Khalil Mack How High Can He Go?

Khalil Mack is fast becoming the Buzz of the 2014 NFL Draft, thanks to some pretty impressive workouts and of course a sparkling performance at the Combine. When way back in January 2013 there was talk of him eschewed his college career in favour of joining the NFL  he was predicted to be a third or maybe even a fourth-round Pick. However he decided not to enter the draft and instead play out his senior season. Now the talk is not of the former  Buffalo linebacker being a lower pick, but instead possibly being the No 1 pick overall. which could yet see someone trade up to get him.

His stock rose early last season with a big performance in the Bulls loss at Ohio State, which included a second quarter TD scoring interception, and 2½ sacks, and his improvement continued with him recording double digit tackles in 4 games and a total of 10.5 sacks for the season.  Although he didn’t really shine on the big stage of the Potato Bowl by then he was most definitely on everyone’s board as a 1st round pick, and from early 2014c on he has continued to climb.

We originally had him as the 6th Pick, and at this stage we are not sure if someone will make the big move for him, however the rumours continue to circulate and it is highly possible that someone will make Houston or the Rams an offer they cant refuse, or of course one of them may just decide to pull the trigger and pick him.

Overall we still think Atlanta are the team most likely to draft him, but whether this is at pick 6 or thanks to a trade up is now becoming more debatable.

2014 NFL Mock Draft Picks 6-10

Picking in the 6-10 region this season is not a bad place to be given that the draft looks deep and there is always the option of trading down to boost your later picks. If our predictions for 1-5 hold true then there could be some scrambling around here and a trade or two couldn’t be ruled out.

Pick 6 Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack OLB

The Falcons picking at six is something we didn’t expect going into 2013, given they had a great 2012 and looked to be improving. Here we think they are probably better than their record shows in 2013 and thus don’t have a whole lot of glaring holes in their roster. With Tony Gonzalez no longer a part of the team TE is one glaring need, however is Eric Ebron worth the no six pick? Given the two stud OT’s will probably be gone this leaves us to conclude that they (assuming they stand pat) will be best served by a top Line backer and Buffalo’s Khalil Mack certainly fits that description. Trading down is an option, however unless it is with a team desperate for a QB its not clear who would want to move up to six.

Khalil Mack at the Combine

Pick 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jonny Manziel QB

This may look like a strange prediction, given the other areas of need in Tampa, however Josh McCown is not the long term solution and seeing JM drift to this position may prove too tempting. They could do with an OT, however the top prospects will likely be gone by now and other needs in the secondary can be addressed later. Having Josh McCown means that they will not have to rush Manziel into action, and if they are building for the future there is no better place to start than at QB.

Pick 8 Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater QB

There is little doubt that the Vikings will add a QB in the 2014 draft, and given they are actually not that bad all round, we would expect them to pull the trigger here, and in doing so pick up a QB who is good enough to start from game one. Bridgewater has been instrumental in putting the Cardinals on the map in the NCAA including leading them to a shock win in the BCS Sugar Bowl in 2013. He may not have shone at the Combine, however everyone has an off day and we expect to see him starting in 2014.

Pick 9 Buffalo Bills – Mike Evans WR

Although the Bills look to have a good Wide out pairing with Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, we still think they need more offensive weapons before EJ Manuel can take the next step. They still need an OT, however this can be addressed later rather than reaching for a player like Taylor Lewin with a top 10 pick. The other option here would be Eric Ebron who looks by far the best TE in the draft and we would certainly not rule him out.

Pick 10 Detroit Lions – Hasean Clinton-Dix FS

The Lions flattered only to deceive last season, falling apart down the stretch and missing the post season. Having watched a few of their games it was clear that they couldn’t buy a turnover and this needs addressing hence the prediction they will take a physical safety to add some steel to their secondary. They also need to stiffen their OL, however unless by some miracle Jake Matthews slides to No 10 they will seek to address this later. Others we consider viable picks include Calvin Pryor who should still be on the board, and possibly a decent CB such as Justin Gilbert. We would have included Darqueze Dennard in the mix too if not for his off field antics which may have hurt his draft standing.

So there we have it our predictions for 6through 10 assuming no trades.

Is there a New Tom Brady Lurking in the 2014 NFL Draft

With all the focus being on the four top ranked QBs in this years draft it is easy to forget that drafting one in the first round is no guarantee of finding a franchise QB, and sometimes a future starter is lurking way down the rankings. A great example of this is Tom Brady who was largely overlooked in the 2000 draft – ending up as pick 199, a compensatory pick at that. So who could be worth a punt in 2014?

One worthy of consideration if you are prepared to forgive his youthful indiscretions is Zach Mettenberger. who at 6-5 has good height and is quite powerful. This LSU career has been steady and despite his earlier arrests he has kept out of trouble for the last couple of years which hopefully indicates he has learned from his mistakes. We think due to injury worries he will be on the board in round three, and this could be good value if he can be placed behind a veteran QB for a season or two.

Jimmy Garoppolo may have been ranked higher if he had played for a higher profile college team that Eastern Illinoi, however all he could do was lead his team to victory, and in 2013 the Panthers recorded 12 wins. In what was probably his highest profile game v Northern Illinoi he outshone fellow QB prospect Jordan Lynch by putting up 450 yards and 6 TDs. Ok they lost but it showed they could compete against a ranked team, and he was instrumental in their win. Is he a starting QB? probably not in week one, however if he was to slide towards the end of round two someone should take a chance.

Its hard to assess just how good AJ McCarron is, given he played behind one of the best offensive lines in the SEC for much of his college career, and he got plenty of playing time thanks to the Crimson Tide’s formidable defense. Still you can’t knock his achievements and again if he drifts down into the third or fourths rounds then he would be worth a punt.

Finally any franchise willing to take a late round punt could do worse than pick up Logan Thomas out of Virginia Tech. He is a big guy who impressed us at the combine with his speed and agility, showing well in the dash, cones and shuffle. He was a bit of a late comer to the game not playing until the 8th Grade, and even then he spent a good proportion of his time at WR. He was not drafted into the College game as a QB, however this hasn’t stopped him from putting up some good stats, and anyone who watched him in the Hokies win over Miami last season will have seen he has potential. OK the thumping in the Sun Bowl means he ended his career on a loss, however he only played for part of the game (it was 7-7 when he played his last down) and the collapse only came in the 4th Quarter against a good UCLA team. Over the season they beat the teams they should have and losing to the likes of Alabama & Duke was no disgrace. He is prone to throwing interceptions, however he has room for improvement given his late start in the QB role. Overall we like Logan Thomas and in our opinion any team getting him in the 6th or 7th round will have got a bargain (Packers please note).

Logan Thomas at the Combine

Logan Thomas Game Highlights

Should The Panthers Trade up in the 2014 Draft?

Like most people (outside of die hard Carolina fans) we were a tad surprised at the tremendous showing they put on in 2013, however success does come at a cost and in 2014 they will pick 28th in the 1st round of the draft. The problem they face is that they have glaring needs on Offense going into the new season and this begs the question – should they trade up to plug one of their needs or wait and hope that a suitable candidate slides?

In our opinion their biggest need is a stud OT to protect their most important player Cam Newton, however with a number of teams also in the market for one, they may need to jump up to secure one of the better ones. The top two Greg Robinson & Jake Matthews will probably require a move into the top 10 at least to be sure, however ex Michigan prospect Taylor Lewen should be around by the time the Rams pick at 13 (despite really impressing at the Combine) and here in lies the trade opportunity. The 13th Pick will not prove prohibitively expensive, especially given the Rams already have the No 2 pick thanks to some judicious trading in the past, and filling the vital left tackle position with a player of such potential must be viewed as worth the cost.

Taylor Lewen Dazzles at the Combinbe

The other alternative is waiting to see if Cyrus Kouandjio slides to 28 (by no means certain), however given he has had some injury worries, it is a BIG risk going into the new season with a potentially injury prone rookie protecting Cam Newton’s Blind Side.

Other options which are more risky include trading out of day one and hopefully picking up the likes of Morgan Moses who might slide into the early part of round two or seeing if they can grab Cameron Fleming later in the second round. A move such as this may allow them to pick up a sliding WR such as USC’s Marqise Lee or a quality TE such as Jace Amaro or Troy Niklas who should be around deep into the second round.

So with a little bit of trade juggling Carolina could easily address their main need, or look to fill all of their offensive needs either with an aggressive move up or by drifting down and taking slightly more of a chance on some second round prospects.


Will The Browns Now Go QB at No4 In The Draft

It is no secret that Cleveland intends to improve their offence in the 2014 draft, however with the signing of Nate Burleson the decision as to whether Wider Receiver or Quarterback will be addressed at pick number four has changed.

We have the Browns picking WR Sammy Watkins with their first pick, however, picking up Burleson on a one year deal from Detroit does give them the option of looking to day two to address this need or even waiting until 2015 where (with no offence intended) they are likely to be picking early again.

Burleson may be coming up 33, however he is far from washed up, and his release by the Detroit Lions was purely a salary cap move. He finished the 2013 with 39 catches for 461 yards and a single touchdown. However this needs to be viewed against a backdrop of Megatron being the no one target for Matt Stafford, and the fact that the last two seasons have been blighted by injury. He only played in nine games for the Lions in 2013 and in 2012 he missed the final 10 games of the season. It is also worth noting that he had one of the highest reception rates in the NFL last season catching 73.6% of the passes thrown to him. As for the injuries, well 2012 was ended due to a broken leg which is one of those things and not a nagging chronic problem, while in 2013 he suffered a somewhat self-inflicted injury when he broke his arm in a car crash, caused when he tried to grab a falling Pizza box! Shame he didn’t show his on field catching skills here, however he did somehow manage to parlay the accident into a year’s free supply of DiGiorno Pizza’s.

He should be a popular addition to the locker room (not just because of the free pizzas) being a bit of a spokesman and a leader, and the Browns could easily choose a worse mentor for Josh Gordon.

Whether this leads Cleveland to pass on Sammy Watkins is debatable, however it has probably increased Jonny Manziels stock in their scouts eyes.

DeShawn Jackson Officially a Redskin for 2014

Deshawn Jackson’s spell as a free agent was as short lived (as expected) and he has signed with the Washington Redskins; a move which has made theirs one of the most potent in the NFC. Given he is coming of a career best season the move seems a little ill timed, however a combination of off field rumours and money probably led to Chip Kelly deciding his hurry up offence could live without him.

On the field he will team up with Pierre Garcon, who led the NFL in receptions last season to give one of the most potent WR sets in the league. Combine this with explosive running in the form of Alfred Morris and the QB Talents of RGIII and you have a team who will rightly be considered as playoff contenders. This seems a bold statement to make about a team who went 3-13 and lost their last 8 games. However seven games were against teams who made the playoffs and their heavy losses were against the Chiefs, 49ers and Broncos so no disgrace there. Further Eight of the losses suffered were by 8 points or less. If they can stiffen up their Pass Defence they could surprise a lot of people in 2014 and it will be a big surprise if they don’t improve significantly on last seasons record.

Johnny Manziel Schedules A Meeting With New England

It is reported that ex Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel is having a pre draft meeting with the New England  Patriots this week, however its not clear what the purpose is other than him getting a free lunch. It is no secret that they will have to eventually find a replacement for Tom Brady (big shoes to fill), however given they pick 29 in this years draft, Johnny would have to have an Arron Rodgers style slide to reach that deep and its hard to see Bill Belichick trading up dramatically to take a player who would only start in the most extreme of circumstances , and in any event Ryan Mallett whom they picked up in the 3rd round in 2011 looks like he has some potential, and will know the system given he has carried the clip board around for a while now. Overall we think this is more of a polite meet and greet and that JM will be plying his trade with one of the other 31 teams in 2014.

DeSean Jackson Poised to Join The Redskins

DeSean Jackson may have been cut by the Eagles, however he wont be without a team for long and it looks strongly possible he will end up facing them this season wearing a Washington Redskins Shirt. Presently the reports are based on a number of Tweets from those supposedly in the know, however the deal does make sense for the Skins, who need to give RGIII more weapons if they are to compete in an admittedly below par NFC East.

DeSean Jackson is coming off of his best season ever and played his part in helping the Eagles to the Playoffs last season, where they lost narrowly to the Saints. If he can repeat his production from 2013 (1332 yards and 9 TD’s) then teaming him up with Pierre Garson and Alfred Morris will give Washington a nice attacking option, which will allow new Coach Jay Gruden to focus on other areas in the draft. This is important for Washington, given they are still suffering here from the Blockbuster RGIII trade up.

There will certainly be other suitors waiting in the wings if a deal is not reached, however we are sure that Jackson will want the chance to play against his old team, and show them they were wrong to release him.

BJ Raji Moving Back to Nose Tackle for The Packers in 2014

Green bay have announced that B.J. Raji will move back to Nose tackle this coming season, from Defensive End, a position he has been used in for much of the last 2 seasons. Whether the arrival of Julius Peppers has influenced this is anyone’s guess, however in our opinion Mike McCarthy’s experiment in moving him out there didn’t work and we are looking forward to seeing him play in his more orthodox role. There was rumours that he would be on his way but he recently signed a $4M one- year deal.

2014 NFL Mock Draft Picks 1-5

With Free Agency nearing its end, now is the time to begin the age old tradition of trying to guess who will be making moves in the draft. Here is our initial thoughts on picks 1-5.


Pick 1 Houston Texans QB Blake Bortles

With Matt Schaub now at the Raiders the most obvious pick for the Texans would be a top QB, and there are a few promising ones to choose from this time round. However as we have already discussed its not a foregone conclusion in our opinion. The reason briefly is that there is a lot of QBs with potential this year and spending the coveted no 1 pick on a QB where there could be the chance to pick up a starter deep in the 1st or even in the 2nd round is high risk.

If they do go QB then Blake Bortles would be a good choice, however both Teddy Bridgewater and Jonny Manziel are worth considering. If they decide to wait and fill the QB need in round two, then the options would be DE Jadeveon Clowney OT Greg Robinson or WR Sammy Watkins in that order. At this stage we feel they will probably go with Bortles however we think that Clowney would be the best choice.


Pick 2 St Louis Rams OT Greg Robinson

The Rams continue to benefit from Washington’s blockbuster trade to get RGIII and if they don’t decide to trade this pick (a strong possibility if the Texans don’t take Bortles  at No 1) then they will probably look to the OL in an attempt to keep Sam Bradford healthy.  OT’s Jake Matthews & Greg Robinson would be the obvious picks here, although both Jadeveon Clowney & Sammy Watkins would be considered. Given the physicality of the NFC West we think that OT is the way to go and just give the edge here to Greg Robinson due to his strength and bulk (he came in at 332lbs at the Combine).


Pick 3 Jacksonville Jaguars DE Jadeveon Clowney

The Jags need a QB and if as we think is possible the Texans have passed on Blake Bortles they will snatch him here if no one has already traded up with the Rams. However assuming things have gone as predicted they will take Jadeveon Clowney here. Jake Matthews & Sammy Watkins would also be one on their radar, however a class WR is not much use without the ball and when you have a roster full of holes taking the best available is always the safest way to go.


Pick 4 Cleveland Browns WR Sammy Watkins

The Browns have made no secret of the fact they are going to draft a QB, however with 2 1st round picks they can afford to take a chance and see who drops to them at 26 so unless Blake Bortles is by some miracle still on the board, we think they will strengthen their receiver corp with Sammy Watkins. Then when they get the latest in their conveyor belt of rookie QBs he will at least have Watkins and the equally talented Josh Gordon to target. If as is possible both have gone then they would probably take the best OT left or Clowney if still on the board.

Pick 5 Oakland Raiders  OT Jake Matthews

The Raiders need a franchise QB and although the likes of Teddy Bridgewater and Jonny Manziel will be tempting the fact they have traded a 6th round pick for Matt Schaub would indicate that they intend to start him. Even the Raiders are unlikely to use the No 5 pick on a back up QB especially when there is likely to be ones with potential floating around in the 2nd and 3d rounds. Thus taking a top OT who will start and serve you well (injuries allowing) for at least 5 years makes sense. Other options here would be picking up a quality OLB and Khalil Mack & Anthony Barr would both be considerations here. Another option would be trading down and trying to replace that 6th round pick they spent on Schaub in the process.

So we have a QB two OTs, a DE and a WR going in the first 5 picks. This could lead to a flurry of trades for the top QB’s, and a few quality CB’s and Safeties slipping further than expected.  We will give our best guesses for picks 6-10 over the weekend.

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