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Broncos Forced To Deal Without Von Miller To Start The Season

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

Posted by guest writer Hannah Miller The Denver Broncos, one of the Super Bowl favorites heading into the season, will be without linebacker Von Miller for six to eight games after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. As the leader of the defense, moving on for perhaps half the regular season without their star could

Giovani Bernard: Key For The Bengals In 2013

Maryland v North Carolina

Posted by guest writer Hannah Miller One of the teams that surprised fans and other teams during the draft was the Cincinnati Bengals. After taking tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round, they then selected Giovani Bernard as the first running back in the draft. After some questioned the pick, it now seems evident

Alex Smith to the Cleveland Browns?

NFC Championship - New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers

Under the new ownership of Jimmy Haslam, the Cleveland Browns have made wholesale moves since the regular season came to an end a few weeks back. The last day of 2012 brought pink slips for both head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert. Haslam had the following to say after ousting both the

Dennis Johnson 2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report

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    Overall Position Rank: 15 Projected Round: 4th/5th   2012 Season Review Dennis Johnson was actually able to stay healthy for the most part in 2012 after missing part of the 2011 season and being injury-plagued before. He averaged 5.5 yards per attempt and gained nearly 800 on the ground in a solid performance.

Five Guys Who Can Challenge Calvin Johnson As The Top Fantasy Receiver

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Article written by guest columnist Stefan Davis

Heading into the 2014 season, Calvin Johnson is widely considered to be in a class of his own. The star for the Detroit Lions is a first-round pick according to some, while no other receiver is really touched in that opening round.

However, as far as production is concerned in the new season, there are 5 legitimate threats to him at this point in time. Here is a look at how those guys could play.

A.J. Green

The Cincinnati Bengals are trying to build as potent of an offense as possible. Everything goes through Green, as he has the size and athleticism to be a fantasy football star every single time he steps on the field. He is the most dangerous deep threat in the NFL, and he should expect well over 150 targets once again in 2014.

Demaryius Thomas

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Peyton Manning has quite a few choices in the passing game, but no one is more dependable than Demaryius Thomas. He might not be an electrifying player, but he does create a lot of offense by catching short passes and creating additional space. Manning trusts him, so fantasy football owners should as well.

Dez Bryant

It seems as though Dez Bryant has finally matured, and that means big-time production from a very talented wide receiver. The Dallas Cowboys might have a lot of issues on defense, but that actually works in the favor for Bryant. If Dallas is constantly playing from behind, Tony Romo will be looking at him to make big plays and put up strong fantasy football numbers.

Julio Jones

Courtesy of Zimbio.com

Courtesy of Zimbio.com

Fantasy football owners who took Julio Jones last year came away disappointed because of injury issues. He should be fully recovered in 2014, and that means Matt Ryan will gladly be throwing the ball to his favorite target. Atlanta wants to make sure that they are back on track after a disappointing season in general in 2013. With Roddy White aging, Jones needs to be at his best.

Brandon Marshall

The difference between Jones and Brandon Marshall is the fact that Marshall has a better teammate to steal touches from. Alshon Jeffery is a fantasy football standout in his own right, and that could hurt Marshall this upcoming year. He is still going to have a huge year, but the chances of him truly going off has been reduced.

 

2014 NFL Draft: Teams That Might Trade Up

MikeSmithRyanAtlanta Falcons (From No. 6 Overall) 

The Falcons are one of those teams selecting in the top 10 that have real playoff aspirations next season. Mike Smith’s team has some holes to fill, but their overwhelming need right now has to be from a pass-rush category on the defensive side of the ball.

While Atlanta could hedge its bets that Khalil Mack will be available at six, the idea of getting a once-in-a-general talent in the form of Jedeveon Clowney might be too much for it to pass up on.

 

Tennessee Titans (From No. 11 Overall)

What if the Titans aren’t sold on Jake Locker as the quarterback of the future? They could make the decision to move up for one of the upper-echelon quarterbacks in the draft. Possibly picking up someone like Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel could be very attractive to new head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Even if the Titans decide that they’re not going to look at a quarterback, a pass rusher might very well be what they could go after. In this, Khalil Mack could be a solid possibility.

New York Jets (From No. 18 Overall)

After signing Michael Vick to a one-year contract to compete with Geno Smith for the starting quarterback gig, New York is going to have to find some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Eric Decker adds a starter-caliber receiver to the mix, but he isn’t a No. 1 option in the passing game and won’t be moving forward. In addition to that, the Jets don’t have an elite pass-catching tight end.

This is where the likes of Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) and Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina) come into play. It’s highly likely that neither will be available at No. 18 when all is said and done. If the Jets could spend a pick or two in the mid rounds to move up a few spots, they might decide to do that. Acquiring a fourth-round pick in the Darrelle Revis deal last offseason might go a long way in helping them make that decision.

Mike Evans and Michael Vick as a tandem. Fantasy football players the world over will rejoice.

Cleveland Browns (From No. 26 Overall)

This pick was obtained from the Indianapolis Colts in the Trent Richardson deal. Considering how poorly Richardson played for Indianapolis after the deal, it’s pretty much icing on the cake at this point for Cleveland. Blessed with five picks in the first three rounds, including the No. 4 overall selection, Cleveland has the capability to move up and down the draft.

Let’s say the Browns go for someone like Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) in with the fourth overall pick. Would they then decide to move up for one of the top quarterbacks that might fall outside of the initial half of the first round? That’s an intriguing scenario. You could even reverse scenarios with Cleveland going quarterback in the top five and looking to trade up for a wide receiver later in the night. The possibilities are endless here. 

Just imagine how good of a fantasy football player Manziel would be on the Browns with Watkins and Gordon. That’s scare.

 

San Francisco 49ers (From No. 30 Overall)

The 49ers now possess six picks in the first three rounds of the draft. Considering that they might not even have as much as six roster spots open for a rookie, a trade up is highly likely.

San Francisco does have a couple holes to fill on the roster and with all the picks it has compiled, general manager Trent Baalke and Co. can seek out a player or two in the early rounds. Wide receiver, cornerback and safety are all options in a potential move-up scenario.

Broncos Forced To Deal Without Von Miller To Start The Season

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

Posted by guest writer Hannah Miller

The Denver Broncos, one of the Super Bowl favorites heading into the season, will be without linebacker Von Miller for six to eight games after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. As the leader of the defense, moving on for perhaps half the regular season without their star could cause the Broncos to scramble a bit. So what kind of effect will this suspension have on their playoff hopes?

A year ago, the Broncos absolutely dominated their division, winning by six games. Although the other three teams in the AFC West are better heading into this season, the Broncos still have the best offense and defense to contend with. With that being said, losing Miller could hurt them as far as playoff seeding is concerned. It could also mess up team chemistry to a degree.

Other than Peyton Manning, there is not a more valuable player, in NFL and fantasy football on Denver than Miller. Fortunately for the team, they knew for a while that they would probably have to deal without Miller to start the season. That is why they have used the preseason to try and fill the hole as much as possible.

The Broncos kick off the season against both the Ravens and Giants, which could really test them early on. These veteran teams will try to slow the pace down a bit, wearing out the defense and trying to exploit the weak pockets of Denver’s defense. They also play the Cowboys in their fifth game of the season, and the Colts and Redskins in Week 7 and 8, respectively. Few people seem to believe that Miller will actually miss eight games, but it could happen.

Free agent Shaun Phillips will likely be asked to do as much as possible to fill in the gap left by miller. He is an effective pass-rusher who can slide to the opposite end of the line in three-man fronts when Miller returns. Fortunately, the 32-year old has been around the block enough times to provide nice value and step in right away. If Phillips struggles in his role, look for rookies Quanterus Smith and Lerentee McCray to get some looks.

The Broncos could end up losing a game or two due to the absence of Miller, but this should not hurt them too much long term. Their Super Bowl aspirations will rest on the shoulders of a healthy Manning more than anything.

Giovani Bernard: Key For The Bengals In 2013

Maryland v North Carolina

Posted by guest writer Hannah Miller

One of the teams that surprised fans and other teams during the draft was the Cincinnati Bengals. After taking tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round, they then selected Giovani Bernard as the first running back in the draft. After some questioned the pick, it now seems evident that Bernard will play a major role for the team right from the beginning, making him a possible pick in your fantasy football league. 

None of Bernard’s physical attributes truly stand out, which is why many thought there were better running back options out there. In Cincinnati, the Bengals were not looking for a true workhorse. Instead, they needed a smart, explosive athlete to have the ability to start right away.

At North Carolina, Bernard’s final season showed off that he is not only a capable running back, but a gifted receiver as well. He is only 5’8”, but he can create yards after carry when he has enough space to operate.

All of the focus on Cincinnati’s offense will be on Andy Dalton and his outstanding options to throw to. AJ Green is perhaps the best young wide receiver in the NFL, and with Eifert and Jermaine Gresham, he has two solid tight ends to utilize. This will give Bernard the space he needs to operate.

The Steelers are down, the Ravens are coming off a possible Super Bowl hangover and the Browns are still slowly rebuilding. The Bengals knew pretty early on this offseason that the time to start winning is now. Instead of selecting potential stars in the early parts of the draft, they instead focused on talent who can help right away. Bernard might not be the most talented player on the roster, but he needs to provide value to help balance out things in 2013. If he can do that, Cincinnati could have a true Super Bowl-type season.

 

Tim Tebow is Guilty of Hate by Association

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When Chris Culliver made less than flattering remarks targeted at the LGBT community in the lead up to Super Bowl XLVII, he was quickly, and rightfully, attacked by the mainstream media. His remarks were incendiary at a time when American society is attempting to move on from the ignorant stereotypes of the past. He was justifiably called a “bigot” by media folks on a continuing cycle of bad press for the San Francisco 49ers.

Now news has broke that Christian die-hard and the role model for what is “right” and “decent” about religion today, Tim Tebow of the New York Jets, is planning to speak at First Baptist Church in Dallas. That church is headed by a controversial figure, Robert Jeffress, who has made some hate-filled comments in the past. Tebow will get paid for his appearance in another battle for limelight by this disgusting representation of a human being, Jeffress that is.

The following are comments that Jeffress has made in the past…….

Islam, Mormonism and Judaism are heretical religions from the pit of hell.

President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.

The deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam: It is a religion that promotes pedophilia – sex with children. This so-called prophet Muhammad raped a 9-year-old girl – had sex with her.

There’s good reason for keeping the tradition of not having homosexuals serve in the military….70 percent of the gay population” has AIDS. “It’s a fact that it’s a gay disease so there’s a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military.

I’m always, the retort to that is ‘oh! Are you pulling a Rick Santorum and saying that homosexuality is like bestiality, uh, incest, or pedophilia’? And I say ‘Yes.’. It is just as immoral as those practices. But then I’m quick to add, it’s also just as immoral as adultery, pre-marital sex, or unbiblical divorce. Any deviation from god’s plan is sin. It is a miserable lifestyle. And that is why we, as preachers of the gospel and Christians, we’ve got the message of hope, and we need to quit being ashamed to share it.

 

Some may ask why I am even giving Jeffress press here. Well, it is important to show his beliefs in context when drawing the following conclusion.

If Tebow does indeed speak at this church, he is guilty by association of supporting this hate-filled and archaic ideology. While what Tebow says when he gets on the podium will be under a microscope, it really doesn’t matter to this one writer if he comes in with a message of unity.

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The impact of him supporting this mega church and its warn out dogma’s is as clear as Jeffress lack of compassion for those who don’t share his beliefs and sets of “values.” If you are different, Tebow is saying by making this appearance, God will not forgive your sins and you will not go to heaven. You are different, so you don’t deserve to live a happy life or exist as a “moral” human.

Yes, Tebow is saying the aforementioned things by his mere appearance in Dallas later this year. He will not be bringing a message of unity to a church whose rhetoric is as archaic as it is deliberate. Indicating that homosexuality is like bestiality represents one of the most ignorant comments this humble writer has ever come across. On another note, Islam, if practiced correctly with the teachings of both Muhammad and Rumi, is as peaceful as it gets. In addition, indicating that Muhammad was a pedophile is beyond disgraceful.

Yes, Tebow is supporting these beliefs by agreeing to speak at the church. He is guilty of hate by association. And for that we as media, should place him under the microscope, much like we did with Chris Culliver earlier in the month.

It’s that simple.

 

Alex Smith to the Cleveland Browns?

NFC Championship - New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers

Under the new ownership of Jimmy Haslam, the Cleveland Browns have made wholesale moves since the regular season came to an end a few weeks back.

The last day of 2012 brought pink slips for both head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert.

Haslam had the following to say after ousting both the GM and head coach…

We felt that these moves were in the best interests of the Cleveland Browns and our future

It isn’t abnormal to have these types of changes once a new ownership group takes control. For Haslam, it was all about redefining an organization that has existed in mediocrity for a long time now.

Cleveland then went out and hired former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to be its new head coach. While this hiring wasn’t without turmoil, especially considering Chud’s lack of success with Carolina in 2012, it does bring some new blood to the organization. At the very least, Cleveland went against bringing in a retread head coach. A young team with a new owner needs to have a relatively young head coach to lead the way on the field.

Norv Turner was just recently announced as the Browns offensive coordinator on Thursday. That is one great hire for the organization. While Turner leaves a lot to be desired as it relates to being a head coach, he is a great offensive coordinator in the NFL. His presence will help whoever is under center in 2013.

It isn’t like the Browns are starting from ground zero. Instead, they have a solid nucleus upon which to build on both sides of the ball. Trent Richardson promises to be a Pro Bowl running back in the not so distant future. Meanwhile, rookie second-round pick (supplementary selection) Josh Gordon showed everyone why Cleveland made the then curious decision to exhaust a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft on him. Gordon tallied 805 yards on 50 receptions for a whopping 16.1 yards per reception. He will be a solid down field threat.

While Cleveland did finish 5-11, it lost five games by just one score and finished with a -4.4 average scoring differential. It’s important to note how competitive this team was all season with a anemic head coach.

Defensively, the Browns were pretty darn good. Joe Haden, Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard make up a pretty decent trio to build with on that side of the ball. While Cleveland will have to add more talent in the future to compete with offenses in Cincinnati and Baltimore, this is a good start.

Which leads me to my original point.

Cleveland needs to go out there and trade for quarterback Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers. He had a solid working relationship with Norv Turner and would be an immediate upgrade over Brandon Weeden under center.

Smith, who has been one of the most consistently good quarterbacks since the start of 2011, is going to be the odd-man out in San Francisco following the emergence of Colin Kaepernick.

The following are Smith’s stats over the course of his last 27 starts, postseason included:

63.8 completion percentage, 5,376 yards, 38 total touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 96.7 quarterback rating. 

Those are better than average starting quarterback stats in the NFL. Equally as important, Smith was 20-6-1 during that span and threw one interception per 72.1 pass attempts. For comparison’s sake, Weeden threw one interception per 30.4 attempts as a rookie in 2012.

And Smith is younger than the current Browns’ starting quarterback.

Smith does need to have weapons on the offensive side of the ball and a solid offensive line to protect him. If he doesn’t have those things, we could be looking at Smith reverting back to pre-2011 form.

Fortunately, Cleveland does possess a solid offensive line. Weeden was sacked just 28 times in 15 starts during the regular season. Mitchell Schwartz and Joe Thomas are an awesome tandem at the offensive tackle position, while Alex Mack has been nothing short of consistent at center throughout his career.

Richardson would also provide Smith with that Pro Bowl caliber running back that he became accustomed to in the form of Frank Gore in San Francisco.

Give him the deep threat that is Gordon, a decent slot receiver in Greg Little and add one of the top wide receivers in the draft (Keenan Allen?) and you are looking at a really good offense moving forward.

That said, Cleveland won’t be getting Smith for free if it decides to actually court the veteran quarterback. San Francisco knows all too well that Smith’s $10 million salary in 2013 is a bargain. It also knows that both the free agent and draft classes at the quarterback positions are mighty thin. In reality, the 49ers are working from a position of strength here.

It would probably cost Cleveland either a third-round pick or a combination of a fourth rounder and future considerations to nab Smith. On that note, San Francisco promises to have the most draft picks of any team in the NFL this upcoming April. It probably wouldn’t be against taking picks in 2014 in order to send Smith to the right situation and receive decent value in return.

Look for this to be discussed as March and the new league year nears. I, for one, think Smith would be a great addition to the Browns.

 

Follow me on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL

Get your fantasy sports fix over at eDraft where I am head sports editor.

Check out my articles on Bleacher Report where I am a featured columnist.

Dennis Johnson 2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report

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Overall Position Rank: 15

Projected Round: 4th/5th

 

2012 Season Review

Dennis Johnson was actually able to stay healthy for the most part in 2012 after missing part of the 2011 season and being injury-plagued before. He averaged 5.5 yards per attempt and gained nearly 800 on the ground in a solid performance.

During a two-game stretch against Mississippi and Tulsa, Johnson racked up over 300 yards and three scores.

As a five-year college player, there are going to be concerns about Johnson’s age and ability to stay healthy. All things equal, however, he is a legit second or third round option. Previous injury concerns will cause him to fall to the mid rounds.

Positives

* Versatility

* Receiving Ability

* Field Vision/Cutback Ability

* Power/Size

Negatives

* Injury Concerns

* Age

* Ball Security

Outlook

I really don’t have anything negative to say about Johnson outside of his injury issues. He boasts a low center of gravity when running the ball, which makes him extremely difficult to bring down. He also possesses everything you look for in a featured back in the NFL. More often than not, he will be defenders to the outside and make them look silly with his cutback ability.

Teams do tend to value age and endurance when it comes to the running back position early in the draft. That being said, we have seen certain organizations take a shot in the dark when it comes to “reaching” for running backs who have that proverbial “red flag.”

Look for Johnson to shoot up the draft boards during the combine and postseason workouts. After all, he passes the eye test.

Logan Thomas 2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report

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Overall Position Rank: 10

Projected Round: fourth or fifth round

 

2012 Season Review

Thomas struggled a great deal for the Hokies after being considered a first-round pick by many experts at the start of the season. He threw 18 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions and continually struggled making the right read down the field. 12 of those interceptions came away from Blacksburg, which shows he struggles playing in hostile environments.

His best performances came in the first two games of the season against less than stellar competition in the form of Austin Peay and Georgia Tech. Thomas completed 60 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Following those two games, he was nothing more than an average signal caller for Tech. Thomas completed less than 50 percent of his passes and had two more interceptions than touchdowns in his final 11 games of the season.

Positives

* Mobility

* Size

* Upside

* Intermediate Accuracy

Negatives

* Decision Making

* Accuracy Down the Field

* Regressed in 2012

Outlook

As I mentioned above, Thomas came into the 2012 season with first-round aspirations. Now it isn’t even 100 percent clear that he will declare for April’s draft. Experts have concluded that he might as well get paid because a return to Va. Tech guarantees nothing for the under-performing quarterback.

His ceiling is as a decent starting quarterback in the NFL, much like Jason Campbell. His bottom is someone that will never be more than a serviceable No. 2 quarterback.

Nothing more than a mid-round project at this point. He is going to need to prove himself at the combine and during individual workouts to get his draft stock back up again.

2013 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: NFL Playoff Edition

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Two weeks ago I compiled my initial 2013 NFL Mock Draft. Now that the top 20 slots have been decided following the regular season, it made sense to take another look at it.

First Round 

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia 

The Chiefs desperately need to address the quarterback position. While there are better overall players in the draft than Smith, he would provide them that young franchise quarterback they must have moving forward.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, Defensive End/Linebacker, Georgia

Jacksonville finished with the least amount of sacks in the NFL. Rookie Andre Branch did little to generate a consistent push from DE. In addition, Jeremy Mincey seemed to regress. Jones is a day one starter who could come in and rack up double-digit sacks as a rookie.

3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama

Shawntae Spencer, Ronald Bartell and Michael Huff seeing considerable time at cornerback is a recipe for disaster in the NFL. Expect general manager Reggie McKenzie to look to trade down and acquire picks. In the absence of that, he goes with the best corner on the board.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M 

It remains to be seen whether Jason Peters will ever return to full health. Even with him in the fold, Philadelphia needs a franchise book end. Joeckel is one of the top five offensive tackle prospects in the last decade.

5. Detroit Lions: Manti Te’o, Linebacker, Notre Dame

No, this isn’t too high for the Heisman Trophy finalist. My NFL comparison to Te’o is a bulkier NaVorro Bowman, which is mighty high praise. He would immediately make Detroit’s front seven one of the best in the division.

6. Cleveland Browns: Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, California

I am a huge fan of Josh Gordon, but he is going to need some help on the outside. Greg Little has been a bitter disappointment and is nothing better than a No. 3 on a good team. Allen is the consensus No. 1 wide receiver in the draft class.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Mike Glennon, Quarterback, North Carolina State

Arizona will need to address the offensive line in the draft and in free agency, but they cannot pass up on a quarterback with as high of an upside as Glennon. While he might have to sit for a year, I project big things from the NC State prospect.

8. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, Quarterback, Arkansas

Is this a reach? Probably. However, teams are going to reach for a quarterback in the draft considering that it is hard to succeed in the NFL without one. Wilson is your prototypical quarterback with a strong arm and decent accuracy. Besides, Ryan Fitzpatrick is nowhere near the long-term solution in Buffalo.

9. New York Jets: Justin Hunter, Wide Receiver, Tennessee 

The more tape I watch on Hunter, the more I believe he will end up being a top 15 pick. Needless to say, New York needs as much help as it can get at wide receiver. This might not be a value pick, but expect Hunter’s stock to rise considerably in the coming months.

10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama

Steve Hutchinson is done. Tennessee needs to find a youngster along the interior of its offensive line. Warmack is the consensus No. 1 player at this position in the draft. He will be a Pro Bowl caliber player out of the gate. Immediate upgrade here.

11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan

One of the primary reasons Philip Rivers struggled so badly this season was the fact that he didn’t have any type of protection from his tackles. In fact, they were among the worst in the NFL. Fisher has a tremendous amount of talent and will see his stock skyrocket during postseason events.

12. Miami Dolphins: Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia 

Much like Kendall Wright last season, Austin was the primary reason Geno Smith was so damn good in college. Austin is the type of receiver that Miami needs to stretch the field with strong-armed Ryan Tannehill at QB.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State

In order to counteract Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steve Smith and Marques Colston in the NFC South, Tampa is going to have to find itself a No. 1 corner. Banks has the size and on-ball ability to be that type of guy. Additionally, the Buccaneers finished dead last in the NFL against the pass. Needless to say, they’re looking for an upgrade here.

14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah 

The biggest drop from my initial mock, which had Star going No. 1 overall. The more I watch tape on him the more I am convinced he could be a workout warrior. Though I am impressed by Star’s ability to penetrate the line, he might not be as much of an impact player as originally thought. That being said, Carolina needs someone along the interior of its defensive line to improve an anemic front four.

15. New Orleans Saints: Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State

New Orleans was a complete disaster against the run and didn’t provide a great pass rush without having to blitz a great deal. This will have to change if its defense is going to improve. Hankins can hold down the fort at DT, taking up double teams and helping edge rushers get to the QB.

16. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M 

St. Louis appears set with Rodger Saffold at one tackle position, but it really needs to find a franchise book end for Sam Bradford. Matthews would normally be a top OT prospect, but because of a deep class he falls to them here. Great value at a need position.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Giovani Bernard, Running Back, North Carolina

Pittsburgh needs to find a running game to help Ben Roethlisberger in the passing game. Bernard becomes the No. 1 overall prospect at this position due to the injury to Marcus Lattimore. He can come in and start immediately.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina 

The interior of the Cowboys’ offensive line is an absolute joke. Blame Tony Romo all you want for his meltdown in Week 17, but he can’t do it all himself. Cooper has the size and physical ability to be a dominating guard out of the gate.

19. New York Giants: Barrett Jones, Center/Guard, Alabama

Jones can play either guard or center in the NFL. He reminds me a great deal of Peter Konz from the 2012 draft. Look for New York to implement him at center immediately with a thought of moving him to guard in the future. After all, David Baas leaves a lot to be desired.

20. Chicago Bears: Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan 

To take a term from the Clinton Administration and spin it to the professional sports world, “It’s the offensive line, stupid.” In short, Chicago needs multiple upgrades along this unit to be viable in the NFC North. Lewan is a top 10 prospect.

21. Minnesota Vikings: Robert Woods, Wide Receiver, USC

Woods isn’t my favorite wide receiver prospect, but he seems to fit a need for Minnesota heading into the 2013 NFL season. The talented youngster can act as a solid possession guy opposite Percy Harvin in the passing game. This would enable Jarius Wright to move into the slot and act as a solid down field threat for Christian Ponder.

22. Cincinnati Bengals: Eric Reid, Safety, LSU

Taylor Mays and Chris Crocker leave a lot to be desired at safety. Reid is the consensus No. 1 overall free safety in a deep draft class at that position. He would be a great fit next too Reggie Nelson in the secondary.

23. Baltimore Ravens: Alec Ogletree, Linebacker, Georgia

As you already know, Ray Lewis is retiring following the playoffs. I had indicated in the past that Baltimore needed to get a replacement for the future Hall of Fame backer. Now that issue becomes paramount. Ogletree, with his skill set, fits their 3-4 defensive scheme to a T.

24. St. Louis Rams: Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver, Baylor 

I still believe that 2012 second-round pick Brian Quick can play an important role in the Rams passing attack. That being said, they are facing the possibility of losing Danny Amendola to free agency and need to get a starter-caliber wide receiver on the roster. Williams is a perfect fit here.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri

Strong, athletic and gifted; three words that come to mind when watching tape of Richardson at Mizzou. He really can anchor the interior of an NFL defensive line for the next decade. Even with Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane in the mix, Seattle could use depth along this unit. Why not go for value over need here?

26. Indianapolis Colts: Barkevious Mingo, Linebacker, Louisiana State

I really wanted to mock a cornerback to Indianapolis here, but couldn’t pass up on Mingo. He is, by far, the best overall player at this spot in the draft. In addition, the LSU product fits Indianapolis’ 3-4 defensive scheme perfectly as an edge-rusher from the outside linebacker position.

27. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Alabama

At some point Green Bay will have to bite the proverbial bullet and draft a running back high if it is going to get balance on the offensive side of the ball. Lacy is one of those running backs that can break it to the outside and run over linebackers between the hashes. He would be a perfect fit in Green Bay.

28. San Francisco 49ers: Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida

One thing has become abundantly clear in San Francisco this season. It needs to find a replacement for Justin Smith along the defensive line. It’s defensive struggled a great deal with the All-Pro out of the lineup. Floyd would immediately come in and be a part of the rotation, while being groomed as Smith’s replacement. He is a gap filler that can take up double teams. Similar to what we have seen with Smith over the years.

29. Houston Texans: Stedman Bailey, Wide Receiver, West Virginia

Outside of Andre Johnson, Houston really doesn’t have much at wide receiver. Kevin Walter, Lester Jean, Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey really aren’t going to scare defenses. In order to be legit in the passing game, Houston needs to get a starter caliber receiver. I am as big on Bailey as I am on any receiver not named Keenen Allen.

30. New England Patriots: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas

With the emergence of Alfonzo Dennard and play of Aqib Talib, New England might not have to address the cornerback position early in April’s draft. It will, however, have to find a safety to play alongside Devin McCourty. This is where Vaccaro comes into play. He has elite field vision and is solid in the box. A duel-threat safety if I have ever seen one.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame

Whether Tony Gonzalez retires following the playoffs is irrelevant here. Atlanta will need to find a replacement for the future Hall of Fame tight end. I absolutely love Eifert to fill that role over the next decade. He has some great hands, already runs NFL-type routes in Brian Kelly’s system, and can be a mismatch between the hashes. This is really a perfect fit for Atlanta.

32. Denver Broncos: Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina 

If Denver needs anything in terms of depth outside of cornerback it has to be the defensive line. Williams fits its scheme to a T and can be an immediate contributor for a Super Bowl-caliber team.

 

Second Round

33. Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Barkley, Quarterback, Southern California 

34. Kansas City Chiefs: Jesse Williams, Defensive Tackle, Alabama

35. Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz, Tight End, Stanford

36. Detroit Lions: Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Florida State

37. Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Montgomery, Defensive End, Louisiana State

38. Arizona Cardinals: Ricky Wagner, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin 

39. New York Jets: Cobi Hamilton, Wide Receiver, Arkansas 

40. Tennessee Titans: Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon 

41. Buffalo Bills: Shayne Skov, Linebacker, Stanford

42. Miami Dolphins: Jordan Reed, Tight End, Florida 

43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: D.J. Fluker, Offensive Line, Alabama

44. Carolina Panthers: David Amerson, Cornerback, South Carolina 

45. San Diego Chargers: Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M 

46. St. Louis Rams: Phillip Thomas, Safety, Fresno State

47. Dallas Cowboys: Aaron Murray, Quarterback, Georgia 

48. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. McDonald, Safety, Southern California 

49. New York Giants: Nico Johnson, Linebacker, Alabama

50. Chicago Bears: Kevin Minter, Linebacker, Louisiana State

51. Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Poyer, Cornerback, Oregon State

52. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Lattimore, Running Back, South Carolina 

53. Baltimore Ravens: Bacarri Rambo, Safety, Georgia 

54. Washington Redskins: John Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia 

55. Seattle Seahawks: DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson 

56. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington 

57. Green Bay Packers: Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End/LB, BYU 

58. San Francisco 49ers: Chase Thomas, Linebacker, Stanford

59. Houston Texans: Dallas Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee

60. New England Patriots: Marquess Wilson, Wide Receiver, Washington State

61.  Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, Defensive End, Texas

62. Denver Broncos: Will Davis, Cornerback, Utah State

 

 

Potential NFL Head Coaching Candidates

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35 percent of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs in the NFL have already fired their head coach as of noon on the west coast Monday. Needless to say, franchises went the way of spring cleaning this winter.

Here are the coaches that have been fired already

Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers

Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs

Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns

Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills

Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals

Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

 

Now let’s take a look at the candidates that I have come up with.

 

Greg Roman, Offensive Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

Roman received a lot of play last season; mostly from the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL and Penn State in college. I would be incredibly surprised if he returned to San Francisco as its offensive coordinator in 2013. He seems to be a hot guy around league circles right now.

Personally, I believe a team like the San Diego Chargers would be the best fit. Coming on the heels of another disappointing season with a veteran head coach, San Diego should be looking for some new blood. Roman did wonders with Andrew Luck in college and has been damn good with both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers. He could have a nice working relationship with Philip Rivers.

Another team that makes a ton of sense in the Kansas City Chiefs, who will be looking for an offensive-minded head coach and will be bringing in a young quarterback in April’s draft. Pretty much the same reasoning behind this idea as Roman going to San Diego.

 

Chip Kelly, Head Coach, Oregon

The most likely scenario here would be the Philadelphia Eagles, who just relieved Andy Reid of his duties. You can bet they’re going to make a splash in their head coach search and Kelly is probably going to be Harbaugh-esque in terms of interest he receives.

Kelly could redefine the offensive scheme in the NFL and would have the tools to be successful in Philadelphia. The idea that he could have Nick Foles, Bryce Brown, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on offense has to make this an intriguing option for the current Oregon head man.

Don’t expect Kelly to take any job, either. He can easily go back to Eugene for another season or two until more attractive jobs open up in 2013 and 2014. Needless to say, he won’t be an option in Cleveland or Arizona.

 

Jon Gruden, Former Tampa Bay and Oakland Head Coach

Now that it appears Oakland will retain Dennis Allen for another season, we can put to sleep the idea of Gruden making a return trip to Northern California. He does, however, have roots in Philadelphia. If the Eagles fail to land, or don’t show interest in Kelly, this could be an intriguing option for them.

I am not entirely too sure if teams with young quarterbacks would show a lot of interest in Gruden at this point. He didn’t handle that position well with Tampa Bay, which could be cause for alarm. The Buffalo Bills seem like an intriguing option if they’re committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick for 2013.

 

Ken Whisenhunt, Former Head Coach Arizona Cardinals

One could easily come to the conclusion that Whisenhunt received a raw deal in the desert. Could any head coach be successful with four different starting quarterbacks in one season. Realistically, he was in a no-win situation this season. That being said, Whisenhunt was not successful with Arizona since Kurt Warner hung up his cleats.

This doesn’t mean that the great football mind won’t get another chance in 2013. The Chicago Bears, who lack any type of understanding of how to build an offensive line, could be an intriguing option here. More likely than not, Whisenhunt will have to wait until “sexier” names are called upon to get serious consideration.

 

Bill O’Brien, Head Coach, Penn State

What O’Brien did in Happy Valley was nothing short of amazing this season. Going into a horrible situation, he got the best out of a roster that had to be reeling from the whole Sandusky scandal. It is also important to note that he was a hot commodity around the NFL before taking the job with Penn State.

Filling numerous coaching roles in New England, including coordinator, O’Brien seems to be logical fit for a team with a young quarterback. Scott Pioli, who has ties with New England, has kept his job with the Kansas City Chiefs. He could look to go to the well one more time. A more likely scenario would be the Carolina Panthers if Ron Rivera ends up getting the boot.

 

Mike McCoy, Offensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos

To be able to make the transition from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning has to be one of the primary reasons McCoy will get a lot of play this offseason. You have to realize that his offensive philosophy took a complete 180 from 2011 to 2012. Adapting to a new offensive scheme without much too much of an issue is huge here.

Again, we might be looking at a team with a young quarterback here. It looks like Kansas City, who has the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft, could be a solid route for McCoy.

 

Andy Reid, Former Head Coach, Philadelphia Eagles 

As one of the most successful head coaches in modern NFL history, you can bet that Reid will be on the sideline coaching somewhere in 2013. His name has been mentioned in connection with both the San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. Interestingly enough, it seems that his people are the one’s putting feelers out there.

San Diego would seem like the best fit here for Reid. Though, I really do hope it goes in a younger direction with its head coaching search. Retreads just don’t seem to be getting it done in Southern California. Either way, expect Reid to go to a really good situation. After all, he isn’t at the stage in his career where going to a rebuilding franchise is too attractive.

 

Jay Gruden, Offensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

Gruden should have gotten more play following his stellar coaching performance for Cincinnati in 2011. You can expect him to receive a ton of interest this year. The one issue is that he cannot interview until/when Cincinnati is eliminated from postseason contention. That hurts his chances with teams looking to make a move in relatively short order.

All things equal, Gruden is one of the best offensive minds out there.

 

Other Options

 

Gus Bradley, Defensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks: Leads one of the best overall units in the NFL with a solid young core. Should get some play, but can’t interview until Seahawks season is over.

Brian Kelly, Head Coach, Notre Dame: He would draw a tremendous amount of interest in the NFL, but I can’t see him leaving such a great spot in South Bend.

Kyle Shanahan, Offensive Coordinator, Washington Redskins: Teams need to be alarmed that he didn’t have much success in Washington until Robert Griffin III didn’t show up.

Perry Fewell, Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants: Fewell would probably have been hired as a head coach last season if the Giants had a first-round bye. That being said, his brand might not be as high this year.

 

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