Oakland Raiders: It’s official now, Raiders to Las Vegas shows disrespect to loyal fans

The Oakland Raiders will be no more as it was announced that their move to Las Vegas has met the NFL requirements and received enough votes. This is indeed a bittersweet day in the NFL. The Raiders have been synonymous with California since their birth in 1960. Now, there will be no more Silver & Black in Los Angeles or Oakland.

As great as a move this is for the city of Las Vegas it has to be considered a punch in the face to loyal Raiders fans in California. This is one team many figured would never leave. Al Davis has to be rolling over in his grave right now.

What does this mean for the Raiders, Oakland, and Las Vegas?

For the Raiders it means a fresh start. The fan base will travel but in Vegas, it won’t be the same. Vegas has residents but will they come in droves like St. Louis did for the Rams or will they be a bit cautious at first? The City of Oakland will be hit the hardest as they were just now warming up to a team that had Super Bowl dreams in 2016. They will have the Raiders for the upcoming 2016 and 2017 season but after that, they will vanish into the dry heat of Nevada.

Vegas is the clear winner where. The tourist attraction already does well and now you can add the financial windfall that is sure to come with a loyal and ready-made NFL team and fan base attached. Couple that with the new NHL team and Vegas is set for a financial boom in the next few years.

All this is due to the City not wanting to build a new stadium for either the Raiders or the Oakland A’s. The Raiders are the only NFL team that still shares a stadium with an MLB team. This is how the city replays their loyal fans. To let the Raiders just walk out the door is nonsense. Now what?

Do they lobby for another team now or just sit there and watch as countless Raiders fans drag their feet on the public street every Sunday because some cannot afford to travel the 8 hours to see their favorite team? This is not a joke.

What happens in the last two seasons when fans won’t attempt to show up in Oakland knowing they’re on borrowed time? It’s hard to get behind a team that you know will be leaving soon. The move is great for the Vegas, however, it sucks for the Raiders and their fans.

 




2017 NFL Draft Offensive First-Round Picks

Every year you will see 100 different social media “scouts” give you their impression of the upcoming NFL Draft. And with that, you will see 100 different versions of who they think will go in the 1st round. In all honesty, there are typically about 25-40 guys, depending on how good or bad the draft is, that should get 1st round grades. Since this year is stellar of a draft, I will go over the 1st round guys for defense and offense separately with this article covering the offense. So, without further ado, let’s get to the possible NFL Draft offensive 1st round picks.

Quarterbacks:

Mitchell Trubisky – North Carolina
Deshone Kizer – Notre Dame
Deshaun Watson – Clemson

Unfortunately, this year there isn’t a Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck type of player in the NFL Draft. All the above QBs have issues that can be picked apart. Trubisky is considered by most to be the best of the group, but he has only started for 1 year. Kizer is probably the most physically gifted, but the inconsistency of his accuracy shows up way too much. Watson has accomplished the most of the 3 in college, but he struggles in the pocket too much and has accuracy issues. The next ranked guys that I expect to go in rounds 2 or 3 are Patrick Mahomes, Brad Kaaya, and Davis Webb.

Running Backs:

Leonard Fournette – LSU
Dalvin Cook – Florida State
Christian McCaffrey – Stanford

All 3 of these backs bring something different to the team that drafts them. Fournette is 240 pounds and runs a 4.51 forty. He is a pounder that runs in between the tackles, but enough speed to get to the outside. Cook is smaller at 210 pounds, but he’s a better pass catcher and has more quickness in the hole. He arguably is better overall than Fournette, but some off the field issues may push him to the 2nd half of the 1st round.

McCaffrey is a WR in an RB’s body. That’s not to say he can’t get 20 touches a game and start as an RB, just means he will get 4-5 of those touches as catches out the backfield. He is probably the most versatile of the 3 as he can get 10-15 carries in the backfield, he can play in the slot as a WR, and he can handle punt return and kick return duties. The other RB that has obvious 1st round talent is Joe Mixon, but an off the field, domestic violence, issue caught on camera pushes him down to at least round 2.

Wide Receivers:

Mike Williams – Clemson
Corey Davis – Western Michigan
John Ross – Washington

Just like the RBs, all 3 of these talented WRs bring something different, but they are all extremely good at what they do. Williams is the biggest of the 3 and is great at high-pointing the ball. He has a wide throwing area and has faced the best competition. Davis may be the best overall of the 3. He is a great route runner, spectacular with the ball after the catch, and is faster than Williams. Speaking of fast, Ross broke the combine’s 40-time record by running a 4.22 forty. He is a home run hitter and probably fits better in the slot, but can play on the outside. He reminds me a lot of Brandin Cooks.

Tight Ends:

OJ Howard – Alabama
David Njoku – Miami

Howard is the most complete TE to come out in a very long time. He has the speed to get past most TEs, and the power to run over most DBs. Howard is one of the few TEs now that can catch but also is a very good blocker. He could end up going as high as 4th to the Jaguars. Njoku is more of the new-age TE. He is not the best of blockers, but his athletic ability is off the charts. He can split out wide against a Safety and beat them most of the time. Njoku will be a mismatch nightmare in the NFL.

Offensive Linemen:

Ryan Ramczyk – Wisconsin
Cam Robinson – Alabama
Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky
Garett Bolles – Utah

Ramczyk faces some good competition this year and stood up against all. In fact, he’s someone who is looked at as a day 1 starter at LT. Not a “can’t miss”, but a solid player for 10+ years. On the other hand, Robinson is someone who I think would be better on the right side. He’s a great run blocker, but is inconsistent as a pass blocker, very like Ereck Flowers. However, Lamp is the most versatile of the group. Left tackle may be a bit of a stretch but he ca play RT as well as both guard spots. In addition, Bolles is best for a zone blocking system. He as strong as the other 3, but probably is the most athletic of the group.

 

Above are 15 players that I think can, and most likely will, go in the 1st round. With as much as 25 more players to be named on the defensive side of the ball, it means 1 things, there will be a lot of top notch talent on day 2 of the draft. Consequently, this year’s NFL Draft has an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball. Nonetheless, it’s considered 1 of the deepest drafts of recent times. If you are a team that has multiple 1st or 2nd round picks, congratulations because this is the perfect year to have them. Next up, I’ll be discussing the NFL defensive 1st round picks.




San Francisco 49ers 2017 Mock Draft

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of holes to fill. A lot. John Lynch made some incremental moves to improve what was one of the most talent-bereft rosters in the NFL in free agency. However, Lynch did not get anything that would tip the 49ers’ hand for their multiple draft picks. The 49ers have ten picks in this draft. While former 49ers GM Trent Baalke’s MO would be to move around with these picks, the 49ers have so many holes I would expect most of these end up being used by the team. The 49ers have the following picks:

1.02 (second overall)
2.02 (34 overall)
3.02 (66 overall)
4.02 (109 overall)
4.37 (143 overall – compensatory pick)
5.02 (146 overall)
5.17 (161 overall – from Washington)
6.14 (198 overall – from Baltimore)
6.18 (202 overall – from Denver)
7.01 (219 overall – from Cleveland)

While I fully expect John Lynch to trade back from second overall to get more draft capital, for this exercise we will assume the 49ers keep all their picks. What will they do with them?

1.02 – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
There are four names timed to the 49ers at #2 overall: Soloman, Myles Garrett, Mitch(ell) Trubisky and Malik Hooker. In a perfect world, the Browns overdraft Trubisky at #1 overall and Garrett falls to the 49ers. More likely they take Thomas to shore up their new 4-3 front. Hooker may be superfluous at this stage, given the 49ers already have several safeties on the roster. This will make three-straight first round Pac-12 defensive linemen for the 49ers. The 49ers taking Trubisky at two is closing the door on Kirk Cousins in 2018, and I don’t think they’re ready to do that.

 

2.02 – T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
The Niners go back-to-back defensive picks, getting much-needed edge rusher help in the form of J.J. Watt’s baby brother. The 49ers need pass-rush help, and ideally, Takkarist McKinley or Tim Williams would be here, but Watt will be the only one of the three still on the board. He has great genes but is injury-prone in his time in Wisconsin. It’s a bit of a reach, but the Niners desperately need an upright edge player like Watt.  In a perfect world they trade back to the 6-8 range, pick up another pick and get Reuben Foster in the first instead, but this is where draft slots play out for the Niners.

 

3.02 – Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR/PR/KR, CB, USC
Jackson makes it the third straight drafted defensive San Francisco 49er. The Niners attacked offense in free agency, so it makes sense they fill in defensively here. Jackson is a bit small for the NFL as an outside CB but has the skills to make it in the slot. The Niners have a need there with Ward moving to safety, and Jaquiski Tartt having questionable coverage skills. The Niners also get their return man, as well.

 

4.02 – Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
A low-ceiling pocket passer, Kaaya was a three-year starter in Miami. He provides the 49ers with a potential QB of the future behind Brian Hoyer if Kirk Cousins falls through in 2018. Kaaya is a safe pocket passer who doesn’t do anything flashy and has a limited ceiling. Sound familiar? He’s basically Kirk Cousins already. Mike Shanahan turned Kirk Cousins into something, and he may see a baby-Cousins in Kaaya. The 49ers could snag him as a potential starter or an identical-styled backup to cousins.

 

4.37 – Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
The 49ers have a questionable running back depth chart, and given Carlos Hyde’s injury history, they need to shore up that position. Perine’s style is similar to Hyde’s, so he should step right in if/when Hyde goes down.

 

5.02 – Javarius Leamon, OT, South Carolina State
Leamon is very raw, but he has tons of potential. The 49ers do not have much in the way of a swing tackle, but Leamon could fit the bill. The 49ers could bring in Leamon to build him up to be the heir to Joe Staley at LT.

 

5.17 – Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
More edge rush help and defensive depth. The main knock on Carraway is that he may not have a love for the game. That was true for Aaron Lynch, as well, who the San Francisco 49ers were able to coach up to usability. He is defensive depth with upside. He’s athletic and speedy but is likely better suited as a pass rush OLB rather than a strong DE.

 

6.14 – Aaron Jones, RB, Texas-El Paso
Jones is a small-school athlete who helped his draft stock at the combine. He had the second-highest SPARQ score among running backs. He’s a speedy change of pace back for the 49ers. UTEP split him out wide at times, speaking to his catching skills. He’s better off going around defenders than through them. Think a low-rent Tevin Coleman.

 

6.18 – Freddie Stevenson, FB, Florida State
John Lynch made it clear the San Francisco 49ers would be making fullbacks great again. He gave Kyle Juszczyk a massive contract this free agency period, and he secures a backup here. Stevenson is the ideal backup FB because he can serve as a special teams ace or practice squad player unless the 49ers need him.

 

7.01 – Brendan Langley, DB, Lamar
Another small school athlete uncovered by his SPARQ score, the 49ers snag another defensive back with upside. He is a former wide receiver, so his ball tracking is exceptional. He’s no guarantee to make the roster, but that’s the life of a seventh-round pick. He needs some seasoning, so he could be practice squad fodder.

 

Noticeably missing from this draft is wide receivers. The San Francisco 49ers have a ton of players that Mike Shanahan and John Lynch need to sort through. They also have a massive amount of defensive backs to sort through but need a good slot guy, so Jackson makes it. They spent a bunch on offense (and are held hostage by Kirk Cousins) so they lean on defense in this draft. GM John Lynch has a lot of work to do, and this year’s draft will be huge to rebuild the 49ers’ defense. The San Francisco 49ers don’t have plans to be great anytime in the near future, so depth and upside is the name of the game, not splashiness.




NFL: Rules and changes being proposed for league meetings

I had an opportunity this week that I would never have imagined. I was a part of a conference call with the NFL. They were previewing some rules changes and other items in advance of the Owners Meetings this week in Arizona.

The conference call opened up with a quick recap of some interesting stats from the previous season. One stat that was brought up that was interesting was how we saw four new teams get into the 2016 NFL Playoffs that were not in there for a while. In fact, they were the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and the Atlanta Falcons. They also mentioned how we saw roughly 700 yards per game and the average points were 25.4 points per game. Then they started getting into some rule changes that are being proposed at the league meetings in Arizona.

Eliminating the jumper, on field goals, was on of the first proposals. Consequently, the reasoning for removing this from the game is to reduce the potential injuries that could come from players jumping. The NCAA is also pushing this rule. However, the pace of play was the major discussion on the day.

One thing that they want to do is have the refs make the announcement on an instant replay during a TV timeout. It used to be that they would wait until they came back from a television timeout to make the announcement if this gets passed, they won’t do that anymore. Regardless, if they do this, I am hopeful that whoever is calling the game that they are able to bring the TV viewer back into the action.

Several issues were worth discussing during the conference call. However, the one thing I found interesting was that they want to limit overtime games to only ten minutes, instead of fifteen minutes. The league does not expect more ties based on this change. Last year we saw two overtime ties, which ties the record for the most in an NFL season since 1997. Lastly, the Seahawks and Bills proposed that teams are granted more challenges.

It will be interesting to see which of these proposals receive approval at the league meetings.

What changes would you like for the 2017 season? Comment below.




Detroit Lions Will They Find Defensive Playmakers In The NFL Draft?

The Detroit Lions need to get over the hump. And may use another team’s model of drafting players to get there.

While the NFC North team is one on the rise, the fact this organization cannot get past the Green Bay Packers and become the dominant team in the division must weigh heavy on both management and the players.

Detroit has eight draft picks this year. As a result, they could lean heavily toward defense. More importantly, they need to fill needs and depth in all three areas of defense. That is, defensive line, linebacker, and secondary. And adding more picks is not out of the question.

According to prideofdetroit.com, during that 2000 NFL Draft, a young Bob Quinn was fresh out of the University of Connecticut and a lowly player personnel assistant; the bottom of the scouting food chain. Through the course of his tenure with the Patriots, Quinn rose up through the ranks and eventually became the Director of Pro Scouting in 2012. After spending over 15 years as a scout in some capacity, Quinn became the Detroit Lions GM just over a year ago, and the return on that investment for the Lions has been fruitful in terms of talent acquisition, both through free agency and, more importantly, the draft.

Will his experience with the Patriots lead him to trade back in the first round? Hence, adding more picks for an organization that has holes to fill. Consequently, will those moves, much like the ones that Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick makes, help the Lions get past their divisional nemesis?

And more importantly, how will this team improve its defense?

Detroit lacked playmaking on defense last season, generating only 14 turnovers and finishing with the fourth fewest turnovers among all teams in 2016. Of the five teams that finished with a double-digit turnover differential in 2016, four of those teams made the playoffs, two of them went to the Super Bowl and the New England Patriots—with a +12 differential—finished the season as champions.

The Detroit Lions have eight picks this year and it’s a good bet the majority will be focused on the defensive size of the ball. There are holes on offense where quarterback Matthew Stafford could use another wide receiver to play with and depth on the offensive line. But looking at the roster right now, Detroit needs at least one addition to at every unit on the other side of the ball.

Here’s a quick look at how I see the Detroit Lions first three rounds breaking down in April.

First round: No. 21 overall – Haasan Reddick, Linebacker, Temple

Reddick would be an instant starter inside. He has good size at 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds. He is quick, running the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds.

For a team void of playmakers in defense, this makes sense. The Lions currently have just three linebackers – Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow and Antwione Williams – with any real NFL game experience. They need to continue to add to the position this offseason.

If he is there, the Detroit Lions could make this move.

Second round: No. 53 overall – TreDavious White, Cornerback, LSU

He isn’t the ideal height at 5-foot-11 and 192-pounds, but White would make the secondary better in a hurry.

He was a first-team Walter Camp All-American. Likewise, White was an All-SEC selection last year (34 tackles, two INT, team-high 14 passes broken up). In a division that sees the Packers use multiple wide receiver sets and a Vikings team that will throw more this season, the pick may be the key to a better defense.

Third round: No. 85 overall – Jarron Jones, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame

Jones recorded 45 tackles in 2016. This included 11 for a loss, two sacks, three passes batted and one forced fumble. Regardless, Jones was more active for Notre Dame than the numbers illustrate. Further, he is a disruptive defender who makes plays in the backfield in the ground game. By the same token, he puts heat on the quarterback

Jarron Jones takes up space and could be a plug and play type of guy on the Detroit Lions defense.




2017 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings Seven Round Mock

It’s NFL Draft season, and everyone will have their opinions on what a team should or should not do for the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. I am going to take a look at the Minnesota Vikings, and give my opinion on who they should take in this draft.

Round 2 – Dan Feeney G, Indiana

Feeney would be a dream pick for the Minnesota Vikings in Round 2. They landed their starters at both tackle positions in free agency. Right guard is the last major weakness they have on the offensive line. He is a pro-ready prospect who the Vikings will start from day one, and hopefully many, many more Sundays after that.

Round 3  – Desmond King S, Iowa

The Vikings have yet to find a suitable and reliable counterpart to Harrison Smith.  That could all change here.  While things would have to fall into place for King to slide to round 3, it is possible.  He is a fluid moving safety who can cover like paint, and also come up and lay a big hit in run support.  He’d do well in a Mike Zimmer defense.

Round 3 (from Dolphins) – Montravius Adams DT, Auburn

The Minnesota Vikings were brutal against the run a season ago, and they have yet to address this position in free agency. Adams had an up and down Senior Bowl depending on who you ask.  Still, he’s a SEC battle tested big man, who can create interior pressure and help slow down opponents’ running attacks.

Round 4  – Ethan Pocic C, LSU

Pocic is a guy who is all over the experts’ draft boards.  He is tough as nails player who can also kick over and play guard if needed.  He is too good a value to pass up in round 4 and could battle Nick Easton for the starting center job as a rookie.

Round 4 (from Dolphins) – Kareem Hunt RB, Toledo

I waited until the second pick in round four, and still landed one of the sleeper running backs in this draft. Hunt showed up at the Combine eight pounds heavier than his playing weight at Toledo. He also ran a disappointing 40 time at 4.62.  To me, it’s more important that he’s got the tape that showcases his burst and also soft hands out of the backfield.  He could end up being a hidden gem here.

Round 5 – Taywan Taylor WR, Western Kentucky

The Minnesota Vikings wanted Alshon Jeffrey but lost out, so they want to add a WR to the mix.  Taylor is a compact 5’11, who runs smooth routes and has a sure pair of mitts on him.  He could end up going higher than this, so there was value here in the 5th round.

Round 6 – Dan Skipper OT, Arkansas

The Vikings would be wise to bring in at least one offensive tackle via the Draft.  They did sign Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, but the depth chart is still paper thin.  Skipper is a huge man who towers damn near the 7-foot mark.  His footwork could stand to improve, but hopefully, the Vikings have time to refine his tools before he’s forced to see any live action.

Round 7 – Ben Boulware LB, Clemson

Boulware is one of my favorite players in this Draft, because of the intensity he plays with.  He isn’t the biggest or most athletic guy out there, but he is a ball of energy and workhorse. It’s easy seeing Boulware start out as a special teams standout before working his way into the rotation.




David Njoku 2017 NFL Draft: Is He Set To Become The Next Great Miami Hurricane Tight End?

Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II, Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham. While Miami (FL) is known for producing many NFL great players. Above all, it is known as “Tight End U” for a reason. Can junior David Njoku be the next one?

Njoku, a 6’4 240-pounder from Cedar Grove, New Jersey, caught 43 passes for 698 yards. He also had eight touchdowns for the Hurricanes during the 2016 season.

Thanks to its rich history of producing Super Bowl champs such as the aforementioned Shockey and All-Pro and Pro Bowl standouts such as Franks, Winslow II, Olsen, Graham—who played basketball, before converting to tight end—and current stars such as Oakland Raiders tight end Clive Walford, Miami has been a proverbial tight end factory for almost 30 years.

Thanks to his ability to flex out as a receiver and a combination of speed and agility, David Njoku could very well be a mid-to-late first round target for teams looking for a pass-catching tight end. Teams such as the hometown Miami Dolphins, home state New York Giants could be two if the teams looking to line up his services.

Despite catching 43 passes for 698 yards, Njoku scored eight touchdowns while displaying elite athleticism. Njoku may have made the argument of establishing himself as the top tight end in this year’s draft class. Thanks to running a 4.64 in the 40 and recording an impressive 37.5 inch vertical at the recent NFL Scouting Combine.

Others such as former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Ole Miss’ Evan Ingram, and Clemson’s Jordan Legette may also have a case. Namely, Njoku has one advantage over his rivals. That is the storied reputation and tradition of Hurricane tight ends in the NFL.

Will David Njoku’s athletic skills and raw talent end up translating well to the NFL? If so, they will add his name to that elite fraternity. That is that fraternity of NFL tight ends to come from “The U”.