Michael Markoch’s Official 2020 NFL Mock Draft

As of this point when I constructed this mock draft, free agency had come and gone, and that involved some picks being traded.  Besides those already agreed upon trades, no trades will be made in this mock draft, just picks in the regular spots. So without further ado, let’s get started.

#1- Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU- This is the worst kept secret in all of football, that is if it is supposed to even be a secret at all.  The Bengals who finished a league worst 2-14 last season are in dire need of a quarterback, and who else better than the reigning Heisman Trophy winner who is also from Southeastern Ohio himself?  It seems like a perfect fit and a great way to begin a rebuild.

#2- Washington Redskins: Chase Young, Defensive End, Ohio State- This pick is fishing in a barrel, it’s an obvious selection for a team that needs help everywhere.  The Redskins are looking for that presence that other teams fear, and no one in college football did that better than Chase Young last year.  With 16.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles, Young will do wonders for an aging Washington defense.

#3- Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State- With Matthew Stafford coming back and enough offensive weapons to get by, it’s time to address the 26th ranked scoring defense in the league last year, and because the Lions are making it known that they are shopping All-Pro cornerback, Darius Slay, it’s time to find his running mate, if not his replacement.  Okudah is clearly the best corner in the draft, with 3 interceptions and 9 pass breakups last year.  He also never didn’t a touchdown or had any penalties called on him last season, Okudah will give the Lions a stud in the secondary.

#4- New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker, Clemson- Simply put, the Giants need help everywhere, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  The Giants were awful on defense last season, finishing 30th in scoring and 26th in yards allowed last season.  In comes Isaiah Simmons, an absolute nightmare for any team that faced him, who can be the face of the Giants defense.  He had over 100 tackles on a stacked Clemson defense last season where it’s a bit harder to stand out.  He can also play safety if needed, making him even more lethal.  Simmons’ stock has only been rising, and he finds a home in the Big Apple.

#5- Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama- This pick could’ve been telegraphed since last offseason when the Dolphins began their “Tank for Tua” campaign.  And while people thought the Dolphins might miss out thanks to some late season wins, it seems like they might get the guy they wanted all along.  Tagovailoa has had an injury-riddled career at Alabama, but his stats and talent speaks for itself, coming off of a 33-touchdown season despite playing only nine games while also being one of the most accurate passers in college football history.  Plus, anything is better than another season of Ryan Fitzpatrick, so Tua is the man of the future in Miami.

#6- Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State- Last season was disappointing, to say the least, for the Chargers as they finished 5-11.  It didn’t help that Philip Rivers is now no longer with the organization, meaning the Chargers need a quarterback for the first time in a while.  Some would say Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is more pro-ready, I can’t disagree, but the NFL is a copy-cat league and the upside of Jordan Love along with his comparison to Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes will be too much to pass up.  Even sitting him behind a veteran quarterback year one might be the move, but this is the pick.

#7- Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown Jr., Defensive Tackle, Auburn- To say the Panthers were bad against the run last year would be too nice.  They gave up an average of 143.5 yards per game, you’re not going to win many games that way.  Derrick Brown Jr. is an absolute monster in the middle of the defense.  At Auburn, against good SEC competition, he had 33 solo tackles and 4 sacks.  For a rebuilding team with holes in a lot of places, this pick shores up their biggest one.

#8- Arizona Cardinals: Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville- The Cardinals have found their starting quarterback of the future in Kyler Murray, and the recent trade for DeAndre Hopkins makes them an intriguing team heading into next season.  However, if last year says anything about this one, Murray won’t have the time to even get him the ball.  Good news for Arizona, Mekhi Becton is a ginormous human being standing 6’7, 364 lbs who will be able to protect the 5’10 Kyler Murray.  He will be a big help to a team that ranked in the lower half of the league in run and pass blocking a year ago.

#9- Jacksonville Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina- The Jaguars traded Calais Campbell and are eventually going to have to trade the disgruntled Yannick Ngakoue, so they need help on the D-Line.  Missing out on Brown hurts, but fortunately, there are two good tackles in this draft.  Kinlaw had 6 sacks rushing from the inside last year and will be able to help a unit that was bad in stopping the run last season. 

#10- Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa- The Browns struggled to keep Baker Mayfield on his feet last season, to the fault of many including himself.  But whatever the case was, the tackle situation must be addressed.  Wirfs lit up the combine, setting records among offensive lineman in vertical jump and broad jump, while running a 4.85 forty-yard dash at 322 pounds.  And after signing Jack Conklin, the Browns will have two new tackles to give Baker what he needs most, protection.  It’s time for the Browns not to be flashy or try and make a splash, this pick will do just fine.

#11- New York Jets: Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama- The run on tackles continues with the Alabama product to the Jets.  The Jets need a lot of a lot.  Sure they need offensive weapons, but they have aging tackles on both sides and it’s time for them to get younger in order to best protect Sam Darnold.  Wills played right tackle at Alabama, but unlike most right tackles, he was protecting the quarterback’s blind side because there was a lefty quarterback at Alabama.  He was rarely called for any penalties and was great against SEC pass rushers, it’s not what Jets fans will want, but what the team really needs.

#12- Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama- Jerry Jeudy is really good, like incredibly good.  He is one of the greatest receivers to ever come out of Alabama and that’s saying something when receivers like Julio Jones and Amari Cooper went there as well.  Known for his precise route-running, Jeudy caught 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons at Alabama and still got a ton of targets with a stacked wide receiver room.  The Raiders can make up for the mistake of trading Amari Cooper and get the next receiving star in the league.

#13- San Francisco 49ers (Via IND): CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma- The 49ers lacked receiving threats last season, and it hurt them when it mattered most.  Rookie Deebo Samuel came on strong late and the addition of Emmanuel Sanders didn’t hurt, but you can never have too many weapons on offense.  Bring in CeeDee Lamb, who just had a career high 1,327 receiving yards last year along with 14 touchdowns at Oklahoma, and Jimmy Garoppolo gets the deep threat he so desperately needs.

#14- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon- Tom Brady has officially committed to playing for the Buccaneers, so what?  Now is the perfect time to draft the quarterback of the future in Tampa, and with Herbert still on the board, it’s the perfect fit.  The senior product from Oregon threw for over 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns last season and probably needs a little time before he is ready.  So why not sit him behind the greatest quarterback in NFL history?  This makes too much sense.

#15- Denver Broncos- Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia- With the run on tackles earlier, the Broncos, who desperately need one, might not get the one they want.  However, getting Thomas wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.  A very powerful lineman who works well against the run and the pass, was a part of a unit that struggled to protect Jake Fromm late in the season.  But that shouldn’t be a big deal that much when considering Thomas, who is one of the top tackles in the draft and a no-brainer for the Broncos here.

#16- Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, Defensive End, Iowa- The Falcons let Vic Beasley Jr. walk in the offseason to the dismay of many.  If the draft falls the right way for them, they might be able to find his replacement for a lot cheaper than he would’ve been.  Epenesa was still talked about in a conference with Chase Young in it, showing his skill level as an edge rusher with 11.5 sacks last season.  He will help improve one of the worst pass rushing teams in the league last season and save them some money in the process.

#17- Dallas Cowboys: CJ Henderson, Cornerback, Florida- Losing Byron Jones hurt the Cowboys, who finished tied for last in the league with 7 interceptions last season.  With a strong front seven, the Cowboys need to replace the now highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, and Henderson fits the mold.  With 11 pass breakups and a handful of solo tackles a year ago, Henderson gives the Cowboys a force in the back end of the defense who can lock up top receivers.

#18- Miami Dolphins (Via PIT): Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama- With their quarterback of the future secured in Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins have many options with their second first round pick.  How about replacing Minka Fitzpatrick, who was traded away last season for this exact pick.  McKinney was third-team All-American and first team all SEC last year, leading the Tide’s defense with 95 tackles from the safety position.  He has been said to be great in pass coverage and could use a little help tackling in the open field, but for the Dolphins, he gives them an enforcer they need with a steadily improving secondary.

#19- Las Vegas Raiders (Via CHI): Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma- With their second first round pick, I see the Raiders filling another hole, this time on defense.  Murray was the Sooners’ leading tackler last season and is known for his ability to fly across the field from   sideline to sideline.  The Raiders have been lacking a presence in the middle of their defense since they traded Khalil Mack, and Murray can fill that void and give the Raiders a successful first round.

#20- Jacksonville Jaguars (Via LAR): Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU- Trading away Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye probably wasn’t the smartest move by the Jags, but fortunately they have two first round picks.  So why not take the best cornerback on the board at this point in Fulton, who had 14 pass breakups a year ago, to shore up a secondary that only had 10 interceptions as a team last season but was still top half of the league in passing defense.

#21- Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU- Late last season, Carson Wentz was throwing to college quarterbacks because he had to.  Simply put, the wide receiver room in Philly is unreliable, and Jefferson is as reliable as receivers can be.  He spent most of his time lined up in the slot at LSU, but that he was surrounded by other great receivers in college as well and he can line up as an outside threat.  Most will remember him for his 227 yard, 4-touchdown performance in the College Football Playoff Semifinal, and his big play ability is what the Eagles are lacking.  Carson Wentz says thank you.

#22- Minnesota Vikings (Via BUF): Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama- The Vikings recently released All-Pro corner Xavier Rhodes, so this pick makes sense, continuing the run on cornerbacks.  This pick would be ironic considering the Vikings only have this pick due to trading his older brother Stefon Diggs.  Known as reliable in press-coverage gathering 3 interceptions and 8 pass breakups last year while also possessing the ball skills and aggressiveness of a free safety, the Vikings can fill the hole they just recently opened and prepare for another playoff run.

#23- New England Patriots: K’Lavon Chaisson, Outside Linebacker LSU- I know, I know Tom Brady is no longer in town, and the Patriots need a quarterback, but they won’t take one here.  Instead, the Patriots will look to replace Kyle Van Noy, who left for Miami in free agency.  Chaisson had 34 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks for the Tigers last year, while being known for being agile and a great leader.  If he doesn’t fit the Patriot Way, I don’t know who does.

#24- New Orleans Saints: Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU- Tigers keep flying off the board as now Queen goes to New Orleans to shore up the weakest part of the Saints defense.  His ability to recognize plays is one of the best in the entire draft, and along with his excellent open field tackling ability, he fills a need for the Saints to maybe finally get to another Super Bowl.

#25- Minnesota Vikings: Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson- Stefon Diggs is gone and it would make sense to save a little money and replace him.  Tee Higgins could possibly be the best receiver in the draft, and they could snag him at 25.  The leading receiver with 1,167 yards last year on a stacked Clemson team, he will provide Kirk Cousins with a threat anywhere on the field.

#26- Miami Dolphins (Via HOU): Josh Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston- Miami will finish their first round by getting some protection for their new quarterback, and they should be thrilled if Josh Jones is still here.  Jones tends to win one-on-ones and is good in run and pass blocking.  He might need to tweak some of his technique to compensate for NFL talent at edge rusher, but this would be a steal and make the Dolphins a happy team after day one.

#27- Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, Defensive End, Penn State- There aren’t many holes on the defensive side of the ball for the Seahawks, but you can never have too many pass rushers.  Out of Penn State, Gross-Matos has a lot of length which makes it easier for him to get outside the tackles and get to the quarterback.  I think Jadeveon Clowney has found his new running mate.

#28- Baltimore Ravens: Malik Harrison, Linebacker, Ohio State- The Ravens have lost so many linebackers over the last few years and it’s become a weak point on their defense.  Harrison can play either inside or outside linebacker and had a great year for the Buckeyes.  He’s smart, quick, very physical when tackling and can also rush from the outside.  This is the combo linebacker the Ravens are looking for.

#29- Tennessee Titans: Ross Blacklock, Defensive Tackle, TCU- With 25 solo tackles and 3.5 rushing from the middle last season for TCU, Blacklock can provide depth to a Tennessee defensive line that lacks it.  While other needs might be in order, there comes a time where reaching for value isn’t the right moveand adding depth is okay.  Tennessee shows that here.

#30- Green Bay Packers: Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver Alabama- Aaron Rodgers needs more targets, plain and simple.  Ruggs just ran a sub 4.3 forty yard dash and is a burner that will give any corner problems.  Even with a crowded wide receiver room at Alabama, Ruggs was a favorite target, mainly due to his speed, and there’s no reason to believe that wouldn’t change in Green Bay.

#31- San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Terrell, Cornerback, Clemson- If one thing was evident in the Super Bowl, the 49ers lack speed in the secondary.  Terrell ran a 4.42 forty and had two interceptions at Clemson last season.  For a team that basically has everything, this shores up their biggest weakness.

#32- Kansas City Chiefs: D’Andre Swift, Running Back, Georgia- Could the Chiefs get any faster? Well they would with Swift.  To say Georgia has a great history with running backs would be an understatement and the Chiefs are in a position where they don’t need much, so why not dabble in that history?  Swift is a dual threat out of the backfield and would give the Chiefs yet another deadly weapon in the underneath passing game.  He’s very shifty and would make perfect sense for the Chiefs here, that is if he is still on the board.

The Cavs: A Season of Ups and Downs

With COVID-19 suspending all the major leagues for at least 30 days, the season is, for now, suspended. With that already happening and the possibility of this suspension going on for longer, I want to look at the Cavs’s season so far and analyze how the rebuild went this year and where it could be going.

The standout player this year, without question, has to be Colin Sexton. After a rough first half of the year, and an especially rough rookie season, he really shined the last couple of months and most nights was one of the best, if not the best player on the team, leading the team in points per game. After the Jordan Clarkson trade, a lot more seemed to open up for him; his assists per game averages went up (along with his passing vision slowly improving) and he had the best stretch of his early career scoring wise. Obviously, he still has plenty of issues. He still loves to put his head down and run at the rim, often throwing up some questionable shots in the process. His passing is still very sub-par for his position, even if you say he is a natural shooting guard. His defense is terrible but the team’s defense is also terrible so some leniency should be given, at least for this year. His biggest asset is his hard work and there is little reason to believe he will not improve in these areas at least somewhat in the next couple of years. His ceiling may be low compared to the other young players on this team but he is definitely the best out of all of them right now.

Kevin Porter Jr., especially in the last month or so, has been a revelation. While he had a slow start to the season, he ended it on a high note. His best game came against Miami, which I wrote about here, where he had a career high of 30 points while looking like a quality starter throughout. Koby Altman gambled on him by trading up to the end of the first round to get him, and as long as he continues to work, that gamble should pay off. He was a very nice surprise this year, and he could be the x-factor that turns this rebuild around in the coming years.

There is not much to say about Darius Garland this year. He barely played any college games and was coming off of a major injury, he should never have been given any expectations at all. Even then, he often was a bit disappointing, especially later in the season. That being said, his passing is fairly far along for his age and he can shoot well from 3 point range, so I have confidence that with a full NBA offseason with the team, and with a (mostly) full year under his belt already, he can make a similar jump to Sexton in his 2nd season.

The biggest questions after this year involve Dylan Windler, Andre Drummond, and Kevin Love.

For Dylan, it will be all about his development. If he develops well he could be a great bench shooter for the Cavs down the line, but he is already a year behind on his development. We will have to wait and see how he looks next year to get a real feel for whether this becomes the case.

For Drummond, it is all about his player option. He only played 8 games for the Cavs, so it is hard to know whether he could become a better fit with the team with more time. The best scenario for the Cavs would be if he picked up his option and played his contract out next year, because they could get a much better look at how he would fit with this team in the long term while not having to commit to him for the foreseeable future. If he does decline it, there would not be much pressure to re-sign him, due to the team not giving up much of anything for him in the trade for him. But the question is: should the Cavs resign him? It is a difficult question. He is an all-star caliber center, and one of the best rebounders in the league, but he will be commanding a lot of money in free agency if he opts out this year. If he opts out, he will be one of the best unrestricted free agents available, and may get offers close to the maximum salary. Should the Cavs put a sizable chunk of their cap space into a center that is talented, but somewhat outdated due to how the game is changing and moving smaller? I personally do not think so, but there are not many alternatives that end up with the Cavs having better players than Andre Drummond.

With Kevin Love, the question has been lingering for months: will he be traded? It would be the best move for both parties, as Love wants out and the Cavs will get less and less production out of him as he ages more. But Koby and the team seem to value him higher than the rest of the league, which has become an issue in previous trade negotiations. He has been a good locker room guy for the young guys (he has his bad moments, though) while being a somewhat stable presence on the floor for the team, which would be great if his contract was not so massive. The biggest issue is that he wants to leave, and at any point if the Cavs stop trying to move him, he may become unhappy and take it public. With his contract, hardly anyone wants him unless they’re giving back a similarly terrible deal. Altman seems to want to get off of the money in some way (a contract that is similar but has less years on it overall) plus a pick of some capacity, which I do not think is possible. Maybe with a weak free agent class teams will get desperate, but the front office will probably have to lower their expectations to get a deal done.

If the season does resume and everyone plays the rest of their regular season games, the rest of the team’s schedule is manageable. The Bucks and the Lakers are tough matchups, but besides that, there are some very winnable games (notably against the Suns twice, Hawks, and Kings) in there to make the end of the season exciting and watchable.

In the more likely event that this goes on for longer and the NBA jumps to the playoffs or even cancels the season, I am optimistic about the team’s future after this year. The Cavs have a nice core that we will hopefully add to in this draft (Obi Toppin would be ideal). JB Bickerstaff signed a long term extension, so it seems that the Cavs have a coach committed to being here for the duration of the rebuild, which will really help with finding a direction and building towards it. The team has a lot of cap space, which is not useful in this free agent class but they could turn that into expiring contracts to trade next season, or they can wait until 2021’s class and try to get solid guys around Garland, KPJ, and Colin. While this season was a rough one to watch for fans,  the future seems fairly bright for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jeff Longville’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft

With the NFL draft approaching fast, I decided to release my 2020 NFL mock draft for the first round. In this draft we will not be including trades, we will just be using the current first round order. The draft was made as of the morning of March 16, 2020, so we will not be taking any trades or free agency activity since then into consideration.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU: There is no speculation about this pick what so ever. Andy Dalton hasn’t worked out for Cincinnati, and the Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion has expressed an interest in playing for the Bengals, and being back in his home state of Ohio. The Bengals are in need of rebuild and where better to start than with a new quarterback?
  2. Washington Redskins- Chase Young, Defensive End, Ohio State: Once again, there is no speculation here. Young accounted for 16.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles last season, and more than proved he is the best defensive player in the draft. With the Redskins dominant pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan, aging and spending the end of last season on injured reserve, it makes sense for Washington to take an edge rusher, and Young is player that they simply cannot pass on.
  3. Detroit Lions- Jeff Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State: The Lions secondary finished the season ranked 28th in the league according to Pro Football Focus. A new piece in the secondary is what they need, especially since they decided to shop 3x Pro Bowler and All Pro Corner Darius Slay. Okudah is clearly the best corner in the draft with 9 pass defensed, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles, and should be an obvious pick for the Lions.
  4. New York Giants- Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia: The Giants allowed 43 sacks last year, which is almost 3 per game. Nate Solder hasn’t worked out since coming over from New England, so it makes sense for the Giants to try and replace him. Thomas is the best offensive line prospect in the draft and should be a corner stone piece for any ream who drafts him. With Daniel Jones showing promise in his rookie season, it makes sense for the Giants to try and protect the young quarterback as best they can.
  5. Miami Dolphins- Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama: The Dolphins are a team who need almost every position. So why not start with the most important position, the quarterback? Tagovailoa is the next best QB prospect behind Burrow this year, which makes him an easy pick for Miami. There is some concern surrounding the hip injury he suffered back in November, but he has been recovery rapidly and should be relatively healthy come the start of the season.
  6. Los Angeles Chargers- Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon: After parting ways with long time starter Philip Rivers, it makes sense for the Chargers to immediately look for his replacement. LA could look to obtain a QB from free agency. But even then it’s not a bad idea to have a long term plan in play. Herbert has had excellent performances at the combine, and has shown worthy of being the #6 overall pick in this years draft.
  7. Carolina Panthers- Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn: The Panthers ranked 29th against the run last season, and are in need of player in the middle who can stop the run. Derrick Brown is the unquestioned best Defensive Tackle in the draft, coming off of a season with 55 total tackles and 4 sacks. Brown is the obvious pick for Carolina to try and improve their run defense.
  8. Arizona Cardinals- Isiah Simmons, Outside Linebacker, Clemson: The Cardinals had the worst defense in the NFL last year, so it only makes sense that they take the best available defensive player. Simmons is one of the most versatile players in this draft, being able to tackle and cover in space. Simmons was converted from safety to outside linebacker back in 2018, so it is possible that we see Simmons lining up in the secondary at some point in his NFL career.
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars- Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina: The Jaguars are another team who struggles against the run last year, ranking 28th in that category. Kinlaw has the ability to stop the run and rush the passer form the defensive tackle position, and should be the Jags first of two first round picks if they want to get back to that dominant defense from 2017.
  10. Cleveland Browns- Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: The Browns have all the talent in the world as far as skill positions are concerned, but it’s hard to have success without a good offensive line, which the Browns are lacking. Greg Robinson has been one of the most penalized players since being drafted back in 2014. The Browns main weakness position wise is the offensive line, and Robinson needs to be replaced. Wills is the obvious pick here, and should be a week 1 starter if drafted by Cleveland.
  11. New York Jets- Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama: The Jets finished 2019 without a one thousand yard receiver. The closest was Jamison Crowder, who finished with 833 yards. The Jets have a weak receiving core and are in need of #1 option for Sam Darnold. Jeudy is the best wide receiver prospect in this draft and would be a big boost for the Jets offense.
  12. Las Vegas Raiders- CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma: The affects of the whole Antonio Brown situation from last year caught up with the Raiders late in the season, as Derek Carr didn’t really have a reliable #1 option. Lamb is the best prospect behind Jeudy in this draft, and would give Carr that reliable target down field that the Raiders lacked last year.
  13. Indianapolis Colt- A.J. Epenesa, Defensive End, Iowa: There is a lot of speculation that the Colts will be looking to take a quarterback in the draft, but I believe defense is the best way to go for the Colts. Injuries really hindered Jacoby Brissett and the Colts last year, and Brissett has shown enough to prove he is a capable starting QB in this league. With that being said one of the weakest positions for the Colts is at edge rusher. Epenesa was a stud last year for the Hawkeyes, and could really improving the Colts pass rush next season.
  14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- K’Lavon Chaisson, Outside Linebacker, LSU: Shaquil Barrett had a breakout season for the Bucs last year with 19.5 sacks. The Buccaneers franchised tagged him this morning so it might be wise to give him a partner-in-crime. Chaisson recorded 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and 60 total stops in his redhsirt sophomore season. His production would greatly help the Tampa Bay defense if they were to take him with the 14th pick.
  15. Denver Broncos- Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa: Denver’s offensive line needs help, especially at the tackle position. Denver took Garrett Boles in the first round three years ago, which to this point has been a huge disappointment. The Broncos also signed J’aWuan James last year to try and help their offensive line, but he spent much of last year injured. Wirfs has had a fantastic combine thus far, and has shown that he may be the most athletic lineman in the draft, and is projected to be a pro bowler after his rookie season, and would help the Broncos offense tremendously.
  16. Atlanta Falcons- Yetur Gross-Matos, Defensive End, Penn State: The Falcons have decided to move on form Vic Beasley this off season, so it makes sense to replace him. Gross-Matos was a nightmare for the Nittany Lions last year and he finished the season with 9.5 sacks. The Falcons pass rush had a 53% win rate last year, and they should look to keep that statistic for next year.
  17. Dallas Cowboys- Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama: The Cowboys defense finished last year with a league-low 7 interceptions. In an effort to change that, Dallas should look to add some help in the secondary. McKinney had 3 picks last year for the Crimson Tide, and should help improve an already very good secondary.
  18. Miami Dolphins- Josh Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston: With the Dolphins second first round pick, they should look to improve their offense by adding a stud left tackle for their new QB. According to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins had the worst offensive line last year and should look to improve that by adding Jones to the mix.
  19. Las Vegas Raiders- Kenneth Murray Linebacker, Oklahoma: After losing Vontaze Burfict last year due to unnecessary play, the Raiders should look to improve their linebacker core. Murray racked up 102 total sacks last year for the Sooners, and is fast to the ball and a reliable tackler. Murray has also shown the abilty to play both inside and outside at the linebacker position. Murray is just what the Raiders need in the linebacker department.
  20. Jacksonville Jaguars- Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU: The Jags traded away 3x Pro Bowler and All Pro corner Jalen Ramsey to the Rams last year, and should to replace him to further get that defense back to elite status. Fulton has allowed only a 40% completion rate since 2018, and has the athleticism to continue that trend into the pros.
  21. Philadelphia Eagles- Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson: Injuries really hampered the Eagles late in the season last year, especially at the receiver position. Carson Wentz is a talented quarter back who needs a #1 receiver with Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson both in their thirties and coming off season ending injuries last year. Higgins racked up 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Tiger last year and should be one of Wentz’s most targeted receivers in his rookie season, and work his way up to Wentz’s primary receiver in a few years.
  22. Buffalo Bills- Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver, Alabama: Ruggs is the fastest receiver in this draft, as he ran a 4.27 40-yard dash. Ruggs’ speed should make him an immediate deep threat for Josh Allen, who has improved every year he’s been in the league, and should the Bills take Ruggs, the connection between him and Allen should be one of the best in the NFL next year.
  23. New England Patriots- Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State: With all the speculation of whether or not Tom Brady will be a Patriot next year, it’s a good idea for New England to draft a Quarter back regardless or where Brady ends up. If he leaves they’ll need a replacement, if he stays, the Patriots will need to find their next man up. Father time has been kind to Tom Brady, but lets face it, Brady will be 43 years old by the start of next season, he can’t play forever. Love threw for 3,402 yards and 20 touchdowns last year, and has a lot of the intangibles to be a quarterback in this league.
  24. New Orleans Saints- Patrick Queen, Outside Linebacker, LSU: The Saints weakest position is their linebackers, and need to improve them if they want to make it out of the playoffs. Queen has the ability to shed and outrace blocks to make plays, and should add what the Saint’s have been missing from their linebackers.
  25. Minnesota Vikings- C.J. Henderson, Cornerback, Florida: The Vikings recently released Xavier Rhodes and should immediately look to find someone to replace him. Henderson broke up 11 passes for the Gators last year, and has the talent to fit in with Minnesota’s already impressive defense.
  26. Miami Dolphins- DeAndre Swift, Running Back, Georgia: With the Dolphins last pick in this round they should continue to work on their offense by taking the first running back of the draft. Swift averaged 6.2 yards per carry last year, which lead to 1,218 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Bulldogs last year. Miami traded away Kenyon Drake last season, and his replacement Patrick Laird averaged less than 3 yards per carry, making Swift a smart choice for the Dolphins.
  27. Seattle Seahawks- Justin Madibuike, Defensive Tackle, Texas A&M: With 5 of the Seahawk’s defensive lineman being UFA’s this season, and another being a RFA, it is unlikely that they will be able to resign all of them. With that being said Seattle should look to replace all of those lineman. Madibuike recorded 45 total tackles to go along with 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 interception last season. Madibuike should be able to provide production immediately for the Seahawks if they take him 27th overall.
  28. Baltimore Ravens- Zack Baun, Outside Linebacker, Wisconsin: 2 years ago the Ravens lost Za’Darius Smith, Terrell Suggs, and C.J. Mosley to free agency. This has left the Ravens with a pass rush that could be heavily improved. Baun totaled 53 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception for the Badgers last year, and should be able to improve the Ravens pass rush next year.
  29. Tennessee Titans- Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama: The Titans need improvement at all positions on the defensive side of the ball, but with such a late pick, it makes sense for them to take the best available player for the positions that they need. For the Titans, Diggs is that guy. Diggs had 3 interception sand 8 pass-breakups last season, and could help the Titans lock up opposing teams receivers for the foreseeable future.
  30. Green Bay Packers- Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU: The Packers need to add a play making wide receiver to play along side Davante Adams. Jefferson had an impressive season for the National Champion Tigers, racking up 1,540 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns last year, and good help draw defenders away from Adams to open up Green Bay’s offense.
  31. San Francisco 49ers- Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU: The Chiefs were able to burn the 49ers with deep shots in Super Bowl 54, which ultimately lead to their loss to Kansas City. Delpit recorder 2 interceptions and 7 pass-breakups last season, and can help the 49ers complete their already dominant defense.
  32. Kansas City Chiefs- Cesar Ruiz, Center, Michigan: The Chiefs could benefit from drafting a defensive player at #32, but the Chiefs defense played well towards the end of the regular season and into the post season. The Chiefs can look to improve the weakest part of their very talented offense, which is their interior offensive line. Ruiz was the best pass blocking center in the country last year, by allowing only 8 pressures all season, and can help Kansas City complete their incredible offense.

The Short-Handed Cavaliers Face the Music Against Utah

The Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Utah Jazz Monday night, the 2nd, and from the get go, this looked like a very interesting match up for both teams. The story everyone was watching before the game was the upcoming Kevin Porter jr. making the start in place of Darius Garland, who was held out of the line up, and going head to head against the Jazz’s star Donovan Mitchell. Another injury the Cavs had to deal with was Tristan Thompson. Which the Cavs knew would hurt them in the paint with Rudy Gobert attacking all night.

The action got off to a hot start with a foul challenge not even five minutes into the game, and the Jazz hitting two quick triples. The action kept fast paced and aggressive, with the scoring led by Collin Sexton and Kevin Love for the Cavs, and Royce O’Neal for the Jazz who hit 3 Triples in the first quarter. The action kept fast paced up until the end of the fist quarter, however the Jazz took a small lead and ended the quarter with the 31-25 Lead.

The second quarter picked up right where the first left off. Two quick buckets from both teams and they were off to the races once more. Little defensive resistance was being put in the paint for either team. But the Wine & Gold took advantages off a few misses and took the lead with 8 minutes left in the half. However, the talent of Utah did not let that last, and tied the game with 3:32 remaining in the half. Neither team continued to give an inch, but Donovan Mitchell took things into his own hands, and gave the Jazz the lead, followed shortly by a Mike Conley three at the buzzer.

The Cavaliers’ kryptonite all year has been the third quarter, and tonight was no different as they came out sluggish and were settling for bad shots. Utah came out in the exact opposite demeanor and quickly made their lead a 14 point lead just 2 minutes into the third quarter. But the motive under new head coach, JB Bickerstaff has been to never quit and continue to fight, and Kevin Love did just that. Love drilled back to back threes trimming the lead down to 9 with 7 minutes to go in the third. But Donovan Mitchell didn’t let that continue by taking over the game once again. Drilling two three pointers and a big two handed dunk with 3 minutes left in the third to give Utah a 12 point advantage. The Jazz kept pouring on, as the Cavs’ kept giving them opportunities, and missing out on their own on the offensive end. Jazz kept the lead heading into the final quarter 94-82.

The Cavs’ struggles continued early in the fourth, this time coming in the form of former teammate Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson provided a spark for the Jazz off the bench contributing 13 points, and shot 75% behind the arc. The Jazz got the lead up to 18 early in the fourth, but JB Bickerstaff’s was remembered as the Cavs fought back and gained some momentum with a small run. The run did not last however, as the young core showed its lack of experience by giving up a few turnovers. Despite great defensive efforts by Kevin Porter JR. and Larry Nance JR. the Wine & Gold were not able to overcome the firepower of the Jazz’s offense. The Jazz ride to the finish line, despite a late surge from the Cavs, taking the W 126-113

A team on the Rise

The University of Akron Zips Men’s basketball team is currently 21-7 and Second in the Mid-American Conference East standings. The Zips are projected to be a top seed in the MAC tournament and could make some noise heading into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball tournament. Akron is a projected 13th seed. So how did we get here? , well that all starts with Head Coach John Groce. Coach Groce has a long track record of turning around programs and has done it in the Mac before. At Ohio University where he led the Bobcats to two NCAA Tournament Appearances. In his last season with the Bobcats coach Groce led them to a 29-8 record and a trip to the sweet 16. In John Groce’s 1st season as the Zips Head Coach the team finished 14-18 and in his 2nd season the team finished 17-16. In the 2017-2018 season which was the first season under coach Groce the team was 4th in the conference in 3-Point percentage at 34%, 9th in the conference in Points at 71.1, 3rd in Free Throw percentage at 73.9%, and 10th in the conference in field goal percentage at 42.6%.  This season the team is 2nd in the conference in 3-point percentage at 36.4%, 1st in the conference at free throw percentage at 76.9%, 5th in Field Goal percentage at 43.8%, 5th in scoring at 75.3 points per game. Hopefully, the team can continue its stellar play heading into the MAC Tournament and get their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013. The Zips are 0-4 all-time in the big dance but maybe this is the year that Cinderella will find her slipper in Akron Ohio.