2018 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns – RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)

In past mock drafts I have had a quarterback here and that’s definitely still a possibility, but it’s also very possible that they value Saquon Barkley higher than any other prospect and feel they can wait until their pick at 4 to take a quarterback, in a strong quarterback draft class. That scenario becomes increasingly likely if the Browns sign a quarterback like AJ McCarron in free agency. If they love one quarterback much more than the rest, they’ll take him here, but if not they could easily wait and take the all-around best player in the draft instead.

2. New York Giants – QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)

The best case scenario for the Browns would be if they could convince the Giants to move up to #1 overall. That would require the Giants being in love with a particular player and truly believing that the Browns would actually be willing to move down much further than 2 in a trade. If the Giants were to move up, it would almost definitely be for a quarterback. Eli Manning should be a capable stopgap for another couple years and they used a 3rd round pick on Davis Webb last year, but they were not eager to get Webb on the field even in a lost season and a quarterback would allow them to move on from the declining and expensive Manning sooner rather than later.

They could take a quarterback, sit him for a year under Manning, and then trade or release Manning next off-season and spend the cap savings elsewhere. I’m not projecting trades in this mock, but the Giants are likely to select a quarterback even if they stay put at 2. It is rare for this franchise to be picking in the top-5 and they are doing so in a strong quarterback year. Which quarterback goes here is anyone’s guess right now though. Josh Rosen is seen as an early favorite, but this is a strong quarterback class without a clear favorite at the top.

3. Indianapolis Colts – CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)

Saquon Barkley is likely the Colts’ #1 target on draft day and if he goes in the top-2 the Colts will likely be working the phones hard to move down with a team that wants to move up to take one of the three remaining quarterbacks. The Colts don’t have a need at the quarterback position, but they have needs all across the roster and would love to pick up some extra picks. A team like the Buffalo Bills, who have two first round picks, could make a very enticing offer to the Colts. I’m not projecting trades for now, but this seems like a prime spot for one.

If they stay put, they’ll likely choose between Minkah Fitzpatrick, Bradley Chubb, and Quenton Nelson. Chubb would be the selection if they rate him significantly higher than the other two, but he doesn’t fill a pressing need at defensive end, because John Simon and Jabaal Sheard are solid starters and they used a 3rd round pick on Tarell Basham in last year’s draft. Fitzpatrick and Nelson fill bigger needs at cornerback and right guard respectively, but some teams see Fitzpatrick more as a safety than a cornerback, which isn’t as big of a need, and a guard hasn’t been selected in the top-3 in recent memory. I think Fitzpatrick should be tried at cornerback first in the NFL and, if the Colts agree, he makes a lot of sense for them if they are unable to move down.

4. Cleveland Browns – QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)

Even if the Browns sign AJ McCarron in free agency, they could still use a high draft pick on a quarterback like the Bears did last year with Mitch Trubisky, after signing Mike Glennon in free agency. McCarron has upside, but is still an unproven commodity after just 4 career starts. With two picks in the top-4 and the most cap space in the league, the Browns can afford to be aggressive in hopes of finally finding an answer under center. Unless they are able to convince Kirk Cousins to join them in free agency, the Browns will use one of their first two picks on a quarterback. It’s tough to know at this juncture which quarterback it will be, but the Browns hired former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan as a draft consult and he’s known to like Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is one of the best college football players in recent memory and is increasingly selling people on his pro potential, despite immaturity concerns and less than ideal height.

5. Denver Broncos – QB Sam Darnold (USC)

Outside of the Browns and maybe the Jets, the Broncos have the worst quarterback situation in the NFL. Trevor Siemian has shown himself to be nothing more than a backup caliber player. Paxton Lynch was a first round pick in 2016, but he hasn’t been able to beat out Siemian in either of the past two off-seasons and has struggled mightily in limited action in 2 seasons in the league. Brock Osweiler, meanwhile, is a veteran journeyman who isn’t even a stopgap starter. The Broncos made a very competitive offer for Alex Smith, but the Chiefs weren’t going to trade him in the division. They’ll make a run at Kirk Cousins, but I consider the Vikings the favorites for him because they give him the best chance to win, so the Broncos may have to settle for a veteran like Tyrod Taylor or Sam Bradford and a high draft pick. Unless they sign Cousins, they’ll take a quarterback in the top-5 and may even move up to secure the guy they want.

6. New York Jets – QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)

The Jets are in a similar boat as the Broncos. They need a quarterback badly and will go after Kirk Cousins. They don’t present much of a chance to win right away, but they could compete for a playoff spot next season with Cousins and they have more cap space than anyone in the mix other than the Browns, so they’ll make a serious run at him. Minnesota still makes more sense for him though, so the Jets probably will have to settle for a veteran like Sam Bradford or Tyrod Taylor and a rookie atop the draft. Like the Broncos, they could move up to secure the guy they want,

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE Bradley Chubb (NC State)

This has to be best case scenario for the Buccaneers. Chubb is arguably the best defensive player in the draft, but falls with Saquon Barkley and four quarterbacks going in the top-6. Tampa Bay shouldn’t waste much time with this selection, as Chubb can add an instant boost to a team that had a league low 22 sacks last season. Their defense had a very difficult time getting off the field last season because they simply could not pressure the quarterback. Minkah Fitzpatrick would also fill a huge need on defense for them if he fell here. With most of the top-6 picks expected to be offensive players, the Buccaneers are in a good spot to upgrade their defense in a big way through the draft.

8. Chicago Bears – WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)

The Bears used the 7th overall pick on Kevin White in 2015, but that pick has gone about as badly as possible, as he’s played in just five games in three seasons in the league, including just one last season. Without White and Cameron Meredith in 2017, the Bears had arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Both should be healthy for training camp, but Meredith is a #2 caliber receiver and White is a complete mystery given how little he’s played thus far in his career. The Bears need a long-term #1 receiver for Mitch Trubisky and are a strong candidate to take this draft class’ top receiver Calvin Ridley with the 8th pick.

9. San Francisco 49ers – CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)

The 49ers have used six first round picks on defense in the last five drafts, but three were on the defensive line, two were on safeties, and one was on a middle linebacker, so the 49ers still have a glaring need at cornerback. Ahkello Witherspoon had an impressive rookie season in 2017 after the 49ers drafted him in the 3rd round, but they don’t have a good option opposite him. Ward is the top pure cornerback prospect in the draft and likely would be a week 1 starter for a team on the rise.

10. Oakland Raiders – MLB Roquan Smith (Georgia)

The Raiders had major issues in their back seven in 2017. They used their first two draft picks on the secondary last year and should be better in the secondary in 2018 if they can stay healthier, so linebacker is much more of a pressing need, especially with NaVorro Bowman set to hit free agency again. He gave them a boost against the run as a mid-season addition. Smith is the top linebacker prospect in the draft and one of the cleanest linebacker prospects in years. He’s a strong candidate to go here at 10 to one of the neediest linebacker teams in the league.

11. Miami Dolphins – G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)

The Dolphins have had major problems on the offensive line for years. They used first round picks on tackles in 2014 (JuWuan James) and 2016 (Laremy Tunsil) and they have formed a nice bookend, but they have big holes at both guard spots. Jermon Bushrod, Jesse Davis, Anthony Steen, and Ted Larsen all struggled mightily as starting guards in 2017. Nelson would be a major immediate upgrade at either guard spot and is easily the top interior offensive line prospect in the draft. He’s a good bet to go in the top-15.

12. Cincinnati Bengals – S Derwin James (Florida State)

The Bengals have a desperate need on the offensive line and are likely hoping that Quenton Nelson is available here at 12, but, with him off the board and no offensive tackle worth grabbing here at 12, the Bengals go with value over need and take Derwin James, who could easily be a top-10 pick. Safety isn’t a pressing need for the Bengals, but James would be an upgrade over Shawn Williams and would pair nicely with fellow starter George Iloka.

13. Washington Redskins – DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)

The Redskins used a first round pick on an Alabama defensive lineman in the first round last year, taking Jonathan Allen with the 17th pick, and they could easily do so again this season if Da’Ron Payne falls to them. Allen played well last season before going down for the season with a foot injury, but Payne is a different type defensive lineman, as he can line up at nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. He needs to develop into an every down player to be worth this selection, but he has upside and can be a big help for this run defense immediately.

14. Green Bay Packers – CB Josh Jackson (Iowa)

The Packers used a 1st and 2nd round pick on cornerbacks in 2015, taking Demetrius Randall and Quinten Rollins, and then used a 2nd round pick on cornerback Kevin King last year, but the Packers still had arguably the worst group of cornerbacks in the league last season, a huge part of the reason why they struggled defensively. That cornerback group could get even worse this off-season, with Morgan Burnett and Davon House set to hit free agency. House is an underwhelming veteran, but he was arguably their best cornerback last season, while Morgan Burnett is a talented safety who played the slot when needed last season. The Packers need to improve their defense this off-season, so they could easily use another high pick on a cornerback.

15. Arizona Cardinals – G Billy Price (Ohio State)

The Cardinals are yet another team that needs a quarterback this off-season. In fact, with Carson Palmer retiring and Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert both on expiring contracts, they don’t have a single quarterback under contract for 2018 right now. I’d be surprised if they took one in the first round though. Trading up into the top-6 to draft one of the top quarterbacks would require giving up at least next year’s first round pick and any of the remaining quarterbacks would be a reach at 15.

The Cardinals also are built to win now, especially with Larry Fitzgerald returning for possibly his last season, so I expect them to be aggressive for a veteran like Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum in free agency and to address other needs at the top of the draft in hopes of making a playoff run in 2018. They have a top-10 defense and went 8-8 last season despite terrible quarterback play and David Johnson going down for the season week 1. Offensive line still is a huge need, as the Cardinals could need as many as three new starters on the offensive line this off-season, depending on what they decide to do with overpaid veterans Mike Iupati and Jared Veldheer, who might have to be let go for the Cardinals to afford a top level quarterback in free agency. Even if those two are retained, Price could start immediately at right guard.

16. Baltimore Ravens – WR Courtland Sutton (SMU)

Like the Bears, the Ravens used a first round pick on a wide receiver 3 years ago, but Breshad Perriman has been about as big of a disappointment as Kevin White, arguably even more so. Unlike White, he’s been able to stay relatively healthy, despite missing his entire rookie year with injury, but he’s been so bad over the last 2 seasons that he was a healthy scratch down the stretch in 2017. In 27 career games, he has just 43 catches and averages just 5.76 yards per target. With veterans Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin both possibly on their way out, as a free agent and a cap casualty respectively, wide receiver is a huge need for the Ravens this off-season.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – DT Vita Vea (Washington)

The Chargers’ defense took a major step forward in 2017, but that was primarily because of their pass defense, as the Chargers have a strong duo of edge rushers and a talented secondary. They were still one of the worst run defenses in the league, in large part because veteran nose tackle Brandon Mebane struggled mightily. Expect a big run stuffing nose tackle like Vita Vea to be high on their shopping list this off-season.

18. Seattle Seahawks – DE Arden Key (LSU)

Arden Key is a top-5 talent, but has off-the-field issues that could keep him out of the first round. Some teams are more comfortable in their ability to coach up and manage players like Key than others and the Seahawks have been one of those teams in the Pete Carroll era. With Cliff Avril possibly retiring because of a neck injury and Michael Bennett possibly not being brought back for his age 33 season for cap reasons, the Seahawks have a major need at defensive end. If Key pans out, he can bookend Frank Clark long-term in Seattle.

19. Dallas Cowboys – OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)

Given how much emphasis the Cowboys have put on having a strong offensive line, it would not surprise me if the Cowboys used another first round pick on an offensive lineman, after a disappointing season upfront in 2017. McGlinchey can be an immediate starter at right tackle, which would allow La’El Collins to kick back inside to left guard where he’s more comfortable. He would also give them a better insurance in case left tackle Tyron Smith gets hurt again. Their offense looked lost when he was out of the lineup this season, even after Ezekiel Elliott returned from suspension.

20. Detroit Lions – DE Sam Hubbard (Ohio State)

The Lions have been one of the least effective defensive teams in the league over the past couple seasons and lack of consistent pass rush is a huge part of it. That problem gets worse if they lose Ezekiel Ansah in free agency this off-season, as he had more than a third of their sacks in 2017. Even if Ansah is brought back, a defensive end like Sam Hubbard would still make sense, as they lack a consistent pass rusher opposite him.

21. Buffalo Bills – QB Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)

The Bills have two first round picks after trading down from 10 to 27 with the Chiefs last season and are reportedly trying to package both picks along with possibly a couple veterans or other picks to move up to draft a quarterback. Tyrod Taylor is a stopgap that they aren’t excited about paying starters’ money, while Nathan Peterman was a mere 5th round pick last year and struggled mightily in limited action as a rookie. They’ll probably have to move into the top-6 to grab one of the top guys, but the Colts at 3 could definitely be enticed to move down for more picks/players, so a big move up the board wouldn’t be a huge surprise for the Bills. If they stay put, they’ll have to settle for one of the lower tier quarterbacks. Outside of the top-4, quarterbacks like Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson could also sneak into the first round if a team likes them enough.

22. Buffalo Bills – WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)

Most teams that draft a quarterback use their next pick on an offensive player to get that quarterback some help. In this scenario, the Bills get Mason Rudolph a much needed pass catcher, as the Bills have had among the worst receiving corps in the league in recent years. Kelvin Benjamin could be better in 2018, as the mid-season acquisition struggled with the mid-season move and dealt with knee problems down the stretch, but 2018 will be the final year of his contract even if he does bounce back. Jordan Matthews, meanwhile, is a free agent this off-season, while last year’s 2nd round pick Zay Jones struggled mightily as a rookie. They need to add someone else to the mix.

23. Los Angeles Rams – OLB Harold Landry (Boston College)

The Rams had a surprise breakout year in 2017, but could take a step backward in 2018, given how many key players they have set to hit free agency, including top cornerback Trumaine Johnson, safety LaMarcus Joyner, outside linebacker Connor Barwin, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and center John Sullivan. Where they go with this pick will likely be dependent on who they lose in free agency, but, even if they bring Barwin back, an edge rusher like Davenport makes some sense. Barwin isn’t much of a pass rusher at this stage of his career (age 32 in 2018) and they need a long-term edge rusher opposite Robert Quinn.

24. Carolina Panthers – S Ronnie Harrison (Alabama)

Mike Adams was the Panthers’ best safety in 2017, but he’ll be in his age 37 contract year in 2018, so he’s not a long-term solution. Fellow starter Kurt Coleman has struggled since signing a 3-year extension following a strong 2015 season and could be cut in either of the next two off-seasons, owed 4.1 million non-guaranteed in 2018 and 4.375 million non-guaranteed in 2019. Safety should be high on their list of needs this off-season.

25. Tennessee Titans – MLB Tremaine Edwards (Virginia Tech)

The Titans are another team that could lose several starters in free agency, with wide receiver Eric Decker, guard Josh Kline, defensive end DaQuan Jones, and middle linebacker Avery Williamson all set to hit free agency this off-season. Even if Williamson returns, they could use another middle linebacker like Tremaine Edwards inside in their 3-4 defense, as 2017 5th round pick Jayon Brown struggled mightily as a rookie and veteran Wesley Woodyard is just a base package run stuffer at this stage of his career (age 32 in 2018).

26. Atlanta Falcons – DT Taven Bryan (Florida)

The Falcons don’t have a lot of pressing needs, but they could have one at defensive tackle if Dontari Poe takes a bigger contract elsewhere this off-season as a free agent. Expect defensive tackle to be a target position for them early in the draft. They’ll have a few options late in the first round and early reports say they like Taven Bryan, who fits this draft slot well. He should be a late first, early second round pick.

27. New Orleans Saints – MLB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)

The Saints took a big step forward defensively this season, but they need to continue adding to their defense. Craig Robertson, AJ Klein, and Manti Te’o are all under contract for next season, but they could use an upgrade over all three veterans. They drafted Alex Anzalone in the 3rd round last year, but he has a long injury history and missed most of his rookie year, so it’ll be tough to count on him long-term. Even if Anzalone develops, he could still have a big role long-term at outside linebacker with Vander Esch at middle linebacker.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – MLB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)

What happened to Ryan Shazier was awful, but the NFL is a brutal business sometimes and the Steelers can’t count on Shazier ever returning. It would not surprise me if they drafted his replacement early this year. If Shazier can make a miraculous return to the field, he and Rashaan Evans can play inside together in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense. Vince Williams was the other starter this season, but he’s best as a pure base package run stuffer. Evans is an every down player who can fill Shazier’s role on the field.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Connor Williams (Texas)

Blake Bortles wasn’t great in 2017, but he was good enough that he should keep his job in 2018, especially since the Jaguars are not going to be in position to draft one of the top quarterback prospects. Given that, the Jaguars will likely focus on improving around Bortles on offense this off-season. The offensive line definitely needs some work, as they had below average play at left tackle, left guard, and right guard last season. The Jaguars could target a tackle late in the first round and move left tackle Cam Robinson inside to left guard, where mediocre starter Patrick Omameh is a free agent.

30. Minnesota Vikings – DT Mo Hurst (Michigan)

The Vikings used a first round pick on Sharrif Floyd in 2013 and he got off to a promising start to his career, but he’s missed every game since week 1 of 2016 with a leg injury and is a major question mark going forward. The Vikings could use a complement inside next to Linval Joseph and Hurst could have an immediate role. Tom Johnson, who played a big role inside in 2017, will be 34 in 2018 and is a free agent this off-season.

31. New England Patriots – DE Marcus Davenport (UT-San Antonio)

The Patriots had a respectable 42 sacks this season, but that was largely as a result of frequently playing with a lead, as they struggled to get consistent pressure all season long. Even with the favorable game situations, they didn’t have anyone with more than 6.5 sacks. Getting last year’s 3rd round pick Derek Rivers back from a torn ACL in 2018 will help, but the Patriots could use another defensive end either way, especially with Trey Flowers going into a contract year in 2018.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – OT Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)

Jason Peters’ future is up in the air, as he’ll be in his age 36 season in 2018 and is coming off of a torn ACL that ended his 2017 season prematurely. Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled on the blindside in his absence and looks like a swing tackle going forward, so the Eagles could use an early pick on an offensive tackle. Brown might be a better fit at right tackle than left tackle, but the Eagles could flip right tackle Lane Johnson over to the left side this off-season, as he has a left tackle’s skill set and a left tackle’s salary.

2017 Post-season NFL Pick Results

Post-season

Total Against the Spread: 7-3

Pick of the Week: 0-0

High Confidence Picks: 2-1

Medium Confidence Picks: 0-0

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 2-1

Low Confidence Picks: 3-2

No Confidence Picks: 2-0

Upset Picks: 0-1

2017

Total Against the Spread: 139-119-8 (53.76%)

Pick of the Week: 11-6 (64.71%)

High Confidence Picks: 21-11-3 (64.29%)

Medium Confidence Picks: 33-33-1 (50.00%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 65-50-4 (56.30%)

Low Confidence Picks: 44-38-4 (53.49%)

No Confidence Picks: 30-31 (49.18%)

Upset Picks: 19-25 (43.18%)

All-Time (Since 2013)

Total Against the Spread: 691-607-36 (53.15%)

Pick of the Week: 51-34-2 (59.77%)

High Confidence Picks: 80-59-6 (57.24%)

Medium Confidence Picks: 199-152-6 (56.58%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 330-245-14 (57.22%)

Low Confidence Picks: 189-183-13 (50.78%)

No Confidence Picks: 172-179-9 (49.03%)

Upset Picks: 107-136 (44.03%)

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots: Super Bowl LII Bowl Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (15-3) vs. New England Patriots (15-3) in Super Bowl LII

Opposing quarterbacks never actually share the field in an NFL game, but the matchup between quarterbacks is usually the most discussed one in an NFL game and the Super Bowl is no different. This year, we have a very unlikely quarterback matchup, for a number of reasons. On one side, the Eagles will start Nick Foles, who no one would have expected to be starting in this game before the season, making just his 6th start of the season after taking over for Carson Wentz when Wentz tore his ACL back in week 14.

On the other side, is Tom Brady, who is in his 8th Super Bowl. Despite his history, Brady playing in this game again at age 40 is highly unlikely when you consider the history of the game, as Brady continued to defy the odds and father time as the likely league MVP in 2017. He led the league in passing yards and the Patriots once again finished with the best record in the AFC and won a pair of home playoff games. With a solid passing day, Tom Brady could become the first quarterback in NFL history with 10,000 career post-season passing yards. Nick Foles doesn’t have 10,000 career regular season passing yards. This will be Nick Foles’ 4th career post-season start. It will be Brady’s 37th. To say this is a mismatch would be an understatement.

Despite all that, Nick Foles is ironically the one who ranks 3rd all-time in single season quarterback rating, posting a 119.2 mark in 10 starts in Chip Kelly’s system back in 2013 (Brady’s best season, 2007, only ranks 4th at 117.2). The problem for Foles is he’s never done anything like that in any other season. Outside of 2013, he’s completed just 58.9% of his passes for an average of 6.42 YPA, 34 touchdowns, and 27 interceptions, which are very much backup numbers.

After an underwhelming season as the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 2014, he was sent to the Rams for Sam Bradford. In 2015, with the Rams, he struggled mightily before being benched for Case Keenum and eventually released the following off-season, after the Rams moved up to #1 overall to draft Jared Goff. As a free agent in each of the following two off-seasons, Foles had to settle for backup work in Kansas City and then back in Philadelphia this season, but, when Wentz went down, he was thrown into the fire as the starter late in the season for a team in control of its own destiny to the #1 seed in the NFC.

Foles hasn’t lost a meaningful game since becoming the starter, as the Eagles also were the #1 seed and won two home playoff games, but Foles has been a mixed bag in 5 starts. Against the Raiders and in limited action in a meaningless week 17 game against the Cowboys, he looked like the quarterback who was released by the Rams. Against the Giants and the Falcons, he looked like a competent starter. And then last week, out of nowhere, Foles had his best game since the 2013 season, completing 26 of 33 for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns against one of the best defenses in the league in a shocking 38-7 victory over the favored Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship.

If Foles does that again, the Eagles will win this game by double digits, but the likelihood of that doesn’t seem high, especially against a New England team that is well coached and has two weeks to study him. Outside of the quarterback position, the Eagles have a better roster with obvious advantages on both the offensive and defensive lines, but the Patriots have the obvious experience, coaching, and quarterback advantage and a strong roster as well. I like how this line has dropped to 4.5 after the Eagles’ win over the Vikings last week and the Patriots’ near loss to the Jaguars. Last week, this line probably would have been about 7.5, and I think dropping this line below 6 is an overreaction to a single week of play. The Patriots are my pick and are worth a small bet against the spread.

New England Patriots 24 Philadelphia Eagles 17

Pick against the spread: New England -4.5

Confidence: Medium

2013 NFL Draft Redo

1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT David Bakhtiari (Colorado)

The Chiefs used this pick on left tackle Eric Fisher originally and are clearly pretty happy with his development, giving him a 4-year, 48 million dollar extension two off-seasons ago. However, in this re-mock, they can get a clear upgrade, as David Bakhtiari, originally a 4th round pick by the Packers, has developed into arguably the best left tackle in football. The Chiefs have a number of good options with this pick, but left tackle is a very important position and was a huge need for them.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State)

Le’Veon Bell might be the most talented player from this draft, but the Chiefs still had two good years left of Jamaal Charles, which allows him to fall to the Jaguars, who were still relying on a broken down Maurice Jones-Drew in 2013 (3.43 YPC on 234 carries), before releasing him the following off-season. Bell would obviously have had a huge impact on Jacksonville’s offense, much more than original draft pick Luke Joeckel, who struggled in right tackle, left tackle, and left guard in 4 seasons with the team before being let go last off-season.

3. Miami Dolphins – OT Lane Johnson (Oklahoma)

When the Dolphins originally moved up to 3, many assumed it was to take Lane Johnson to fill a major hole on their offensive line. Instead, they took defensive end Dion Jordan, who had just 3 sacks in 2 seasons with the Dolphins due to injuries, off-the-field issues, and ineffectiveness. Johnson, meanwhile, went 4th to the Eagles and has developed into one of the best offensive linemen in the league. He’s capable of playing both right tackle and left tackle for the Dolphins and would have been a huge boost to their offensive line.

4. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Kawann Short (Purdue)

The Eagles would have been happy to take Lane Johnson again, but he goes one pick earlier in this redraft. Instead, the Eagles take Kawann Short, arguably the best defensive player from this line, and put together a dangerous duo of Short and Fletcher Cox, their 2012 first round pick and one of the best defensive tackles in the league. Tim Jernigan did a solid job in 2017, but prior to that they lacked a capable counterpart to Cox.

5. Detroit Lions – CB Darius Slay (Mississippi State)

The Lions originally used a 2nd round pick on Darius Slay, but they have to use their first rounder to keep him in this redraft. Considering Slay has developed into one of the top cornerbacks in the league, the Lions probably wouldn’t mind. They signed him to a 4-year, 48.15 million dollar extension two off-seasons ago. They take him here over their original pick Ezekiel Ansah, who had an impressive start to his career, but has been slowed by injuries over the past 2 seasons. Slay is a much cleaner pick.

6. Cleveland Browns – WR DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson)

DeAndre Hopkins is definitely a top-5 talent, but there wasn’t a huge need for wide receivers in the top-5, so he falls to the Browns in this redraft. Considering the offensive issues they’ve had for years, they’d take Hopkins here in a heartbeat. Hopkins has developed into one of the best wide receivers in the league and has shown the ability to put up big numbers despite terrible quarterback play, which will be very important for him in Cleveland.

7. Arizona Cardinals – C Travis Frederick (Wisconsin)

Everyone laughed when the Cowboys traded back to the end of the first round and drafted Travis Frederick, a center who most expected to go in the 2nd or 3rd round. However, Frederick has since developed into arguably the best center in the league and would undoubtedly go higher in a redraft. The Cardinals originally drafted guard Jonathan Cooper here, making him the highest drafted interior offensive linemen in two decades. Cooper was never healthy for the Cardinals and was eventually sent to New England as a throw-in in the Chandler Jones deal and has since bounced around the league. In this redraft, they take Frederick and get a much needed Pro-Bowler on the inside of their offensive line.

8. St. Louis Rams – WR Keenan Allen (California)

The Rams traded up to draft Tavon Austin here in hopes that he’d upgrade a receiving corps that had desperately needed help for years. Instead, Austin maxed out at 509 receiving yards and the Rams continued to have issues in the receiving corps until signing Robert Woods, trading for Sammy Watkins, and drafting Cooper Kupp last off-season. Keenan Allen would have solved that problem earlier. He’s had injury issues throughout his career, but has averaged 74.26 receiving yards per game in 5 seasons in the league, 8th most by any player who has played at least 50 games over that stretch and most of anyone in this draft. He’s also still only going into his age 26 season and should be a #1 receiver for another 3-5 seasons if he can stay healthy.

9. New York Jets – CB Desmond Trufant (Washington)

The Jets had two first round picks in 2013 after trading Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers for the 13th pick. Considering Revis lasted one season in Tampa Bay and was back with the Jets two years later, that was a wise trade. What was not wise is the Jets’ selection of Dee Milliner here at 9 as their replacement for Revis. Milliner played just 21 games in 3 injury plagued seasons for the Jets and is now out of the league entirely. In this redraft, they take Desmond Trufant instead. Trufant was the 22nd pick by the Falcons and has developed into a #1 cornerback.

10. Tennessee Titans – CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State)

Xavier Rhodes is another talented cornerback from this draft class. Cornerback has been an issue for a while for the Titans. Rhodes would be a #1 cornerback for this team and would be a huge upgrade over both Chance Warmack, the guard they drafted 10th overall originally, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, the cornerback the Titans selected in the 3rd round. He would have formed a talented duo with Jason McCourty before becoming the #1 guy.

11. San Diego Chargers – OT Ricky Wagner (Wisconsin)

The Chargers originally used this selection on DJ Fluker, but he spent just 4 seasons with the team and never developed into a starter at either right tackle or right guard. Wagner, meanwhile, is arguably the best right tackle in the league. The 2013 5th round pick didn’t play much as a rookie, but has been an above average starter in 4 seasons since and is coming off of his best season with the Detroit Lions, the season after the ex-Raven signed a 5-year, 47.5 million deal in free agency.

12. Oakland Raiders – TE Travis Kelce (Cincinnati)

The Raiders had a desperate need at tight end in 2013 and eventually took Mychal Rivera in the 6th round of the draft. They were so thin at the position that he led the team with 38 catches by a tight end as a rookie, but he never developed into a starting caliber player and was one of the least efficient tight ends in the league in his one full season as a starter in 2014. Travis Kelce not only gives them a much needed weapon in the passing game, but drafting him also keeps him away from a hated divisional rival.

13. New York Jets – S Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma)

The Jets originally doubled up on defense with their two first round picks, taking Milliner at 9 and Sheldon Richardson at 13. Richardson worked out better than Milliner did and had some dominant seasons early in his career, but had character issues later in his time with the Jets and eventually was traded to the Seahawks for a 2nd round pick. In hindsight, they’d probably take a different player. Jefferson would fill a big need for a team that started Antonio Allen and 31-year-old Dawan Landry at safety in 2013.

14. Carolina Panthers – DT Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern)

The Panthers originally took Star Lotulelei with this pick, but they can shoot higher in this redraft, as Lotulelei never developed into the kind of player that was worth the 14th overall pick. Ideally they’d be able to get Kawann Short, originally their 2nd round pick, but he’s too good to last to this point. Williams is more similar in skill set to Lotulelei and has developed into the player the Panthers were expecting Lotulelei to be. Given that they used their first two draft picks on defensive tackles in 2013, the position was clearly a need for them at the time.

15. New Orleans Saints – OT Terron Armstead (Arkansas-Pine Bluff)

The Saints originally used this pick on safety Kenny Vaccaro, who had an up and down 5 years in New Orleans. Terron Armstead, originally a 3rd round pick by the Saints, was a much better selection. They have to take him in the first round this time around to keep him, but he’s been a valuable blindside protector and much more valuable to this team than Vaccaro, so I think they’d be happy to take him here. Armstead would have likely been a top-10 pick if this redraft was done a couple years ago, but he has dealt with some injuries in the past two years that have keep him off the field and sapped his effectiveness somewhat. Only going into his age 27 season in 2018, Armstead could easily be a top level left tackle for 3-5 more years if he can stay healthy.

16. Buffalo Bills – WR Adam Thielen (Minnesota State)

The Bills have had issues at wide receiver for years. They were led in receiving by tight end Scott Chandler (655 yards) back in 2013 and then by tight end Charles Clay (558 yards) in 2017. The only pass catcher to exceed 700 yards for the Bills since the 2013 NFL Draft is Sammy Watkins, who they traded two first round picks to move up and draft before trading him away for a mere 2nd round pick last off-season. Addressing their wide receiver need in 2013 would have allowed them to avoid that. Adam Thielen was a late bloomer, which is why he falls a little bit. The former undrafted free agent had his first 1000+ yard season in 2017 (91/1276/4) and made his first All-Pro (2nd team).

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – MLB Jamie Collins (Southern Mississippi)

Jamie Collins would have been a top-10 pick if I did this two years ago, but Collins was traded by the Patriots to the Browns for a mere 3rd round pick in 2016 and hasn’t been the same player since being traded, including a 2017 season in which he struggled through injuries. Going into his age 29 season, there’s time for him to turn it around, but his redraft stock takes a hit. He fills a need for the Steelers, who desperately needed to get younger on defense at the time. They drafted Ryan Shazier in the first round in 2014, but he suffered a terrible spine injury last season and may never play again. Collins fixes their middle linebacker problem a year earlier and gives them a long-term solution.

18. San Francisco 49ers – TE Zach Ertz (Stanford)

I remember originally mocking Ertz to the 49ers in the first round because of the Jim Harbaugh/Stanford connection and because the 49ers didn’t have any obvious needs at the time. They didn’t have a good #2 tight end behind Vernon Davis at the time and would eventually use a 2nd round pick on Vance McDonald in 2014, which did not work out as well as Ertz would have. 2013 was also the last productive season Vernon Davis had for the 49ers, so Ertz would have filled a need that was bigger than they realized at the time.

19. New York Giants – G Justin Pugh (Syracuse)

The Giants stick with their original pick here. Justin Pugh has never been a dominant offensive lineman, but he’s been an above average starter at both right tackle and left guard, with his best play coming at left guard in 2015-2016. He was definitely worth the 19th overall pick in the draft and the Giants may franchise tag him this off-season. If he were to hit free agency, he’d be one of the highest valued offensive linemen available.

20. Chicago Bears – G Kyle Long (Oregon)

The Bears are another team that sticks with their original pick, though all of the injuries Kyle Long has suffered in his career have been concerning. He’s only missed 15 games in 5 seasons, but has had neck, shoulder, and ankle surgery in recent seasons and is already going into his age 30 season, so there are long-term durability concerns with him. His best season came in his 2nd season in the league in 2014 when he looked like one of the best right guards in football, but he wasn’t the same player at right tackle in 2015 and has had injury problems in each of the last 2 seasons. He’s played pretty well through the injuries through, so the Bears probably don’t regret this pick. Long likely would have gone higher two years ago.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – DE Ezekiel Ansah (BYU)

Ezekiel Ansah is another player who would have gone higher two seasons ago, when he was coming off of a breakout 2015 season, in which he was one of the best 4-3 defensive ends in football and totalled 14.5 sacks. However, he’s had just 14 sacks combined in the 2 seasons since, thanks to injuries. He’s also older than most of the players from this class, as he’s already going into his age 29 season this off-season. We will see if the Lions think he is worth the franchise tag. In this redraft, the Lions take cornerback Darius Slay over him at 5 and he slips because of teams having more pressing needs. The Bengals could have used a complement to Carlos Dunlap and Ansah would have been a great fit in the Bengals’ 4-3 defense.

22. Atlanta Falcons – CB Tyrann Mathieu (LSU)

The Falcons would have loved to have been able to keep Desmond Trufant, but he is too good to fall to 22 again. Instead, the Falcons take a different defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu had dominant seasons in 2013 and 2015, but tore his ACL at the end of both of those seasons and wasn’t the same in his other 3 seasons. Only going into his age 26 season, he may prove to be a steal, but he’s undersized at 5-9 186 and has had both knee and shoulder problems in his career. He can play both slot cornerback and safety.

23. Minnesota Vikings – DT Johnathan Hankins (Ohio State)

The Vikings’ original pick here was defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who looked like a great pick until he suffered a knee injury that has kept him out since week 1 of 2016. His long-term future is very much in doubt. Johnathan Hankins is a step down from what Floyd was as a player, but he doesn’t have Floyd’s injury issues. He’d form a dominant duo inside with Linval Joseph.

24. Indianapolis Colts – G Larry Warford (Kentucky)

Maybe if the Colts invested in the offensive line more, Andrew Luck’s career might not be in jeopardy because of a shoulder injury. Larry Warford was one of the best guards in the league as a rookie in 2013. Though he hasn’t been quite that good since, he’s still an above average right guard and is well worth the 4-year, 34 million dollar deal the Saints gave him in free agency last off-season. He would have been valuable in Indianapolis, where they’ve had a rotating door of players at every position except left tackle in Andrew Luck’s career.

25. Minnesota Vikings – CB Logan Ryan (Rutgers)

The Vikings can’t keep Xavier Rhodes in this redraft because he went in the top-10, so they take a different cornerback instead. Logan Ryan is a downgrade, but he still fills what was a big need at the time for the Vikings.

26. Green Bay Packers – TE Jordan Reed (Florida)

At his best, Jordan Reed is one of the best receiving tight ends in football and a matchup nightmare for any defense, because of his combination of speed and size. However, he isn’t much of a run blocker and has never been able to stay healthy, missing 28 games in 5 seasons in the league with a variety of injuries. His career high was 14 games in 2015, when he posted a dominant 87/952/11 line. He was limited to 27/211/2 in 6 games last season, so he falls in this redraft, but he and Aaron Rodgers could do some huge things together in the passing game, so the Packers would be happy to have him, even with the injuries. He gives them the pass catching tight end he’s never really had. He would have been an upgrade over Jermichael Finley and Jared Cook, their best pass catching tight ends in the Aaron Rodgers era.

27. Houston Texans – OT Ryan Schraeder (Valdosta State)

The Texans originally got a steal here with DeAndre Hopkins, but he goes much earlier this time around. Schraeder was originally undrafted, but he became a starter midway through his 2nd season in the league and has developed into one of the best right tackles in football. He’s worth a first round pick in a redraft and would be a good fit with the Texans, who have had multiple different starters at right tackle in recent seasons.

28. Denver Broncos – OT Eric Fisher (Central Michigan)

The Broncos had Ryan Clady at left tackle during this draft, but injuries limited him to 18 games from 2013-2015 and the Broncos then released him after the 2015 season, so left tackle, in hindsight, was a big need for the Broncos in this draft. Eric Fisher wasn’t worth the first overall pick, but he’s developed into a capable left tackle in recent seasons, after struggling early in his career. He’s still worth a first round pick and would be a nice addition by the Broncos, who have had a variety of different left tackles over the past 5 seasons.

29. Minnesota Vikings – WR Robert Woods (USC)

Cordarrelle Patterson never developed into anything more than a good return man for the Vikings and was let go after 4 seasons with the team. This time around, the Vikings take a better wide receiver. Robert Woods never put up huge numbers in his 4 seasons in Buffalo, but that was largely because he was stuck on a run heavy offense. In 2017, in his first season with the Rams, he had a 56/781/5 line in just 12 games. He’s also one of the youngest guys from this draft, still only going into his age 26 season, so he could continue getting better.

30. St. Louis Rams – MLB Alec Ogletree (Georgia)

The Rams stick with their original pick, even though Ogletree is coming off of a down year in his first season in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense. He’s a much better fit as a 4-3 linebacker. Despite that, the Rams locked him up long-term with a 4-year, 42.75 million dollar extension back in October, so they clearly value him highly.

31. Dallas Cowboys – S Jahleel Addae (Central Michigan)

The Cowboys don’t get Travis Frederick this time around, so they settle for upgrading their secondary, which has been a problem for them for a while. Addae, originally undrafted, was a late bloomer, which is why he’s available late in the first, but he’s been an above average starter for the Chargers in each of the past 2 seasons and has made 41 starts in the past 4 seasons. He’d be a welcome addition to the Cowboys.

32. Baltimore Ravens – S Micah Hyde (Iowa)

The Ravens completely whiffed on their first 2 picks in 2013, with Matt Elam and Arthur Brown, but they still came out of the draft with two players who have already been taken in this redraft, 3rd round pick Brandon Williams and 5th round pick Ricky Wagner. 4th round pick John Simon, 4th round pick Kyle Juszczyk, and 6th round pick Ryan Jensen have also developed into useful players. Micah Hyde was a useful player for 4 seasons with the Packers, despite being a mere 5th round pick, and then he took his game to the next level in his first season in Buffalo in 2017. He can play both cornerback and safety, but his best season was as a full-time safety. He’d be an obvious upgrade over Elam at a position of need.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots: 2017 AFC Championship Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) at New England Patriots (14-3)

I made a big play on the Jaguars last week as 7.5 point underdogs in Pittsburgh, but I am much less excited to do the same with the Jaguars here as 7.5 point underdogs in New England. While Pittsburgh had just 5 regular season wins by more than a touchdown, the Patriots had 9 and then had another one last week in a 35-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers were also never the same team after losing Ryan Shazier for the season, while the Patriots enter the playoffs relatively healthy, even if Tom Brady did miss some practice time this week with a cut finger.

The Jaguars could keep this game close because of their incredible defense, especially since they can get pressure on Tom Brady without blitzing, which has always been the formula to beat Tom Brady. Even if the Jaguars don’t have an answer for Rob Gronkowski on defense and even if the Patriots consistently move the chains with runs and passes to running backs, the Jaguars’ defense should be able to keep the Patriots from putting up too high of a number by pressuring him and locking down his outside receivers. However, the Jaguars’ offense is not that complex and could have trouble against a well coached New England defense that has played a lot better in since the first half of the season. I’m taking the Jaguars at 7.5, but if this line moves to 7 by the morning I would take the Patriots. That’s how close this one is for me.

New England Patriots 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +7.5

Confidence: None

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles: 2017 NFC Championship Pick

Minnesota Vikings (14-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

I am kicking myself for not betting on the Eagles as 3-point home underdogs last week. I knew the Eagles had a great chance to cover and even win straight up if the Falcons played like they had all season, but was hesitant to bet on the Eagles because of the possibility that the Falcons would start to click and play like they did last season, when they made the Super Bowl with essentially the same core of the team. The Falcons never really found their Super Bowl form all season and thus were eliminated in Philadelphia by the final score of 15-10.

The Eagles will try to follow the same formula this week, hiding Nick Foles with their defense and running game. Even without Carson Wentz, the Eagles still have a lot of talent on this roster. Because of their supporting cast, I picked the Eagles to get a first round bye before the season started and I wasn’t even completely sold on Wentz at the time. Given that, I wouldn’t be shocked if they were able to advance to the Super Bowl with Nick Foles, especially since they are at home, where their top level defense has allowed just 13.00 points per game this season. The Eagles get a tougher opponent this week, as the Vikings are a step up in class from the Falcons, so I’m not that excited to take the Eagles as 3-point underdogs, but I do think we are getting some line value with Philadelphia.

Outside of the quarterback position, I have these two teams about even and, while the Vikings have the edge under center, I don’t think Keenum has enough of an advantage over Foles to justify the Vikings being favored by a field goal on the road. Keenum has been impressive this season, but he hasn’t had to play in a lot of tough situations and could struggle on the road against a tough Philadelphia defense. He’s also coming off of a relatively weak performance in the wild card round and was really saved by that miraculous play at the end. I’m not that confident in the Eagles unless you can still get +3.5, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Minnesota Vikings 17 Philadelphia Eagles 16

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +3

Confidence: Low

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots: 2017 AFC Divisional Round Pick

Tennessee Titans (10-7) at New England Patriots (13-3)

The Titans pulled off a stunning upset in Kansas City last week, not only winning straight up as 8-point road underdogs, but coming back from down 21-3 at the half. I wasn’t that impressed with their performance though. I’ve thought for a while that the Chiefs were an overrated team and, even still, the Titans likely would not have had a real chance to come back if the Chiefs didn’t lose tight end Travis Kelce with an injury late in the first half. Losing him completely shut down their offense and even one good drive in the second half probably would have been enough to ice the game, given that the game was only decided by a point. Even without Kelce, you could argue the Chiefs deserved to win because of a few questionable calls by the officials that did not go their way.

On paper, the Titans have a solid roster, but they are poorly coached, especially on offense, where offensive minded head coach Mike Mularkey and offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie have been unable to design an offense that suits quarterback Marcus Mariota’s skill set. They went 9-7 in the regular season, but were tied with the Jaguars for the easiest schedule in the NFL and still finished with a -22 point differential, by far the worst among remaining playoff teams (the Patriots finished first at +162). This line is substantial at -13 and the Titans are still a talented team on paper, so I am not that confident in the Patriots, but this should still be a relatively easy playoff win for New England.

New England Patriots 34 Tennessee Titans 20

Pick against the spread: New England -13

Confidence: Low