2013 NFC Predictions

 

The NFC will try to take the Lombardi Trophy back from the AFC this season and has some great teams that’ll battle for the right to take it back from the AFC at Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.  Here’s how the NFC will go based upon the formula’s predicted records for each team.

NFC East

1.  New York Giants

The Giants lost Ahmad Bradshaw in free agency which could lead to them relying more on the arm of Eli Manning.  The defense enters the year a little banged up but that’s nothing new for the G-men.  They’ll be well coached and should climb back to the top of the NFC East this season.

Predicted Record:  11-5

2.  Washington Redskins

RG3 will take a step back this year.  Defenses around the league catchup to players and a sophomore slump awaits the Washington QB.  His constant need for attention and the name “Redskins” could lead to some controversy in DC this year.  They’ll be a good team but playing a first place schedule will knock them down to .500 this season.

Predicted Record:  8-8

3.  Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys think they’ll have an improved defense with a change at coordinator.  They need it.  They have often been unable to make the key stop to win games the past few seasons.  The schedule is challenging for the ‘Boys and will lead to a lot of L’s in Big D.

Predicted Record:  7-9

4.  Philadelphia Eagles

The hardest team to predict because you just don’t know what exactly Chip Kelly will unleash when the regular season arrives.  You know they’ll get a lot of plays but does that put injury prone Michael Vick in danger?  The Eagles are banged up and I think are lacking the talent to compete right now.  Chip Kelly can coach and needs to get a few more players to fit his system before a playoff run in Philly.

Predicted Record:  6-10

NFC North

1.  Green Bay Packers

The Packers have injuries on the O-line and that could spell trouble for them.  They’ve got the best talent in the backfield they’ve had in a few years so they will try to take some of the load off of Aaron Rodgers.  The schedule is brutal for them though so while the Packers will be a very good team, the record won’t reflect it.

Predicted Record:  8-8

2.  Minnesota Vikings

Cordarelle Patterson could be the guy the Vikings have needed for years.  If he can be the receiving threat that opens up the field some for Adrian Peterson look out.  Peterson wants the rushing mark and he could set it if defenses have to respect a deep threat from the Vikings.  The Vikes will be in the playoff hunt but come up just short.

Predicted Record:  8-8

3.  Detroit Lions

Do the Lions get it back together this year?  They were a playoff team in 2011 and then dropped significantly last season.  They’ve got talent but can’t they find a way to perform at their peak each week.  It’ll be a struggle for them and they have another losing season.

Predicted Record:  7-9

4.  Chicago Bears

Brandon Marshall says he’s hurt and could become a big distraction for the Bears.  Marc Trestman was brought in to give the offense some life.  They need to improve the O-line so Jay Cutler can have time to throw.  It’s gonna be a tough year in Chicago.

Predicted Record:  6-10

NFC South

1.  Atlanta Falcons

Steven Jackson keeps the Falcons in the Super Bowl picture.  He will have gaping holes as defenses try to cover all of Matt Ryan’s receivers.  The key to the Falcons is the defense stepping up and being Super Bowl level.  They did that last year but can they do it again?

Predicted Record:  12-4

2.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs look ready to take a step forward and be in the playoffs this year.  As long as Josh Freeman progresses this year, the Bucs should be playoff contenders.  Darrelle Revis will bolster the defense and help them against the great QB’s in the division.

Predicted Record:  10-6

3.  Carolina Panthers

The Panthers improve upon last year but still need more playmakers to be a playoff contender.  Cam Newton will lead the team and keep them in most games.  They’ll just have trouble winning those close games again this year.

Predicted Record:  8-8

4.  New Orleans Saints

Sean Payton is back on the sideline for the Saints but do they have the defense figured out?  The Saints struggled mightily there last year and a slight improvement is expected but not enough to make them a contender.

Predicted Record:  6-10

NFC West

1.  San Francisco 49ers

The Niners picked up Anquan Boldin and that makes up for the loss of Michael Crabtree.  I think he’ll be a big addition for Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis.  Boldin’s experience will be invaluable to the young QB and take some attention away from Davis.  The defense should be stout again and they should be the top seed in the NFC.

Predicted Record:  13-3

2.  Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks made some great moves in the offseason and could be even better on defense.  Russell Wilson is back for year 2 and should so progress.  If Percy Harvin can produce, they’ll be a force.

Predicted Record:  12-4

3.  St. Louis Rams

The Rams will be need Tavon Austin to be a big threat on offense.  The loss of Steven Jackson is going to hurt them.  They could count on him for tough yards.  Now they’ll need more out of Sam Bradford who needs a receiver to count on when they need a big play.  The Rams are still a year away from challenging for the division.

Predicted Record:  7-9

4.  Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals season rests on the right arm of Carson Palmer.  He’s gotta be an upgrade at the QB season compared to what they’ve had the past few years.  They’re in a difficult division and the schedule does them no favors.  The Cardinals will be a decent team but the record isn’t gonna look good.

Predicted Record:  4-12

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2013 AFC Predictions

 

The AFC seems to lack the top teams the NFC has talent wise but should be very competitive.  The schedule sets up well for a few teams to jump up from poor 2012 seasons.  Here’s how the NFC will go based upon the formula’s predicted records for each team.

AFC East

1.  New England Patriots

If Rob Gronkowski returns from injury to his previous form, they could make a run.  Without him, it’s hard to see the Pats winning a playoff game this year.

Predicted Record:  10-6

2.  Miami Dolphins

Mike Wallace should boost the passing game a great deal.  Will they miss Reggie Bush in the backfield?  The schedule will be difficult.  This team will be improved but is a year away from the playoffs.

Predicted Record:  7-9

3.  New York Jets

The Jets are in turmoil.  Things have been disrupted since the draft when they chose Geno Smith.  Now with him floundering through the preseason and Mark Sanchez injured, Jets fans can’t be too confident heading into the season.  When Sanchez is healthy, will he be back starting or on a new team?

Predicted Record:  4-12

4.  Buffalo Bills

E.J. Manuel was having a good camp and then injury interrupted that.  Then Kevin Kolb went down for the year and possibly his career, forces an undrafted rookie into the starting role to begin the season.

Predicted Record:  3-13

AFC North

1.  Cincinnati Bengals

The Playoff experience of last season will pay benefits this year.  Andy Dalton has the most weapons he’s had while a Bengal.  The defense should be ready to make them a contender.  The Bengals climb to the top of the league’s best division.

Predicted Record:  11-5

 2.  Pittsburgh Steelers

Jarvis Jones is going to be Defensive Rookie of the Year.  He’s in the perfect situation and is going to be a force for the Steelers.  They’ll bounce back from a disappointing 2012 campaign with a good season and AFC contender.

Predicted Record:  10-6

3.  Cleveland Browns

Brandon Weeden should show significant improvement this season under Norv Turner.  The Browns have a lot of unknown talent on the roster and if Trent Richardson stays healthy they should be in the playoff hunt come December.

Predicted Record:  9-7

4.  Baltimore Ravens

The defending Super Bowl Champions have a very challenging schedule.  They’ve lost a lot of playmakers from last year’s team but as long as they have John Harbaugh coaching Ray Rice and Joe Flacco this team will be tough to beat.  They will be up and down and miss the playoffs in 2013.

Predicted Record:  8-8

AFC South

1.  Houston Texans

Texans have a load of talent.  With Ed Reed joining an already good defense that welcomes back Brian Cushing, this team could steamroll the division and most of their schedule.  This is the year the Texans take a big step forward.

Predicted Record:  14-2

2.  Tennessee Titans

The Titans will be a team that stays in most games but will struggle to win them at the end.  They need more playmakers on both sides of the ball.  They’ll need to wait at least one more season to think about the playoffs.

Predicted Record:  6-10

3.  Indianapolis Colts

The Colts last year rode Bruce Arians’ creativity and the momentum of playing Chuck Strong.  All of that is gone this season plus they’ll play a much more difficult schedule.  Andrew Luck will make them very tough to beat but the defense is still transitioning and it’ll be a long season in Indy.

Predicted Record:  6-10

4.  Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars need better QB play.  Blaine Gabbert starts the year injured but seems like he’ll play Sunday.  The Jaguars have to develop a passing game to help MJD out of the backfield.  Start prepping for the draft Jags.

Predicted Record:  4-12

AFC West

1.  Denver Broncos

Wes Welker was a huge pickup for them.  He’ll fit perfectly with Peyton Manning.  The Von Miller suspense is worrisome and can hurt them to start the year.  They should be the best in this division.  The question is can they win a playoff game this year?  The defense will need to improve to do so.

Predicted Record:  11-5

2.  Kansas City Chiefs

A lot is new in Kansas City.  They return six Pro Bowlers and bring in Andy Reid to coach them along with Alex Smith to QB.  This is a team with a defense that’ll be much improved.  They’ve got playmakers at every level and with playing a last place schedule should see a big turnaround.

Predicted Record:  10-6

3.  San Diego Chargers

The Norv Turner era is over.  Enter Mike McCoy from Denver to take over.  The roster has been trending downward in talent.  I think this is a transition year and the Chargers struggle.

Predicted Record:  6-10

4.  Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have a new coach and new QB.  They’re a team that needs consistency.  The turnover in Oakland the past decade has led to chaos and a lot of losses.  This will be a typical season in Oakland.  They’ll pull off a big upset win in the midst of a bunch of losses.

Predicted Record:  4-12

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Ranking the NFL Divisions in 2013

 

by Derek Franks

The 2013 NFL season is coming up and it’s time to explore which division will be the best this season and have the most competition within the division.

8. AFC East

With Buffalo and the New York Jets in turmoil (in more ways than one), it leaves New England, who has had, to say the least, a rocky offseason and a Miami Dolphins team that looks to be improved to try and balance out what is by far the worst division in the league. While our projected records favored the AFC south as the underbelly, this division bolsters little in creating an exciting division race or clean organization within front offices or player personal making it the worst division in the NFL.

7. AFC West

When the team that selected first in the NFL draft will likely finish second in the division, it’s probably likely that the division is weak. Because this division is weak, that very Kansas City Chiefs team, who won only 2 games last season, has a shot at making the playoffs. The Denver Broncos are clearly the favorite, and our projected records like them at 11-5. I like them to possibly win the AFC. But those two teams are not enough to distract us from the two least interesting groups in the league:  San Diego and Oakland, who give us absolutely nothing to pay attention to.

6. AFC South

There’s a reason Houston might go 14-2 this year. They play in the weakest division, where they will likely go undefeated. Jacksonville is dreadful; Tennessee is stuck in purgatory. Indianapolis carries interesting storylines because of its talented second year quarterback Andrew Luck. All things considered, this division doesn’t move the needle much outside of Houston.

5. NFC South

This is the most overrated division in football. That is not to call the breadwinners of the group, the Atlanta Falcons, overrated. They are the real deal and could be headed back to the NFC championship this season. They will likely be one of the most exciting teams in the league this year, and for good reason. Give us “Matty Ice” Matt Ryan over almost any other quarterback in the league. Pair it with an assembly of talented receivers and an improved defense, the dirty birds might be “Super” this year. But after Atlanta, thinks get murky. For starters, let’s all stop drooling over the Saints. Yeah sure they have Sean Payton back. Ok, they have Drew Breeze. Maybe their offense will be solid this season. But when you’re defense is so bad that a YMCA league of 4th graders could score on it— and do so repeatedly— it doesn’t mean you’re going to win games. Our formula has them in last. Sorry NOLA, but I agree.

Carolina! Now that’s an interesting group right? Except they aren’t. Alls I hear about the Panthers is that “they’re better than their record last year indicated.” I don’t know exactly how you support such a prediction, but our formula likes them at 8-8 this year. So they improve by one game. I still have little faith in Cam Newton, I have no idea who their coaching staff consists of, they’re in the middle of a transition in the front office and the defense is, well, so-so. I like Tampa Bay better. The Bucs were on a good track for a short time last year; overall it’s a team that could make the division battle interesting and could push for the playoffs.  I’ll take them second in a division that clearly belongs to Atlanta.

4. AFC North

The AFC North is certainly interesting. While Super Bowl champion Baltimore will still make some noise—they better after that contract they just signed Joe Flacco to— I think it’s Cincinnati’s year. Quarterback Andy Dalton has proven he can keep up with the big boys, especially with those tough defenses that call the division home. He certainly has the weapons. The Bengal faithful have kept their allegiance in Marvin Lewis and it will pay off in a playoff victory this year. Our crystal ball says 10-6 (I might even be a little nicer than that). The Steelers appear to be playoff ready as well. Even Cleveland won’t be too shabby this year. I believe Browns’ quarterback Brandon Weeden will be this year’s most improved quarterback, so keep your eyes peeled. You’ll be hearing a lot about the AFC North this year.

3. NFC East

This division is always one of the most interesting, simply because it usually comes down to the wire— literally. The last three seasons have come down to the final game. And picking a division winner for this one is usually hard to do. Our formula likes the Giants at 12-4 which means that Eli Manning and company are going to overcome some issues with depth and losses on the defensive side. The formula is harder on Dallas than I would have been. I believe they will be right there contending. Heck, even Philadelphia is interesting for shear fact that Chip Kelly might bring something to the table offensively, despite the loss of some instrumental players to injury. As for Washington, they have Robert Griffin III. Enough said. With that, this division will certainly entertain and, as history has told, will be neck and neck meaning every divisional game will matter.

2. NFC West

Both the Formula and my personal crystal ball have San Francisco finishing on top this year. I like them winning it all. But don’t sleep on Seattle. We saw last year how good they can be. And as long as the two teams’ exceptional young quarterbacks don’t suffer a sophomore slump, look for them to be dueling it out for playoff positions and perhaps even play for an NFC championship. With a Jeff Fisher-guided St. Louis, which played both teams tough last year, also in this division, the West has a lot going for it, even with bottom dwelling Arizona leaching on.

1. NFC North

It’s true, this division is so good that all four teams in it may beat each other up, forcing some 8-8 records across the board. The formulator sees it that way. But that does not at all mean that this isn’t the best division in football. Aaron Rogers and the Packers will certainly excite. They play one of the most grueling schedules that I think I’ve ever seen, which is really what I think separates a 13-3 team from the 8-8 record that the formula predicts. They are that good and the schedule really is that hard. In fact, if the Pack make it to the playoffs somehow, they’ll be the most prepared of any team they face. But we must not forget the other three foes. After all, Detroit is much improved this season. Chicago to me will always be that team that flops just when things are looking up. But that comes with having Jay Cutler at quarterback. It’s in his blood. But that doesn’t mean they won’t finally change their ways this year. Even Minnesota made the playoffs last year. If you can make the playoffs with Christian Ponder as your starting quarterback, well then you can almost make anything happen. We won’t forget that Adrian Peterson was the real reason, but whether or not he can repeat last year’s performance remains to be seen. Either way, this is the most fascinating division in football and, in my book, the most talented, even if the records at the end of the year don’t suggest that it is.

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Hernandez should be forgotten: Why the Media should back off

 

By Derek Franks

A bad guy killed a bad guy today. Somewhere, not too far from you, some gang member, criminal or drug mastermind killed another gang member, criminal or drug mastermind. It happens. On a daily basis. And, fortunately for us, usually innocent civilians aren’t caught in the crossfire. It’s just one bad seed eliminating another from the face of the earth. And sooner or later, that bad seed—either by another criminal or by the law—will also be eliminated from society.

It sounds like one of your favorite mob movies, but really it’s just the universe delivering a rare helping of justice to the darkest underbelly of society, then allowing its operations to continue much to the rest of the world’s misfortune.

That above sentence is exactly what happened with former New England Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez. The recently jailed NFL star is suspected of (and likely will be convicted of) killing a man named Odin Lloyd, then very sloppily dropping his body at a park—or killing him at the park, one or the other— near his house and then leaving a trail of evidence and suspicious behavior behind him like a dog who walked around in the mud then tracked it through the house.

Fittingly, I imagine that Hernandez will be in the doghouse before too long.

So why are we talking about this guy? Why am I talking about this guy? Why should anyone give this story a second of attention, even though all evidence suggests that it doesn’t deserve it? Hernandez doesn’t deserve it. The criminals he associates with don’t deserve it. The man he allegedly killed honestly might not even deserve it either.

The resounding argument of course is that Hernandez is a star athlete in the most popular league in the world. And so, it is a fascinating situation that the media must now obsess over because he, after all, is a prominent figure in society seemingly committing a truly awful act. He also was supposed to be a key component in the New England offense this coming season, an ultra-talented weapon for future hall-of-fame quarterback, Tom Brady. He was even engaged to be married and has a daughter with his bride to be.

Yes, there is no shortage of fascinating storylines from this situation. Of course that makes it a media magnet for all the reporters and news stations and twitter feeds to fixate upon. But make no mistake, it’s time for this fixation to stop. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I argue that the media needs to cut off its on-going stream of “news” dedicated to Hernandez.

Just like the scenarios that opened this commentary, it is likely the case of Aaron Hernandez is nothing more than a thug killing another thug. Lloyd’s personality and past behavior remain in question, sure. We don’t know as much about him as we’d like to. But we do know that he was a drug dealer and that he hung out with a bad crowd. The kind of crowd that, if you do something wrong, you might wind up dead.

What is known about Hernandez is substantially more. He grew up in hardship. His family was poor, working class; his father passed when he was 16. He was a remarkably talented football player; even in high school he garnered a lot of attention before making his way to the University of Florida.

Once in college, Hernandez left a life of hardships for a life of trouble. That trouble was never far from him, never allowing him to escape, no matter how much he excelled on the football field. Many recall a night out at a prominent Florida bar where he became angered with the establishment’s manager for charging him for two drinks he believe he hadn’t ordered. The then Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, stepped in to pay for the drinks to solve the issue, but Hernandez wasn’t satisfied and instead settled it his own way by punching the manager repeatedly in the face, causing him to suffer a blown out ear drum.

Many teammates attested to the fact that Hernandez livelihood and “friends” were not something that they wanted to be remotely associated with, something almost unheard of in the universe of football players who typically pride themselves on calling their teammates family. After college, when he was gearing up for the NFL, the preliminary psychological tests players take for the league showed that he was “Living on the edge of acceptable behavior” and cautioned that his behavior and personality could “become a problem.” Additionally, he registered the lowest possible score on the league’s maturity test, a “1 out of 10.”

We now know Hernandez acquaintances are no upstanding citizens. It is suggested that he is a member of gangs and was involved in drugs in one way or another. Furthermore, he appears to be connected to several other murders, in one way or another, making it possible that this “NFL superstar”—a title that is supposedly one of the more coveted in the world— has been living an alternate life of serious crime.

What connected the two, alleged killer and victim, was the unlikely “romance” that had occurred: Lloyd’s girlfriend was, in fact, the sister of Hernandez’s future bride and mother of his child. But what separated them was obviously the success of Hernandez’s career, which had eluded Lloyd, a talented football player too, who never made it to college. And yet, they ended up on a strikingly similar path to self-destruction.

Regardless of the actual criminal pasts of either Hernandez or Lloyd, or to what extreme those crimes occurred, or the extent to which the two were actually acquainted, one thing is for sure, they offered little to the benefit of society and did much to objectify it. Hernandez made millions, living the life as one of the most well known NFL players. Lloyd was in poverty and trying to make it in a semi-pro football league. But both had involved themselves in an unbreakable cycle of wrongdoing.

In the end, neither should be glorified. Unfortunately, there was probably some hope that Lloyd might have some day changed his ways. We may never know how far off the path he was. As for Hernandez, what we appear to have in our midst is a spider; one who, behind the scenes of a magnificent show of football charade, spun a web of lies, deceit, poor character and criminal behavior that ultimately led to the death of another. He doesn’t deserve the press, regardless of how fascinating this story is.

It’s time for us to stop obsessing, stop debating, and stop keeping cameras outside his home or fixated on endless searches for evidence. It’s time to quit giving Hernandez this attention that he doesn’t deserve. Let him go, America. Let him disappear into the depths of a life behind bars.

The way I see it, this case is nothing more than one criminal killing another. And that’s a good enough reason for me to forget the whole ordeal and just move on. The rest of us should do the same.

 

2013 NFL 2nd Round Mock Draft

 

So we’re 32 picks in and have nearly twice that many tonight (Browns and Saints do not have second round picks). 

33.  Jacksonville Jaguars – Geno Smith (QB – West Virginia)

34.  San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City Chiefs) – Robert Woods (WR – USC)

35.  Philadelphia Eagles – Jonathan Cyprien (S – Florida International)

36.  Detroit Lions – Menelik Watson (OT – Florida State)

37.  Cincinnati Bengals – Kevin Minter (LB – LSU)

38.  Arizona Cardinals – Zach Ertz (TE – Stanford)

39.  New York Jets – Ryan Nassib (QB – Syracuse)

40.  Tennessee Titans – Justin Hunter (WR – Tennessee)

41.  Buffalo Bills – Manti Te’o (LB – Notre Dame)

42.  Oakland Raiders (from Miami Dolphins) – Tank Carradine (DE – Florida State)

43.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – John Jenkins (DT – Georgia)

44.  Carolina Panthers – Keenan Allen (WR – California)

45.  San Diego Chargers – Terron Armstead (OT – Arkansas-Pine Bluff)

46.  Buffalo Bills (from St. Louis) – Damontre Moore (DE – Texas A&M)

47.  Dallas Cowboys – Kawaan Short (DT – Purdue)

48.  Pittsburgh Steelers – D.J. Swearinger (S – South Carolina)

49.  New York Giants – Arthur Brown (LB – Kansas State)

50.  Chicago Bears – Johnathan Hankins (DT – Ohio State)

51.  Washington Redskins – Jamar Taylor (CB – Boise State)

52.  New England Patriots (from Minnesota Vikings) – Margus Hunt (DE – SMU)

53.  Cincinnati Bengals – Eddie Lacy (RB – Alabama)

54.  Miami Dolphins (from Indianapolis Colts) – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB – Connecticut)

55.  Green Bay Packers – Montee Ball (RB – Wisconsin)

56.  Seattle Seahawks – Sio Moore (LB – Connecticut)

57.  Houston Texans – Shamarko Thomas (S – Syracuse)

58.  Denver Broncos – Matt Barkley (QB – USC)

59.  New England Patriots – Aaron Dobson (WR – Marshall)

60.  Atlanta Falcons – Jesse Williams (DT – Alabama)

61.  San Francisco 49ers – Quinton Patton (WR – Louisiana Tech)

62.  Baltimore Ravens – Khaseem Greene (LB – Rutgers)

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Matt’s Mind – NFL Draft Round 1 Review

 

NFL Round 1 is in the books and it’s time to review and see who did great and who took some big risks that better pay off or there will be coaches and GM’s on the hot seat.  I’ll start here with my general thoughts on the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

-Sharriff Floyd was considered by many the top defensive lineman in the draft but he fell all the way to 23 and lands in Minnesota.  Jared Allen has to love the pick and Floyd will hopefully draw some attention away from him.

-The Steelers got a steal with Jarvis Jones at 17.  He’s the perfect fit for their scheme and the loss of James Harrison is rendered insignificant now.

-I was blown away with E.J. Manuel at 16.  As I stated yesterday, I had him as the fifth best QB prospect in this year’s draft and didn’t expect him to go in round 1 at all.  The Bills had everyone fooled as they made a move down in the draft and then snatched Manuel up.  He’s got the arm you want in a NFL QB but his play was inconsistent at Florida State.  This was the biggest gamble in round 1.

-Tyler Eifert going at 21 could be the biggest steal of the draft.  I think he’s the best receiving target in this draft.  Andy Dalton should have a big year and you know A.J. Green will like having someone else out there to distract the defense.

-If Tavon Austin becomes the player many people feel he will, St. Louis could have a great draft.  I think they did a great job of grabbing Alec Ogletree out of Georgia at pick 30.  He should be an impact player for them from day 1.

-The 49ers moving up to get Eric Reid really was a great move.  He should help replace Dashon Goldson right away.  Secondary players out of LSU recently have been impact players right away and he should be no different.

-I’m not surprised Manti Te’o and Geno Smith are still awaiting selection.  Te’o didn’t have great workouts and was dominated in the BCS Championship against Alabama.  You add the fake girlfriend scandal into the mix and teams had a lot of question marks.  Plus his position simply isn’t one that is selected often in the first round.  Alec Ogletree was the only ILB taken and he went at 30.  Te’o will get drafted today though.   For Geno Smith, it has to have been a long night for him.  Some had him as high as pick 6 for Cleveland.  I don’t think he’ll last long today though.  I could see Jacksonville considering him atop round 2.  If he slides by the Jags, I don’t see him .  I think this was a weak QB class but also if you look at how many QB’s have been taken in the early rounds the past few years, there aren’t a lot of teams needing to take a QB very high.  I think Smith is a question mark in the NFL with the scheme he comes from which some NFL teams might have been considering as well.

Look out for a second round mock draft later today!

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2013 NFL Mock Draft – 1st Round (Final Edition on April 25)

 

We’re finally down to just hours before the 2013 NFL Draft begins and 32 men are elevated to the professional level of football.  Suspense has developed as it’s rumored the Chiefs could surprise with the #1 pick.  I don’t see it.  Tonight should have guys in the trenches flying off the board early and often.  The skill positions just aren’t loaded with impact players this year.  I do think this is a class that has a few potential perennial Pro Bowlers.  This is the final 2013 NFL Mock Draft so let’s hope it’s right!

1.  Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel (OT – Texas A&M)

While some are speculating it’ll be Eric Fisher, I think Joeckel is a more proven talent having played SEC talent week last year and is ready.

2.  Jacksonville Jaguars – Eric Fisher (OT – Central Michigan)

I think the Jags would love to trade down here and pick up additional picks.  They have so many holes on their roster.  Fisher is a great prospect though and with the struggles they’ve had at QB, solidifying the blindside should help some.

3.  Oakland Raiders – Sharriff Floyd (DT – Florida)

The Raiders’ phone line will be burning up if Joeckel and Fisher are the first two picks.  Several team are wanting a tackle and know Lane Johnson has a good shot of leaving their board at pick 4.  If the Raiders keep the pick they’ll address their aging defensive line.

4.  Philadelphia Eagles – Lane Johnson (OT – Oklahoma)

Chip Kelly needs a mobile lineman and Johnson should transition well to his scheme.

5.  Detroit Lions – Ziggy Ansah (DE – BYU)

This is where the draft will start to really get interesting.  The Lions have a few different ways they could go.  They could try to solidify the offensive line if a tackle falls to them here or even grab one of the elite guard prospects.  They’re probably headed to the D-line but passing up Dee Milliner will be difficult.

6.  Cleveland Browns – Dee Milliner (CB – Alabama)

Numerous needs make this a tough pick to determine.  I think they’ll go with the best player available.

7.  Arizona Cardinals – Dion Jordan (OLB – Oregon)

The Cardinals look to beef up their pass rush to have someone to chase down the young QB’s in their division Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Sam Bradford.

8.  Buffalo Bills – Chance Warmack (OG – Alabama)

The big question here is does Doug Marrone take his QB from Syracuse, Ryan Nassib.  Nassib is a good prospect but grabbing him this high is a big gamble for a first year coach.  I think the Bills are spending all day trying to find a trade partner to move down.  If they hold the pick I think they take the best prospect in the draft.

9.  New York Jets – Tyler Eifert (TE – Notre Dame)

The Jets make a bit of a surprise here and grab the best pass catcher in the draft.  Mark Sanchez will have to feel better knowing he’ll have this big target available.

10.  Tennessee Titans – Star Lotulelei

The Titans need help on the D-line and grab a guy who was once considered to be in contention for the top spot.  Health concerns dropped him but he could be a solid player for years in Tennessee.

11.  San Diego Chargers – D.J. Fluker (OT – Alabama)

The run on tackles early in the draft move Fluker up the board quickly.  He’s a mountain that should be able to keep defenders off of Phillip Rivers.

12.  Miami Dolphins – Jonathan Cooper (OG – North Carolina)

If it hasn’t gone down by the time the 12 pick happens, expect the Dolphins to pick up the phone and seal the deal on trading for the Chiefs’ Branden Albert.  They Dolphins would love to see Tyler Eifert here and could be a prime target to move out of this spot as well for a team looking to move up and grab a pass rusher.  If they Dolphins stand pat, they grab a great pass protecting OG and their offensive line is looking solid for the upcoming season.

13.  New York Jets (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Barkevious Mingo (DE – LSU)

They could grab him at 9 but I think knowing there’s not a huge risk in him being selected 10-12, they let him go and grab Eifert at 9 knowing the Dolphins could snap him up at 12.

14.  Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson (DT – Missouri)

He fits with what they’re looking to do in Carolina.  I wouldn’t be surprised here though if they went with Tavon Austin.

15.  New Orleans Saints – Jarvis Jones (OLB – Georgia)

I think it’s going to be really difficult for Sean Payton to pass up Tavon Austin here but he’ll focus on upgrading a horrendous defense by getting an outstanding pass rusher.

16.  St. Louis Rams – Tavon Austin (WR – West Virginia)

The Rams hope adding Austin can return them to being the “Greatest Show on Turf”.

17.  Pittsburgh Steelers – Alex Ogletree (ILB – Georgia)

I think he’ll be a perfect fit with the Steelers and make an impact right away for them.

18.  Dallas Cowboys – Sylvester Williams (DT – North Carolina)

The ‘Boys need an offensive lineman but I can’t see them reaching again to take one here.  They take a guy who could challenge for a starting spot as they transition to a 4-3 defense.

19.  New York Giants – Bjoern Werner (DE – Florida State)

The Giants could look at the secondary here but I think there will be a glut of players available there for them in round 2.  I think they’ll look at Werner to replace the loss of Osi Umenyora this offseason.

20.  Chicago Bears – Manti Te’o (LB – Notre Dame)

Seems the Bears are looking for a leader and tackling machine.  I have a lot of doubts about Te’o in the NFL but the Bears look like they’re willing to take the chance.

21.  Cincinnati Bengals – Kevin Minter (LB – LSU)

Minter will start day 1 in Cincinnati and could become a big-time playmaker for them.

22.  St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) – Kenny Vaccaro (S – Texas)

Rumors have the Rams wanting to trade back from this spot but it might be tough to do unless a team wants to jump up and grab a QB here.  I think Jeff Fisher grabs a safety to anchor his secondary.

23.  Minnesota Vikings – Robert Woods (WR – USC)

Minnesota needs a LB but seeing two go off the board right in front of them might have them look at a receiver here or defensive lineman.  There’s a bunch of receivers all who could go here.  I think Woods is the choice for his route running.

24.  Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Hayden (CB – Houston)

The Colts made the playoffs but need help in a lot of places.  I think they may look at taking the best player available here.  Secondary help will certainly be useful as they try to make it back to the playoffs.

25.  Minnesota Vikings  (from Seattle Seahawks) – Desmond Trufant (CB – Washington)

Playing Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler each twice a season means you can never have too many good cover guys.  They grab one here.

26.  Green Bay Packers – Eddie Lacy (RB – Alabama)

The Packers might finally have a back.  If Lacy falls to them here it’d be a steal and he could be looking at a huge season.  With Aaron Rodgers being able to drop back and shred defenses, it should give Lacy big holes to run through as a rookie.

27.  Houston Texans – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR – Tennessee)

The Texans will jump at the chance to land this playmaker.  While he’s raw, he can learn from Andre Johnson and could have superstar potential.

28.  Denver Broncos – Tank Carradine (DE – Florida State)

The Broncos need to improve the pass rush after the Elvis Dumervil fiasco.  I think the take a chance on Carradine here.  If he’s healthy by week 1 he can start and make an impact.

29.  New England Patriots – Xavier Rhodes (CB – Florida State)

Rhodes is a guy who could be the best cover guy in the draft but there are some concerns about him.  Bill Bellicheck will take the risk like he did with Aqib Talib.

30.  Atlanta Falcons – Datone Jones (DE – UCLA)

They need to replace John Abraham on the defensive line and grab a guy who’s worked his way into the first round.

31.  San Francisco 49ers – Matt Elam (S – Florida)

The loss of Dashon Goldson makes safety a priority for the defending NFC Champs.  They debate Elam or Eric Reid.  I think Elam fits them a little bit better.

32.  Baltimore Ravens – Eric Reid (S – LSU)

The lost Ed Reed this offseason and will replace him in round 1 with a great safety out of LSU.

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Matt’s Mind – 2013 NFL Draft Prospects

 

The NFL Draft is tonight so I’m going to shake some draft rooms to their core as I reveal my thoughts on several of tonight’s draft prospects.

TOP 5 OVERALL PROSPECTS

These are guys I expect to make an impact from week 1 of 2013 through the rest of their career.  It’s a draft without much star potential.  I think there are a few players with Hall of Fame of potential but most will just be solid with potential for a couple of Pro Bowls.  Here’s the who and why of my top 5 prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft.

1.  Chance Warmack (OG – Alabama) – I think he’s the closest thing to a sure thing in this draft.  He was a dominant lineman at Alabama routinely facing NFL caliber defensive linemen.  I think he’s the safest pick at the draft but he’s at probably the least sexy position in the NFL.  The team that takes him will get a starter week 1.

2.  Jarvis Jones (OLB – Georgia) – I understand the injury concerns people have with him but he is a force.  This guy wrecked havoc in SEC backfields during his career in Athens.  I think he’s going to translate very well in the NFL and see him getting double digit sacks as a rookie.  If you need a pass rusher you take Jarvis Jones.

3.  Luke Joeckel (OT – Texas A&M) – He really benefitted from Texas A&M moving from the Big XII to the SEC.  He showed how he’d matchup against elite defensive players that you see each week in the SEC.

4.  Tyler Eifert (TE – Notre Dame) – He was a matchup nightmare at Notre Dame.  He’s a huge target that has some speed that make him so difficult to defend.  I think he can be a huge asset over the middle for an NFL offense.  I think he’s the best pass catching prospect in this draft.

5.  Dee Milliner (CB – Alabama) – News of injuries and surgeries are overstated.  This guy can cover and with his size he’s tremendous to matchup against the big receivers in the NFL.  If you need help in the secondary go get Dee.

TOP 5 QB PROSPECTS

The QB crop this year isn’t even close to last year’s.  The group this year has one guy I can see being a solid pro and another I like but have some concerns.  The rest are guys I see as risky and not worth a high pick.  Here’s my Top 5 QB prospects:

1.  Matt Barkley (USC) – Barkley didn’t look great this season as USC didn’t come close to the huge preseason expectations.  He was banged up throughout the season and ended his career at Southern Cal on the injured list.  He seems to be recovering well which bodes well for him.  I think several teams doubt him but I wonder if it’s because of prior USC QB’s.  With the disappointment of Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart in the NFL, I think it could be overshadowing Barkley.  Barkley’s line last season was the worst of his USC career and with any QB, if his line isn’t great he tends to underperform.  I think Barkley is worthy of a first round pick but towards the end of the round due to the injury concern.  A team who could sit him for a year or two would be the perfect fit for Barkley.

2.  Ryan Nassib (Syracuse) – This guy did a great job elevating his team while with the Orange.  He’s a heck of a competitor and I think can be an NFL starter.  He’s got a good arm and can move around.  He comes from a system that has him prepared to play in his first season.  I don’t think he’s a first rounder though.  If I need a QB and he’s there where I’m picking in round 2 I’d seriously consider pulling the trigger.

3.  Tyler Wilson (Arkansas) – He would be a first rounder if not for the Bobby Petrino mess.  He suffered from the debacle that followed the Petrino scandal and it’s hurt his draft stock significantly.  Wilson has the size and arm you want in a NFL QB.  He faced great defenses in the SEC so his transition from a competition stand point won’t be as significant as others.  He’s worth the risk in the third round and I might think about him in the second also.

4.  Geno Smith (West Virginia) – Geno Smith is accurate but I really question his ability to transition to the NFL.  He’s used to throwing in a spread offense from the shotgun which limits the teams he would work with well in the NFL.  He can move and throw on the run but didn’t face elite defenses very often at West Virginia.  I have  a lot of doubts about Smith.  The weak crop of QB’s this year really is elevating him but I don’t see him above a third round pick in last year’s draft.

5.  E.J. Manuel (Florida State) – Great size and arm.  Similar to Smith I think he’s got to go to the right team because of the college system he comes from.  I think he’s a guy you draft in round 3 or 4 and plan to sit for a few seasons.  He’s got potential but will need to adjust to the NFL game.

Top 5 Riskiest NFL Prospects in 2013

1.  Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) – A very intriguing prospect.  Great size and speed but only one year at Tennessee.  He’s raw and got by on his physical skills quite a bit last year. He’s going to have to improve route running in the NFL but if he does he could be a homerun threat for the team getting him.  I think he’s truly a boom or bust prospect.

2.  Geno Smith (West Virginia) – Many have him a first round pick and I see his risk being too high to take early in the draft.  Like I outlined above I think his transition will be difficult and make him a significant risk.

3.  Tavon Austin (West Virginia) – Buzz has him possibly going in the top 10 now which I think is a stretch.  He’s a slot receiver with great speed but at only 175 pounds he could get bumped around at the line in the NFL.  I think he’s a first round talent but if he’s a top 10 pick a team is taking a big risk.

4.  Barkevious Mingo (LSU) – He’s a freak athlete.  Tremendous combo of power and speed.  He was up and down during his career at LSU.  I think he’s got to go to a coach who clearly knows how he’ll fit in a scheme.  He needs to have a position already determined and then he can learn how to be successful at it in the NFL.  The guys who are considered the OLB/DE combo’s are often risky because they don’t have a true position.

5.  Dion Jordan (Oregon) – I don’t think this guy is going to be a bust but he needs to go to a good situation to be truly effective.  Aldon Smith is the guy he’s most compared to and Smith went to a perfect situation where he has a great defensive line that opens holes for him to get to the QB.  If Jordan finds a similar situation he’ll put up huge numbers.  If he goes somewhere where he’s the focus of the opposition’s offense, he could struggle.

Good luck to all the players being drafted this weekend.  Check out more of our 2013 NFL Draft coverage here at SportsFormulator.com.

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NFL Mock Draft – April 24, 2013 Version

 

Less than 48 hours until the Kansas City Chiefs hand in their card and officially begin the 32 picks that now make up a primetime broadcast on ESPN.  With the recent trade of Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay and the Jets receiving the Bucs first round pick the order is now shaken up and could have a significant impact on teams now picking in the middle of the draft.

Here’s how I see teams selecting in tomorrow night’s NFL Draft 1st Round:

1.  Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel (OT – Texas A&M)

2.  Jacksonville Jaguars – Eric Fisher (OT – Central Michigan)

3.  Oakland Raiders – Shariff Floyd (DT – Florida)

4.  Philadelphia Eagles – Dion Jordan (DE – Oregon)

5.  Detroit Lions – Dee Milliner (CB – Alabama)

6.  Cleveland Browns – Ziggy Ansah (DE – BYU)

7.  Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson (OT – Oklahoma)

8.  Buffalo Bills – Jonathan Cooper (OG – North Carolina)

9.  New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo (DE – LSU)

10.  Tennessee Titans – Star Lotulelei (DT – Utah)

11.  San Diego Chargers – Chance Warmack (OG – Alabama)

12.  Miami Dolphins – Xavier Rhodes (CB – Florida State)

13.  New York Jets (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Eddie Lacy (RB – Alabama)

14.  Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson (DT – Missouri)

15.  New Orleans Saints – Jarvis Jones (OLB – Georgia)

16.  St. Louis Rams – Tavon Austin (WR – West Virginia)

17.  Pittsburgh Steelers – Alec Ogletree (LB –Georgia)

18.  Dallas Cowboys – D.J. Fluker (OT – Alabama)

19.  New York Giants – Tank Carradine (DE – Florida State)

20.  Chicago Bears – Justin Hunter (WR – Tennessee)

21.  Cincinnati Bengals – Kevin Minter (LB – LSU)

22.  St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) – Kenny Vaccaro (S – Texas)

23.  Minnesota Vikings – Robert Woods (WR – USC)

24.  Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Hayden (CB – Houston)

25.  Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks) – Sylvester Williams (DT – North Carolina)

26.  Green Bay Packers – Kyle Long (OT – Oregon)

27.  Houston Texans – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR – Tennessee)

28.  Denver Broncos – Bjoern Werner (DE – Florida State)

29.  New England Patriots – Desmond Trufant (CB – Washington)

30.  Atlanta Falcons – Datone Jones (DE – UCLA)

31.  San Francisco 49ers – Eric Reid (S – LSU)

32.  Baltimore Ravens – Manti Te’o (LB – Notre Dame)

Check back tomorrow afternoon for our final 2013 NFL Mock Draft plus we’ll have NFL Draft coverage all day tomorrow through the end of the draft.

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