Green Bay Packers vs Philadephia Eagles Preview

The early-season hype surrounding rookie Carson Wentz has quieted down, but the whispers are growing louder around two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers’ inability to stop his team’s maddening slump. Both quarterbacks will be trying to keep their teams in the playoff chase when Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles host Rodgers and the sliding Green Bay Packers on Monday night (Enter Contest).

The Eagles have dropped five of seven since No. 2 overall draft pick Wentz led them to a 3-0 start, slipping into last place in the NFC East. Still, the Eagles are right on the heels of division rival Washington (6-4-1) for the final playoff spot in the conference and also own a 4-0 record at home, including victories over Atlanta and Minnesota in their last two at Lincoln Financial Field. The Packers are in the midst of a spectacular four-game slide during which they have allowed a staggering 153 points.

ABOUT THE PACKERS (4-6):

Following narrow losses to Atlanta and Indianapolis by a combined six points, Green Bay’s defense has been carved up for 89 points by Tennessee and Washington in the first two stops of its three-game road trip. The Packers have failed to force a turnover in three of the last four defeats. Green Bay is hopeful that Christine Michael, claimed off waivers from Seattle, will be ready to bolster a sagging running game with a full week of practice. Rodgers continues to put up solid numbers with 15 TD passes and three interceptions in his last five games. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who sat out last season with a knee injury, leads the NFL with nine TD catches. The Packers have won four of the last five meetings, including a 53-20 rout at Philadelphia two years ago.

ABOUT THE EAGLES (5-5):

It’s hardly a surprise that Wentz has been unable to sustain his hot start, given the dearth of playmakers at wide receiver and a spotty running game. Wentz threw seven touchdown passes against one interception in his first four games, but those numbers have changed with four scoring tosses and six picks in the last six contests. Wentz has thrown for more than 238 yards just once in his last seven games, with wideout Jordan Matthews his favorite target with 53 receptions and three touchdowns. Matthews has four TD receptions in his last six home games and recorded 107 yards and a score versus Green Bay in 2014. Ryan Mathews rushed for a season-high 109 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Atlanta on November 13, but he injured his knee in last week’s loss at Seattle and is not expected to play. Philadelphia has surrendered only 38 points in its four home games.

Posted in NFL

Monday Night Football

EAGLES (1-0) vs BEARS (0-1)

Carson Wentz showed he could handle the big stage in his much-ballyhooed NFL start, but the lights will be even brighter when he leads the Philadelphia Eagles on the road to face the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football (Enter Contests). Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick overall pick out of North Dakota State, earned raved reviews nationally after leading Philadelphia to a 29-10 win over Cleveland in its season opener. His 101.0 passer rating was the highest by a Philadelphia rookie since John Reaves in 1972.

Wentz was supposed to open the season on the bench but was thrust into the starter’s role following the abrupt trade of Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings. He responded with 278 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns against those lowly Browns. While Wentz looks to be the towns hero in Philadelphia after his starry debut, there are major injury concerns on both sides of the ball for the Eagles.

Tight end Zach Ertz, who collected six catches for 58 yards, suffered a rib displacement under his collarbone and did not practice again Friday. This is likely robbing Wentz of a safety valve that hauled in 75 receptions in 2015. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin also did not participate in practice. He strained his hamstring, putting further stress on a position where Philadelphia lacked depth after trading Eric Rowe to New England. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews had a big first game with the Eagles acquiring seven catches for 114 yards and a TD.

Chicago was not impressive in its season opener, failing to get on the board in the second half of a 23-14 loss at Houston. Playing at home is not necessarily an advantage for the Bears. They’ve came out victorious only once at Soldier Field last season. Chicago’s offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, who was sacked five times and pressured repeatedly. Cutler passed for 216 yards with one touchdown and a costly interception in Houston.

Speedy wide receiver Kevin White, the No. 7 overall pick in 2015, had three receptions for 34 yards in his NFL debut, but accepted the blame for running the incorrect route on Cutler’s pick. After missing his entire rookie campaign with a shin injury, it’s likely that the jitters got to him for his first official NFL game. The Bears’ defense, which ranked in the bottom third of the league against the rush (120.9 yards per game) last season, gave the Texans control of the ball for more than 36 minutes. Alshon Jeffery was the best offensive player with four catches for 105 yards. He has at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in his last three games.

Posted in NFL

NFL Draft 2016

Top prospects

The NFL Draft 2016 will not only be tense for the teams making the decision, but also for those young collegiate players that have waited for this moment their whole lives. The work that they’ve put in to impress scouts throughout the year in hopes that someone noticed their potential. The hype generated by those players can sometime outweigh the needs of the team, which makes it difficult to know exactly what’s going to happen. One’s thing for sure, there will be 253 players who will see their dream of entering in the NFL come true. Here are 10 highly touted prospects that are sure to have their name shouted out on stage during the Draft beginning Thursday April 28th at 8PM.

Laremy Tunsil, OT – Ole Miss

A three-year starter at left tackle, Tunsil was a much ballyhooed recruit and immediately lived up to the hype at Ole Miss, allowing only one sack as a true freshman starter in the SEC.

Jalen Ramsey, FS – Florida St.

It’s rare to see defensive backs mentioned as worthy of the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft, but Ramsey deserves it with his natural playmaking skills. He can play cornerback (inside or outside), but his best NFL fit is in a nickel or safety role.

Joey Bosa, DE – Ohio St.

Bosa racked up 26 sacks and 51 tackles for loss in three seasons with the Buckeyes. An All-America and first team All-Big Ten player in 2015, he was constantly double-teamed while being held to only 5.0 sacks. But he remained an impact player with 16.0 tackles for loss while consistently freeing teammates to make plays.

Myles Jack, OLB – UCLA

Jack was an All-America candidate before suffering a torn meniscus during practice last September. He underwent surgery and ultimately decided to withdraw from school and focus on his preparation for the 2016 NFL Draft by rehabbing in the Phoenix area.

Jared Goff, QB – California

A Marin Catholic and North Coast (Calif.) Section legend, Goff, a four-star recruit, was handed the keys to Cal’s future almost immediately after signing with the team, Goff steadily impressed over his first seasons before emerging as arguably the best quarterback prospect in the nation in 2015.

DeForest Buckner, DE – Oregon

Oregon’s defense struggled in 2015, but that was no fault of Buckner’s. He decided to return for his senior season and continued to stand out, starting all 13 games and finishing with 10.5 sacks, 17.0 tackles for loss and 83 total tackles despite facing a steady stream of double- and triple-teams.

Carson Wentz, QB – North Dakota St.

A two-year starter who went 20-3 for the Bison, Wentz thrived in North Dakota State’s wide-open offense, taking snaps from under center and shotgun with several pro-style reads, including left-to-right and high-to-low progressions. Although he didn’t consistently face top competition at the FCS level, Wentz performed well in high pressure situations, including the 2014 and 2015 FCS national championship games.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB – Ohio St.

Elliott gained legendary status in the state of Ohio with his performance down the stretch in 2014, recording back-to-back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances in the Big Ten Championship Game vs. Wisconsin (220 yards), Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama (230) and National Championship game vs. Oregon (246). He earned offensive MVP honors in the final two games and finished the 2014 season with 1,878 rushing yards, the second-most in school history, adding 18 touchdowns.

Darron Lee, OLB – Ohio St.

A two-year starter in Ohio State’s versatile 4-3 base defense, Lee was a 195-pound quarterback in high school and although the Buckeyes coaches weren’t sure where he would play, they knew he could play.

Shaq Lawson, DT – Clemson

Lawson entered the 2015 season with more buzz than production, but officially broke out as a junior with an FBS-leading 24.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks and now projects as a top 20 pick.

Time now to enter your mock nfl draft 2016 for your chance to win a $100,000.

 

Posted in NFL

NFL Draft

LA Rams acquire first overall pick from Titans

Talk about respect.

Making a trade for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft is usually the biggest news in the sports world. But, the Rams even held off announcing the move until they deemed fit.

What could possibly be more important than announcing Los Angeles had just acquired the first overall pick?

Well, Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher was quoted as saying “the night belonged to Kobe”.

Respect.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag, let’s break down the momentous move.

laramstrade

The Titans received picks number 15 (1st), 43 (2nd), 45 (2nd), 76 (3rd), and 2017 1st and 3rd rounders. They already hold the 33rd overall pick (second pick in 2nd round), and 64th (first in 3rd round). The Rams received the first overall pick, pick 113 (4th), and 177 (6th).

The Titans now own six of the first 76 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, enough ammo to rebuild any franchise let alone one with a few solid building blocks already in place. Namely, a (potential) franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota.

We knew Tennessee wasn’t in love with consensus top pick OT Laremy Tunsil, but that wasn’t enough to pull the trigger just yet. New GM Jon Robinson played his cards just right, and optimized the return for a position he didn’t need to be in. Word is they like the next set of best available OL, and taking Tunsil at number one didn’t necessarily optimize their needs. The Titans and Jack Conklin apparently have mutual admiration, news that surfaced yesterday sparking trade talk among fans and media alike.

When asked if any NFL Head Coaches have made an impact on him through the draft process he responded with “One [NFL head coach] that’s really stood out to me is Mike Mularkey. I really liked him because I see a lot of similarities between him and [Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio]. That really intrigues me because that is somebody that I trust and thrived under.”

While there it’s no sure thing that the Titans draft an offensive-lineman, their strategy was spot on. More importantly than the 15th overall pick, is perhaps the three second-rounders they now own. The 2016 draft is the kind you want to own a plethora of early to mid-round picks. A number of potential stars will be plucked between numbers 32 and 98.

A young running back to groom behind Demarco Murray, a talented wide receiver to pair with the developing Dorial Green-Beckham, and an athletic tight-end are all needs on the offensive side of the ball. While a youth infusion is needed on defense, as their linebacking core and secondary could use a serious upgrade after letting a few veterans go via free agency.

The Rams logic was simple. Get a franchise quarterback, now!

I’ve heard whispers that projected number two overall pick Carson Wentz will now go one, but I think Cal’s Jeff Goff will be the man.

Goff was the consensus top QB all season long, and the only reason Wentz name has been glued to the Browns is because new Head Coach Hue Jackson is enamored by the North Dakota State QB. He’s a great fit in Cleveland, as the more steady, blue-collar type. If in fact, the Browns opt to select him at number two, he would become the highest-drafted non-FBS quarterback in NFL history.

In my opinion the hometown Goff is a perfect fit for the Rams, as his gunslinger style is made for the lovely people of California. The fans will be able to deal with his growing pains, and by handing the ball off to Todd Gurley the team can limit his responsibilities early-on.  A luxury the Cleveland Browns certainly do not possess.

No matter who goes where, the draft process has been especially exciting this year and it can only get better the closer we inch to draft day.

Posted in NFL

NFL Mock Draft

The NFL Draft is now just 25 days away, so it’s about time I post my first NFL mock draft. This edition has no trades, and as always, there will be changes going forward.

If you’re wondering why there’s only 31 picks this year, no I did not forget one, but you will recall there was this big thing about deflated footballs a while ago. So, the Patriots will be forfeiting their first-round pick for breaking the league rules (again…).

Let’s take a look at my NFL mock draft, edition numero uno.

Speaking of uno, Laremy Tunsil holds it down at the number one spot. The Ole Miss Tackle had a terrific showing at his pro day, and will help solidify a Titans front-five that will ground and pound with new lead back DeMarco Murray all day.

Carson Wentz has been linked to Hue Jackson for months, but don’t count Goff out just yet. All season long he was the consensus number one quarterback, and now the small school Carson Wentz has jumped the more polished Cal product.

Arguable top overall prospect Jalen Ramsey slides to three because he’s a DB. The Chargers have the young and talented Jason Verrett at corner, but lost long-time leader and safety Eric Weddle. Ramsey will immediately improve the defense, wherever it is the Chargers will be playing in 2016.

  • My entire NFL Mock Draft

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Important Note

LA Rams – Taking Paxton Lynch at 15 seems crazy, but no other position will impact this franchise as much as a quarterback.

Even one who’s not necessarily ready for the pro game.

They were practically running a wildcat offense based off the threat of a permanent option call to Tavon Austin on the reverse, or a run up the middle by Todd Gurley. The faith shown in their QB’s down the stretch was as minimal as I’ve ever witnessed in the NFL, and I think that’s more telling than anything. When the coaching staff was forced to put Foles or Keenum in a passing situation where they needed to make the play, they failed miserably… Time and time again.

Maybe the Rams trade up and snatch Goff so he can stay in Cali, but without a trade scenario in this mock I’m improving their chances of winning games by upgrading the most important position on the team.

Denver Broncos – With Colin Kaepernick apparently just a matter of a “few dollars’ away from joining the Broncos, a QB was no longer coveted in the first round. Denver takes advantage of the DL depth in this draft and snatches a nice value at 31. Spence could go much higher, but questions about his speed (4.8 combine) and character are a legitimate concern.

Feel free to comment if you have any suggestions, or even your own NFL Mock Draft to share!

 

Posted in NFL

NFL Combine: Winners

The NFL combine has come and gone, so toss out those pre-combine mock drafts and reconsider life as we know it. Every year mock drafts are completely re-written post combine due to both great, and disappointing performances from the hopeful athletes.

Every year players get lumped into various categories. Two of the major ones would be workout warriors, and “football players”. Ideally you find a nice balance of the two and feel safer projecting them at the next level.

Here is a list of good football players who had nice workouts to boot, they will surely be at the least, solid pros in the NFL.

Winners

QB Carson Wentz – Showed off his ability to make all the throws – with a ton of zip to boot. As one anonymous NFL scout said  “This guy’s unique. He’s just different. And obviously, he’s 6-5, 230, and can spin it like a mother.”

He ran an impressive 4.77 in the 40-yard dash, real nice for a 6’5 230 lb QB (2nd at the position), and also put up a 3-cone drill of 6.86 seconds, one of only four quarterbacks to accomplish it in under 7 seconds. He will most likely go number 2 overall to Cleveland.

QB Jeff Goff – Put on a passing clinic for everyone in attendance. Wentz may have the better measurables, but many believe Goff is the better thrower. Played at Cal, so he’s seen the bright lights and pressure that comes with the position. Certainly a top 10 pick, and while the Browns like their man, Goff could be the better player down the line. The right fit in the NFL could turn him from a potential serviceable starter to a perennial Pro-Bowler.

WR Braxton Miller – While fans may have felt let down by his 40 time at the NFL Combine, his 60-yard shuttle, 20-yard shuttle, 3-cone drill results were among the elite. His performance confirmed what we saw on on film and why we believe he can make the transition to wide receiver, when so many before him haven’t.

Aside from his competitive drive, he has outstanding feet and explosion in those legs.  He will be a fine route runner once he learns the nuances of the position by translating those skills into separation from DBs at the top of his routes. Get the ball in his hands around the short to intermediate areas and he will find success in the NFL. Update* He ran a 4.33 at his pro day.

BraxtonMillerfanpicks

 

Posted in CFB, NFL

NFL Combine Day 2

Day 2 of the NFL Combine has come and gone, and as usual there was drama and excitement of all kinds. Even a couple of staff members got into it.

The athletes had their ups and downs, notably a major down for Ohio State QB Cardale Jones who pulled his hamstring and is done for the remainder of the combine. Christian Hackenberg was terribly inaccurate during his throwing session, but did run a respectable 4.78 40-yard dash. Positively, Jeff Goff had a fantastic day throwing, as did Carson Wentz. Wentz also ran an impressive 4.77 40-yard dash, when you consider he measured in at 6’5 237 lbs. The latter two are considered the classes top QBs and probably top 10 picks.

The Wide Receivers…

The wide outs ran their 40’s today, and we had some surprises. Mike Mayock says this is the slowest group of WR’s we’ve maybe ever seen, and they are all “quicker than fast”. Laquon Treadwell didn’t run, but is still considered the top player at his position.

Here is the Top 10…plus the next two since they are very notable names.

Top10WR40s

Braxton Miller was probably Day 2 of the combine’s biggest surprise. While folks are still high on him, the Buckeyes converted QB was expected to run somewhere in the 4.3 range. His 4.5 flat (best) was disappointing to say the least. There was claims he ran a 4.36 as a QB for Ohio State, so after training so long as a wide receiver he would be even faster. That wasn’t the case, but his physicality and quickness are what make him a good WR anyway. He can be an NFL team’s number 2 WR one day soon. I see many first-down conversions in the future for this converted competitor.

Notre Dame’s Will Fuller unsurprisingly was among the events top performers. Impressively, he finished at the top medal standings.

TCU’s Josh Doctson is in the discussion as a top 3 pick at his position. His 40 time will definitely lower his draft stock, and now is a mid-to-late first round pick at best.

Posted in CFB, NFL