USK Premier League Predictions

The Football season is upon us, having seen the Football League kick off the football season, the focus will be on the Premier League on Saturday as they start their season. As is tradition, it is time to make a guess at how the table may look come May.

1. Manchester United
2. Chelsea
3. Tottenham Hotspur
4. Manchester City
5. Everton
6. Arsenal
7. Liverpool
8. West Ham United
9. Leicester City
10. Southampton
11. Stoke City
12. Burnley
13. Crystal Palace
14. AFC Bournemouth
15. Newcastle United
16. Swansea City
17. Huddersfield Town
18. West Bromwich Albion
19. Watford
20. Brighton and Hove Albion

Manchester United, with their pre-season additions, are serious title contenders. Strong, athletic and powerful players are what Mourinho built his team around at Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid with much success. This is now his team and they are in the best position to win a title since Fergie left.

Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City, in the Champions League places. If not Man Utd then one of these three will win the title. Chelsea will be strong again but the loss of Costa will hurt, even with the addition of Morata. Tottenham have failed to capitalise on their best season, no real additions, no major departures. Teams have caught up to, or surpassed, them in terms of quality in the squad. Man City have a great manager and this should be the year we see it. They are not as strong as United or Chelsea but Champions League again with a cup win.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton will be in the hunt for Champions League but fall short. Arsenal will be Arsenal, the doubts over the future of star players may linger in the squad and could hurt them if not addressed. Wenger needs to keep his team motivated and add more strength and power into the team. Liverpool added some depth in the window, which is what they have needed. They had to rely on youth players to fill in gaps in the squad, which can be hit or miss but some good experienced depth doesn’t help close the gap on the elite teams. Everton have spent big and lost Lukaku. I am expecting big things from them. Koeman has experience in dealing with high turnover at Southampton and should get the squad gelling quickly.

At the other end of the table, 2 of the 3 promoted teams stay up. With Brighton dropping back down to The Championship after 1 season. Swansea and Huddersfield survive, Tammy Abraham’s goals will be key for Swansea but they will need to replace him next summer when he returns to Chelsea. I am not going to bet against David Wagner keeping Huddersfield up, he defied the odds in getting Huddersfield this far. Wagner knows the exact player he is looking for and how the fit into his system. He has kept the majority of his squad, which will help them early on as the team are together and fluid. West Brom and Watford are probably surprise picks to be relegated. Watford have struggled to find consistency, with high manager turnover and up and down performances in the Premier League. Denney is an excellent player but he can only carry them so far. West Brom should be a mid table team in this division. With Tony Pulis in charge, they are a hard team to gauge but I don’t think they have enough goals in the team to keep their head above water.

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NFL 2017 Predictions

With the start of NFL training camp, it is time to make our predictions for the upcoming season. Who do we think will win each division, make the playoffs and then win it all? As with all our predictions, here at USKSports we do not predict record.

Team Bolded = Division winner
Team Italicised = Wildcard
Team Underlined = Top 5 Draft pick in 2018.

AFC East
New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
New York Jets

Fairly simple to predict the AFC East. Patriots are undisputed kings while they have Brady and/or Belicheck. The defending Super Bowl Champions, keep their Division crown. Dolphins have a good year with Ajayi and Tannehill. Bills rebuild under McDermott begins and gets good results from his defense. Jets struggle under Bowles with No QB, aging star players and a team that is seemingly going nowhere.

AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

Steelers have the best team in the AFC North. They will win the division if they keep Roethlisberger/Brown/Bell playing for 16 games. Flacco is too inconsistent for the Ravens at QB for them to keep up with The Steelers, his performance will dictate their success. Bengals have purged talent after losing complimentary pieces to AJ Green, it will be another year in transition and maybe a fresh start at Head Coach could benefit them. The Browns improve with their young team a year older and 4 blue chip prospects (Garrett, Peppers, Njoku and Kizer) anchoring both sides of the ball. They are still 2 years away from being a position to challenge, this year is about growth for the much maligned franchise.

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars

Texans have the best defence in the division. Clowney and Watt together will frighten teams if they both stay up for 16 games. Watson could provide a spark, enough to win the division. Andrew Luck will be key for the Colts. If he can play 13 games then they will have enough to get in the play-offs, competing with Miami for the final wildcard. They seem to understand they need to keep Luck protected. Titans get close but Luck pulls the Colts away from them. A ground and pound team that need another year to take them to the next level. 2018 will be a big year for The Titans. Jaguars disappointed us all last year. They were meant to hit the next level but they fell on their faces. I’m not falling for the Jaguars this year. In an opposite way to the Patriots, they need to show they are not a basement team in the AFC South.

AFC West
Oakland Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers

With Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and great roster. They are a number 1/2 Seed, competing with New England. They should win the division comfortably if Carr plays 16 games. The Chiefs get into the play-offs as the 5th seed. Another underrated but good team that are dismissed due to their style of play. Alex Smith has the player around him. The Broncos finish 3rd and miss the play-offs. They still have a great defence and will be in the discussion for a wildcard place late in the year. The inexperience at QB could hurt them as I don’t believe Siemian or Lynch could pave over any offensive cracks, with a new head coach. Chargers have the foundation of a good team but always seem to be hampered by injuries. Rivers is a great and criminally underrated QB but the upheaval of the off-season and playing in a 30,000 seater stadium in a city that didn’t really have any affinity to the Chargers will make it seem like they have 16 away games.

AFC Play-offs
New England Patriots
Oakland Raiders
Pittsburgh Steelers
Houston Texans
Kansas City Chiefs
Indianapolis Colts

NFC East
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

Always a tough division to predict. The NFC East is always a wild, vicious dogfight with 4 historic franchises. Giants to win the division, strong offense, a good defence and the only thing that could doom them in erratic QB play, which is possible. The Cowboys will be good again but teams have had 6 months to watch film on Dak Prescott, he will be the key. Elliot will be an MVP candidate behind their O-Line, which would be enough to carry them into the play-offs. I debated between the Eagles and Redskins, they are similar teams, they will be close but The Eagles edge it, neither are play-off teams. Wentz taking a step forward is the difference. Cousins is unsettled and a long term deal would swap them.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears

Packers will win the division. Aaron Rodgers = Division titles. It is that simple. They have a team that is capable of making a deep run if they stay healthy. If we get the Stafford from last year then it could be a close race between The Lions and The Packers. The Vikings have uncertainty at QB for at least 2 years. Bridgewater won’t be rushed back until 2018, and there is no guarantee he returns to the level he was heading too, so they will go with Sam Bradford again. The Bears are not a good team. Glennon/Trubisky will add some intrigue but there is too much for them to overcome. Bears remain the basement and pick up another top 5 prospect in the 2018 Draft.

NFC South
Carolina Panthers
Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints

Panthers have started to help Cam Newton. McCaffrey is a perfect fit for The Panthers offense and will have a great impact as a rookie. He could be a contender for Offensive Rookie of The Year. The Falcons have a tough task to overcome their Super Bowl hangover, having given up a 25 point lead (insert 28-3 here) in the biggest game on the planet. How the respond will be the biggest storyline, it may affect them during the season but not enough to keep them out of the play-offs with Julio Jones and 2016 MVP, Matt Ryan and a defence that has a point to prove. The Bucs, take another step forward, They will be on the cusp of the Wildcard but the quality of The Cowboys and The Falcons will keep them out but a good season for a team ready to contend. The Saints are in a tough division. This is not a knock on them. They are a good team but the three teams in their division are better. Drew Brees will keep them relevant but they will finish last in a tough division.

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers

The NFC West is a mess. The Seahawks win at a canter. They are the superior team to every team in the West. The Cardinals are aging, all or nothing team that don’t have enough substance to compete with The Seahawks. The second best team in the division but a long way off Seattle. The Rams, they always have a knack of knocking off the Seahawks, a dominate defense that needs a competent offense to contend, we’ve seen the formula work in Denver. The Youngest head coach in NFL history, Sean McVay, has work to do with Jared Goff. That is where the hopes of LA lie, which is why they are 3rd. The 49ers are in full rebuild mode, a clever draft day trade for extra picks, not reaching on a QB and a GM and Headcoach with 6 year deals. Patience is now the game in SF. Another year in the basement in order to help re-fill holes in the draft.

NFC Playoffs
Green Bay Packers
Seattle Seahawks
New York Giants
Carolina Panthers
Atlanta Falcons
Dallas Cowboys.

Do you agree with where we’ve put your favourite team? Which team will win it all? Join the discussion below and follow @USKSports on twitter.

NFL Play-off Revision?

Imagine a world where the NFL resembles the NBA, ok so not that hard to imagine, but a world where the NFL has two conferences East and West, not AFC and NFC. Two 16 team conferences to decide the NFL play-offs, rather than the system they have now. Where you have 6 teams, 4 division winners and 2 wild cards in each conference. It will be based purely on who has the best records in the NFL. Finished 3rd in your division at 10-6 but still missed the play-offs because the AFC South winners won 8 games? Congratulations this system is for you. But the question is, Will it work? Is it worth it? and Would it be better than the existing system?

The hard part comes in splitting the NFL into East and West because of the existing divisions. This will ignore the AFC and NFC split because of geography and the hardest thing to do will be the split up historic rivalries, such as the the Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East. So let us look at the map of NFL teams.

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 16.32.09

Where we encounter problem number 1. It is East dominated. Finding the split will be the challenge. A North/South split would be easier but let’s split the NFL like the NBA. East and West. If we take the logical seam given to us from Louisiana and west to California that leaves us with 12 teams in the West, which we can’t have since we are aiming to split this 16/16 but those 12 teams can be locked into the West.

West: Rams, Raiders, Chargers, 49ers, Broncos, Texans, Cowboys, Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks and Vikings.

Logically, we would have to put in the next 4 teams that are the most western. Which would be the Packers, Bears, Titans and Colts. The Colts are already illogically placed in the AFC South but if we take these four to fill out the Western Conference of the NFL.

West:
1. LA Rams
2. LA Chargers
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. San Francisco 49ers
6. Oakland Raiders
7. Denver Broncos
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Houston Texans
10. New Orleans Saints
11. Kansas City Chiefs
12. Minnesota Vikings
13. Green Bay Packers
14. Chicago Bears
15. Tennessee Titans
16. Indianapolis Colts.

The bottom 5 teams feel out of place. They are colder weather teams that don’t fit with the hot weather of the Western Conference. They feel out of place because the NFL is so eastern dominated. It would break up the Cowboys from their 3 biggest rivals but they would play their historic rival, The 49ers, more regularly. The Lions would lose their three division rivals. The Jacksonville Jaguars would lose 3 also. Which leaves us with…

NFL Eastern Conference:
1. New England Patriots
2. New York Jets
3. New York Giants
4. Buffalo Bills
5. Philadelphia Eagles
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Washington Redskins
9. Cleveland Browns
10. Detroit Lions
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Miami Dolphins
13. Jacksonville Jaguars
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
15. Carolina Panthers
16. Atlanta Falcons.

So with this new split, We have 6 teams qualify from each conference (No extra games will be played). Working the same way as the existing play-offs. So how would the play-offs have looked with this new format (Based on last seasons record)

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFF SEEDS:
1. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) Tiebreaker over the Raiders
3. Oakland Raiders (12-4)
4. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
5. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
6. Titans/Broncos/Texans (9-7)

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFF SEEDS:
1. New England Patriots (14-2)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) Won the Tiebreaker w/ victory over The Giants
3. New York Giants (11-5)
4. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
5. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
6. Detroit Lions (9-7)

It was just a re-shuffling of the existing teams in the play-offs with potentially just one team different, dependent on tiebreakers, but it would certainly make for some interesting play-off games. For the sake of argument let’s say the Texans are the team that get in as they were in the play-offs last year.

6 Lions @ 3 Giants
5 Dolphins @ 4 Falcons
6 Texans @ 3 Raiders
5 Packers @ 4 Seahawks

The Texans Vs The Raiders happened last year but Packers are given a second chance against The Seahawks after their Play-off collapse. The East provides two matchup that are never going to happen outside a Super Bowl in the post season. Assuming we go with highest seed winning. We get divisional games of:

4 Falcons @ 1 Patriots
3 Giants @ 2 Steelers
4 Seahawks @ 1 Cowboys
3 Raiders @ 2 Chiefs

Raiders and Chiefs happens twice a year. Giants Vs Steelers in the play-offs, that would be a great matchup. A repeat of Super Bowl 51, yes please and Seahawks Vs Cowboys would be intriguing. You can assume what happens from here. Steelers @ Patriots in a repeat of the AFC Championship and Chiefs @ Cowboys. That is based purely on records from last year and I am sure that it would provide some seldom seen but widely wanted play-off match ups.

Is it better than the existing system? In the short term, probably not. Long term would probably be more interesting with teams split into divisions with the NBA style play-offs but no guarantees for division winners. Every system has it’s flaws but the NFL system works for the league.

English Football Season – In Review

The 2016/17 season has ended (but for the remaining play-off/FA Cup Finals). It has been a season where there were clear winners in almost every one of the top 4 divisions. This review is a general list of awards for over and under achievers, managers of the season, player of the season, biggest disappointment and biggest surprise.

Premier League 16/17 Review:
Champions – Chelsea.
Runners Up – Tottenham.
Top 4 – Liverpool and Man City.
Bottom 3 – Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
Overachievers – Burnley.
Underachievers – Manchester United.
Manager of the season – Antonio Conte, Chelsea.
Player of the season – N’Golo Kante, Chelsea.
Biggest disappointment – Leicester’s title defence.
Biggest surprise – Chelsea’s run away title win.

Championship 16/17 Review:
Champions – Newcastle United.
Runners Up – Brighton & Hove Albion.
Play-Off Finalists – Huddersfield Vs Reading.
Bottom 3 – Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham.
Overachievers – Burton Albion.
Underachievers – Birmingham City.
Manager of the season – Jaap Stam, Reading.
Player of the season – Tammy Abraham, Bristol City.
Biggest disappointment – Underperforming Derby and Norwich.
Biggest surprise – Gary Rowett’s sacking with Birmingham pursuing play-offs.

League 1 16/17 Review:
Champions – Sheffield United.
Runners Up – Bolton Wanderers.
Play-Off Finalists – Bradford Vs Millwall.
Bottom 4 – Port Vale, Swindon Town, Coventry City, Chesterfield.
Overachievers – Fleetwood Town.
Underachievers – Charlton Athletic.
Manager of the season – Chris Wilder, Sheffield United.
Player of the season – Bill Sharp, Sheffield United.
Biggest disappointment – Coventry’s continued fall due to ownership issues.
Biggest surprise – Scunthorpe finishing third.

League 2 16/17 Review: 
Champions – Portsmouth.
Runners Up (x2) – Doncaster Rovers and Plymouth Argyle.
Play-Off Finalists – Exeter City Vs Blackpool.
Bottom 2 – Hartlepool United and Leyton Orient.
Overachievers – Exeter City.
Underachievers – Accrington Stanley.
Manager of the season – Paul Cook, Portsmouth.
Player of the season – Danny Hylton, Luton Town.
Biggest disappointment – Leyton Orient’s turmoil.
Biggest surprise – Newport’s great escape.
Joining the EFL next season – Lincoln City and Forest Green Rovers.

NBA Conference Finals

The NBA Play-offs have been a prelude to the inevitable. Warriors Vs Cavaliers for the third straight year in the NBA Finals. However, The Warriors must overcome The Spurs and The Cavs must beat The Celtics.

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are both unbeaten in the play-offs which is no easy task. Both teams swept their way to the Western and Eastern conference finals. It is all but confirmed that these two will complete the third leg of their finals rivalry, with both teams having won one title each.

The Eastern Conference teams built their teams to beat Cleveland. The Western Conference built theirs to beat the Warriors. The Cavaliers built outside their big 3, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, to combat The Warriors. We will finally see both teams at full strength (hopefully) heading into the NBA finals (should both teams, as expected, win their conference).

The key players left in the play-offs for each team.

Eastern Conference Finals:

LeBron James – Cavaliers. The only man who can get close to Michael Jordan. Even at the age of 32, he is the dominant force of the NBA. He bought a championship to his home town and now he wants to repeat. The Celtics will struggle to guard him as they have no-one who is capable. They are either too slow or too small. The other teams The Cavs played had a player specifically to slow down LeBron. The Celtics, without one, will be doomed if they can’t find a solution.

Isaiah Thomas – Celtics. The smallest player on the court but he is the key player for Boston. He has a great year and continues to improve in the play-offs. He is a perfect fit for their system and he must be great in order to get The Celtics to the finals. Him playing at a high level is a must and if The Celtics fall short then it will not be Thomas’ doing.

Western Conference Finals:

Kawhi Leonard – Spurs. The Western Conference finals have already started. He is the key man because he will miss the rest of the season. Broken Ankle in game 1, sparking conversation about whether it was deliberate or not, The Spurs best player is out. This will hurt San Antonio tremendously. Kawhi is a great defender who could guard any of the Warriors perimeter players, Durant, Curry or Thompson. They had a big lead and his injury sparked a huge run for The Warriors who are in command in the series.

Kevin Durant – Warriors. The most controversial man of the off season, is now they key piece for the Warriors. It was hard to choose between the big four they have but Durant is now the key. The loss of Leonard will free him up to be a big factor in the WCF. It is important he continues his high level of play. He has to vindicate his decision to leave The Thunder and join The Warriors and a massive performance in this series will shut people up, having fallen at this stage a year ago.

Top 10 NFL Offenses in 2017

It is time to make predictions about next season and inevitably I will be horribly wrong like all other predictions. This is the start of a series where I make predictions about upcoming season. This time we look at the next NFL season. Next week, we look at the Premier League and we will keep things fresh.

Subject to debut the series: The Top 10 NFL Offenses in 2017.

You will notice a trend in the top 10 here. There is a key weapon or QB that will make theme great (outside of an injury)

Honourable mention –
Carolina Panthers – 
I like what they did in the draft and it will have improved options for Cam Newton. If they had done this 2 years ago they would be in the top 5 (Assuming it all worked out). It was a much needed boost that moves away from just slinging the ball long to a tall WR. McCaffrey gives them a do-it-all dynamic weapon. With Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin as receiving options it is a team with a high potential to break into the top 10 but right now there are too many uncertainties to include them as Rivers is the surer thing.

10 – Los Angeles Chargers.
Any team led by Philip Rivers has a chance of being a Top 10 offense. They have a WR1 in Keenan Allen, but the injury bug keeps striking. Melvin Gordon can help ease the load on the ageing QB and provide a nice change of pace to a potentially high powered offense. The addition of Mike Williams will be a welcome one as it will take pressure off of Keenan Allen and giving the Chargers two legitimate WRs. Add in Hall of Fame TE Antonio Gates. Then there is high potential in this team. There is question marks over their Offensive Line but Rivers is experienced enough to over come this.

9 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jameis Winston has continued to improve in the NFL and Dirk Koetter has done a great job in helping his young QB. Mike Evans in a top 10 WR. They still have questions at RB with Doug Martin but the addition of O.J Howard in the draft will give Winston a much needed safety net to ensure the Buccaneers are competing for their division.

8 – Tennessee Titans.
The Titans are a young team with an old school style. The Titans want to run the ball down you throat and seem to enjoy doing it. The experience of DeMarco Murray has added a solid, dependable piece to the team and with Derrick Henry they have a pair of tough up the gut runners. Marcus Mariota has wheels too but question marks will remain over his injury at the end of last season. The addition of Corey Davis in the draft gives them a WR who can take the top of a defense and open up their run game. Look for them to lead the league in Team Rushing.

7 – Oakland Raiders.
A team that showed potential to be a Super Bowl contender until Derek Carr was injured and they faded away in the Play-offs. With Derek Carr back on his feet and back at his best then there is no doubt they will do it again. It is how Carr comes back that will determine the Raiders success, as the back up options are not too inspiring but better than they were last year. Amari Cooper is legitimate. He has been every bit as good as advertised and is a true number 1 receiver who was dominating the day he got into the NFL. Michael Crabtee fits the system perfectly and is a great number 2 for the team. Jared Cook and Pharaoh Brown are a nice TE pair and a continuation in the development of a team that Oakland have deserved for a long time, especially if this is one of the final years in the Bay.

6 – Green Bay Packers.
These next two entries will be eerily similar but maybe they are a touch too high but they both have Hall of Fame, Super Bowl Winning QBs that you can’t discount. Aaron Rodgers has had to carry the Packers in the last couple of years with limited offensive weapons but still manages to put them in the top 10 offensively every year. Jordy Nelson playing 16 games will be key for this Offense. He is the go-to guy for Rodgers and will help Randall Cobb and DeVante Adams be more of a threat by having the defences number 1 CB on Nelson. Martellus Bennett was a nice signing in FA and will complement Richard Rodgers and Lance Kendricks given Rodgers 3 good options at TE.

5 – New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have a Hall of Fame QB no doubt. Much like the Packers, Drew Brees is carrying their offense and they will put up huge numbers for as long as he can sling it. The loss of Brandin Cooks would destroy most teams but Brees is good enough to cover most of the holes on that side of the ball. The lowest amount of yards he has thrown for in the last 6 years is 4,870, which is impressive. Despite having no help on defense he keeps this team in the discussion. They have fallen short of the playoffs in the last 3 years.

4 – Pittsburgh Steelers.
Top 5 Wide Receiver? Check. Hall of Fame QB? Check. Top 5 Running Back? Check. The problems lie on the other side of the ball for The Steelers but they have an explosive offense that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the league. It is important that their big three avoid injuries as this has held them back in the last 3 years. Ben, Brown and Bell have rarely been on the field together but if they can put together 16 games it will be a tough offense to look past for the number 1 spot at the end of the season. The doubt about all of them playing 16 games drops them a place.

3 – Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys have a dominant offensive line. A Young QB looking to take the next step and young stud RB who should only improve and a dependable receiving core. Dak Prescott surprised everyone last year with solid QB play, making smart decisions on throws and runs helped by Ezekiel Elliott, the Offensive Rookie Of The Year. They are a team that should improve with their two young players. Des Bryant and Jason Witten are dependable pieces that will give Prescott chance to develop and The Cowboys should once again have a top offense in the league again.

2 – Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons came so close to capturing the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 51. An explosive Offense helped their Quarterback Matt Ryan to MVP honours last season and there is no reason to believe they are about to slow down. They will remain one of the top offenses in the NFL. Sanu and Gabriel are nice options outside of the beast Julio Jones who will catch anything within 5 yards of him. The problems lie on the other side of the ball and with a better defensive rotation they would be coming into 2017 as Super Bowl Champions.

1 – New England Patriots.
Speaking of Super Bowl Champions. The epic 25 point comeback from a Tom Brady led team hoisted this team to their 5th title in 17 years. They didn’t stand by. They stacked their offense with supreme talent. Brady is the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) in the NFL. He will be as good as ever next season there is no reason to doubt the man, despite him being 40 years old. They added explosive WR, Brandin Cooks from the Saints. Mike Gillislee from the division rival Buffalo Bills. Along with Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Malcom Mitchell, Chris Hogan…you get the picture. They are loaded. They can run, throw to Running Back, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends. Brady has everything he needs to be the first man to win 6 Super Bowls. They are the safest bet, along with the Falcons, to be the top offenses in the NFL, if not ever.

Live NFL Draft Coverage from USKSports

NFL-draftITS DRAFT DAY! You know what that means? That’s right it is time for USKSports.com live draft coverage. Much like last year we will have updates as the picks come in, analysis and pick and trade predictions as they happen but first we have storylines to watch heading into Day 1.

Things to watch on Day 1:
49ers taking calls on the number 2 pick.
Bears considering trading down from the number 3 pick.
Tak McKinley and John Ross’s draft stock falling.
Philadelphia’s Pick.
First QB drafted? Watson or Trubisky.

garrett-mid-thamel

The Browns are on the clock, and have been since the end of the regular season. With the first pick there is NO way they don’t Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. The consensus best player in the draft and number 1 pick. Even if he flops The Browns took the guy everyone else would have, so at least they have that. They can trade up into top 7 if they feel they need a QB. All the magical NFL sources, however, are saying Garrett is going number 1 and the Browns aren’t looking to move up from pick 12. It is sensible, just take best player available and build with talent not reaching for needs. One of the QBs may fall out of the first round that they can get in the 2nd.

It is now 1am UK time. The draft is about to begin. We are just waiting for Roger Goodell to open proceedings…Here he comes at 1:05am to deafenings boos for the unpopular commissioner.

‘The NFL draft for 2017 is officially open…’

THE BROWNS ARE ON THE CLOCK! This shouldn’t take long…THE PICK IS IN (After 5 minutes)… With the first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Cleveland Browns select…MYLES GARRETT, DE, TEXAS A&M…DUH…The Browns do the right thing and select the pass rusher from Texas A&M. The sources today were correct and I never doubted that Cleveland wouldn’t take him 1st overall. All Pro Potential and a building block for a franchise.

The 49ers are on the clock…We could see a trade here if someone is willing to come up to get a QB. If not the 49ers may lean towards Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford….

TRADE! I said we may see a trade. It was The Bears moving up 1 spot to 2nd overall. Bears are after someone and had to protect the chance to get them. The Bears are now on the clock. I expect the 49ers will trade down from 3. They gave up a 3rd and 4th this year and a 3rd next year. The 49ers have done well here as they need a lot of pieces in a deep draft year.

THE BEARS ON ARE THE CLOCK!…The Pick is in…With the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, The Chicago Bears select…MITCHELL TRUBISKY, QB, NORTH CAROLINA. WOW! The first shocker. The First QB off the board. I said a team might come up to 2 to take a QB but the Bears were not a team I expected. The crowd are shocked. The NFL is shocked. I don’t think it is in a good way either. The 49ers could still get a top tier player in the draft. DeShaun Watson now has to come through on his promise.

The 49ers are on the clock again…see above for a prediction…The Pick is in…With the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, The San Francisco 49ers select…SOLOMON  THOMAS, DE, STANFORD. The expected pick by The 49ers. They get their man. They trade down 1 spot and gain 3 extra picks. John Lynch showing that a rookie GM can be affective in the NFL. This is a pick that they needed. More youth to their DLine and a player they can move around. Well played, 49ers. Well played.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are now on the clock. This could go anywhere. A team could trade up for DeShaun Watson in order to get above The Jets. The Jaguars could take Leonard Fournette and add a cornerstone piece to their offense. I will lean towards Fournette being selected here.

With the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, The Jacksonville Jaguars select...LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB, LSU. Much like The 49ers it was the obvious pick. It was the big hole in the Jaguars offense. It will give Blake Bortles a reliable runner who they can build around. It will open up defenses, with the Safety having to come down into the box against the run. Bortles has shown flashes of greatness and The Jaguars could be a fun team to watch next season. He will run Safeties over in the NFL. Two years in a row a RB has gone 4th overall.

The Tennessee Titans are on the clock…Could be a trade here. Titans could take best player available or be adding a WR or a DB here. Mike Williams/Corey Davis or Jamal Adams/Marcus Lattimore if they don’t trade back. A team may be desperate to move about The Jets.

No Trade here. With the fifth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Tennessee Titans select…Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. The Titans add a playmaker for Mariota. The AFC South could be the best division in football soon. It was a big need for The Titans and getting their guy here is where they wanted to go. They can come back at 18 and get a DB in a deep draft for the position.

The New York Jets are on the clock. DeShaun Watson? A third year in a row with a QB selection for Gang Green? There is an old phrase. Draft a QB every year until you find one. Jamal Adams or OJ Howard are also in play. Would be rich for Howard but they have seen first hand for years the role at top TE can play facing the Patriots twice a year.

SMALL BREAKING NEWS INTERRUPTION: Per Ian Rappaport “The Browns are trying to trade for Kirk Cousins” This could be a huge move on Draft Day. The Redskins would surely get the 12th pick and hope they are in position for Kizer/Watson or Mahomes II. It seems unlikely to happen but would be fun.

The Pick is in…With the Sixth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The New York Jets select…Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU. A smart pick by the Jets. They didn’t reach on Watson and they go best player available. He is considered the safest prospect in the draft and it gives The Jets another playmaker on Defense and a player who can set the tone on the back end.

The Los Angeles Chargers are on the clock…Chargers have needs on defense and this could be addressed here. They have been quiet and no leaks about where they are leaning. A wildcard could be OJ Howard to team up with Antonio Gates/Hunter Henry. The Chargers will need to make a big impact and take a star for the LA market. A WR/TE could help Rivers but if you want to get crazy then Chargers take Watson to sit behind Rivers?

The Pick is in…With the seventh pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Los Angeles Chargers select…Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. I thought Howard but it is Williams. The Chargers needed a splash pick for the LA market. A big WR with good hands will help Rivers and if Keenan Allen stays healthy then it could be a great offense should Williams work out.

The Carolina Panthers are on the clock…Could go any direction. A pick that is difficult to predict. They would have been delighted if Fournette would have fallen to them. Christian McCaffrey could be interesting to give The Panthers a dynamic, do it all playmaker out the backfield to give Cam Newton a security blanket.

The Pick is in…With the eighth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select…Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford. A perfect pick for The Panthers. A guy that every team would want. A great guy. A hard worker and a do it all back. He can make a huge impact and is the kind of player The Panthers have lacked. They have deep threats, big WRs, Greg Olsen at TE and hard, down hill runners. He will have a great impact in Carolina. TWO RBs in the top 8. The RB is back!

The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock…They have lost A LOT of pieces in free agency. Bengals should go defense (D-Line) here or reach on an Offensive Lineman. Lamp, Bolles or Ramsyck would make sense here but 9 would be too rich for them. A trade would be best if they go O-Line. If not then Defensive Line could be the position to watch.

The Pick is in…With the ninth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Cincinnati Bengals select…John Ross, WR, Washington. Its a WR. The fastest WR ever at the combine. A WR who will take the top off a defense. It gives Dalton another weapon. They lacked a number 2 receiver last season after Sanu’s departure. It is a smart pick for The Bengals, especially given the lack of top 10 talent in the O-Line. His stock DOESNT fall after all.

TRADE! THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ARE ON THE CLOCK! It was one of the things to watch. The Chiefs have moved a LONG way in the draft in this trade with Buffalo. They had interest in Watson to sit behind Alex Smith and had to get above The Browns to do it. A 1st and a 3rd in 2017 and a 1st in 2018 to move up to 10. The Bills get another pick in a deep draft. Could work well for both teams. The Browns may be upset if it is Watson that goes here.

The Pick is in! With the tenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Kansas City Chiefs select…Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech. Watson will be the 3rd selected and The Browns have the chance to get Watson. Mahomes needs time on the bench. He needs time to develop skills but he has a cannon arm. Alex Smith has been in this situation before with a developmental QB behind him. It bought the best out of Smith and with raw talent behind him it could work well for both players.

The New Orleans Saints are on the clock…Saints may play it safe at go Best Player available. Could be on Defense or a player that could fill the hole left by Brandin Cooks. OJ Howard wouldn’t surprise me. QB could have been realistic with Mahomes available. Maybe RB with Dalvin Cook? It is the hardest to predict first round in a LONG TIME. They are running the clock down but….

The Pick is in! With the eleventh pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The New Orleans Saints select…Marshon Lattimore, DB, Ohio State. Makes sense. Best player available. Considered the best CB in the draft. A position of need for The Saints. Teams potentially put off by his hamstring issues but this is a good pick for The Saints who can come back at 32 and collect more picks for a team wanting a player there.

The Cleveland Browns are back on the clock! Watson? The Browns could have a great first round. Garrett and Watson? I don’t think The Browns ever thought they could get both without trading up from 12 but it looks like they could. Could see Malik Hooker here too and double down on defense but The Browns need a QB. It gives them some hope of improvement and a coach like Hue Jackson can get the best of out them.

WE JUMPED THE GUN! THE TEXANS ARE ON THE CLOCK! THE BROWNS TRADE DOWN. Same applies really. Must be moving up for Watson. It will be interesting to see what The Browns get in return. The Browns could be making a play for Sam Darnold in next years draft. Watson MUST be the pick here. The Texans are legitimately a QB away from contending for a Super Bowl. (Two number 1s. The Browns also have The Texans 2nd rounder next year from the Osweiler trade. They will have plenty of draft capital)

With the twelfth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Houston Texans select…DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Much like Myles Garrett, DUH. It was the only player they would move up for. He has the chance to be the best QB in Franchise history. The AFC South is going to be FUN! Luck, Fournette, Mariota and Watson. It will be high scoring. They will be a Super Bowl Contender in the next 3/4 years. All three first round QBs are teams moving up to take them.

The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock. It is probably not Malik Hooker, they are set in the secondary but there is plenty of talent available. Bruce Arians will want a flashy, playmaker with a bit of swag. That is how the Cardinals are built. I think he would have loved Mahomes or Watson but misses out on both of them as developmental QBs. Haason Reddick would break Philly fans hearts here, Jonathan Allen to help appease the loss of Calais Campbell would make sense too. I think they go D-Line or Linebacker.

The Pick is in! With the thirteenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Arizona Cardinals select…Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. It rips the heart out of Philly.  Grew up and played his college football in Philly and was a player the local crowd would have wanted. He rose up the boards in the months heading up to the draft. He gets a nice reception from the fans and gives the Cardinals a complete defensive player.

The Philadelphia Eagles are on the clock. It will get LOUD when the pick is announced. Rumours were John Ross or Reddick but both are off the board. Best player available would be great here. OJ Howard would create a nice pairing with Ertz but that is the only place they can go on offense to help Carson Wentz. Rueben Foster or Jonathan Allen if they go defense because they are probably the best fits for Philly.

The Pick is in! With the fourteenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Philadelphia Eagles select…Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee. Well I said Defense was likely. I thought Allen or Foster but Barnett is a pass rusher who had more sacks that Myles Garrett. He is a player who has energy and toughness. If he shows that in Philly then they will love him because that is what they want from their players.

The Indianapolis Colts are on the clock. Hooker, Foster or Allen must be here. Colts have to go defense. They are terrible on Defense. O-Line is the other place they have needs but they can come back in the 2nd to get one. Would be surprised if it was anyone other than one of these three players.

The Pick is in! With the fifteenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Indianapolis Colts select…Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State. It had to be one of those three. Colts have a need in the secondary with such a deep draft at CB Hooker, who was a projected top 5 pick for lots of the draft process falls to 15 and gives The Colts a difference maker on Defense that they have lacked for a long time and a player they thought they would have no chance of getting.

The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock. The Ravens like Alabama players and have a history of drafting them so Howard, Foster or Allen would fit with how The Ravens draft. Ozzie Newsome has the pick of the Alabama litter. I would be surprised if they pick outside of the Alabama players. Foster is probably the sensible pick. If they were to go outside of Alabama then Dalvin Cook would give them a runner they have lacked since Ray Rice. A RB is the difference in The Ravens system. Another place to look is on the O Line. There was some chatter that The Ravens may go O-line at 16.

The Pick is in! With the sixteenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Baltimore Ravens select…Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama. Nailed the school. Got the player wrong. Humphrey fills a position of need for The Ravens and Ozzie Newsome fills his need to draft another Alabama player and helps The Ravens immediately with a CB.

The Washington Redskins are on the clock. Could see Dalvin Cook come off the board. Su’a Cravens wants to see Allen but they have the choice of any top player they want. The Titans will be watching keenly. DE is a more pressing need so The Titans may be able to get OJ Howard. Think Allen might be the pick here and will be great value if he can stay healthy.

The Pick is in! With the seventeenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Washington Redskins select…Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama. It is Allen and Su’a Cravens gets his wish. It gives The Redskins a D-Line piece to build around. It is being considered a steal, a projected top 5 pick falls to 18. It just shows the depth that this draft has. He has had some injury problems that could have caused his slide but it is a great pick up for The Redskins. He is a Redskins fan so he will be delighted that he landed here but not too happy about his fall.

The Tennessee Titans are BACK on the clock. Having taken Corey Davis we could see OJ Howard go here but they have a more pressing need on Defense. Adoree Jackson? Or another CB they rate highly. Wouldn’t surprise me to see a CB given the release of Jason McCourty. He can team up with recently signed Logan Ryan at CB.

The Pick is in! With the eighteenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Tennessee Titans select, Adoree Jackson, CB, USC. It is a CB for The Titans. They must have been tempted by OJ Howard but they go with a player who can play special teams and contribute in the return game. He can be an explosive play maker to go along with Logan Ryan.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock. Dalvin Cook would be a fun pick here. A local RB for FSU to go along with their QB from FSU. OJ Howard could be here too but they know who they want because without hesitation…

The Pick is in! With the nineteenth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select...O.J Howard, TE, Alabama. It was going to be Howard or Cook. The Bucs are set on Defense and the two position they needed to fill were TE and RB. Fans wanted Cook because of the FSU connection but Howard gives them a TE that will help Winston and their potentially explosive offense.

The Denver Broncos are on the clock. RB has been a problem position but so has the O-Line. Cook or an Offensive Lineman make sense here. It should be on the offensive side of the ball because their Defense is still pretty good. Ramsyck/Lamp/Bolles in this spot.

The Pick is in! With the twentieth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Denver Broncos select…Garett Bolles, OT, Utah. Safe pick. The OT position was a huge need for The Broncos and this will help them out. Fans are more patient with OTs in the first round. Considered the most athletic OT in the draft and is the first O Lineman off the board at 20. The latest that the first OL comes off the board in the common era.

The Lions are on the clock. Could be a potential trade here. Whispers of teams wanting the 21st pick. They could go Oline here or Dalvin Cook would give them a nice RB behind Stafford. Defense always seems to be a need for The Lions so Rueben Foster may fall here too. The only surprises of the draft have been the order of the players rather than who is taken or if they want to stay local Taco Charlton or Jabrill Peppers.

The Pick is in! With the twenty first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Detroit Lions select…Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida. I thought LB. Foster’s injury must be something that is putting teams off. Davis is the best alternative to Foster. Foster is in free fall from his shoulder injury.

The Dolphins were on the clock but they were almost instant in putting the pick in. Charles Harris? Taco Charlton? Njoku? We will found out because the pick is already in before I get a chance to predict.

The Pick is in! With the twenty second pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Miami Dolphins select…Charles Harris, LB, Missouri. Despite the pick being in almost instantly I still managed to predict it. Foster is going to fall out the first round unless someone trades up into the first to get him, Teams are trying. Harris will be a hand in the dirt edge rusher for The Dolphins giving them another pass rusher to try and slow down Tom Brady.

News Break: The Falcons and 49ers are both trying to trade up. Could The Browns trade back again? The Falcons want someone who they don’t think will last until 31. The 49ers want someone who won’t be there at 34 in the second round. They both need to find a trade partner in the late 1st. Seattle are usually a willing trader. The other willing traders won’t be on the clock until round 3 (New England Patriots)

The Giants are on the clock. They are a team that also need OLineman. Could see O-Line here as a difference maker here could put them in the Super Bowl. They were whispers of QB but with Mahomes off the board it is unlikely. Kizer is considered pro ready so it should be between protecting Eli or Dalvin Cook.

The Pick is in! With the twenty third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, The New York Giants select…Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss. A TE was a problem for NYG but I felt that O-Line or RB was a bigger need. TE’s are a mismatch in the NFL and a player that could play traditional WR. A Versatile TE who will be a great weapon for Eli. The Giants have a powerful offense now and another Ole Miss player to join Eli.

The Oakland Raiders are on the clock. They are a team that don’t have many needs. If you’re a Raiders fan then David Njoku from Miami would be a pick you would want to see but there are more pressing needs. However, It would add another dynamic piece to their Offense but they may be tempted by the defensive players who are falling down the boards but I think they could go O-Line here.

The Pick is in! With the twenty fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, The Oakland Raiders select…Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State. Who has had accusation against him. Teams are confident that he is innocent and the evidence is seemingly pointing towards that. It is good value for Oakland but many still felt he would fall out the first round because of it. The Raiders get a great value pick because he is a top 15 pick at 24. Three DBs from Ohio State in the first round. Second time that has happened in NFL history after Miami in 2002.

The Cleveland Browns are back on the clock. Browns would be sensible to go best player available but another trade would be unsurprising with the 49ers and the Falcons looking to move. The Browns are collecting picks and extra picks tomorrow could entice The Browns to moving down again. Dalvin Cook would be a piece to build around but Ryan Ramcyzk, TJ Watt, Rueben Foster, Jabrill Peppers or David Njoku would be nice picks here for The Browns if they don’t trade out of it.

The Pick is in! With the twenty fifth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, The Cleveland Browns select…Jabrill Peppers, DB/LB, Michigan. Peppers! Wow! A versatile player for The Browns. He can be a difference maker in the right situation and Hue Jackson is a coach who could get the best out of him. He could play both sides of the ball and could be a good value pick if he pans out. They are building the team before putting in a QB.

The Seattle Seahawks are on the clock. O-Line has been a continuing problem so Ryan Ramcyzk could be in play. They have a reputation as a trader late in the first round so that is where I would lean with The Falcons and The 49ers. looking to trade up

TRADE! Called it. The Seahawks have a history of trading down late in round 1. The Atlanta Falcons are on the clock and The Pick is in! Probably an edge rusher or Offensive Guard.

The Pick is in! With the twenty sixth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Atlanta Falcons select…Tak McKinley, LB, UCLA. Another young defensive player who is quick. McKinley fell slightly out from the teens to 26 and he fits what The Falcons are building a juggernaught on defense.

The Buffalo Bills are on the clock. PLENTY of talent available still. It is usually at this point where it is obvious who the best player left is but this year is a deep, high quality draft. Best player on their board at this point. Cam Robinson or Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramcysk and TJ Watt are out there and in play or David Njoku. Cook is not in play here since The Bills have LeSean McCoy.

The Pick is in! With the twenty seventh pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Buffalo Bills select…Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU. DB-U strikes again. A solid corner that can replace Stephon Gilmore, who left in free agency. I thought it would be the other players listed but the more weapons you can get on defense in the AFC East the better.

TRADE! The Packers have traded the 29th pick to The Cleveland Browns. Are they coming back up for DeShone Kizer or Davis Webb? Number 33 overall and 108 for 29.

The Cowboys are on the clock. They are going defense. They have a great offense but their D couldn’t get off the field when it mattered in the post-season. TJ Watt or Taco Charlton has to be one of the picks here if they want a pass rusher.

The Pick is in! With the twenty eighth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select…Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan. A pass rusher was a need for The Cowboys. Any other year he is probably going in the top 15 but a player that will be a difference maker for The Boys. They have lacked a pass rusher since DeMarcus Ware left and this could make a difference to their D-Line.

The Cleveland Browns are on the clock…for a third time. First time since The Vikings in 2013 that a team has picked 3 times in the first round. The pick is already in. Quarterback is probably where they go. Kizer, who is the only QB left who could justify a first round pick or Davis Webb, who they could get later, they coached during the senior bowl. Unless they are trading up for a dynamic difference maker that isn’t a QB. Dalvin Cook as an outside shot. They have always maintained they were going to build the team out then get a QB. Cook could carry them.

The Pick is in! With the twenty ninth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Cleveland Browns select…David Njoku, TE, Miami. I thought they could go for a difference maker on offense given their first two picks. Didn’t expect Njoku but he is a player who can develop. He is only 20 years old so he has plenty of time. It is a solid pick at the end of the first. The Browns have had a great night. Putting the draft nightmares behind them slowly. They have had 3 top players in the draft and a first rounder next year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock. The Pick is already in and I can see Steelers going defense. TJ Watt or Foster. But it is definitely Defense.

The Pick is in! With the thirtieth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The Pittsburgh Steelers select…TJ Watt, LB, Wisconsin. Brother of JJ Watt is heading to Pittsburgh. A player with high potential and is being compared to his brother (which is high praise) it gives The Steelers a pass rushing difference maker and a big more speed to help them out.

TRADE! The Seahawks do it again! The Seahawks move back from 31st overall and The 49ers move up costing them 34th overall and 111th overall. I did say The Seahawks are willing traders at the end of the first.

The San Francisco 49ers are on the clock again. Another team with multiple picks in the first round. They are moving back up for someone. I have a feeling it is Rueben Foster. Rumours were that Foster would go in round 1 if a team traded up to get him. O-Line could be in play here but a second trade involving the niners will be the penultimate one this evening/morning.

The Pick is in! With the thirty first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The San Francisco 49ers select…Rueben Foster, LB, Alabama. My gut was right. Foster heads to The Bay Area. 49ers have needs everywhere and this is a good start for the rookie GM and Head coach. Foster and Thomas will be great picks and the value they get at 31 for Foster, considered at 1 point a top 5 pick, is fantastic if he stays on the field. Shanahan is building his defense he has seen the impact it can make in Atlanta and that has to be their model.

The New Orleans Saints are back on the clock. A fourth team with multiple picks. The last pick of the day. They will have had this lined up for a while. Dalvin Cook MUST be in play here, DeShone Kizer could be as a developmental QB or an O-Lineman. It makes sense to give Drew Brees another weapon in Cook but you never know until the pick is in where a team is gonna go.

The Pick is in! With the thirty second pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, The New Orleans Saints select…Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin. Cook FALLS out the first round, considered the best RB in the draft. It is a good pick for The Saints. A good offensive line is important and will be a week 1 starter that will help protect Brees.

THAT IS ALL FOR USKSPORTS DRAFT COVERAGE OF ROUND 1.

Beware of: The Pro Day

It is that time of year where NFL prospects take the final public step, the Pro Day. It is the last opportunity that fans and media to see a draft prospect (Although, teams will have private workouts and talks with players before the big day next month). The Pro Day is a seen as the big opportunity to impress. Especially if you are a Quarterback but BEWARE of the Pro Day.

For those that do not know a Pro Day is basically a combine re-do for all the prospects but for some positions they have the chance to script certain things to highlight their skills. For QBs and Wide Receivers they get the chance to work with the players they have spent years working with. They have scripted throws and routes but will also take requests for certain throws at the end, An example of this was Andrew Luck being asked to throw as far as he can before dropping a 70 yard (all air) bomb into the end zone to a receiver. Andrew Luck was a can’t miss prospect, he is a generational talent albeit being wasted by Indianapolis through a bad defense and O-line. However, what other QBs have fantastic pro days? Two big ones spring to mind. JaMarcus Russell and Johnny Manziel.

JaMarcus Russell’s Pro Day was heralded as the greatest Pro Day people had ever seen and we know he has a Ryan Leaf-esque historical bust of a career. He didn’t have the work ethic to succeed and the money that The Raiders ended up having to pay Russell crippled their franchise for a decade and a half (Until Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and Derek Carr along with some cap clearing by Reggie McKenzie got The Raiders back on their feet). He was a consensus Number 1 pick so you can’t fault The Raiders for taking a QB that was considered the number 1 player in the draft.

Johnny Manziel is the more recent example. He broke new ground in his Pro Day but working out in full pads and helmet to better simulate his game speed. It was a decision that was praised and he was fantastic in his Pro Day. Again considered one of the better Pro Days of the 2012 QB class. Manziel was taken 22nd overall by The Browns. He showed flashes of greatness but was bogged down in personal problems off the field that could have potentially cut his career short, though he is reportedly working on getting back into the NFL with The Saints where he can sit behind Drew Brees.

So the being good at your Pro Day is important? Well you can’t be terrible. You still have to be good but if you are amazing then that means everything? Again no. The Pro Day seemingly is to re-affirm everything you see on Tape and in the Combine workouts but it should make no difference to teams as they have been scouting these players for years. It means nothing in an ultimately year/2 year long process, particularly for a QB, as you always have game tape to rely on but the big problem is assessing the mind of a player and are they really focused on working hard after they have spent almost their entire life being told they are great and gonna go far. It is difficult but you should BEWARE the Pro Day.

NFL Draft Simulation – Top 5

Instead of drafting for ALL the teams in round 1. Let’s draft for 1 team using draft simulation software. In the first of these we will start with the number 1 overall pick and the rest of the top 5 (Browns, 49ers, Bears, Jaguars, Titans from Rams). I will be doing a 7 round draft simulation where I will draft for The Browns, then The 49ers etc. There will be no trades in this draft although I will state where I would ‘trade down’ in belief I could get the same player a few picks later. The computer will be picking for the rest of the 31 teams in each of the 5 simulations. I will try and avoid taking the same players in order to add realism, although the computers will take different players.

Cleveland Browns – 
Needs: Everything
Myles Garrett, DE, R1, P1.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, R1, P12.(Could Trade here if a team is in love with a player, team in 16-20 range and still find great value)
Haason Reddick, DE, R2, P1. (You could potentially trade down here as Reddick is highly sought after but being there at 33 is a no brainer pick to double up on Blue Chip Pass Rushers)
Zay Jones, WR, R2, P20.
Adoree Jackson, CB, R3, P1.
Ethan Pocic, C, R4, P1.
Jordan Morgan, G, R4, P35.
Dan Skipper, T, R5, P1. (Trade Down)
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, R5, P31.
Joshua Dobbs, QB, R5, P37.
Lorenzo Jerome, S, R6, P1.

That’s The Browns. There was no value in a QB in round one as the flew off the board in quick succession in the top 10. Focused on building the team rather than getting the QB. 2 top edge rushers, two corners (With Jackson at great value in round 3), A WR to pair with Corey Coleman and some bodies to put on the offensive line with some development prospects in the late round with Hobbs and Jerome. With the all-time NCAA Rushing yards leader but his size could be an issue at NFL level.

The 49ers –
Needs: QB, DE, WR, OT, LB, CB, DT.
Jonathan Allen, DE, R1, P2.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, R2, P2.
Cooper Kupp, WR, R3, P2.
Julie’n Davenport, OT, R4, P2.
Devonte Fields, DE, R4, P36.
Malachi Dupree, WR, R5, P2.
Isaac Rochell, DL, R5, P17.
J.J Dielman, OT, R6, P2.
Jason Brown, LB, R6, P18.
Tarean Folston, RB, R7, P1.

This time, Trubisky FALLS dramatically in the draft, to the 2nd round. The Browns took Watson at 1 and in order to avoid taking Garrett again I took Allen though in reality it would be Garrett if the Browns don’t pick him. With no trading Trubisky fell. With trading he doesn’t get past the top 15. Similar approach to last time but with a top QB. Doubled up on Pass Rushers, WRs and Offensive Line. They are areas of need so take more than 1 to increase the odds.

The Bears –
Needs: QB, DE, S, OT, DL, CB.
Jamal Adams, S, R1, P3.
Patrick Mahomes II, QB, R2, P4.
Jordan Leggett, TE, R3, P3.
Damontae Kazee, CB, R4, P4.
Daeshon Hall, DE, R4, P10.
Samaje Perine, RB, R5, P3.
Levon Myers, OT, R7, P3.

Jamal Adams at 3 gives The Bears security in their backend. A box safety who can set the tone on Defense. Patrick Mahomes II won’t start in year 1 but will be a development project under a veteran free agent (Romo or Fitzpatrick) to give Mahomes a year to sit under a guy who has been in the league a long time before swapping roles in year 2 or 3.
Jordan Leggett gives the QB a safety net at TE because of a lack of O-Lineman in the first 3 rounds. They needed a complimentary piece to Kevin White and Leggett could provide this.  The rest is about filling needs in the team and Perine is about giving them a two headed monster at RB. Jordan Howard will be the starter but Perine will give them a one-two punch in the backfield to help a new QB find their feet in the system.

The Jaguars –
Needs: OT, S, CB, G, QB, RB, DE, DL, TE
Solomon Thomas, DE, R1, P4. (This could be a good trade spot for Jacksonville to drop down and find lineman)
Budda Baker, S, R2, P3.
Evan Engram, TE, R3, P4.
Kevin King, CB, R4, P3.
David Sharpe, G, R5, P4.
Will Holden, OT, R6, P3.
Chad Kelly, QB, R7, P4.

Just 7 picks for Jacksonville. Trading down from 4 could provide extra picks to fill more holes in their team. Thomas gives them a pass rusher. Baker will set the tone from Safety, hard hitting, and help build the culture. Kevin King, college team-mate of Baker, will provide depth at CB. Engram will hope to fill the hole left by the impending trade of Julius Thomas and Will Holden can learn from incoming Branden Albert. Chad Kelly provides value in the 7th round and an extra arm to push Blake Bortles to improve.

The Titans (From LA Rams) – 
Needs: CB, WR, S, LB, TE, DE, DL, G, OT

Mike Williams, WR, R1, P5.
Sidney Jones, CB, R1, P18. (With lots of CB depth a trade to try and get a 2nd rounder could make sense at 18)
Dion Dawkins, OT, R3, P19.
Jake Butt, TE, R3, P36.
Marcus Maye, S, R4, P18.
Keionta Davis, DE, R5, P20.
Ben Gedeon, LB, R6, P30.
Darreus Rogers, WR, R7, P18.

 

The 2017 NFL Combine – Players to watch.

It is that time of year again. The NFL world heads to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana to see the top prospects in the draft be tested. Starting on Friday March 3rd (Today as of posting) to Monday March 6th we will see players be tested on they 40 yard, 3 cone, broad jump, vertical jump and position drills. Teams will also interview prospect as the penultimate step towards the NFL draft (Which we will once again be bringing you live coverage of) starts.

The schedule for the Combine:

Friday 3rd March: Running Backs, Offensive Lineman and Special Teams.
Saturday 4th March: Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends.
Sunday 5th March: Defensive Line and Linebackers.
Monday 6th March: Defensive Backs.

So who are the players to watch. USKSports will be selecting a player at each position that  will be interesting to watch (given their hype or ability to make or break their draft stock) minus special teams players. Be sure to check back after each day to see our review of our player to watch. It is considered a very even draft for players with most of the 1st/Early 2nd  round prospects considered to be very close in talent. It is a deep, team building draft rather than a top heavy superstar draft (Outside of Myles Garrett).

Running Back: Leonard Fournette, LSU. The first of 2 LSU players to watch. Leonard Fournette was a dominant Back in college. He is considered the only threat to Myles Garrett for the number 1 pick to Cleveland. Universal belief that he could be the next generational Running Back that could give a huge be-birth to the value of a Running Back (Along with Ezekiel Elliott) for the next 10 years. He weighed in a 240 pounds. This is heavy for an NFL RB but teams are not worried as a lot of it is muscle rather than fat. He has a lot of hype and intrigue around him, which is why he is a player to watch.

Combine Numbers:

Offensive Lineman: Ill admit I’m not an expert on Offensive Lineman. I know their importance but I have no idea how to assess them. So I will rely on experts for this one. Ill go with Garett Bolles, Utah. He will face a tough week compared to other lineman that could heavily affect his draft stock. Only a 1 year starter at Utah after transferring from Junior College, 25 when the season starts. Off-the-field issues may also be a factor but a good combine, solid interviews and a good pro day could put the concerns to bed. If he puts on a good show and reassures teams about his past then he will end up going in the first round. He could fall completely out of the 1st and maybe even the 2nd round, as teams have become more weary of guys with off-the-field issues.

Combine Numbers:
40 Yard Dash – 4.91 seconds.
Vertical Jump – 28 Inches
Broad Jump – 115 Inches
Bench Press – DNP

Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech. Considered the 4th best QB in the QB draft class. A raw prospect who will need a few years to develop. He could tempt a team into taking him with a first round pick, to a team with an ageing QB. A good performance showing flashes of his potential will blow teams away in a Quarterback desperate league. He is not the safest pick but he is a player with a high ceiling and all the traits that teams look for. Not as much hype as Mitch Trubisky, DeShaun Watson or DeShone Kizer but has much more intrigue as teams look for value at QB. If he performs well look for a team to trade into the backend of the first round to get a jump on the other potentially QB needy teams at the start of round 2 or for a team like The Cardinals or The Steelers start to future proof behind their QBs.

Wide Receiver: Zay Jones, East Carolina. A small school receiver who caught 400 balls, with 158 coming in his senior year, in 4 years in College. He has great hands and improved his route running. He impressed at the Senior bowl. He broke the NCAA record for receptions and has the size to play in the NFL at 6 ft 1. He lacked touchdowns, despite his massive yardage and catches he scored just 23 touchdowns. He will likely just secure his status as a 2nd round player at best with a good show at the combine but he could open some eyes to an international fanbase in the NFL. This is the opportunity to make himself a household name amongst the draft buzz but his school will hold him back in the eyes of some fans but he has the potential to step up considering he caught almost everything thrown his way.

Tight End: David Njoku, Miami. The position has grown more important since New England revitalised the position. O.J Howard is the top TE in the draft but Njoku is a first round bubble player and the number 2 TE in the draft class. A good performance could see him creep up into the 20’s. He is being hailed as an ‘athletic freak’ and the chance to put on a good show will make his draft stock soar.

Defensive Line: Myles Garrett, Texas A & M. He has to be the most anticipated non-QB/RB in Indianapolis. The consensus Number 1 pick has the opportunity to wow The Browns and make other teams jealous with a top performance at The Combine. It was an easy choice for the must watch Defensive Lineman. A consensus number 1 always has eyes all over them with teams in the top 5 hoping that they fall if the Browns were to take someone else (Fournette should he blow the combine away). The Browns are open to trading the number 1 pick so there could be an opportunity for a team to get their hands on Garrett.

Linebacker: T.J Watt, Wisconsin. Purely for being a Watt. He will come in with a big reputation simply because he is J.J Watt’s brother. He will need to prove that he can step out of his brother’s shadow as an OLB. How he handles being compared to his brother could help or hurt him. He seems like he will be more than happy to be compared to his brother but he will need a good showing to prove that he is seperate from his brother and capable of being a solid NFL player. He is projected as a late 1st/2nd round player.

Defensive Back: Jamal Adams/Malik Hooker, LSU/Ohio State. It was hard to split them. They are two players who could go anywhere from 2 down to the middle of the 1st round. Jamal Adams is a great box safety who can hit hard and force fumbles for a good LSU team. Malik Hooker is a great safety in the backend with good hands. Both players will go high in the draft. A blow away performance could see either of them go to The 49ers at 2 (Particularly with a former NFL Safety as their GM).

Wildcard: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan. What position will he play at NFL level? He played Linebacker, Edge Rusher, Safety and Running Back at Michigan. He is projected as a Safety but doesn’t have natural hands and lacks real playing time at any position he could potentially play. He needs to shine in position drills for whatever position(s) he ends up  testing for.

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