All posts by Griffin Mathiews

2018 NFC South Standings Predictions

  1. New Orleans Saints

It will be a really close battle in the NFC South once again this season, but the Saints are still probably the best team in the division. They have a good receiving group led by Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn. The additions of 3rd round pick TreQuan Smith and free agent signing Cameron Meredith makes this group even stronger in 2018. However, the strength of the offense for the Saints is now clearly at the running back position. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram form the best running back duo in the NFL in my opinion. The offensive line is also very talented as well and it only makes the running game even more dangerous. The Saints still have future hall-of-fame quarterback Drew Brees and he is still playing well despite being 39 years old. Brees isn’t the player that he once was, but he doesn’t have to do as much with the running game being so good. There really isn’t a weakness on the New Orleans offense and it should continue to be very dangerous next season. Meanwhile, the Saints really made huge strides on defense last season led by rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams. The Saints also have one of the best pass rushers in the NFL with Cameron Jordan. However, they need other pass rushers like Alex Okafor to step up in 2018. The linebacker group wasn’t good at all for New Orleans last season, but the additions of A.J. Klein, Demario Davis, and Manti Te’o should make that group much better this season. The secondary is clearly the strength for the Saints defense and that is important considering they have to face Matt Ryan and Cam Newton two times a year each. It won’t be easy for the Saints in the tough NFC South, but their roster is stacked enough to win the division again.

2. Atlanta Falcons

It was surprisingly the defense that really carried the Falcons to the playoffs last season, but don’t forget about how talented the Falcons are on offense. They especially have arguably the most talented wide receiver group in the NFL. Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the NFL and they still have Mohamed Sanu as a good 2nd wide receiver. Also, as if that wasn’t enough, the Falcons went out and landed Calvin Ridley who was arguably the best wide receiver in this year’s draft class. The Falcons also have a terrific offensive line led by center Alex Mack and it should be even better with the addition of Brandon Fusco. The Falcons also have a dynamic duo at running back with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, although both of them struggled somewhat last season. The Falcons really need the running game to get going in order to take the pressure off of their passing game. That was probably why quarterback Matt Ryan had somewhat of a down year in 2017, but there is no excuse for him not to play well this season considering the talent surrounding him. If Ryan and the rest of the offense can play like they did in 2016 then this offense could easily be the best in the NFL. Meanwhile, the defense has gotten much better the past couple of seasons. They have a couple of really good young pass rushers with Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley. Also, they have Grady Jerrett who has turned into a stud at the defensive tackle position. The Falcons also have a couple of really good young linebackers with Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell. However, the real strength of the Falcons is in their secondary with Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant as the main starters while the team also added Isaiah Oliver in the 2nd round of the draft. The Falcons also have star young safety Keanu Neal who makes plays all over the field. Atlanta has a really young talented defense overall and it should help them to be a playoff team once again in 2018. Also, if Atlanta’s offense gets going once again then the team could easily be super bowl contenders.

3. Carolina Panthers

Carolina is still a playoff contender in 2018, but they aren’t quite on the same level as New Orleans and Atlanta considering the key players that the Panthers lost this offseason. However, the Panthers did improve at the wide receiver position by trading for Torrey Smith and drafting speed wide receiver D.J. Moore in the 1st round of the draft. They will be a good complement to number one receiver Devin Funchess and star tight end Greg Olsen in the passing game. The Panthers also figure to have a better running game with Christian McCaffrey as the lead back and the addition of C.J. Anderson as well. The offensive line for Carolina is still good, but that unit took a major loss with the departure of Andrew Norwell. The question mark for Carolina is whether quarterback Cam Newton can perform up to his potential and stay healthy as well. If he can have a good season then the Panthers offense certainly has high potential. Meanwhile, the Panthers still have a good defense heading into this season as it remains about the same as it was last year. The strength of the defense is clearly at the linebacker position where they have Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, and Thomas Davis to form arguably the best group of starters at that position in the NFL. However, it will hurt a lot to have Davis suspended for the first 4 games of the season as he is the leader of the defense. Also, the Panthers have a pretty good defensive line as well led by the dynamic pass rusher duo of Julius Peppers and Mario Addison who both had 11 sacks each last year. The team even has a couple of really good starting defensive tackles with Kawann Short and the free agent signing of Dontari Poe. The major weakness for the Panthers defense is their secondary as James Bradberry is the clear number one cornerback for the team. However, the rest of the secondary isn’t very good to say the least, although rookie 2nd round cornerback Donte Jackson should compete for a starting role right away. The Panthers are above average on offense and defense, although they likely aren’t any better than they were last season.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had such high expectations last season, but they never lived up to the hype. However, there is reason to believe that the Buccaneers are a better team than they were in 2017. They still have arguably the best wide receiver group in the NFL with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and Adam Humphries. Also, they have a dynamic duo at tight end with Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. The main issue for the Bucs last season was that they were terrible in the running game. That shouldn’t be as much of an issue though this season as they drafted Ronald Jones in the 2nd round of the draft to be their lead back. Jones should provide much more balance to Tampa Bay’s offense and take a lot of pressure off of the passing game. The offensive line should be better in 2018 as well as they signed Ryan Jensen to a big contract in order to be their new starting center. The main thing for Tampa Bay’s offense though is the question marks at the quarterback position. Jameis Winston is the clear starter, but he is suspended for the first 3 games of the season. That leaves journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick as the temporary starter at quarterback for the Bucs and that’s not exactly an ideal scenario. Even when Winston returns, he needs to prove that he can be a consistent starting quarterback at the NFL level. He turns the ball over too often and if Tampa Bay is going to improve this season then he needs to start making better decisions. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers defense was an absolute disaster last season, but it appears to be much improved this season. The pass rush was especially bad as they finished last in the NFL with 22 sacks combined. Gerald McCoy continues to be a dominant force at defensive tackle, but now he’ll have help at that position with rookie 1st round pick Vita Vea. Also, the team added proven veteran defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry this offseason which should help improve the pass rush right away. The team also has defensive ends William Gholston and Noah Spence who is returning from missing most of last season. The secondary was awful last season as well, but the additions of rookie 2nd round picks Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart should help add some competition at cornerback. Brent Grimes is still the clear number one cornerback and he continues to play well, but the Bucs need the other starter Vernon Hargreaves to have a comeback year. The biggest strength for the Buccaneers on defense is clearly at linebacker as LaVonte David, Kwon Alexander, and Kendell Beckwith form a solid trio of starters at that position group. Overall, the Bucs defense should be much better than it was last season. However, it will be tough for Tampa Bay to compete in the NFC South if they don’t get quality play from Jameis Winston at the quarterback position.

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2018 AFC South Standings Predictions

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars surprised many last season by coming very close to going to the super bowl. However, this team could be just as good in 2018 as they were when they almost knocked off the Patriots in the AFC Championship last year. The Jaguars offense is clearly the weakness of the Jaguars team, but they still have several really good players. Starting running back Leonard Fournette is already one of the top running backs in the NFL and he will be the one to carry the offense. However, they also have TJ Yeldon who provides some solid depth at running back. Meanwhile, the offensive line appears to be even better next season after the addition of elite guard Andrew Norwell this offseason. The main question for the Jaguars will once again be their passing game. Quarterback Blake Bortles has been criticized heavily in the local and national media for his performance the past couple of seasons. However, Bortles actually played relatively well last season especially considering he barely had any wide receivers to throw to. The Jaguars wide receiver group doesn’t appear to be any better this season even with the additions of 2nd round pick DJ Chark and free agent signing Donte Moncrief. The best receiver for the Jaguars is clearly Marqise Lee, but he has really struggled to stay healthy in his NFL career. The Jaguars don’t need a great passing game since they have one of the top running games in the NFL, although Bortles will still need to be relied upon to make plays in key situations. Meanwhile, the Jaguars defense is really what carried the team last season and it is arguably the best defense in the entire NFL. They have the best pass rush in the entire NFL with Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, and Dante Fowler all having at least 8 sacks each last season. The Jaguars also have pro-bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and rookie 1st round defensive tackle Taven Bryan which makes the Jaguars defensive line probably the deepest in the NFL. Jacksonville also has two very talented young linebackers with Telvin Smith and Myles Jack. Also, Jacksonville arguably has the best secondary in the entire NFL. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are the best cornerback duo in the NFL in my opinion as they combined for 10 interceptions last season. Also, the Jaguars might have one of the best safety duos with Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson. The only real weakness that the Jaguars have on defense is at middle linebacker, but that shouldn’t hold the Jaguars from being one of the top defenses in the NFL. Jacksonville might struggle to score some points if they can’t throw the ball well, but the defense and running game are among the best in the NFL which is why they will likely win the division this year.

2. Houston Texans

Last year was really rough for the Texans as they went 4-12, but that was mostly due to the injury to starting quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, when he was healthy then the Texans proved that they could compete with any NFL team including the Patriots. If Watson plays like he did last season then the Texans should be considered a playoff contender. He has a couple of good receivers to throw to as DeAndre Hopkins might be the best receiver in the NFL and Will Fuller is a terrific number 2 receiver as well. Houston also has a decent running game with Lamar Miller leading the way and D’Onta Foreman will compete for the starting job if he is healthy to start the season. The main concern for the Texans is their offensive line. It was an absolute disaster last season and they didn’t do too much to improve it this season as they didn’t have the draft picks to be able to do so. However, Watson is mobile enough that it shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the Texans in 2018. Meanwhile, having J.J. Watt back from injury will give the Texans a huge boost on defense. Having Watt to go along with star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney will give Houston a major pass rush threat. The Texans also have a very good linebacker with Benardrick McKinney as he establishes a hard-hitting presence for Houston. However, the best overall position group for the Texans might be their secondary as they have two quality cornerbacks with Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. Also, the addition of safety Tyrann Mathieu fills what was a major position of weakness for the Texans last season. Injuries derailed the Texans 2017 season, but as long as their key players remain healthy then they could definitely make the playoffs in 2018.

3. Tennessee Titans

The Titans somehow managed to make the playoffs last season despite a very poor season from quarterback Marcus Mariota. However, there is no excuse for the Titans quarterback to not improve this season as he has plenty of weapons surrounding him. He has some really talented wide receivers with Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis, but he also has pro-bowl tight end Delanie Walker to throw to. The Titans even have a very good running game led by power running back Derrick Henry and the addition of Dion Lewis as well. Not to mention, Mariota has plenty of protection from the offensive line with players like Taylor Lewan, Jack Conklin, and Josh Kline. Mariota is still a threat to run the ball, but he threw too many interceptions last season and he wasn’t good enough in the passing game. Meanwhile, the Titans defense was decent last season and it could be even better in 2018. They have three good pass rushers with Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo, and pro-bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. The linebacker group was good last season as well with Wesley Woodyard and it figures to be even better with the additions of 1st round pick Rashaan Evans and 2nd round pick Harold Landry. The Titans also have one of the best safeties in the NFL with Kevin Byard who had a whopping 8 interceptions last year. However, the secondary could become a strength this year with the addition of cornerback Malcolm Butler in free agency. The Titans have a new head coach with Mike Vrabel and it could be a tough transition for the Titans. However, the success of this season depends on if Marcus Mariota can have a comeback year. If that happens then the Titans have a chance to make the playoffs again in 2018.

4. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts had an awful 2017 season, but that was kind of to be expected considering their star quarterback was out for the entire year. However, quarterback Andrew Luck is expected to be back for week 1 of the season and that would be huge for the Colts. Luck can make the team somewhat competitive by himself, but the issue is the Colts still have a very poor roster around him. He has a terrific number one receiver with T.Y. Hilton, but the rest of the receiving group isn’t good. They signed Ryan Grant to be their 2nd receiver, but he hasn’t done much in his NFL career. Also, the Colts have what appears to be a very weak running game after the departure of Frank Gore. Marlon Mack figures to be the starting running back and rookie 4th round pick Nyheim Hines could see plenty of playing time as well. However, both are extremely inexperienced and neither appear to be very good options. The good news is that the offensive line for Indianapolis could be good this year for once after they drafted elite guard prospect Quenton Nelson in the 1st round. The Colts suddenly have a decent offensive line as they also have Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Kelly. Having Andrew Luck back makes the Colts undoubtedly better, but it won’t help much if he doesn’t have much around him on offense. Meanwhile, the defense for the Colts might be even worse than last season if that’s even possible. The Colts had an awful pass rush last season as they only finished with 25 sacks combined. Jabaal Sheard is the team’s best pass rusher right now, although he only had 5.5 sacks in 2017 for Indianapolis. The issue is that the Colts have basically the exact same defensive line as last season and the only change they made was drafting defensive end Kemoko Turay in the 2nd round. Turay likely isn’t the answer to their pass rush woes and they need the other players on the defensive line to be much better. The linebacker group for the Colts appears to be just as bad as their defensive line. Their linebacker group might have been even better last season, although adding 2nd round pick Darius Leonard should help a little bit. The Colts secondary is probably the strength of the defense with young safety Malik Hooker leading the way. However, their two best cornerbacks from last season Vontae Davis and Rashaan Melvin are both gone. That leaves the Colts with basically nothing at cornerback heading into next season. The Colts have arguably the worst defense in the NFL and it will put too much pressure on the offense to score points. If Andrew Luck stays healthy then he will keep the Colts a respectable team, but even he can’t make the Colts a playoff contender unless the rest of the team steps up.

2018 NFC North Predictions

  1. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings came close to reaching the super bowl last season and there is a chance that they could be even better this season. They have starting running back Dalvin Cook who will be back from injury in 2018 and they have Latavius Murray as a solid backup at the position as well. They also have some really good pass-catchers led by Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph. The offensive line is probably the weakest part of the entire Vikings team and that could really hold the offense back in 2018. However, Minnesota likely upgraded at the most important position by signing pro-bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive contract this offseason. The Vikings did well with Case Keenum last season, although Cousins has been a better quarterback throughout his career. Cousins won’t have to do too much since Minnesota has a very talented defense, but he just strengthens the quarterback position for Minnesota. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s defense is arguably the strength of the team. They have arguably the best defensive lines in the NFL as they have a terrific pass rush duo with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. However, they are even stronger at defensive tackle with the addition of Sheldon Richardson this offseason and he will form a really good starting duo along with Linval Joseph. Also, the Vikings have a couple of really good young linebackers with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Not to mention, the Vikings are extremely deep at cornerback with Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Terence Newman, Mackensie Alexander, and rookie 1st round pick Mike Hughes. Overall, the Vikings don’t have much of a weakness on offense or defense and they appear to be legitimate super bowl contenders heading into next season.

2. Green Bay Packers

The Vikings are probably the most talented team in the division, but the Packers will likely make a strong push to win the division in 2018. Green Bay has plenty of firepower on offense as they have a couple of really good wide receivers with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, although the departure of Jordy Nelson will hurt that position group. However, the Packers made up for it by signing star tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason and that is a major upgrade for the team at that position. Meanwhile, the running back position has some good depth, but they really don’t have a clear starter. They have Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, and Aaron Jones as potential options in the backfield. However, it will be interesting to see which running back will get the most carries this season. The Packers have a really good passing game, but they will need more balance from their running backs this season. Green Bay also has some issues along the offensive line especially on the interior offensive line. Green Bay still has arguably the best quarterback in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers and as long as he stays healthy then the Packers should be a playoff contender once again. Meanwhile, the Packers defense might actually be the strength of the entire team. The Packers have an elite pass rush led by Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. However, the addition of Muhammad Wilkerson should make Green Bay’s pass rush even more dangerous. Green Bay does have some weakness in their secondary as it is extremely inexperienced. However, they do have some terrific talent in the secondary led by star safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and rookie 1st round cornerback Jaire Alexander. The secondary has high potential, but it also has a risk of failure as well. If the secondary can perform well then the Packers could have a strong defense in 2018. Overall, the Packers just missed out on the playoffs last season and that was mostly because Aaron Rodgers missed most of the season. However, if he can stay healthy then there really isn’t much doubt that this team has a really good chance of making the playoffs.

3. Detroit Lions

It is a year of transition for Detroit as they have Matt Patricia as their new head coach heading into 2018. However, don’t forget that the Lions were actually a good team last season as they just missed out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record. There is no doubt that the Lions are really dangerous on offense especially in the passing game. Matthew Stafford is an above average quarterback and he has some really good wide receivers to throw to with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay. Also, he should have an improved offensive line this season especially with the addition of rookie guard Frank Ragnow. However, the key to the success of the offense will be the running game as that is something that they have struggled with for many years. The addition of rookie 2nd round pick Kerryon Johnson and the signing of veteran running back LeGarrette Blount should give a big boost to that group. They also have Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah who could compete for some playing time as well. Either way, the Lions have a deep running back group, but it is unknown which player will have the most carries. If the Lions can just be average running the ball then it will make Detroit’s offense even better. Meanwhile, the Lions defense actually wasn’t that bad last season mainly because their secondary played really well last season. They have one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL with Darius Slay and they also have a terrific safety with Glover Quin. However, the Lions also have a solid pass rush led by elite defensive end Ziggy Ansah. They also have starting defensive end Anthony Zettel who provided a solid 6.5 sacks last season. The Lions have some holes on the defense especially at outside linebacker, but their defense should be decent as long as their secondary and pass rush to continue to lead the way. Overall, the Lions are a good team, but they just play in what is likely to be a very tough division this year. However, the Lions have a very talented team that is capable of being a playoff contender once again in 2018.

4. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have some hope for this year as Mitchell Trubisky heads into his first full season as an NFL starting quarterback. However, the Bears are still a team that is in transition with new head coach Matt Nagy and they unfortunately play in a tough division as well. The Bears did add some more talent to their offense this season though as they signed pro-bowl receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton. The Bears still don’t have a very good receiver group, but it is better than what they had a year ago. The strength of the Bears offense though is still at the running back position as Jordan Howard has established himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL. Also, they have Tarik Cohen who is a terrific 3rd-down back. Both of those guys will be important since they help to take a lot of pressure off of Trubisky and the passing game. The Bears offensive line is somewhat concerning, but it is still decent with Kyle Long and Charles Leno. The Bears offense should be better this season, but it all depends on how Trubisky progresses in his 2nd NFL season. Meanwhile, the Bears have one of the most underrated defenses in the entire NFL. Akiem Hicks provides the team with their main source of pass rush as he had 8.5 sacks last season, but the rest of the defensive line is a major weakness. They need other pass rushers like Leonard Floyd to step up and have a better year than they did in 2017. The linebacker position is looking stronger this season for the Bears as they added rookie 1st round pick Roquan Smith to go along with veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan. The Bears also have a somewhat strong secondary led by cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. Chicago has some good players on both sides of the ball, but they still have too many holes to fill. Also, I’m just not quite sure how well Mitchell Trubisky will develop at the quarterback position.

2018 AFC North Standings Predictions

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are certainly going to be super bowl contenders once again in 2018 as they are led by a terrific offense. Ben Roethlisberger is still a top quarterback in the NFL despite his age and it helps that he has Le’Veon Bell who is probably the best running back in the NFL. Also, the Steelers have arguably the best wide receiver group in the NFL with Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and rookie 2nd round pick James Washington. It is difficult to find a weakness on the Steelers offense and that is what will carry this team once again during the 2018 season. Meanwhile, the Steelers defense is what could hold the Steelers back this season. They do have some good talent on the defensive line with players like Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Bud Depree. However, the secondary and linebacker groups for the Steelers could prove once again to be a major issue in 2018. TJ Watt is a rising star in the NFL at linebacker and Vince Williams has been a productive player for the Steelers. However, they didn’t do anything to address the inside linebacker position this offseason and that could be a major area of weakness in 2018. Meanwhile, the Steelers secondary is really appearing to once again be the weakness of the entire team. Rookie 1st round safety Terrell Edmunds should help to strengthen that group, but the safety position still needs some help. Also, the cornerback position is thin for Pittsburgh as they have Artie Burns and Joe Haden, but not much else. Pittsburgh could struggle to defend the pass in 2018 and the defense as a whole could be a big weakness for the Steelers. Pittsburgh is still the best team in the AFC north, although they aren’t really any better than they were last season.

2. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens had a goal of adding some more explosiveness to their offense this offseason and that’s exactly what they did especially by drafting speedy quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 1st round. Jackson probably won’t be the starter at QB right away, but he is so athletic that he can be used as a weapon at other positions. He can also help to put more pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco to perform. Alex Collins figures to be the lead running back for Baltimore in 2018 after he performed well last season. The Ravens will need him to play well to take more pressure off of Flacco at quarterback. Also, the Ravens completely revamped their passing game as they added tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews in the draft. Also, the team added wide receivers Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead to presumably be their new starters at that position. It’s still not a great receiver group, but it really shouldn’t be worse than what Baltimore had last season. Baltimore also has a decent offensive line led by Marshal Yanda, yet the loss of starting center Ryan Jensen will really hurt that unit. Meanwhile, the Ravens figures to be just as good as it was last season. They have a really good secondary led by their star safety duo of Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson. Also, the Ravens have some good linebackers led by Terrell Suggs who had 11 sacks last season. However, the Ravens need to find another pass rusher to step up by Suggs or else too much pressure will be put on Baltimore’s secondary. Baltimore’s defense will likely carry the team once again this season, but the offense should be better than it was in 2017. If Baltimore’s offense can just be decent then the Ravens could be serious playoff contenders.

3. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are kind of a team that is stuck in the middle of being a playoff contender and being one of the worst teams in the NFL. They have a good running back duo with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Also, they have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with A.J. Green. However, the rest of the receivers are kind of a mystery at this point. John Ross is a talented receiver, but he didn’t have a good rookie year as he struggled to stay healthy. Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd provide good depth at wide receiver for Cincinnati, but they are only reliable 3rd targets at best. The Bengals also don’t know what to expect from quarterback Andy Dalton in 2018. Dalton is the type of player that can play at a pro-bowl level or he could be a below average starter. If the Bengals want to go anywhere next season then they need him to step up as he has plenty of talent around him on offense. Cincinnati’s offensive line should be much improved next season especially with the additions of Cordy Glenn and Billy Price. Cincinnati’s offense has some potential, but it all revolves around the play of Andy Dalton. Meanwhile, the Bengals defense appears to be the strength of the team heading into next season. They have three good pass rushers with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Carl Lawson. Also, they have a couple of good linebackers with Preston Brown and Vontaze Burfict. The secondary is very talented as well since they have Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson at cornerback. Cincinnati doesn’t have too much weakness on defense and it should help to carry their team in 2018. If the Bengals can improve on offense this season then they could possibly be a playoff team.

4. Cleveland Browns

There is finally some hope for the Cleveland Browns franchise after winning only one game the past two seasons combined. However, Browns fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much as they still have several holes to fill on their roster. Cleveland now has much more talent this season especially on offense. They now have a terrific wide receiver group after the acquisition of Jarvis Landry this offseason. If Josh Gordon can stay out of trouble and Corey Coleman can stay healthy then the Browns figure to have one of the best receiver groups in the NFL. Also, the Browns have a terrific running back group after they drafted Nick Chubb in the 2nd round and signed Carlos Hyde in free agency. They also have 3rd-down back Duke Johnson that will make the running back position for the Browns. It will be interesting to see how the Browns split up the playing time for each of the running backs as any of those running backs have a legitimate chance to be the starter. The Browns also should have an improved offensive line with the additions of offensive tackles Chris Hubbard and Austin Corbett this offseason. The only real uncertainty for Cleveland is at the quarterback position. Tyrod Taylor was acquired this offseason and he will likely be the starter early this season. However, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is waiting in the wings and it is very likely that he will start sooner rather than later this season. The quarterback position has high potential for the Browns and it should be much better than last season, although it will likely hold the team back from contention this season. Meanwhile, on defense the Browns are stacked with plenty of young talent. They are particularly stacked at the linebacker position with Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and the offseason addition of Mychal Kendricks. Cleveland has some weakness at the defensive tackle position, but they still have a couple of really good young pass rushers with Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. Those two defensive ends have really high potential and they should only improve in 2018. The Browns also have a couple of really talented players in the secondary. They added cornerback Denzel Ward in the 1st round of the draft and they also have talented 2nd-year safety Jabrill Peppers. Cleveland still has some uncertainty at many positions including at quarterback, but they still should be much more competitive than they were last season.

2018 NFC East Standings Predictions

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are reigning super bowl champions and they figure to be just as good in 2018. Star quarterback Carson Wentz should be fully healthy by week 1 of the regular season, but even if he isn’t the Eagles still have super bowl hero Nick Foles as his backup. Wentz will also have a good supporting cast to throw to with Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and Mike Wallace. It will also help that the Eagles have a good running back with Jay Ajayi that will help take some pressure off of the passing game. The Eagles also have a very talented offensive line that should help to give Carson Wentz tons of time to throw the ball. It is really hard to find a weakness on the Eagles offense and it has the potential to be just as dynamic as last season. Meanwhile, the Eagles defensive line is still arguably the best in the NFL with star players like Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Michael Bennett leading that group. The Eagles also have a very talented linebacker group led by Nigel Bradham. They even have a good secondary with Malcolm Jenkins, Ronald Darby, and Jalen Mills leading the way. Philadelphia doesn’t have a major weakness anywhere on their roster and they should be ready to make yet another deep playoff run in 2018.

2. New York Giants

The Giants were absolutely awful last season, but that can mostly be attributed to key players like star receiver Odell Beckham. However, the Giants made some key additions to make their team even better in 2018. The biggest addition that they made though was drafting elite running back prospect Saquon Barkley in the 1st round. Barkley is a dynamic playmaker that should make a huge impact on the Giants offense right away. He is a major upgrade over what they had at running back last season and he will take tons of pressure off of Eli Manning and the passing game. Manning isn’t the quarterback that he once was and it is a concern heading into 2018. However, there is no excuse for Manning to have a poor 2018 season since he has Odell Beckham, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shephard in the passing game to go along with Barkley in the running game. The Giants finally improved their offensive line as they added quality left tackle Nate Solder in free agency and talented young guard Will Hernandez in the 2nd round of the draft. The Giants have a good supporting cast on offense, but the success of that unit will all come down to the performance of Eli Manning. Meanwhile, the Giants still have some good pieces on defense despite trading away star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. New York still has some good pieces on the defensive line with Oliver Vernon and Damon Harrison leading the way. The linebacker group could be an issue once again for the Giants in 2018, but it could be better with the additions of Alec Ogletree and Lorenzo Carter. Meanwhile, the Giants secondary has the chance to be very good with Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and Eli Apple as the top players in that unit. The Giants still have some question marks on both sides of the ball, but they have just enough to be serious playoff contenders in 2018.

3. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are intriguing team heading into 2018 because they have high potential, but they could be a poor team as well. Dallas arguably has the best running back in the NFL with Ezekiel Elliot and they still have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL to block for him. The huge issue for the Cowboys in 2018 will be their passing game. The Cowboys lost Dez Bryant and Jason Witten this offseason, but they did nothing to effectively replace them. Dallas now has an uninspiring group of receivers with Allen Hurns and Terrance Williams being their best options. Dallas has a really good young quarterback with Dak Prescott, but the Cowboys passing game could really struggle if they don’t have a receiver to step up and become the number 1 option. Dallas has a terrific running game, but now defenses can focus on stopping Elliot since the Cowboys have absolutely no threat at wide receiver. Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense isn’t exactly an inspiring group. They have some really good pieces like Demarcus Lawrence, David Irving, and Sean Lee. However, the rest of the defense is very unproven and they certainly don’t have much depth in any area on defense. Dallas could be a playoff contender if all of the pieces fit correctly, but they have many areas of concern that could hold them back.

4. Washington Redskins

Washington is a team that could be a playoff contender in 2018 as they do have some good pieces on their roster, but they also are a team that could be really bad. Alex Smith is the new starting quarterback for the Redskins as he will replace Kirk Cousins at that position. However, it is unknown whether Smith will be an upgrade at the position going forward. The key will be whether the supporting cast around Smith can step up and help him out. The Redskins have some receivers with some potential like Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, and Jamison Crowder. However, none of those three guys have proven that they can be number 1 receivers in the NFL. Washington has plenty of talent at running back especially with the addition of Derrius Guice. However, it is unknown whether Guice, Rob Kelley, or Chris Thompson will get most of the carries in 2018. Washington has a good offensive line as well led by Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff, yet they still have holes to fill with that unit. Overall, Washington has the potential to have a good offense, but it all depends on if the supporting cast steps up. Meanwhile, on defense, the Redskins have some really talented players especially in the front 7. They have a couple of really young and talented defensive lineman with Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne. Also, they have a couple of proven pass rushers with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith. However, the one big issue for the Redskins on defense is their secondary as they have star cornerback Josh Norman, but nothing really else. Somebody else in the secondary needs to step up or else Washington could have tons of problems stopping the pass. The Redskins have some pieces on offense and defense to turn this team into a playoff contender this year. However, they are playing in a tough division and they still have many needs to fill which is why I have them finishing last in 2018.

2018 AFC East Standings Predictions

  1. New England Patriots

We keep waiting for the Patriots to have a down year, but that it is wishful thinking as long as they have Tom Brady at quarterback. It also helps that the Patriots have absolutely no competition for the AFC East every year as the Patriots have won the division every year since 2009. The Patriots lost quite a few key players this offseason, although they managed to replace most of those players effectively. The Patriots still have plenty of weapons on offense around QB Tom Brady as star receiver Julian Edelman returns from missing all of last season. Also, the Patriots upgraded at running back with the addition of Sony Michel in the draft. The only question mark for the Patriots on offense is their offensive line as they have a rather young and inexperienced group. Meanwhile, on defense the Patriots lost Malcolm Butler in free agency, but they drafted Duke Dawson in the 2nd round who should help to fill that void. The Patriots aren’t necessarily better than they were last season, but they really haven’t gotten any worse. That is why they in a prime position to win the AFC East once again barring anything unforeseen.

2. Buffalo Bills

There is a huge dropoff between the Patriots and the rest of the division as the other 3 teams have major question marks heading into 2018. The Bills defense appears to be very good heading into the 2018 season as they have a terrific defensive line led by Jerry Hughes, Star Lotulelei, and Shaq Lawson. The Bills also have a good secondary especially with Tre’Davious White proving that he could be an elite cornerback in the NFL. Buffalo still needs some help at linebacker, although they did get a big boost by selecting Tremaine Edmunds in the 1st round of the draft. Buffalo clearly has the defense to be a competitive team, which is why I have them being better than the Jets and Dolphins. Meanwhile, the offense for the Bills is a major concern heading into the 2018 season. The Bills have some hope for the future after they drafted talented quarterback Josh Allen in the 1st round this offseason. However, it is highly unlikely that he will be ready to be the Bills starting QB right away. That means the Bills’ playoff hopes in 2018 will basically rely on AJ McCarron who has been a backup for his entire career in Cincinnati. McCarron showed some potential when he got the opportunity to play, but it is still unknown whether he is worthy of being even a temporary starting QB in the NFL. McCarron isn’t the only question mark on Buffalo’s offense though as they have many other areas of concern. For example, the Bills have a bad wide receiver group as Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones are their top receivers. However, Benjamin is consistently injured and Jones didn’t have a good rookie year at all in 2017. The Bills need more from them to help out their unproven quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the offensive line is another major question mark after Richie Incognito and Eric Wood retired this offseason. Also, the team traded away starting left tackle Cordy Glenn which could create an issue at a key position. The only sure thing on the Bills offense is star running back LeSean McCoy, but even he has shown signs of regressing in recent years. Buffalo was a playoff team last year, but unless the Bills offense plays somewhat well then the Bills don’t have much hope for the playoffs in 2018.

3. New York Jets

The Jets were somewhat better than most people expected last year even though they only finished 5-11, but most of that was due to the surprisingly good play from QB Josh McCown. He is still likely the starter at least in the short-term, but the Jets do have much more competition at the position with former 1st round pick Teddy Bridgewater as well as this year’s 1st round pick Sam Darnold. It will be interesting to see who the starter is week 1 since all 3 of those quarterbacks are competing for the starting job. However, one thing is clear and that is Darnold will be given the chance soon to prove that he is the franchise quarterback. The issue for the Jets is that they don’t have much talent to surround the quarterback on offense. New York has plenty of depth at receiver with players like Quincy Enunwa, Terrelle Pryor, Robby Anderson, ArDarius Stewart, and Jermaine Kearse. However, none of those receivers give much hope for the Jets passing game in 2018 and it is unclear who the starters will be at that position. The Jets also don’t have a very inspiring running back group either. Bilal Powell is the clear starter and they brought in Thomas Rawls for depth, but both have been inconsistent throughout their careers. Also, the offensive line doesn’t appear to be very good and they certainly didn’t do much to improve that group this offseason. Meanwhile, it appears the defense will be what carry the Jets this year as they have plenty of tremendous young talent on defense. For example, defensive end Leonard Williams, safety Jamal Adams, and linebacker Darron Lee could be a solid young core of players on defense for many years. However, the Jets made their defense even better by signing shutdown cornerback Trumaine Johnson and adding rising star linebacker Avery Williamson in free agency. The Jets could have a very good defense in 2018, but it is the poor offense that will likely hold this team back from being competitive.

4. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are an example of a team that is heading in the wrong direction as they arguably got worse this offseason. The main reason is that they lost star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, star center Mike Pouncey, and star wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Miami was a team that was already severely lacking star players, but now they really have no proven playmakers on their roster. They have a few receivers with some potential like Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker, but they aren’t exactly the ideal top two targets in any offense. The Dolphins possibly have a good young running back with Kenyan Drake, but he isn’t the type of player that can carry the offense on his own. Once again the Dolphins offensive line is a question mark despite the solid addition of guard Josh Sitton this offseason. However, the major concern for the Dolphins is at the quarterback position as starter Ryan Tannehill is coming off a torn ACL that caused him to miss all of last season. It is unknown how well he will perform coming off that injury, but he was just an average starting quarterback at best even when he was healthy. The Dolphins need him to perform if this team even wants to be competitive, but the issue is that he probably won’t have much help around him on offense. Meanwhile, on defense, the Dolphins didn’t really improve in that area this offseason. I do like their secondary with quality safety Reshad Jones, cornerback Reshad Jones, and young playmaker Minkah Fitzpatrick who was their 1st round pick this year. However, the linebacker group is rather weak and it is unknown how well they will perform. The Dolphins did acquire Robert Quinn which should improve their poor pass rush from last year. However, the Dolphins did let go of Ndamukong Suh which will weaken their defensive line in a major way. Miami doesn’t have much potential on offense or defense, which is why it is likely that they could be the worst team in the AFC East.

Best pick for every NFL team in the draft

Arizona Cardinals – Christian Kirk – Wide Receiver – Texas A&M – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cardinals selection of quarterback Josh Rosen gets all of the hype and that is understandable since he has the chance to be the face of the franchise for many years. However, the pick that excites me the most is wide receiver Christian Kirk who they picked in the 2nd round of the draft. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald as their top receiver, but he is about to be 35 years old and he might not be in the NFL much longer. The Cardinals didn’t really have much behind him on the depth chart and they certainly didn’t have a reliable 2nd option at the receiver position. Christian Kirk is a terrific wide receiver who has the speed to be a vertical threat and he has the ability to make contested catches as well. This is the perfect situation for him to be able to learn from a great receiver like Fitzgerald and this pick gives the Cardinals their receiver of the future.

Atlanta Falcons – Isaiah Oliver – Cornerback – Colorado – Drafted: 2nd Round

Cornerback wasn’t a big need for the Falcons coming into the draft as they already have two really good cornerbacks with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. However, Oliver gives the team some solid depth at the cornerback position and it will allow them more flexibility at the position. Oliver has good size, speed, and arm length which will make him a good outside cornerback. However, this move is good for the Falcons as it allows them to probably move the smaller cornerback Alford to the slot where he probably fits best. Oliver is a 1st round talent and it is remarkable that the Falcons were able to select him this far back in the 2nd round.

Baltimore Ravens – Lamar Jackson – Quarterback – Louisville – Drafted: 1st Round

The Ravens offense has not been good recently and most of that is due to the lack of playmakers on offense as well as the inconsistent play from quarterback Joe Flacco. The selection of Lamar Jackson solves both of these issues for the Ravens. Jackson is a dynamic playmaker especially since he is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college history. Jackson has some work to do passing the ball as he has some mechanical issues and accuracy concerns. However, Jackson has a good arm and the mechanical issues should be able to be solved at the NFL level. Jackson is a decent quarterback, but what makes him such a great player is his ability to make plays running the ball. He might not be the starter right away at quarterback, but he will at least put some pressure on Flacco to improve next season. Also, Jackson should instill much more explosiveness for the Ravens offense for many years to come.

Buffalo Bills – Tremaine Edmunds – Outside Linebacker – Virginia Tech – Drafted: 1st Round

I don’t particularly like that the Bills gave up draft picks to move up and get Edmunds, but it is kind of hard to blame them for doing so considering his talent. Edmunds is a top 10 talent that they got with the 16th overall pick, so they definitely got some good value with this pick. Edmunds is a really fast and explosive linebacker that consistently makes plays all over the field. The Bills had a big need for help at linebacker especially after the departure of Preston Brown in free agency. However, Edmunds will instill some more playmaking ability to the Bills defense and he is ready to make an impact right away.

Carolina Panthers – Donte Jackson – Cornerback – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round

The secondary has been a point of issue for the Panthers ever since Josh Norman left and it was a big need for the Panthers coming into the draft. However, Jackson is an impact player that should help Carolina right away. Jackson is one of the fastest players as he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He doesn’t have the size to compare to some of the big receivers in the NFL like Mike Evans and Julio Jones, but he will compete and he has a knack for making big plays. This selection fills a big need for the Panthers especially when they have to face three pro-bowl caliber quarterbacks in their division.

Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith – Inside Linebacker – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round

Roquan Smith is one of my favorite players in the entire draft mostly because he is a hard-hitter that has the athleticism to make plays all over the field. Smith is one of the best defensive players in the draft and he fills a need for the Bears at linebacker. The Bears badly needed some more athleticism and playmaking ability on defense, so this is the type of pick that will accomplish that. Smith can make an impact right away and he has the potential to be an all-pro linebacker in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals – Malik Jefferson – Outside Linebacker – Texas – Drafted: 3rd Round

This guy had an inconsistent career at Texas as he wasn’t particularly great during his first year. However, he really stepped up his play over the past 2 years and he looked like one of the best linebackers in the draft class as he had 79 tackles and 4 sacks last season. Jefferson is a good cover linebacker and he is a really useful player in space which is something that the Bengals had been lacking from their linebackers. He should make an impact right away with Vontaze Burfict suspended for the first 4 games of the season. However, he could compete for the starting job opposite of Burfict if he plays well while he fills in for Burfict. This pick provides much more athleticism for the Bengals defense and it should improve their linebacker group.

Cleveland Browns – Nick Chubb – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cleveland Browns have their solution at the quarterback position, but another area of concern for the Browns was at the running back position. Cleveland did add Carlos Hyde in free agency, but he is a good pass-catcher which makes him a valuable 3rd down back. Cleveland needed to find an early-down back that could provide some power and they did so by drafting Nick Chubb in the 2nd round of the draft. Chubb is only a 1st or 2nd round back because he isn’t a very good pass catcher, yet he is the perfect complement to Hyde in the Browns running game. Chubb will provide more balance to the Browns offense and it will help take some of the pressure off of rookie QB Baker Mayfield.

Dallas Cowboys – Connor Williams – Offensive Tackle – Texas – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cowboys have plenty of offensive line talent, but there are still a couple of positions where they need some help. Dallas especially needed to add some competition at right tackle or left guard and the good news is that Williams could be a good fit at either spot. Williams really was a top 10 talent not too long ago and it is good value for the Cowboys to be able to get him this late in the 2nd round. Williams will likely be the future starter at right tackle and he could even compete for the job right away.

Denver Broncos – Royce Freeman – Running Back – Oregon – Drafted: 3rd Round

Royce Freeman was as productive as any NFL running back in this draft class and he could be a steal for the Broncos in the 3rd round. Freeman has good size, but he also has very good speed. He helps to fill a big need for Denver after they released running back C.J. Anderson this offseason. However, Freeman can make a big impact for the Broncos right away as he will likely split carries with Devontae Booker. Freeman will provide more balance for Denver’s offense and he can help the Broncos win immediately.

Detroit Lions – Tyrell Crosby – Offensive Tackle – Oregon Drafted: 5th Round

It is kind of surprising that Crosby fell to the 5th round of the draft, but the Lions could still be getting good value if he lives up to his potential. Detroit needed some offensive line depth and he could be a really good backup offensive tackle in the NFL. He likely won’t make much of an impact right away, but he has the potential to be a starting right tackle at some point.

Green Bay Packers – Equanimeous St. Brown – Wide Receiver – Notre Dame – Drafted: 6th Round

Equanimeous St. Brown not only has a terrific name, but he is a very good NFL prospect as well. He is a a very big receiver at 6’5″, but he has rare speed for someone of his size as he ran 4.48 during the 40-yard dash at the combine. Sure, he didn’t have very good production during his time at Notre Dame. However, he is a talented prospect and it will help that he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. St. Brown has a good chance to carve a role out in the Packers offense and if he does then he has the potential to be a productive receiver for them.

Houston Texans – Justin Reid – Safety – Stanford – Drafted: 3rd Round

The Houston Texans didn’t even have a pick until round 3, but they certainly got good value out of their first selection. Justin Reid is one of the most talented safeties in the entire draft as he has terrific speed and athleticism. He should have gone early in the 2nd round, but instead he fell an entire round right into the Texans spot. Reid can be an impact player right away and he fills a big need for the Texans.

Indianapolis Colts – Deon Cain – Wide Receiver – Clemson – Drafted: 6th Round

The Colts made a few good picks, but I chose this pick because it is the best value pick that they made in the draft. Deon Cain is an explosive receiver as proven by his 4.43 showing in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Cain is one of the best vertical threats in the entire draft and he should be able to make an impact right away. The Colts needed some receiver help and this guy just adds another weapon for quarterback Andrew Luck in the passing game. Cain was supposed to be a 4th round pick and I’m not quite sure why he fell so far, but he is a talented receiver that shouldn’t have even made it to the 6th round.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Ronnie Harrison – Safety – Alabama – Drafted: 3rd Round

Ronnie Harrison was supposed to be an early 2nd round pick, but he instead fell all the way late into the 3rd round. Harrison won’t likely be a starter right away, but he adds some quality depth to the Jaguars secondary. Harrison has the potential to be a starter in the NFL at some point, but Jacksonville is stacked with talent in the secondary so it might not be for awhile. Either way, Jacksonville got tremendous value with this pick and it just strengthens what was an already good defense.

Kansas City Chiefs – Derrick Nnadi – Defensive Tackle – Florida State – Drafted: 3rd Round

Dontari Poe didn’t make too much of a difference at defensive tackle for the Chiefs last season and the team had to fill his spot after he left in free agency. Derrick Nnadi has a chance to fill that void right away as he is a terrific run defender. That is important since Kansas City has struggled against the run in recent years. Nnadi can make an impact right away as a rotational player or he can even be a starter early on. Nnadi is a really talented player and he fills a big need for Kansas City.

Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James – Safety – Florida State – Drafted: 1st Round

The Los Angeles Chargers already had a very talented defense, but safety was one of the spots where they could really use an upgrade. Not only did they fill that void, but they did it by drafting a high impact player in the 1st round. Derwin James is a top 10 talent for sure and he somehow fell all the way to the Chargers with the 17th overall pick. The Chargers got tremendous value with this pick and they are getting a player that can make an impact right away.

Los Angeles Rams – Obo Okoronkwo – Outside Linebacker – Oklahoma – Drafted: 5th Round

The Rams already have a talented defense, but the linebacker position is where the Rams could improve at. That is exactly what they did in the 5th round of the draft by selecting Obo Okoronkwo in the 5th round. He is a 3rd round talent, but for some reason he fell into the 5th round probably because scouts view him as undersized. However, Okoronkwo was very productive in college and he will at least provide the Rams a very good backup linebacker. It is even possible that he could challenge for a starting role right away, so the Rams are likely getting a steal with this pick.

Miami Dolphins – Kalen Ballage – Running Back – Arizona State – Drafted: 4th Round

Miami already added some much needed running back depth in free agency by signing Farnk Gore. However, Gore is getting old and Kenyan Drake is still unproven as the number 1 running back for Miami. Kalen Ballage will give the Dolphins some more depth at running back. He didn’t have much production during college, but he has all of the physical traits of an NFL running back. He has good size, speed, and pass-catching ability which will allow him to have at least some role in the Dolphins offense early on. Ballage probably won’t be a starter for awhile, but he is a talented running back that will take some of the pressure off of Kenyan Drake.

Minnesota Vikings – Mike Hughes – Cornerback – UCF – Drafted: 1st Round

The secondary was already a huge strength for the Vikings last season as Xavier Rhodes proved that he is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. However, the other cornerbacks on the roster were inconsistent. Trae Waynes has been good at times, but he is rather inconsistent and Terence Newman is highly likely to retire after this season. Mike Hughes is a terrific pick because he is a talented cornerback that has terrific speed to go with a good physical style of play. However, is a perfect fit for the Vikings since he won’t be asked to start right away, but he figures to be a starter for Minnesota for a long time.

New England Patriots – Sony Michel – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round

Sony Michel might be the most dynamic running back in this entire draft class as he has terrific speed and he is a tremendous pass-catcher as well. Michel is basically the definition of a 3-down running back, which is a very difficult type of player to find these days. The Patriots needed a running back after the departure of Dion Lewis and Michel figures to be an upgrade over what New England had last season. Michel fits the Patriots perfectly and he just adds another dynamic playmaker to help take the pressure off of Tom Brady.

New Orleans Saints – Natrell Jamerson – Safety – Wisconsin – Drafted: 5th Round

The late rounds are often where teams find players that can make an impact on special teams and that is exactly what the Saints found when they selected Natrell Jamerson in the 5th round. Jamerson probably won’t make much of an impact at safety, but he is an outstanding special teams player that gives New Orleans much more versatility. He is good on special teams coverage, yet he also is a dynamic kick returner. Jamerson provides some more depth at safety, but this is a good pick because the Saints can use him in a variety of ways.

New York Giants – Saquon Barkley – Running Back – Penn State – Drafted: 1st Round

Saquon Barkley is likely the best player in the NFL draft and he fills a huge need for the Giants as they have struggled tremendously to run the ball in recent years. It would be shocking if Barkley doesn’t come in and make a huge impact for the Giants right away as he has good size and tremendous breakaway speed. Barkley will not only improve the running game, but the most important thing is that he’ll take a lot of pressure off of Eli Manning. Barkley will help New York win right away and he adds another dynamic playmaker to the Giants offense.

New York Jets – Sam Darnold – Quarterback – USC – Drafted: 1st Round

The New York Jets already had 4 quarterbacks on their roster, but the problem is that none of them are the quarterback of the future. Sam Darnold is arguably the best quarterback in the draft and he is a terrific pocket passer. The only real concern about Darnold is that he turns the ball over too often, but if he can correct that then the Jets could be getting a pro-bowl quarterback.

Oakland Raiders – Maurice Hurst – Defensive Tackle – Michigan – Drafted: 5th Round

Hurst was one of the best defensive tackles in this draft and he is arguably a 1st round talent. However, he unfortunately he fell all the way to the 5th round because of a heart issue that was a major concern for teams. If Hurst’s health issue can be dealt with, then there is no question that the Raiders are getting terrific value with this pick. Hurst will be an upgrade at defensive tackle for Oakland and he can be a high impact player as long as he can stay healthy.

Philadelphia Eagles – Josh Sweat – Defensive End – Florida State – Drafted: 4th Round

The Eagles already had an extremely deep defensive line, which was one of the main reasons that they won the super bowl this past season. However, they are adding more depth to the position by selecting former Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat in the 4th round. It is a tremendous value pick for the Eagles since he is a 1st or 2nd round talent, but he fell so far because of injury concerns. Don’t expect Sweat to make much of an impact right away. However, he has the potential to be a starter for the Eagles at defensive end in a few years.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mason Rudolph – Quarterback – Oklahoma State – Drafted: 3rd Round

This pick might not be liked by current starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Steelers needed to find the long-term solution at quarterback for when Roethlisberger retires. Roethlisberger is 36 years old and he has seriously considered retirement in recent years, but the issue is that the Steelers didn’t have a plan if he were to suddenly retire. Mason Rudolph is one of the best quarterbacks in this draft and it is kind of surprising that he fell so far since he is clearly a 2nd round talent. Rudolph won’t make an impact right away since Roethlisberger is clearly going to be the starter. However, Rudolph now has a chance to develop at the NFL level and possibly become the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh in a few years. We’ll see if Rudolph can become the future starter at quarterback for the Steelers, but he at least gives the team a solid backup at the position.

San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey – Offensive Tackle – Notre Dame – Drafted: 1st Round

Mike McGlinchey wasn’t really a value pick for the 49ers, but it was a very good pick for the team nonetheless. The 49ers have their franchise quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo, but it was important for them to be able to surround him with quality talent on offense. McGlinchey is a big addition for the 49ers as he can make an impact right away as the starting right tackle. However, McGlinchey also adds tons of value long-term for San Francisco as he is expected to take over the starting left tackle role once Joe Staley retires. McGlinchey is arguably the best offensive tackle in this draft and he is a player that will help the 49ers immediately and for many years to come.

Seattle Seahawks – Shaquem Griffin – Outside Linebacker – UCF – Drafted: 5th Round

This is definitely my favorite pick of the entire NFL draft, mostly because Griffin is such an inspirational story. Griffin has been doubted his entire life, but all he has done is prove everyone wrong. Many people think that he will be limited in the NFL, but he proved during college that he can be a dynamic playmaker. He might be undersized which is likely why he fell to the 5th round. However, he can make an impact on special teams right away and he likely can make an impact at outside linebacker if given the opportunity. This is the perfect situation for Shaquem Griffin to be in since he gets to play with his brother and he once again will be out to prove that he is a solid football player.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronald Jones – Running Back – USC – Drafted: 2nd Round

Running back was arguably the biggest need for the Buccaneers this offseason as it really held the offense back last season. Doug Martin was absolutely terrible as the starter for the Bucs last season and he was ultimately released by the team. Tampa Bay does have Peyton Barber who has become a productive running back in the NFL. However, it was clear that Tampa Bay needed a new starter and that is why they selected Ronald Jones in the 2nd round. Jones had a terrific college career at USC and he has tremendous speed to be able to make big plays. Jones might not be the starter right away, but he is the type of player that can give a major boost to Tampa Bay’s running game and take a lot of pressure off quarterback Jameis Winston.

Tennessee Titans – Luke Falk – Quarterback – Washington State – Drafted: 6th Round

Marcus Mariota is clearly the starter at quarterback for the Titans and he likely will be for a long time. However, the Titans haven’t really had a good backup quarterback in several years. Luke Falk should solve that issue as he has the potential to be a very good backup quarterback. Falk put up extremely impressive numbers at Washington State and what particularly stands out is that he only threw 39 interceptions compared to 119 career touchdowns. Falk is an NFL-ready quarterback and he provides much needed depth at the quarterback position right away for Tennessee. It is shocking that Falk fell this far in the draft as he is clearly a 3rd round talent. However, if he is given the opportunity then he could potentially develop into an NFL starting quarterback one day.

Washington Redskins – Derrius Guice – Running Back – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Redskins already had plenty of depth at the running back position, but the issue is that they didn’t have an established starter at the position. Derrius Guice fixes that issue as he is clearly projected to be the starter very soon for the Redskins. Guice has tremendous power, but he also has very good speed for his size as well. Guice could’ve been a 1st round talent, but he fell all the way late into the 2nd round because of character issues. If he can get his attitude in check, then there is no doubt that the Redskins are getting a very talented early-down running back.