Were Leicester Right to Sack Ranieri?

The biggest moment in the Premier League this season was when the Premier League Champions, Leicester City, announced the sacking of their miracle man Claudio Ranieri. It was almost universally criticised by fans of other teams, experts and football writers but was it the right decision? Was it player power? After a nightmare season that has seen Leicester plummet off cloud 9 and back into the grim realities of being a football supporter.

In the wake of Leicester’s 3-1 win over Liverpool on Monday Night could have provided a reason that Ranieri lost his job. They were inspired. They were ruthless and they were dominate from start to finish. It was the kind of performance we saw all of last season. Ranieri was given plenty of time to turn things round and he was rightfully given as long as the board felt they could give him before they had no choice. He had earned the right to try and keep Leicester in the Premier League but he couldn’t turn the sinking ship around. Momentum works both ways in football and the plummeting confidence in the Leicester team was evident. They no longer believed they were champions.

Was it down to the manager? or did the players believe their own hype? Were Mahrez and Vardy unhappy that they stayed with The Foxes? If two key pieces (that ended up staying) were unhappy then it was a problem for Ranieri. Player power is often scoffed at in football, particularly with how prevalent it is at clubs like Chelsea where it has been controlling the club for almost a decade, but it is important to keep star players happy. Yes, Ranieri won the Premier League with a relegation favourite. Yes, Ranieri made lots of his players superstars but he was never going to replicate it this season. The players had no chip on their shoulders. No reason to prove everyone wrong. It was a miracle but miracles don’t happen twice. Claudio should be remembered for what he did with Leicester but to stay he was untouchable on the inevitable slump to The Championship is short sighted. Football is no longer about loyalty. Football is about results. Football is about what have you done recently. Not what did you do for me last season. Overall he did a great job but there was no reason to keep Ranieri based on their performances this season.

Craig Shakespeare made the players battle. He had them motivated and ready to prove a point. If the players were unhappy with Ranieri then it was their night to prove that they are still capable. They produced. Was it harsh? Maybe but it wasn’t undeserving. They needed to avoid the indignity of being the first Premier League Champions to be relegated the season after winning the title and if this is the first sign of life in this Leicester team then they have the chance to hit a run of form and get out of trouble. They have better players than the relegation candidates and they are starting to show it. Whether that was a one off remains to be seen but there is a sign of life amongst the players we haven’t seen for 9 months.

The Curious Case of Jimmy G

New England Patriots Backup Quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, is the most intriguing story in the NFL off season. Drafted to the man to takeover from Tom Brady in New England is likely to be out the door before his 40 year old mentor. Brady has so far defied father time in his career and is playing better as a 40 year old than he was as a 30 year old. A five time Super Bowl Champion who doesn’t look like slowing down. Which presents a rare problem to 7x Super Bowl Champion Coach Bill Belichick. Jimmy G has looked good when he has seen the field but there is not a lot of playing time for the young QB. He has learned from the Greatest Quarterback and Head Coach of all time and is a step above the QBs in the draft. So what are the options?

The first option is to Trade him. This has been widely reported as the likely option but it will come at a high price for the teams that want to deal. The Patriots are seeking a first round pick with other picks involved to part ways with Jimmy. The QB needy teams are The 49ers, The Bears, The Browns, The Jets, The Texans, The Jaguars and a couple of potential wildcards that could become QB needy teams based on what happens. So let’s break down each team, why they would be interested and do they stand a chance and reveal our wildcard teams.

Trade Partners?

The Browns – The Browns should keep trying to get a QB until they find one. This team has started 24 different QBs since returning to the NFL in 1999. Head Coach Hue Jackson has a good reputation in the league for developing QBs and building teams. They are strong favourites in the NFL rumour mill to land Jimmy. They have the chips to intrigue The Patriots, with 2 first round picks (1 and 12 overall). The number 12 pick is likely the one that will be traded should they land Garoppolo. It will likely take the number 12 plus a few other picks to get him but they have the trade power to do it. Having spent the last couple of years collecting picks. 4.5/5 chance.

The 49ers – With a new offensive minded Head Coach and a known QB guru in Kyle Shanahan. He could be tempted to pursue Garoppolo should he fail at getting other targets, namely Kirk Cousins should he leave Washington. Garoppolo would provide the 49ers with some hope that they have a stable QB situation when they (likely) jettison Kaepernick and Gabbert from the team. They biggest hurdle they face is giving up the first round pick. If they were to give up their first round pick this year then they are giving New England the number 2 overall pick. They could take a key defensive piece, QB of the future or trade down a few spots to get more picks. I think it’s likely they find a QB elsewhere. 2/5.

The Texans – Despite being a play-off team they are still listed as a QB needy team. Brock Osweiler didn’t live up to his $72m contract in his first year in Houston. They have been rumoured to be interested in Tony Romo but the contract number makes it unlikely to have two highly paid QBs considering they need cap space to sign AJ Bouye (A key piece in their secondary). Garoppolo makes sense in Houston. The Texans are considered Patriots South with so many former Patriots in the coaching and playing staff. It would be a similar system to New England under Bill O’Brien but Osweiler complicates things. I would think that The Texans are likely to draft a QB and develop him. This would give Bill O’Brien more job security for having ‘a plan’ and taking the risk on another QB with minimum playing experience behind a Hall of Fame QB for two consecutive years would likely end his tenure in Houston should it fail but stranger things have happened. 1/5

The Jets – ZERO CHANCE of a trade between The Jets and The Patriots. The Jets need a QB desperately. They are trying to compete in the same division as The Patriots. No chance Garoppolo ends up here in a trade. They will look at Free Agency or the draft. Or take a chance of Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg (Which is what I think they should do). 0/5.

The Bears – Chicago are a team that need to start all over at QB. They will be free from Jay Cutler this off season, which should remove some of the negativity around the team, a getting rid of Matt Barkley to find a young back up will help. They need a fresh start at QB. Jimmy could be the answer but it is not a place where a QB will come in a make a difference right away. They are slowly getting better but are likely to lose a big outside threat in Alshon Jeffery. Having traded Martellus Bennett last season, losing Matt Forte and struggling offensively. They are a team that could be desperate enough to give up a first rounder (The 3rd overall pick) for a QB. They have a potential difference maker in Kevin White should be get over his injury bugs. It could be between The Bears and The Browns. 4/5.

The Jaguars – The curious case of Jacksonville. 2015, a young team that needed a year to develop and Blake Bortles looks like a top tier NFL QB. 2016, a youngish team that should take the next step forward but it all goes badly wrong, Bortles takes huge strides backwards and the team looks lost under Gus Bradley. Doug Marrone steps in and motivates the team. A highly regarded assistant in his second NFL head coaching job. Tom Coughlin has stated that Bortles isn’t guaranteed to start at QB so could they take the chance of Garoppolo. They have the weapons, Hurns and Robinson, They have a young, fast defence that should improve next year. They are an intriguing team waiting for a QB who can bring it all together. However, I don’t know if they are that interested. They could get a difference making Safety in Jamal Adams or a Running back to build around (Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook). They could be willing to give Bortles another shot to show that he can recapture the 2015 magic on his rookie contract while getting another top talent in the top 5 of the draft effectively ruling out a move for Garoppolo with a 1st round pick, unless they give up a player. 1/5.

Wildcard Trade Partners. 

Things will now get slightly crazy when I say these two teams. The Redskins and The Vikings. I know, I know. These two won’t get a chance out of 5 of happening because there needs to be a lot of happen for them to be considered.

The Redskins – Should Kirk Cousins leave it would leave a decently talented team without a QB that is at least productive in the NFL. Teams would kill for Kirk Cousins and the 49ers are keeping their eyes on the situation. Should Cousins leave what better place to get a QB than New England. Garoppolo is solid on short to intermediate routes and timing throws with a quick release. He would be a good fit for Jay Gruden’s system and at a more team friendly price (initially). This would only happen if Cousin’s left, which doesn’t look like happening, because the cost of not having a QB versus an average QB is high. Cousins will be overpaid again but that is the cost of having a solid QB in the NFL.

The Vikings – They have a QB of the future right? Teddy Bridgewater. This is questionable. Bridgewater is a highly rated prospect but is gonna be out for another year. Two years out with an injury, with some former players thinking he may never play again. A freak injury that could cost the Vikings a QB. Sam Bradford was serviceable last season but Offensive Line play doomed the team who started 5-0. They don’t have a first round pick. They don’t know what Bridgewater will be when/if he ever returns from his gruesome injury. It could make sense to see if the Patriots would take a deal not involving a 1st round pick (Maybe a blockbuster trade involving Adrian Peterson and a mid round pick for Garoppolo) but it would be stunning for The Vikings to make the move until they know their future with Bridgewater.

UPDATE: Adrian Peterson was released after this went live. Money was the issue. Vikings will probably need all the picks they can get but can now make a splash in free agency with the money off their cap. Doubt they make a change at QB.

That is all the options and the slightly crazy options for a potential trade but there is one more option to explore.

Keeping Garoppolo. 

The Patriots could keep Garoppolo on the roster. No-one knows when the decline of an elite QB is coming and it could make sense to keep Jimmy for one more year before using a Franchise/Transitional Tag next year to find a partner. It gives Jacoby Brissett another yer to develop behind Garoppolo AND Brady. It safeguards The Patriots if Brady is injured all falls off the cliff dramatically. However, Jimmy’s stock may never be higher than it is right now. The Patriots would be banking on teams not being in love with the QB prospects next year which is unlikely given teams are likely to want to draft Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen.

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Too Early Mock Draft (Picks 1-5)

With Conference Championship weekend approaching. We have 28 teams eliminated meaning our favourite time of the year is just 2 games away. The NFL Draft build up. There is no doubt that the teams with the best 4 Quarterbacks are in the final 4 and there will be a preview coming up for that over the weekend. This post, however, will look at the next crop of young men coming into the NFL from the Collegiate ranks.

Not only will I mock draft but I will give a ranking out of 5 on how each team must make sure they ‘hit’ on their draft picks. Today we will look at the top 5 picks.

  1. Cleveland Browns (1-15) *****

The Browns MUST hit on this draft pick. A team with historically bad drafting, management, coaching and players. With 2 picks in the top 12 they must hit on both of them to even make the franchise relevant. Hue Jackson has a good reputation in the NFL and the strategy to rely on younger players rather than overpaid veterans has meant they can have a total refresh. They need a player who can be a REAL star for the Browns. Something that outside of Joe Thomas and Joe Haden they lack.

The Pick: Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M
The biggest need for The Browns is QB but there is no generational QB talent like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton etc. in this draft so taking the best player on the board is the best move. The Browns have lacked a defensive superstar on the Defensive Line and by taking Garrett it should give them a boost in getting at the QBs they face. This is important given they have Dalton, Big Ben and Joe Flacco in the division. Good teams have a Quarterback, GREAT teams have a dominant O-Line and D-Line with a QB.

2. San Francisco 49ers (2-14) *****

The 49ers currently have no Head Coach or GM. They are the only team yet to make an appointment after cleaning house at the end of the season. Kyle Shanahan is the favourite for the job. Like The Browns they have needs everywhere and are not one player away from being a good team. It’s hard to really gauge who the ‘Niners’ would go for given their coaching situation.

The Pick: Mitch Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina

Having just stated their is no QB that is a top talent, taking a QB at number 2 is a contradiction to that statement. However, there is no dominant, can’t miss Offensive Lineman and drafting a QB high is the current NFL trend. It was a toss up between DeShaun Watson and Trubisky but feel that the 9ers will want a more traditional QB, even though Watson is a great traditional QB himself. It gives them hope and a piece they can build around with a serviceable RB. If there were a great OLine prospect I would probably have them him here. A potential move would be to trade out of this pick for more picks this year and next year given how highly sought after QB’s are at the top of the draft.

3. Chicago Bears (3-13) ****

They aren’t as desperate as the Niners or The Browns to hit but it is still important they get the pick right. Getting rid of Jay Cutler would be a good start, Cutler is a decent QB who likes to wear out his welcome and Cutler wore his out about 3 years ago, this will provide a fresh start for The Bears and Cutler who both need to move on. The Bears have some talent with Kevin White and Jeremy Langford to build around.

The Pick: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Matt Barkley proved he isn’t an NFL starter. 5 Interceptions in a game will get you benched. It will tell the coach you make poor decision. They need a QB who can extend plays and is smart about extending plays. Watson has faced great college defences (Alabama twice) and put up lots of points. He is not a dual-threat Quarterback but is mobile enough to escape the rush and make smart decision. With an inconsistent O-Line, the Bears will need a QB who can escape the rush and make a play, He is a Russell Wilson like QB. Perfect for The QB needy Bears. He will have a Number 1 receiver in Kevin White and a fanbase who will treat him like a hero should he have even an average year.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) ***

There was a lot of hope in Jacksonville that they would sneak into the playoffs. They were the trendy pick to win the AFC South or to make the Play-offs. Division Rivals Tennessee Titans were that team, despite not reaching the play-offs they showed promise with their young core. A new head coach should improve the Jaguars after Gus Bradley’s ill-fated reign. Bradley did a good job of filling the team with great talent but couldn’t get it to work. Marrone has that ability after a good year with Buffalo. The key to ensuring success is Blake Bortles and make sure he cuts down on his bad decisions and fixing his flawed mechanics.

The Pick: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

In similar vein to the others. I would have wanted a top O-Line prospect here to help the line and Bortles a bit more. However, Allen provides The Jaguars with an upgrade on the DL. Malik Jackson has had a year in the system and Allen is a young DL prospect that could make an instant impact on a defense that struggled to get the QB. It is a player they will want to help their DL.

5. Tennessee Titans (From Los Angeles Rams) (9-7) ***

The Titans did a phenomenal job in the draft last year. Trading their Number 1 Overall pick to the LA Rams and got a top 5 pick out of it with a young team that is getting better. With Mariota, Murray and Henry being a three headed monster in the backfield they have done a good job of re-establishing the importance of a running game in the NFL. The need to get it right, with a top 5 pick, is high but it is not desperate attempt at creating some remnant of hope like the other teams in the top 5.

The Pick: Mike Williams, Wide Receiver, Clemson

The top 5 is very obvious. Each team fills their need and The Titans lack a true outside threat. Marietta needs a play maker on the outside that will make the difference from being 9-7 and watching the Play-offs to a 10+ win team that will likely get them into the Play-offs in the AFC. Williams was a great player in College and can be the difference here as the clear number 1 WR prospect in the draft.

NFL Play-off Predictions.

So much has changed since my last prediction. Moves that were not expected. Injuries that have crippled franchises and already put their whole season in doubt. Minnesota and Dallas lost their biggest pieces and Philadelphia traded their projected starting QB away (which probably improved their chances) It could change things in the post season.

AFC Playoffs:
The Patriots (AFC East Winner) are still the class of the East. Brady will get 12 games to exact revenge on the NFL. They can start at 2-2 and still be in a strong position. Keeping Gronk healthy is key, as always, but even with Martellus Bennett as the No.2 TE they should be ok without Gronk for a few games. How will a Chandler Jones’ less defense look? Who knows but you should never doubt Bill Belichick.

The Steelers (AFC North Winner) who are the popular vote to win the Super Bowl this season. It’s not hard to see why. They have replaced The Broncos at the top of the AFC alongside New England. Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (Only for 13 games) will frighten any team and their secondary showed signs of improvement at the end of last season and should continue to improve.

The Jaguars (AFC South Winner) who continue to develop as a team. The young core on offense comes together with Allen Hurns/Robinson having great years again with Julius Thomas as a safety net for future MVP Blake Bortles. A much improved and young defense should see them have more than enough to best a weak AFC South. They have the least question marks, good continuity and a great head coach. They will be serious Super Bowl winning contenders in 2 years but a play-off appearance will be huge for them this year and rewards The Jaguars patience with Gus Bradley.

The Chiefs (AFC West Winner) edge out The Raiders. It was a tough choice between the two but Andy Reid’s Chiefs have the edge in players. Alex Smith and Derek Carr were even but The Chiefs have more depth and the experience of big games. They have been waiting for a chance to surpass The Broncos and without Peyton Manning this is the year they do it.

The Jets (AFC East Wildcard) who are a much improved team who were unlucky to miss out last year. A solid offense should be more than enough for the defense to carry to the play-off and play during Wildcard Weekend.

The Raiders (AFC West Wildcard) with Derek Carr developing. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree as a solid WR pair. A much improved Khalil Mack led defense sees the 14 year playoff drought end and the Raiders back in the play-offs. It was hard not to put The Broncos here but they have too many doubts at QB. Siemian and Lynch have played 1 career game between them and despite an elite defense they miss out. The Raiders have more proven and rounded talent and it gives them the edge.

Seeds
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (Home Field Advantage)
2. New England Patriots (First Round Bye)
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
5. New York Jets
6. Oakland Raiders

NFC
The Giants (NFC East) win the division. As is always the case with the NFC East it will be a brutal, close race between The Redskins and The Giants. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr have enough (with some solid defensive support) to tip that race in their favour. The Cowboys are out of the race without Romo because they still need to prove they can win without him.

The Packers (NFC North), hand them the division now. Rodgers, Nelson, Lacy, Matthews and McCarthy. The reasons why are simple. The Bears are their biggest challengers after The Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater to a nasty Dislocated Knee and Torn ACL injury. The Vikings were legitimate contenders to retain their division crown but without Bridgewater (and with Sam Bradford) it is hard to see them putting up a big fight for the division. They have Adrian Peterson and a good young core on defense who should keep them in it for a while but Bradford is, at this point, a draft bust and a less than average starting QB.

The Panthers (NFC South) despite a brutal last second loss in the kickoff game they are still the best team in their division. Last years MVP had a rough game but they will not face a better defense all year (unless they play themselves). Cam Newton has Kelvin Benjamin back who will be a huge boost for the offense. With Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess, Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr all able to contribute. The Buccaneers with be the biggest threat, but they are a year away from contending, but they should win it.

The Cardinals (NFC West) who edged out The Seahawks in the toughest call for a division winner. The Cardinals and The Seahawks have been the NFC standard for the last 3 years. The Cardinals edge it. They have slightly more continuity and Chandler Jones will help their defense. Bruce Arians is a winner, who wins with bold, huge risk calls and the team are totally bought into his ideas. The continuity was the edge.

The Seahawks (NFC West) make the playoffs. Easily. They will probably have a better record than The Giants but still be playing Wildcard weekend. The loss of Marshawn Lynch was big, he was the heart of the offense who have serious doubts with their O-Line. Russell Wilson is talented, an outsider for the MVP and their defense is talented enough to get into the play-offs.

The Redskins (NFC East) who get in the play-offs by virtue of not really having anyone else who are legitimate contenders. The Buccaneers will be the closest to The Skins and a potential surprise package (Someone like The Lions/Bears) Jay Gruen has finally imparted his vision on the team and without the distraction of RGIII and Kirk Cousins quietly and effectively performing it was an easy decision to put the Skins as a sixth seed.

Seeds
1. Cardinals (Home Field Advantage)
2. Packers (First Round Bye)
3. Panthers
4. Giants
5. Seahawks
6. Redskins

A Debacle

The NFL Hall of Fame Game is the unofficial kick off for the NFL season and the start of the NFL pre-season. A day after celebrating the legends of the games being enshrined in immortality in Canton, Ohio, two NFL teams take the field next door to celebrate the inductees. This year it was The Packers Vs The Colts, with Brett Favre (Falcons, Packers, Jets, Vikings) put in the Hall for his time in Green Bay, with Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy in the hall of their contributions in Indianapolis.

This year we would have seen a starter! This is a rare opportunity in the HoF game. Andrew Luck was scheduled to play a series at QB and would have been good for The Colts fans to see their injured Franchise QB return to action, even in a meaningless game. Yet, everyone at the game and the new members of the Hall of Fame were denied a game. It was not the weather or a crisis but the paint, used to paint logos and markings on the field, ended this celebratory game. The paint congealed and was rubbery making it dangerous for the players to play and with nothing at stake both teams were ok with the cancellation. It was a debacle that the NFL didn’t need. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t need this setback. He is popular with the owners, though Tom Benson and Robert Kraft may not be amongst them, his image to the NFL fans is at breaking point. He is almost universally hated by NFL fans, whether rightly or wrongly, and this will hurt his time as commissioner as the fans get another stick to beat him with.

We have to wait another week for the NFL to return. This would have been a nice occasion and a good opportunity for players on the bubble to impress their head coaches. Now we have four weeks of mundane, back up filled games to fill the time until Super Bowl 50 Part 2 in Week 1 with The Panthers facing The Broncos again.

NFL – Divison predictions

NFL training camps are in full swing as the season draws near. The season opener is the Superbowl repeat as a Manning-less Denver Broncos take on Cam Newton and a revenge hungry Carolina Panthers. We will have a full preview of the kick off game during the final week of build up to the NFL season. Now we try and predict divisions for the upcoming season.

Italics indicate a play-off berth for the team.

AFC:

AFC South 
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonsville Jaguars
Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans

The Colts (with a rejuvenated Andrew Luck) win the division and return to the play offs as a division winner. They have had problems with their Offensive Line but Luck, starting 16 games, has proven he can overcome this. IF this happens then they are winning a tough AFC South with a strong threat from the young upstart Jacksonville Jaguars, who also make the playoffs. Houston have a transition year with a new, unproven QB in Brock Osweiler and their new look offense for a more serious challenge in 2017 with JJ Watt spear heading a strong defense. Tennessee are still missing key pieces on defense to compete right now but they are growing stronger as they develop Mariota and a young team to challenge in a few years. However the division should be wide open and a widely entertaining affair with lots of intrigue and growing talent over the whole division.

AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns

The AFC North once again provides multiple play-off teams. The Steelers return to the top of the division and win the AFC North securing a home play-off game and potentially home field advantage, if key pieces remain healthy and Le’Veon Bell returns in good form, even if their secondary remains a concern. It is hard to trust The Bengals but they are still good enough to be a play-off team. Their biggest loss is Hue Jackson but three pronged attack of Dalton, Eifert and Green should be more than enough to see them in the play-offs and we watch the cycle repeat again. Baltimore should be much improved with Joe Cool back under centre it should give the Ravens a lift. With Steve Smith back for one last run I wouldn’t put it past them to be the team that upset this prediction and make the play-offs. The Browns years of basement dwelling hasn’t changed anyone’s opinion of the bottom of the barrel franchise but they should improve with the aforementioned Hue Jackson taking the reins as head coach. He did a good job with a terrible Raiders team in his one season as a head coach and his time with the in-state rival Bengals did no harm to his stock. They will be not terrible, they will be better but they are still going to be last in their division because this is a long term project.
AFC East
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills

If there was a year to dethrone the Patriots this is probably the year but I think they still win the division, despite having Tom Brady for only 12 games, Bill Belichick is best Head Coach in NFL history and he can survive four games with Brady with the heir, Jimmy Garoppolo under centre. Even if they go .500 in the four games they are in good shape. The Jets pose the biggest threat with strong defense and a mistake limiting offense. With The Amish Rifle, Ryan Fitzpatrick, signed they should be a threat to The Patriots and like the Ravens could crash the Play-off party. The Dolphins are always unpredictable. The year they are meant to be great, they fall apart. However, a new head coach will help with a clever offensive mind (Adam Gase) should help them offensively. It could be a make or break year for the perennial break out star, Ryan Tannehill, especially if the Dolphins are drafting high in the draft in Spring. The Bills are also as unpredictable as the Dolphins, mostly due to head coach Rex Ryan, Ryan has a reputation for promising the world and massively underwhelming in his promises. He rubbed Mario Williams the wrong way last season and his scheme is one that takes adjustment too. If they are to succeed the offense needs to contribute as this is the one thing that holds Ryan’s teams back.
AFC West
Oakland Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos
San Diego Chargers

The first ‘upset’ if you will as The Oakland Raiders win the AFC West. With Amari Cooper, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack they have three legitimate and experienced stars. They all need to keep taking the next step and they could break their play-off drought with a young team. Kansas City Chiefs will be a team who miss out on the play-offs on a tiebreaker, which went in their favour last year, they are not a bad team, Alex Smith is a solid QB who could start for any team in the right circumstances. The Chiefs have no real identity. They don’t stand out to viewers. Travis Kelce, Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin are key weapons for their quickly improving offense but a tough division and schedule (AFC/NFC South) is the difference. The Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos are an unknown quantity on offense. Sans Peyton Manning has led to the Broncos scrambling after the heir signed with The Texans. Their Defense was historic last year and they are the key but in the NFL it’s the teams with the best QBs that rise to the top and that is their biggest question mark. Mark Sanchez will start the season but he will be replaced by Paxton Lynch once they are out of the playoff picture. The San Diego Chargers they are now the holders of the longest city drought in American Sports. The Chargers are unlucky. They have stars, they have great players but it never seems to come together. Philip Rivers should have won a Super Bowl but has always had something missing around him. They have had trouble signing third overall pick Joey Bosa to his rookie contract and it has put doubt, once again, into the upper levels on management in San Diego. Keenan Allen is a legitimate star WR and The Chargers are a better team than finishing last in their division but they always seem to be unable to progress.

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

The Panthers and Cam Newton overcome the loss of Josh Norman with a better offense with Devin Funchess having a good year and the return of Kelvin Benjamin in a division full of offense and little defense. They win the division for the third consecutive year and are the sole NFC South team in the play-off. The Buccaneers challenge the Panthers at the top of the division with their basketball team offense but it is a year too soon for Jameis Winston and the Bucs who may be a bigger challenger for the division next year. Atlanta Falcons are an improving team but they have allowed big parts of their offensive to leave. Roddy White was a solid WR2 to complement Julio Jones. Free Agent Signing Mohammed Sanu may fill the gap but is not a sure thing. They should be improved with Dan Quinn working on the defensive side of the ball. Matt Ryan is a solid QB and that is a precious commodity in the NFL. New Orleans Saints are a team in transition. Drew Brees can still be a great QB on his day but The Saints are a team that are rebuilding. They need to get younger and are in the process of doing this. They are too far away to be a contender for the play-offs but Drew Brees keeps them relevant. They need another blue chip prospect on defense to really start moving forward.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions

The Packers will be in a for a fight to re-gain the NFC North Title. They have Aaron Rodgers, who is still in his prime, Jordy Nelson has returned and Mike McCarthy always finds a way to get contributions out of lesser known stars. The Vikings will just miss out to their biggest rivals after winning the division last year. Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson always give them a chance of being one of the best offenses in the league. The Vikings have a head coach who suits them perfectly in Mike Zimmer and with young, athletic playmakers on defense they should return to the Play-offs in 2016 after a shootout at the top of the division. The Bears are a solid team with Jay Cutler at the reins at QB. Adam Gase will be a big loss for Cutler, who finally produced a decent year. John Fox should have The Bears playing better again this year with Kevin White making his delayed rookie season. They are still behind The Vikings and Packers but they are moving in the right direction. The Lions are the Browns of The NFC. The second things look like they are improving the hope quickly disappears. Once considered to have one of the top teams in the league. The inability to keep star players has The Lions, once again, languishing at the bottom of the NFC North. Last off season they lost Suh, Fairley and their defensive stars. This off season they lost one of the leagues biggest stars Calvin Johnson Jr., who cited The Lions declining performances as a main reason for his retirement. Stafford is an average QB with a massive arm and they could be ok with Ebron and Tate III but they have too many holes and will be drafting high next year.

NFC East
Washington Redskins
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles

The East shouldn’t disappoint as a widely competitive division for the past few years. The Washington Redskins win the division again. Solid QB play from Kirk Cousins and the addition of Cornerback Josh Norman should be the difference in the NFC East. Typically, this division is won by the healthiest team and The Redskins have a team that has proven it can remain healthy. The New York Giants will be improved as the G-Men threaten The Redskins for supremacy in the East. Eli Manning with Odell Beckham Jr and a healthy Victor Cruz should give them a good chance but they will fall short with question marks  on their improving defense. They should be challengers to make a deep run in 2017. The Dallas Cowboys they always seem to be plundered by injuries and doubts over Tony Romo’s ability to remain upright for 16 games is a legitimate question mark. An improved running game should help take the pressure off but they are a team that have always fallen short when the pressure of expectation gets to them. The Philadelphia Eagles finish last in the division but they have some hope for the future. Carson Wentz will need time to adjust to the NFL after only ever playing NCAA Division II football at North Dakota State. He should be good in the future but right now the rebuild is in full swing with Doug Pederson.

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

The most difficult division to decide in the NFL. Three teams with legitimate play-off hopes and two with legitimate super bowl hopes. The Cardinals once again edge out their west coast rivals to win the NFC West. One of the best head coaches in the NFL with a strong core of players, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones on Defense and Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and David Johnson on Offense both sides of the ball have a legitimate core that could see them contend deep into January. The Seahawks come close and make the post season but miss out on winning the division again. Way too many questions on the offensive line and running back to make them division winners. A Terrible offensive line and a Marshawn Lynch-less running game shouldn’t be a major problem for a great defense and Russell Wilson at QB but it is enough to tip the balance in the division winner debate. The Los Angeles Rams return to LA with a number of solid and unspectacular offensive weapons with the added intrigue of Rookie QB, Jared Goff. They have a great defense and they know how to win games in the division at home. Questions remain about facilities and offensive consistency but another season around .500 awaits for Jeff Fisher’s Rams. The 49ers are still a mess. They missed their Super Bowl window and they have fallen apart since. Jim Tomsula last a year as Head Coach and has been replaced with Chip Kelly with a chance to rebuild The Niners in his image. The Niners lack any real star players outside of Navorro Bowman and are likely to have a top 5 pick next year as they have no chance of competing with any of the three teams in their division.

Projected Playoffs based on these rankings. (Sorted by Alphabetical Order)

AFC:
Bengals
Colts
Jaguars
Patriots
Raiders
Steelers

NFC:
Cardinals
Packers
Panthers
Redskins
Seahawks
Vikings

Top 5 Draft Picks: (Alphabetical Order)
Browns
Eagles
49ers
Saints
Titans

 

USKSports Returns

USK Sports has returned after a 3 month absence. This is due to the project originally starting as a University project and having to be submitted for marking. Now that it has been marked and these marks have been confirmed USK is now able to return.

What’s coming?
The new NFL and Football seasons are upon us. The EFL season is just 5 days away kicking off with Fulham Vs Newcastle on Friday. This is followed by a weekend of full EFL fixtures with every team in The Championship, League 1 and League 2 kicking off their season and we see the Premier League Champions take on The FA Cup winners as Leicester City play Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley.

NFL Draft Live Coverage

 

That concludes the First Round of the NFL Draft. Tomorrow there will be a recap of the second and third rounds that take place. I hope you have enjoyed the live coverage of the NFL Draft.

Round 1, Pick 31: No late drama! The Seahawks will pick in the first round for the first time since 2012…The Pick is in…‘With the Thirty-First pick of the NFL Draft, The Seattle Seahawks select…German Ifedi, Offensive Tackle, Texas A & M’. Jack falls from the first round and The Seahawks get and Offensive Lineman. That was a huge hole for the Seahawks and can fill the hole left by Russell Okung.

Round 1, Pick 31: The Seattle Seahawks are on the clock…For how long? They haven’t picked in the first round since 2012. There could be a trade here or they could take Kevin Dodd or they could take the risk on Myles Jack since they have the players to compensate while he recovers. Offensive line is the obvious need.

Round 1, Pick 30: The Pick is in…No Trade…‘With the Thirtieth pick of the NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select…Vernon Butler, Defensive Tackle, Louisiana Tech’ Defensive Lineman to help out their Defensive Line. They saw the worth of having more D-Lineman that can pass rush in the Super Bowl. Wasn’t going to be a corner, they could find one further back in Cyrus Jones.

Round 1, Pick 30: The Panthers are on the clock…There are no corners left in the first round. That is the position they need the most. Possible Trade here? Or Panthers take best player available. No corner worthy of a 1st rounder. Pass Rush is an option. Dodd/Ogbah.

Round 1, Pick 29: The Pick is in…‘With the Twenty-Ninth pick of the NFL Draft, The Arizona Cardinals select…Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive Tackle, Ole Miss’ A Bruce Arians pick. A player with a lot to prove but has the talent to silence doubters. Joins Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones on their Defensive Line. They will have a beavy of defenders to rush Russell Wilson, Jared Goff and whoever starts for the 49ers. He has a lot of concerns off the field but there is a lot of veterans to keep him in line and a head coach who can manage this type of player.

Round 1, Pick 29: The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock…Just two more picks remain after this as the Draft approaches 3 and a half hours.

Round 1, Pick 28: The Pick is in…‘With the Twenty-Eighth pick of the NFL Draft, The San Francisco 49ers select…Joshua Garnett, Guard, Stanford’ Trading up for a OG! Chip Kelly brings out his surprise. Will help the running game that was lacking in SF. Could we see more trades for Connor Cook? An Outland trophy winner and a guy who will help them Week 1. They could have stood firm and got him but they didnt want to take the risk.

Round 1, Pick 28: The 49ers are on the clock…Trade number four…Moving up for Lineman or possibly Connor Cook?! If it’s not Cook then there will probably be a trade for Cook.

TRADE! The Kansas City Chiefs trade Pick 28 to the 49ers! For a 2nd/4th/6th.

Round 1, Pick 28: The Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock…Jack’s last hope for the 1st round? Chiefs don’t get a WR. There are plenty of good defensive players left of the board and they have holes in their front 7 because of injury.

Round 1, Pick 27: The Pick is in…‘With the Twenty-Seventh pick of the NFL Draft, The Green Bay Packers select…Kenny Clark, Defensive Tackle, UCLA’ It’s not Jack or Ragland. Jack is going to fall out of the first round. Kenny Clark will replace BJ Raji on the Interior will be a good pick for The Packers who usually get their drafts right.

Round 1, Pick 27: The Green Bay Packers are on the clock…Myles Jack, A suerfire top 5 selection has fallen and is in the discussion here. He remains on The Packers board and could be huge for The Pack. Boos ring out as the Packers are put on the clock. Packers are taking their time. Could they be debating Myles Jack? Middle Linebacker is more of a need though. Reggie Ragland could go here too.

Round 1, Pick 26: The Pick is in…‘With the Twenty-Sixth pick of the NFL Draft, The Denver Broncos select…Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis’ It was always going to be a QB. They probably floated Jack/a DL prospect but losing Manning and Osweiler was huge and forced their hand. He is not the finish product. The 6 ft 7 QB will have to do some work to adapt to the NFL level but he has a great defense to carry him in his first few years. Could sit out his Rookie season and have Mark Sanchez be a keeper for a year.

Round 1, Pick 26: The Denver Broncos are on the clock…Paxton Lynch/Connor Cook here. They need a Quarterback it cannot be any other position. They could consider a Defensive Lineman after losing Malik Jackson but Lynch/Cook are more important.

TRADE! The Seahawks Trade Pick 26 to The Denver Broncos at Pick 31. Seahawks will possibly trade the 31st as well with Titans/Cowboys/Browns.

Round 1, Pick 25: The Pick is in…’With the Twenty-Fifth pick of the NFL Draft, The Pittsburgh Steelers select…Artie Burns, Cornerback, Miami’ They miss out on William Jackson but they still get a Corner. It was what cost them in the Play-offs and this fills a big need.

Round 1, Pick 25: The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock…No messing around from The Steelers. They missed out on Jackson III. Le’Veon Bell wants Myles Jack but they need a corner more.

Round 1, Pick 24: The Pick is in…‘With the Twenty-Fourth pick of the NFL Draft, The Cincinnati Bengals select…William Jackson III, Cornerback, Houston’ No WRs for The Bengals. They have to be frustrated they see them disappear with three picks in front of them. Tall, Quick corner and can find the ball in the air.

Round 1, Pick 24: The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock…They missed out on a WR in Round 1. Bengals will go best player on their board. Could be Myles Jack. Could take a book out of The Patriots set up and take Hunter Henry and have two Tight End sets. Away from The Bengals…Titans/Cowboys are looking to trade up into the end of round 1. Browns could be in play for a trade back up to Round 1.

Round 1, Pick 23: The Pick is in…‘With the Twenty-Third Pick of the NFL Draft, The Minnesota Vikings select…Laquon Treadwell, Wide Reciever, Ole Miss’ Jack isn’t ready to play. Treadwell is. Treadwell is the position they need. The run of Recievers has come and three have come off the board back-to-back-to-back. Bridgewater and Peterson will be happy as there is now a legitimate number one in Minnesota.

Round 1, Pick 23: The Minnesota Vikings are on the clock…Laquon Treadwell should go here. Vikings need a Wide Reciever for Teddy Bridgewater. Would be a surprise if it was anyone else. They also have faith in Myles Jack to come back from his injury. If they dont take Jack then they may see him twice a year in Green and Yellow in Green Bay.

Round 1, Pick 22: The Pick is in…’With the Twenty Second Pick of the NFL Draft, The Washington Redskins select…Josh Doctson, Wide Reciever, TCU’ You like that? He likes that. Kirk Cousins gets another Wide Reciever. They have a big bodied receiver to take pressure off Jordan Reed. He will tower over a small recieving corps and adds to a decent receiving corps in the American Capital.

Round 1, Pick 22: The Washington Redskins are back on the clock…Would imagine it will be best player available. Couldn’t hurt to give Kirk Cousins more weapons but it also couldn’t hurt to add a Defense Player. It will be best player available. Josh Doctson/Laquon Treadwell or D Line.

Round 1, Pick 21: The Pick is in…‘With the Twenty-First Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Houston Texans select..Will Fuller, Wide Reciever, Notre Dame’ It was always going to be a Wide Reciever. Will Fuller is rated highest on their board. We could see a run on Wide Recievers here with The Vikings and Bengals. He has good speed alongside Hopkins but has problems with his hands. AFC South will have a lot of points scored and will be pretty entertaining.

Round 1, Pick 21: The Houston Texans are on the clock…Probably Wide Reciever here. Laquon Treadwell is great value at 21. Will be a pass catcher.

TRADE! The Texans move up 1 spot from 22 to 21. Must have had concerns about someone (Vikings/Bengals) trading above them to take a player.

Round 1, Pick 21: The Washington Redskins are on the clock…

Round 1, Pick 20: The Pick is in…‘With the Twentieth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The New York Jets select…Darron Lee, Linebacker, Ohio State’ No Quarterback for The Jets. Bryce Petty must be rated highly. FIVE Ohio State players off the board in the top 20. Only been done once before. A solid Linebacker for the Jets. Adds decent coverage on the to the sidelines and a good pass rush. He can develop under Todd Bowles. The Jets have taken a Defensive player in Round 1 for a seventh straight year.

Round 1, Pick 20: The New York Jets are on the clock…Jets have been leaning towards Paxton Lynch here. They need a Quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick will keep them out of trouble but won’t get them over the edge. Lynch makes sense here though a Defensive headcoach may be more comfortable taking a defensive player here. Myles Jack continues to be a wildcard. They are on the phone!

Round 1, Pick 19: The Pick is in…’With the Nineteenth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Buffalo Bills select…Shaq Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson.’ He was going to go at some point around here. Shaq Lawson replaces the Mario Williams sized hole in the Bills defense.

Round 1, Pick 19: The Buffalo Bills are on the clock…Paxton Lynch time? Jack could be a good pick here. Rex is bold enough to take the risk and they have a good enough Defense to survive without him. Or Shaq Lawson as a value pick here with Rex keeping a close eye on Clemson, where his son plays as a Long Snapper.

Round 1, Pick 18: The Pick is in…No messing around from The Colts. ‘With the Eighteenth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Indianapolis Colts select…Ryan Kelly, Center, Alabama’ Had to be Offensive Line. You HAVE to protect Andrew Luck to have any chance of success. Kelly can play Guard or Center which is a huge plus and will help keep Luck up right. It makes the AFC South more competitive and The Colts now have SOME hope on their O-Line.

Round 1, Pick 18: The Indianapolis Colts are on the clock…Offensive Line is a huge need but so is pass rush. A wide range is available for them at 18. Should be O-Line. Cody Whitehair or Ryan Kelly.

Round 1, Pick 17: The Pick is in…‘With the Seventeenth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Atlanta Falcons select…Keanu Neal, Defensive Back, Florida’ Not the front 7. A Safety for The Falcons. Defence made sense for The Falcons. Another former Seahawks Defensive Co-Ordinator taking an atheltic, quick defensive player.

Round 1, Pick 17: WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH THE 1st ROUND. The Atlanta Falcons are on the clock…Shaq Lawson could go here. They are already on the phone. Reuniting Lawson with Vic Beasley. Clemson Tigers pass rushing pair. Darron Lee could be the selection here. Don’t count out Kevin Dodd either. It will be a front 7 for their Defense. Myles Jack MAY be a wildcard here with former defensive staff for UCLA.

Round 1, Pick 16: The Detroit Lions are on the clock and no messing around. Should be a WR here. Laquon Treadwell? …The Pick is also in…‘With the Sixteenth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Detroit Lions select…Taylor Decker, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State’. Thought they would go Reciever but Offensive Line is also a big need. A Fourth Buckeye off the board in the first round. Keeping Stafford up right will help The Lions.

Round 1, Pick 15: The Pick is in…‘With the Fifteenth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Cleveland Browns select…Corey Coleman, Wide Reciever, Baylor’ A WR I rate highly. A WR that will take the top off of ANY defense. First WR off the board. Hopefully he works out better than the last Wide Reciever they had from Baylor, Josh Gordon. He teams up with Baylor Alumni Robert Griffin III. He is an explosive reciever who will help The Browns straight away.

Round 1, Pick 15: The Cleveland Browns are back on the clock…Paxton Lynch is now in play. They could trade back again with The Jets looking to move up. Decker would sure up their line and make Joe Thomas available for trade. Shaq Lawson would give them a pass rush. Laquon Treadwell would fill their desperate need for a Wide Reciever. They have so many holes that they should take the best player available and build around them.

Round 1, Pick 14: The Pick is in…‘With the Fourteenth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Oakland Raiders select…Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia’ High player on their board I would assume. Raiders fell in love with him in the process. A replacement for Charles Woodson. Joseph is a playmaker and it was the only real hole on the roster.

Round 1, Pick 14: The Oakland Raiders are on the clock…Still good players on the board. Ragland, Jack, Lawson on the defensive side. Treadwell, Decker, Fuller and Corey Coleman all available offensively. They could go either way. With Osemele signing in FA, Offensive Line is not a top priority so it could be skill position or best player available.

Round 1, Pick 13: The Pick is in…‘With the Thirteeneth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Miami Dolphins select…Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss’ He falls to 13. Tunsil falls to the Dolphins at 13. He wasn’t going to fall much further. If he learns his lesson then this is a big value pick for The Dolphins. A pick The Dolphins needed. Tunsil could go either way but it was a position they needed. Tunsil is the cleanest Offensive Lineman in the draft. Can play either side and learn under Branden Albert.

Round 1, Pick 13: The Miami Dolphins are on the clock…Spent big money in the offseason on their defence. Offensive Line or Wide Reciever is probably going here. Decker or Treadwell is my prediction with Conklin off the board. Rumours of Tunsil going to Dolphins.

Round 1, Pick 12: The Pick is in…‘With the Twelfth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The New Orleans Saints select…Sheldon Rankins, Defensive End, Louisville’ Dont think many had Rankins at 12. This is a slight shock but it is a position they need. They have been the worst defensive team in the NFL for the last 2 seasons. Will give them pressure up the middle which teams dont like. Rumours of Paxton Lynch were off the mark.

Round 1, Pick 12: The New Orleans Saints are on the clock…Taylor Decker and Shaq Lawson are in play here. Saints need help on both lines. Decker would be more important to keeping Drew Brees up right. A wildcard here could be Paxton Lynch to sit behind Brees for a couple of years.

Round 1, Pick 11: The Pick is in…‘With the Eleventh Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…Vernon Hargreaves, Cornerback, Florida’ They got an extra pick for they guy they wanted all along. It took two picks longer but Hargreaves is staying in state. No shocks here.

Round 1, Pick 11: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock…Could still be Hargreaves. Tampa get a 4th Rounder and still get the guy they were rumoured to be after. Jack COULD go here but their defensive need is too big to take a player who won’t start straight away. Shaq Lawson is there as well and it will be between Hargreaves and Lawson both will give them instant help.

Round 1, Pick 10: The pick is in…’With the Tenth pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The New York Giants select…Eli Apple, Cornerback, Ohio State’ Corner was a need for The Giants. Apple to the Big Apple. Hargreaves is available for Tampa Bay. Fills a big need for NY. THREE Ohio State players selected in the top 10. What a team they had…

Round 1, Pick 10: The New York Giants are on the clock…They were burned by The Bears taking Floyd. It was the popular pick. Vernon Hargreaves is in play here. Giants have Jack or Shaq available if they want Defensive pass rush. Myles Jack, despite his knee concerns, should be off the board soon if someone takes a risk on microfacture surgery. Tunsil has been taken off boards and will continue to fall. Tunsil’s nightmare is real. Could he fall out of the 1st?

Round 1, Pick 9: The Pick is in…‘With the Ninth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Chicago Bears select…Leonard Floyd, Linebacker, Georgia’ I need to stop second guessing. Bears moved up for a LB. Defensive head coach. Wasn’t going to get past The Giants at 10 so moving up to get him makes sense.

Round 1, Pick 9: The Chicago Bears are on the clock…They are moving up ahead of The Giants. Could be Leonard Floyd ahead of The Giants. Might still be Laremy Tunsil, never thought they would have a chance or Taylor Decker if they are scared off by the Tunsil video. Tunsil has screwed himself over but the fall will stop once Decker comes off the board.

ANOTHER TRADE! The Chicago Bears have moved up to 9. Bucs drop to 11. The Chicago crowd is ready.

Round 1, Pick 9: The Buccaneers are on the clock…I have Hargreaves in my mock but Myles Jack is still on the board. The injury has hurt him. Corner is a big need for Tampa Bay.

Round 1, Pick 8: The Titans Pick is in…‘With the Eigth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Tennessee Titans select…Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State’ Tunsil continues to drop after the video. Titans get the position they need. Mariota is important to The Titans.

Round 1, Pick 8: The Tennessee Titans are now on the clock…They might still get Tunsil at 8. Offensive Tackle is the biggest priority.

TRADE! WE FINALLY HAVE A TRADE! The Browns have moved from 8. Which was rumoured all day. I called this earlier with Titans moving back up to 8. Browns are getting picks wherever they can get them.

Round 1, Pick 8: The Cleveland Browns are on the clock. Jack has to be in play here too. More likely Tunsil or a trade.

Round 1, Pick 7: The Pick is in…‘With the Seventh Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The San Francisco 49ers select…DeForest Buckner, Defensive End, Oregon’ No real shock in the end. Chip takes his guy and gives the 49ers a building block for their defense.

Round 1, Pick 7: The 49ers are on the clock. Chip Kelly can take Tunsil or Buckner. I would give the edge to Buckner. Kelly likes his former players at Oregon. He recruited Buckner and a pass rusher is the QB of the Defense. Myles Jack is a wildcard here. There could be a surprise here because Chip Kelly does things his way.

Round 1, Pick 6: No trade again. Teams are running down the clock this year. The Ravens pick is in…‘With the Sixth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Baltimore Ravnes select…Ronnie Stanley, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame’ There was buzz about Stanley overtaking Tunsil. Tunsil hurt his draft stock with a stupid video of him smoking a bong in a gas mask. His Agent is working hard to keep his reputation in shape his friendship with Robert Nkemdiche also doesn’t help.

Round 1, Pick 6: The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock. Could be Buckner or Tunsil/Stanley here. Chip Kelly will want them to take Tunsil but either pick will improve The Ravens. They are running down the clock and they might be trying to bait a trade.

Round 1, Pick 5: No Trade, The Pick is in. Must be Jalen Ramsey. Anything else will be met with ire. ‘With the Fifth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Jacksonville Jaguars select…Jalen Ramsey, Defensive Back, Florida State’ Jags had no choice. They get a long, athletic corner with shut down potential. Fits with Gus Bradley’s ideal cornerback. This is a big day for Jacksonville. They were a trendy pick to be a play-off contender next year now I think they are a pick to win the AFC South.

Round 1, Pick 5: The Jaguars are on the clock. It has to be Jalen Ramsey. They are fine offensively and their Offensive Line is an issue. Bortles can play behind the current line and Ramsey is a once in a generation talent with a defensive coach. However, a Trade right now would be interesting…

Round 1, Pick 4: The Pick is in ‘With the Fourth Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Dallas Cowboys select…Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State’ Throwback Thursday for the Cowboys. Returning to the 3 headed monster. Ramsey will NOT get past 5.

Round 1, Pick 4: The Cowboys are on the clock. They have been given a headache with Ramsey, Tunsil and Elliott on the board. OT isn’t a need so it will be between Ramsey and Elliott. They need a pass rusher but Elliott can give them the edge with a run heavy attack circa 2014 when they went 12-4. Ramsey is the best prospect in the draft and it’s a difficult choice. They can’t lose with this selection.

Round 1, Pick 3: The Pick is in…‘With the Third Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The San Diego Chargers select…Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State’ First surprise. Bosa at Three! Chargers pass on Ramsey. It gives the Cowboys a TOUGH decision at 4. Elliott or Ramsey up next.

Round 1, Pick 3: The Chargers are on the clock…Now the draft is beginning…The Chargers can do anything here and they have done a superb job in keeping this quiet. They are on the Phone!

Round 1, Pick 2: The Philadelphia Eagles are at 2. They made everyone wait just like The Rams The Eagles have one choice here moving up to 2 and they should take Wentz here. Anything else would be a shock. ‘With the second pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Philadelphia Eagles select…Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State..’ It was never going to be anyone else the second Goff came off the board. The Highest Drafted Player in the history of North Dakota State. An NCAA Division II Quarterback taken second overall and the second time in 50 years that QBs have gone 1-2 in back-to-back years.

hi-res-b48d63973bb72b90d1d8c9d2f1c93815_crop_north

Round 1, Pick 1: They made everyone wait but ‘With the First Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, The Los Angeles Rams select… Jared Goff, Quarterback, California.’ Rams surprise no-one after moving up to get the QB they wanted. The California Kid stays in State. Which means that The Eagles get Wentz at 2.m1vwvbk7

01:14 (GMT) They took 8 minutes to pick up the phone. They used up their time. They stood in their war room waiting. The pick is finally in!

19:00 (CT)/01:00 (GMT) Roger Goodell gets booed (Which is normal) as he declares the 2016 NFL Draft open and the fun part begins. Buckle up for three hours of draft selections! The Los Angeles Rams are on the clock…They have 10 minutes to make their selection. They might run out the clock despite knowing their pick…Just like the Colts did with Andrew Luck

00:45 (GMT) The Rumour mill is buzzing again. The Browns want to move back from 8. A smart move for a team that needs A LOT of players but trade back into the end of the 1st round. Titans want to move back up and 8 could be a spot for them to move up too. An ambitious team could look at trading up to number 5 if they feel they can snatch a player from the Ravens at 6. Things are beginning to heat up with 15 minutes until the draft opens.

00:32 (GMT) T-Minus 30 minutes to go! The boring part is almost over! The number 1 pick is soon to be announced. Let’s talk about the best Number 1 pick of all time. Peyton Manning. There is no question. Peyton is simply one of the best to ever play the game and he is the standard that Number 1 picks must match. In Five Years when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame there will be only 2 contenders to dethrone him as the greatest number 1 overall pick ever, Cam Newton and his successor, Andrew Luck. They are big shoes to fill but they are both capable of doing it.

00:18 (GMT) Just over 40 minutes until it begins. The Sky Sports Coverage is going through Goff Vs Wentz and discussing the almost sure-to-be top 2 selections in the draft. Fans are filing into the arena now and the Fan Park is filling up outside as the prospects continue to wait. Just like all of us. This is the longest part of the draft. The hour before where everything has now settled to a complete silence. The highlight of the draft so far has been rating the prospects suits from best to worst dressed. It gets that bad before the draft…

00:00 (GMT) The Draft Coverage has started! According to Mike Silver in the Rams War Room. The first pick is exactly who we thought. Jared Goff will be heading from Berkeley to LA to be the Rams Quarterback. It’s not great surprise. The first two picks are pretty much set in stone and the party begins with San Diego at Three.

23:55 (GMT) The Excitement is building in this one man draft party. The first bit of excitement of the calendar year for NFL fans. I can’t wait. It can be exciting. It is life changing and sometimes it’s a dramatic event filled with twist and turns just ask the 2004 Quarterback Class -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGCOFDVK_mQ

23:45 (GMT) Still calm in Chicago. The players have arrived and are now sitting in the green room eagerly anticipating the Commissioners arrival to open the draft. Not long until we here the words ‘With the First Pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, The Los Angeles Rams select…’

23:15 (GMT) The calm before the storm has overcome the draft. Players are arriving in their suits with agents/parents/entourage. The players are happy. The teams are finalising their boards. Fighting for players to be selected. The calm has overcome the draft despite this. Rumours are quietening down and reality gets closer.

22:45 (GMT) Trade downs? Who will trade down in the draft and collect picks. The Seahawks haven’t been shy about trading their first round pick for picks later in the draft. The Browns (with their extra picks) would be a contender to move up from the 1st pick of round 2 and take The Seahawks first round pick. Rumours suggest this would be for a Quarterback at the bottom of the first. Paxton Lynch, if he is there or Conor Cook but they could get him with the 32nd pick.

22:30 (GMT) Surprises? There will be shocks in the draft that is without question. Where will they come? Who will it be? It can start at 3 and continue down to 20. There are a lot of talented players at the top of the draft (and throughout) and teams will have decided on who they like more. Any of the top players (Tunsil, Elliott, Bosa, Jack, Ramsey, Buckner) could be a surprise faller.

22:00 (GMT) Injuries? Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland have been cited with injuries in the build up the draft and this may affect their draft stock. It would hurt Jack more as he is a projected top 5 pick. He will not get past 20th if he falls. Ragland may fall to the bottom of the first/early second if teams are scared by his injury. We have seen this affect with Jaylon Smith (Another top 5 projection) who will fall out of the first round and miss his Rookie Season.

21:55 (GMT) Cowboys at 4? The Cowboys have a tough choice in the draft. They are weighing up Ezekiel Elliott and Jalen Ramsey at 4. Both picks will be plug and play players for the next decade. Both of them will help the Cowboys next season and if they are left with the choice it will be tough to split them. The Chargers pick remains a mystery and my Mock Draft predicts they take Jalen Ramsey to as a replacement for Eric Weddle. Which would leave The Cowboys with the consensus best Running Back in the Draft.

21:31 (GMT)Things to watch today: Who can be moved today? There are rumours of players being moved today, Colin Kaepernick and Joe Thomas are likely be involved in trades. The Browns are likely to move back if they get the right deal. The Chargers have the most intrigue as they have kept their selection close to their chest and no-one really knows what is happening. They will officially kick off the draft with the first two picks appearing to already be settled.

21:00 (GMT) Welcome everyone! We are live for our draft coverage for the NFL Draft. All the smokescreens and possible moves are being discussed. We are just hours away from the 1st pick (Jared Goff) being announced to the world live from Chicago, Illinois. There has been lots of noise. Lots of mock drafts. Lots of predictions. The time for Mock Drafts is over as the draft and some resemblance the season getting closer. If anything happens between now and the draft then keep your eyes peeled.

Mock Draft 3.0

Not long left until the NFL Draft kicks off from Chicago, Illinois. With USK providing live updates and reactions be sure to tune in during the first round. With the Eagles moving up to number 2 it is time to unveil our updated Mock Draft that will reflect these changes.

  1. Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California
  2. Eagles – Carson Wentz – QB North Dakota State
  3. Chargers – Jalen Ramsey – CB/S – Florida State
  4. Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Ohio State
  5. Jaguars – Myles Jack – LB – UCLA
  6. Ravens – Laremy Tunsil – OT – Ole Miss
  7. 49ers – DeForest Buckner – DE – Oregon
  8. Browns – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State
  9. Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves – CB – Florida
  10. Giants – Leonard Floyd – LB – Georgia
  11. Bears – Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame
  12. Saints – Shaq Lawson – DE – Clemson
  13. Dolphins – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State
  14. Raiders – Reggie Ragland – LB – Alabama
  15. Titans – Eli Apple – CB – Ohio State
  16. Lions – Laquon Treadwell – WR – Ole Miss
  17. Falcons – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson
  18. Colts – Cody Whitehair – OG – Kansas State
  19. Bills – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – Alabama
  20. Jets – Hunter Henry – TE – Arkansas
  21. Redskins – Robert Nkemdiche – DT – Ole Miss
  22. Texans – Emmanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State
  23. Vikings – Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame
  24. Bengals – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU
  25. Steelers – Mackensie Alexander – CB – Clemson
  26. Seahawks – Le’Raven Clark – OT – Texas Tech
  27. Packers – Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State
  28. Chiefs – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor
  29. Cardinals – Sheldon Rankins – DT – Louisville
  30. Panthers – William Jackson III – CB – Houston
  31. Broncos – Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis

Fan View

Fan View is a fan segment who review the season they have experienced. For the inaugural fan view segment. I will answering the questions about my team’s season. I am a Bristol City fan and this is my season review
What did you expect from the season? 

A comfortable mid table finish where we flirted with the play-offs.

Where did it go right? 

The signings in the January window/Emergency Loan window by Lee Johnson and Mark Ashton. Lee Tomlin, Richard O’Donnell, Adam Matthews and Peter Odemwingie have been great since they have joined. They have provided a better level of quality for the rest of the squad to seek to attain.

Sacking Steve Cotterill. We would have been relegated under Cotterill and I have no doubts about that now. We had won 4 games in 24 when he was finally sacked. I think he got too much time but that will be touched on later.

Where did it go wrong? 

Lack of recruitment in the summer, compounded by a few very public rejections by players (Andre Gray, Dwight Gayle, Jesse Lingard and Zac Clough)

Keeping Steve Cotterill as manager for as long as we did. Despite a record breaking double win last season. He was persisting with a formation that always looked like it was about to work before we were exposed by the higher quality players at this level.

What should change over the summer?

Signing the players we have on loan. Adam Matthews is a sure thing with City having an option to buy him. Lee Tomlin will be costly but would prove to be worth the price. Odemwingie, on a 1 year deal with an option, would help our attack.

Adding more quality to the squad. There are some good players in our squad but they don’t have top level Championship experience. We shouldn’t mess around with player out of our league (Premierleague) unless they are willing to drop down. Our summer recruitment was messy, agonising and disappointing last season and no repeat of that should appease City fans.

Player of the season? 

It’s a difficult one despite struggling as a team there have been some players who have been fantastic in a terrible team. Lee Tomlin, Richard O’Donnell and Adam Matthews would be in contention if they were here all season.

It would be between Korey Smith, Aden Flint and Johnathan Kodjia. Smith has been fantastic all season and when he was injured fans were concerned. He helps City keep their shape and get the team going with all action performances he just needs to add some goals. Flint has been a rock again and has played every minute of the season and started 103 games consecutively. Kodjia was a £2.1m summer signing that has adapted quickly to a new country and has scored 15 goals in a side that struggled most of the season. He has got better with the timing of his runs and his tactical awareness. He has great pace and skill. My personal player of the season is Kodjia.

Worst/Underperforming Player of the season? 
Again to single out a player would be difficult. If it was put to a popular vote then it would be won by our captain, Aaron Wilbraham, which I think would be harsh. He has a place in the squad as a player to bring on late in goals to maintain possession up the field. We missed that against Brentford on Saturday and it cost us 2 points. Although he is not our worst player, he has lacked confidence since being sent off in August and it has shown. It is harsh to give it to him but because of the disappointment of his season, Luke Freeman. I have every confidence he will improve now he has been put back out wide and Lee Johnson has got more out of him since he took over.

The season in a sentence?

A tyre that slowly leaked air until finally, after waiting way too long, we got rid of and got a new tyre that has kept us away from danger.