few picks make as much sense as Ifedi to the Seahawks here. There's a chance he's not on the board, but they've got to go tackle here. 

27. Green Bay Packers: Su'a Cravens, LB, USC. I don't really know what position Cravens profiles at in the pros. But he's a solid playmaker and there's some USC pedigree at Lambeau already.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame. The receiving problems are real, people. The receiving problems are real. I mean, Jeremy Maclin helped but...

29. Arizona Cardinals: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis. Ok, I'm just gonna be honest. I have to put him somewhere. And Carson Palmer can't play forever. And I don't think they see Drew Stanton as a long term heir. 

30. Carolina Panthers: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia. Pretty deep team gets a chance to fill one of its very few holes. Kinda makes sense. They could try to replace a certain cornerback who bolted to D.C. too, but I don't see one that slots in at 30.

31. Denver Broncos: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor. Superbowl team loses Malik Jackson to free agency. Good player is available in draft. Superbowl team picks good player to replace departed good player. If only teams thought as logically as I do, this pick would happen.

32. New England Patriots: The Patriots do not have a first round pick as punishment for cheating. Again. At least they were creative about it.

Shaun did a really nice job going into detail on some additional players and where he thinks they're going to go. I'm going to focus on just a couple. Rarely do you have two guys who could stake legit claims to being top five picks not being taken in the first round. This year, you do in Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack, the outstanding linebackers from Notre Dame and UCLA respectively.

Both young men have some serious concerns with their knees. Smith's is more serious as some talent evaluators are saying they don't even think he sees the field in 2016. People aren't quite as paranoid about Jack's knee, but I can't see anyone risking a first rounder on him either until some reputable medical source clears him at 100%, and it ain't gonna go down like that. The fourth round is when you can probably start picturing teams becoming willing to part with a pick to redshirt Smith for year, and I don't see Jack falling past the Giants twice, if he even does once, so he won't drop out of the second. What's my point? I don't really have one. Something just makes me a little wistful when great players drop in the draft due to injuries.

Anyway, come at me bros. Hit us up on twitter @thestainsports to let us know if you agree or disagree with our picks.  


NFL Mock Draft: First Round & More

This is not a mock draft trying to predict who is going where as that is pretty close to impossible, especially this year, but instead a mock draft as to who I would pick if I were in the given team’s shoes. I will not predict any trades, although I would not be shocked to see any, if not all, the picks from 3-5 move after one and two have already been dealt, and who knows what happens from there. So, with all that said, here is who I would select for each team.

1) Los Angeles Rams – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota State – Long term he will be the better quarterback than Goff and he fits what the Rams want to do better. The Rams will run their offense through Todd Gurley, and Wentz has experience turning his back to the defense to run play action and getting his eyes up the field quickly, something Goff does not have experience with.

2) Philadelphia Eagles – Jared Goff – QB – Cal – There is a part of me that really wants to put Ezekiel Elliot here, in fact I am going away from my intro paragraph as if I were the Eagles that is exactly who I would pick, but you give up what they traded for a running back. So the pick has to be the best available QB, which is Goff.

3) San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey – CB/S – Florida State – In my initial version of this I had them selecting Laremy Tunsil, but they have solid tackles in King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale while their secondary needs more help. Ramsey is a difference maker and his positional questions could also make him position versatile, which is a huge plus in today’s NFL.

4) Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State – Chances are they go Elliot here, and I will yell at my TV more than Torsten when the Rams take Goff, but the Cowboys need help on the defensive line, especially when it comes to getting at the QB. They must be passing the joint around in every D-line meeting as half the depth chart there is facing drug suspensions, so adding a difference maker is desperately needed.

5) Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack – OLB – UCLA – I don’t have access to his medical records, obviously, so I don’t truly know what kind of risk this is, especially after their first round pick last year missed the whole season due to injury, but Jack could be a huge impact guy for them. Adding him and a healthy Fowler to the Jags defense to go with an offense that is already solid just might be enough to make them real playoff contenders.

6) Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner – DE – Oregon – The Ravens would love to see Ramsey and/or Bosa get to them, but instead here they are left debating between Tunsil and Buckner. In the end, defensive line is a much bigger need and, despite the depth at the position in this draft, Buckner is a better fit. He is a physical specimen who will be able to really disrupt the passing lanes in a really competitive division, Cleveland not included.

7) San Francisco 49ers – Reggie Ragland – MLB – Alabama – This is a spot the draft could go a little nuts if they decide to reach for a QB like Paxton Lynch, but it is time the 49ers get back to what they were when they were successful recently, and that is a very good defensive team. They have been absolutely decimated at linebacker due to retirements, and Ragland can sit in the middle and command the D.

8) Cleveland Browns – Laremy Tunsil – OT – Ole Miss – One thing is certain, the Browns will not make this pick because it might actually turn out well. They have the makings of a decent offensive line, but they need someone to play right tackle this year and take the reigns from Joe Thomas when he finally gets the chance to get out of town. Tunsil is arguably the best player in the draft, and the Browns would have traded back and still got him in this scenario, which is a scenario we all know the Browns will find a way to screw up and redraft Manziel or take Noah Spence or Nkemdiche.

9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – You have your franchise QB in Jameis Winston, you resigned Doug Martin, you have the biggest group of pass catchers in football, protect them. Some have said Stanley is a better prospect than Tunsil, so take him here and focus the rest of the draft on improving the defense.

10) New York Giants – Leonard Floyd – OLB – Georgia – Quick, name a Giants starting linebacker, yeah, I couldn’t do it either. I went back and forth between Darron Lee and Floyd here, but I am hearing a ton about Floyd being a great fit for the Giants, so I will put him here.

11) Chicago Bears – Darron Lee – OLB – Ohio State – I think the Bears really want Floyd to fall to them, but if he goes to the Giants at ten, just pick the guy I was debating there. He has more strength and a thicker body, which will allow him to play at the end of the line when needed, and is a solid linebacker, a win-win for the Bears.

12) New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins – DT – Louisville – I could see the Saints taking a big WR here like Laquon Treadwell and then going all defense the rest of the draft, or they could just focus completely on fixing that terrible defense. Rankins is a big body that can also disrupt the passing game from the interior, which can help the defense as a whole.

13) Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliot – RB – Ohio State – If the Dolphins are able to stay at 13 and still get the guy they want/need, they will be doing backflips in the war room, and I say they get him. They lost Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi is a good RB but not an every down back, Elliot can be a game changer for them. This is one of the easiest picks I had in the whole first round.

14) Oakland Raiders – William Jackson III – CB – Houston – The Raiders actually have a decent offense but do need a running back. Elliot is off the board and there are not any other first round options at the position, so the focus will shift to the defense. Their secondary needs help and Jackson is the second best player in the secondary in this draft. He is the biggest first round corner and should be able to handle the best receivers in the division.

15) Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – While Tunsil and Stanley have the higher upside, many say Conklin is the offensive lineman most ready to step in day one and make a difference. The Titans collected a boat load of draft picks and still get their biggest need by sticking at 15, this is a win for them and now can take their plethora of second round picks to get back into the back end of the first round if a corner they really like slips.

16) Detroit Lions – Shaq Lawson – DE – Clemson – This is the toughest pick for me thus far as the Lions could go in several different directions. I was tempted to put Taylor Decker here, I was also debating between A’Shawn Robinson and Jarron Reed to line up next to Haloti Ngata and be his eventual replacement, but I like Lawson to line up opposite one of the most underrated pass rusher in the NFL, Ziggy Ansah. There will likely be a solid DT when they come up in the second round but there won’t be many pass rushers left, and that ultimately was the tie breaker for me.

17) Atlanta Falcons – Kamalei Correa – OLB/DE – Boise State – The industry seems to like Darron Lee here, but I have Lee going much earlier. This might be the pick I end up being furthest from true draft position on, but I really like Correa. I was tempted to put Kevin Dodd here, but I see a ton of bust potential there and I think the floor for Correa is higher. He can serve a pair of needs as the Falcons need help at linebacker and also need someone that can get to the QB no team had fewer sacks than them last year, Correa does both.

18) Indianapolis Colts – Taylor Decker – OT – Ohio State – Few teams allow hits on their quarterback with more frequency than the Colts. Few teams have a better young quarterback than the Colts. Therefore the Colts need upgrades at offensive line. Seriously, it is that straight forward.

19) Buffalo Bills – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – The Bills defense was terrible, especially for a Rex Ryan team, and they released Mario Williams while signing nobody of note to replace him. I just recently said Dodd has bust potential, which he does, but he also has big sack number potential. He can start from day one and could make an impact, or he could be like the Bills defense from last year and be MIA, time will tell.

20) New York Jets – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – Here is a surprise pick that I unfortunately like for the Jets (I am still a Patriots fan after all). They have Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside, but the NFL is a three or more receiver set league, so an elite speed/slot guy is important. They signed Matt Forte in the offseason, so this would make the Jets one of the more feared offenses on the game, if they have a QB. Many people have Paxton Lynch here, and if he were more ready to produce I might as well, but I still believe they sign Ryan Fitzpatrick and Coleman would help give the Jets one of the most feared group of pass catchers in the league.

21) Washington Redskins – Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – The Redskins could use a guy to handle the nose and Reed is arguably the best run stuffer in the draft. Karl Joseph would be an interesting pick, and he would be the best safety the team has had since Sean Taylor, and going at #21 would be a cool coincidence, but defensive tackle is the bigger need.

22) Houston Texans – Laquon Treadwell – WR – Ole Miss – The Texans would be thrilled to see this play out. Possibly the best receiver in the draft falling to them all the way at 22 to line up opposite DeAndre Hopkins and be another target for new QB Brock Osweiler. If Treadwell isn’t here in the draft, expect them to go best available WR, Josh Doctson would be a nice consolation prize, but here I have Treadwell falling to them.

23) Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – Another team in desperate need of a number two wide receiver, and Doctson just might be the guy best suited to have the best rookie year. He can win one-on-one matchups, even making Trevone Boykin look like a good passer at times in college. Stefon Diggs was an absolute steal of a find last year, but Jarius Wright is slated to be their number two receiver right now, and that is no way to help Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings open up a new building.

24) Cincinnati Bengals – Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame – Say hello to your Wide Receiver run.  The Bengals would probably be disappointed if Fuller was the best receiver left when it is their turn to pick and would work the phones to see if anyone wants to come up for a QB so they can move back and get Fuller later, but there are no trades in this mock draft. Fuller is one of the fastest receivers in the draft and the number two and three receivers are guys who couldn’t succeed with Tom Brady as their QB (Brandon LaFell and Brandon Tate). See everything I said about the need opposite Hopkins and Diggs in the previous two picks, and just substitute A.J. Green’s name.

25) Pittsburgh Steelers – Karl Joseph – S – West Virginia – The biggest hitter from the secondary, if not in the draft all together, is Karl Joseph, and doesn’t that just fit the Steelers perfectly? They could really use help at corner and safety, and taking a guy like Vernon Hargreaves or Eli Apple could easily be the decision, but it is hart to pass up a guy like Joseph to a team like the Steelers.

26) Seattle Seahawks – Germain Ifedi – OT – Texas A&M – When it comes to guys that just fit a team’s persona, Robert Nkemdiche is a really tempting pick here, but in the end need comes before juiciness. Much like the Colts, the Seahawks have had trouble protecting their star QB, and they don’t have a stud at any spot on the line. Luckily Ifedi can play multiple positions, and is probably best suited for right tackle or guard, spots that need upgrading.

27) Green Bay Packers – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – With B.J. Raji “retired”, the Packers need someone new to show Aaron Rogers what he’s got along the offensive line (insert annoying “show me what you got Raji” jingle here). Robinson has the potential to go in the top 15, and this is a real need for the Packers all the way at 27, so a steal of a pick for the Pack.

28) Kansas City Chiefs – Eli Apple – CB – Ohio State – I have the corners really falling in this draft, as there are several who would probably see Apple, Hargreaves, and even Mackensie Alexander already gone here, but I am not most people. Marcus Peters had a fantastic year for the Chiefs last year, adding Apple to the other side would give them a dynamic duo of very young and talented corners that will make Justin Houston and Tamba Hali blitzing off the edge even better, if that is even possible. Paxton Lynch is also a guy I could see them going with as the future replacement to Alex Smith, but the corners falling is too tempting to pass up.

29) Arizona Cardinals – Vernon Hargreaves – CB – Florida – I was really tempted put Noah Spence here to team with Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones giving the Cards a truly scary pass rush, but adding Hargreaves to the secondary can be equally as scary. I have seen Hargreaves ranked in some outlets top ten players in the draft, so adding him opposite Patrick Peterson and giving the Honey Badger even more freedom to do what he does is a scary thought for teams facing an already excellent defense.

30) Carolina Panthers – Artie Burns – CB – Miami – The Panthers were likely going to go corner even before they let Josh Norman go, now they pretty much have to. They might be a candidate to move up to ensure they get the one they want, but have a lot of needs given they were just in the Super Bowl. Burns is a recent riser and a solid corner, but he isn’t a lock down guy. Luckily the Panthers are not a team that plays a ton of one-on-one coverage, so the other corner and safety they draft with their next two picks will certainly help.

31) Denver Broncos – Robert Nkemdiche – DT – Ole Miss – I have been tempted to put Cody Whitehair here to solidify their interior offensive line, and there is an obvious need at QB, but Nkemdiche is the guy for me. The Broncos have an excellent defense, especially on the ends, but they don’t have the guy to hold down the middle of the line, and if there is a team that has the flexibility to take a shot on a guy on that side of the ball it is the Broncos. Nkemdiche is one of the most athletic guys in the entire draft and represents a potential steal for the Broncos.

I am never satisfied with just doing a single round of a mock draft, but I also don’t want to bog this down with round after round of me just projecting guys, so I decided I will highlight some interesting picks I see, starting with the quarterbacks.

Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis – Cleveland Brown – 32nd overall, 1st pick of the second round.

Christian Hackenberg – QB – Penn State – Chicago Bears – 41st overall, 10th pick of the second round.

Connor Cook – QB – Michigan State – Kansas City Chiefs – 59th overall, 28th pick of the second round.

Dak Prescott – QB – Mississippi State – Denver Broncos – 63rd overall, 32nd pick of the second round.

Brandon Allen – QB – Arkansas – Dallas Cowboys – 67th overall, 4th pick of the third round.

Cardale Jones – QB – Ohio State – San Francisco 49ers – 68th overall, 5th pick of the third round.

Kevin Hogan – QB – Stanford – Buffalo Bills – 117th overall, 19th pick of the fourth round.

Jacoby Brissett – QB – NC State – New York Jets – 118th overall, 20th pick of the fourth round.

Brandon Doughty – QB – Western Kentucky – Arizona Cardinals, 128th overall, 30th pick of the fourth round.

Vernon Adams – QB – Oregon – Seattle Seahawks – 171st overall, 34th pick of the fifth round.

Other position guys I liked where they fell (or at least found interesting in my projections):

Noah Spence – DE – Eastern Kentucky – Tennessee Titans – 33rd overall, 2nd pick of the second round.

Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – Dallas Cowboys – 34th overall, 3rd pick of the second round.

Ryan Kelly – C – Alabama – Jacksonville Jaguars – 38th overall, 7th pick of the second round.

Emmanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State – 47th overall, 16th pick of the second round.

Su’a Cravens – OLB – USC – Atlanta Falcons – 50th overall, 19th pick of the second round.

Nick Martin – C – Notre Dame – Washington Redskins – 53rd overall, 20th pick of the second round.

Javon Hargrave – DT – South Carolina State – Cincinnati Bengals – 55th overall, 24th pick of the second round.

Jaylon Smith – OLB – Notre Dame – New England Patriots – 60th overall, 29th pick of the second round.

Kenneth Dixon – RB – Louisiana Tech – New England Patriots – 61st overall, 30th pick of the second round.

Braxton Miller – WR – Ohio State – Philadelphia Eagles – 79th overall, 16th pick of the third round.

Robert Aguayo – PK – Florida State – Buffalo Bills – 80th overall, 17th pick of the third round.

Scooby Wright – MLB – Arizona – Green Bay Packers – 163rd overall, 26th pick of the sixth round.


-Shaun Kernahan


Homer Corner: The Los Angeles Rams Trade

If you’re sports fan, you know by now that the Los Angeles Rams have traded up to get the number one overall pick from Tennessee in exchange for multiple premium picks this year and next. You’ve probably also noticed, that is if you care, that everyone and their mother basically fell all over themselves trying to be the first one out there with comprehensive analysis of what it means. Ultimately, it’s pretty much split down the middle between having overpaid for the pick, or gotten a good deal. It’s split down the middle whether they take Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. It’s split down the middle whether they needed to make a move like this. It’s split. Why? Because nobody has any idea what they’re talking about. Nobody. Nobody from respected football experts like Mel Kiper, to former players like Ross Tucker, to hack bloggers like us. Why? Because history hasn’t been written yet. Nobody will know whether this was the right thing to do until a couple of years from now when it can be objectively looked back on. Now, all that said, everyone has opinions. So do we. Here are two reasons from us why this trade can spectacularly implode on the Rams, or how it can be resounding success – because middle ground is no fun.

How it can fail:

#1: They draft Jared Goff, or anyone other than Carson Wentz. Let’s be honest here, this is Jeff Fisher we’re talking about so a Laquan Treadwell pick can’t be entirely discounted. But assuming it’s a quarterback, picking Goff would be calamitous. Why? Look, there’s not a ton wrong with the kid. He’s fairly safe, in terms of quarterback picks go. High floor. Smart. Got some talent. But you don’t mortgage your next two drafts to pick a kid who will be a serviceable pro. If you’re shoveling premium picks out the door to draft a quarterback first overall, you’re doing it to get a guy who can be transcendent. Otherwise, why not keep your own first rounder and both of your seconds, draft three starters with them, and ride Case Keenum into battle.

#2: They do the right thing and grab Wentz, but sharpie him in as the Week 1 starter. Even the most fervent Wentz supporter will tell you, he’s a project. He needs to sit and learn for a year or two. But again, this is Jeff Fisher we’re talking about. There are things that Fisher does well as a coach. He educates his rookies on financial responsibility and what it means to be a pro, he keeps his veterans fresh by giving them rest days, he… yeah, that about covers it. He’s beyond any doubt the most overrated coach in the history of professional football. If anyone can scupper the bright future of a talented quarterback, it’s Fisher.

How it can succeed:

#1: They take Wentz and he’s as good as everyone hopes. But it’s not that simple. He needs time. The step up from Division I AA to the NFL is huge, and while it’s not a prohibitive step, it’s not one that can be taken instantly. He’ll have to spend at least a year, if not two, learning to make NFL progressions, hot reads, a bunch other quarterback buzzwords, AND, he’ll have to adapt his running style. There is no doubting his supreme athletic ability, but it’s one thing to flatten a Division I AA linebacker on a designed run, it’s entirely another to try it on Bobby Wagner.

#2: They take Goff and he proves me terribly wrong. Instead of the league average, reasonably solid quarterback he projects to be, the switch flips and he becomes a monster. Let’s be honest, Russell Wilson, one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, wasn’t a first round pick. Aaron Rodgers didn’t get picked until the end of the first round. So sure, it’s within the realm of possibility that the kid turns out to be an absolute stud. It’s just not likely. And I’m exceedingly rarely wrong on stuff like this. Not because I know everything, but because I keep my mouth shut about things I don’t know about. All my married friends can sympathize. But in any case, I’ll be the happiest guy this side of the Mississippi if I’m wrong now.

-Torsten Sporn