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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 10 Results

We are officially rolling. It's been more than a month since we've had a losing week and we are now into the 60 percent pick echelon. That's right, we've picked at the same rate as the pros over a 10-week period, no small sample size. Now that we're rolling, we're well into the

We are officially rolling. It’s been more than a month since we’ve had a losing week and we are now into the 60 percent pick echelon. That’s right, we’ve picked at the same rate as the pros over a 10-week period, no small sample size. Now that we’re rolling, we’re well into the black and will be looking to build on that even more in the coming weeks. Let’s recap our super successful Week 10.

LOSS: Panthers +4 at Steelers (-115): Steelers 52, Panthers 21.

This one got away from us in a hurry on Thursday Night Football. Everyone expected this to be a competitive game between two solid teams, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense really took things to another level, especially in the first half. The under was dead by halftime and it was quickly apparent Pittsburgh wasn’t going to give Carolina even a prayer down the stretch.

It happens sometimes and we can’t really predict an offensive performance like we saw Thursday Night. When something like that does happen, you just have to hope it works in your favor. It didn’t this week, but that’s about all that didn’t in an otherwise successful week of picks. Total win: $0.

WIN: Redskins +135 at Buccaneers: Redskins 16, Buccaneers 3.

This line actually somehow moved all the way up to +150 by kick off, but Washington proved why this was another great road underdog pick. Remember, we are now 3-for-3 in picking road underdogs on the money line over the past two weeks. Frankly, this was a gross game; it was 6-3 at half time.

Things got interesting in the second half and honestly, Tampa outplayed Washington for most of the afternoon. Ryan Fitzpatrick and company had more than 400 yards of total offense, but just three points to show for it, because they turned over the ball at the most critical points in the game. After betting against the Redskins successfully last Sunday, we got help from them in the other direction. Total win: $11.75.

WIN: Cardinals +17 at Chiefs (-110): Chiefs 26, Cardinals 14.

This is the second time this season we were handed a three-score spread and took it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence it’s also the second time we’ve won that bet. No matter how bad one team and how good the other, in the NFL 17 points is too much to ignore and Arizona came through for us on Sunday.

If you made this pick like I did, you had a mini heart attack at the end of the game when the Chiefs came up with an interception and started running it the other way. It came very close to turning into a debilitating pick six to push the deficit to 19, but they were pushed out of bounds a couple dozen yards before reaching pay dirt. We’ll thank our lucky stars for that one and move on to the next one. Total win: $7.60.

WIN: Seahawks +10 at Rams (-110): Rams 36, Seahawks 31.

The only dangerous part about this bet was how much worse Seattle plays on the road as opposed to at home. They already lost to L.A. at home, but they were also the more desperate team. Seattle certainly played like it and it put them in a position to be able to win the game. Ultimately, the comeback attempt from Russell Wilson and Co. came up short, but they did their job and covered for us.

It looked like disaster had struck when the Rams strip sacked Wilson, recovered, and then scored a few players later to go up by 12, but Seattle put together a really nice touchdown drive immediately after. They actually got the ball back with time to score, but weren’t able to convert. If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s bet on the Seahawks’ spread, they’ve been great against it. Total win: $7.60.

WIN: Saints-Bengals OVER 54 (-115): Saints 51, Bengals 14.

It sure helps your cause on an over when one team nearly hits the over by themselves. New Orleans was once again possessed on offense on Sunday, leading to a blowout of Cincinnati. Thankfully, each team continued scoring well into the fourth quarter, because even with the Saints’ onslaught, it seemed like scoring might stall out in the third quarter.

At this point, betting a Saints under seems crazy and we were lucky to get on this train before their over/under numbers soar against opponents with strong offenses. This rounds out a really solid week for us and makes us 1-for-1 on over/under picks this week. Total win: $7.40.

PIGGY BANK: $236.43 (18.2% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 61.7% (29-18-3)

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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Vikings place rookie CB Hughes on IR, re-sign DT Parry

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have placed cornerback Mike Hughes on injured reserve, following the ACL injury to the rookie's left knee that will keep him out for the remainder of the season.

The Vikings re-signed defensive tackle David Parry on Tuesday to take the open roster spot, increasing their depth

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have placed cornerback Mike Hughes on injured reserve, following the ACL injury to the rookie’s left knee that will keep him out for the remainder of the season.

The Vikings re-signed defensive tackle David Parry on Tuesday to take the open roster spot, increasing their depth on the interior. Rookie Jalyn Holmes has worked primarily at defensive tackle, but he has taken turns at defensive end with backup Tashawn Bower sidelined the past two games and starter Everson Griffen out for the past four games.

Parry played in the first two games and had a sack against Green Bay. He was cut in favor of defensive tackle Tom Johnson on Sept. 19.

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Familiar faces abound when Seahawks face Raiders in London

Marshawn Lynch and Bruce Irvin helped win a Super Bowl in Seattle before becoming stalwarts in Oakland.

Sebastian Janikowski rewrote the record book for the Raiders before booming long kicks for the Seahawks.

Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and Oakland offensive line coach Tom Cable spent the past few seasons doing the same job

Marshawn Lynch and Bruce Irvin helped win a Super Bowl in Seattle before becoming stalwarts in Oakland.

Sebastian Janikowski rewrote the record book for the Raiders before booming long kicks for the Seahawks.

Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and Oakland offensive line coach Tom Cable spent the past few seasons doing the same job with the other team.

When the Seahawks and Raiders kick off in London on Sunday, it will be a reunion of sorts — even though the game will be played several thousand miles from home.

“I’ve always enjoyed the most playing against the people I like the most. There’s guys on the club, coaches and all kinds of connections,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “There’s just connections across the board. It just makes it fun. If you’re competitive and you like competing against the best and your friends. I do. I just look forward to it.”

Both teams have more pressing issues than seeing old friends. The Seahawks (2-3) are already three games back in the NFC West and the Raiders (1-4) have struggled all season in the first year in Jon Gruden’s second stint as coach.

“I just don’t like to lose,” Gruden said. “I think we have work to do. There’s not enough time in the day to do it. I’m depressed. I’m tired. I want to win. I want to do better.”

Here are some other things to watch:

BEAST MODE

The Seahawks will finally get a chance to tackle Lynch, who starred for the team from 2010-15 and helped Seattle win a Super Bowl. Lynch was mostly off-limits at practice, although linebacker Bobby Wagner recalls getting scolded by Lynch for hitting him as a rookie and dislocating Lynch’s finger while trying to punch the ball out.

There will be no limits on contact Sunday.

“Never got the chance to tackle Marshawn,” Wagner said. “Talked a lot of trash. We finally get to go against each other. So it’s going to be fun.”

RUNNING AWAY

Any question about Seattle’s commitment to the run has been answered by the productivity of the last three weeks. The Seahawks have seen a running back rush for 100 yards in three straight games for the first time since late in the 2012 season. Chris Carson had 100-yard games against Dallas and Los Angeles, and Mike Davis had 101 yards against Arizona.

Most impressive was the 190 yards rushing against the Rams, when Seattle averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Even more shocking, the Seahawks got those yards on the ground without a single yard coming from quarterback Russell Wilson. For the first time in his career, Wilson didn’t have an official run play against the Rams.

“We made a big turn. It’s taken us longer than I would’ve wanted to get to this point, but we feel like we can play the game that we want to play and the style we want to play it regardless of where we’re going,” Carroll said. “We’ll find out, let’s go see if we can take it across the ocean and do it as well, but that’s really important to us.”

WEST COAST GOING EAST

The matchup between the Seahawks and Raiders is just the second in London between teams from the Pacific time zone. The Rams and Cardinals played last year in an NFC West game, with Los Angeles rolling to a 33-0 win. Take away that Los Angeles-Arizona matchup a year ago and teams from the Pacific area playing in London are 2-3 all-time. Both wins belong to San Francisco, beating Denver in 2010 and Jacksonville in 2013.

Both teams opted to spend part of the week at home, with the Seahawks leaving Wednesday and the Raiders on Thursday.

TARGETING

Doug Baldwin caught a dump-off pass from Wilson for a 1-yard gain on Seattle’s second offensive play against the Rams. It was the only target and only catch for Seattle’s leading receiver in each of the past four seasons. Baldwin has been bothered by issues with both knees early in the schedule. He missed most of training camp because of an unspecified issue with his left knee, then suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee in the season opener against Denver. Baldwin has just six catches for 42 yards and no TDs in the three games he’s played.

“It’s frustrating because I want to be more a part of it. I want to be part of the party, too,” Baldwin said.

FREQUENT VISITOR

Few players or coaches have been part of more games in London than Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson. He will coach his seventh game there, having gone 3-3 on previous trips with Tampa Bay (2009, ’11), Oakland (2014), Jacksonville (2015, ’16) and the Rams (2017).

“He leads the league in London trips, so he’s going to be my tour guide,” said Gruden, who added he doesn’t believe he’ll have much time for sightseeing.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Booth contributed to this report

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 5 Results

I hate to say we resembled the Browns the last two weeks, but just like Cleveland’s season-long record, we have gone 2-2-1 over the past two Sundays. Houston really should have put us at 3-2 on the week, but they twice failed to score points from inside the one-yard line. As it happened,

I hate to say we resembled the Browns the last two weeks, but just like Cleveland’s season-long record, we have gone 2-2-1 over the past two Sundays. Houston really should have put us at 3-2 on the week, but they twice failed to score points from inside the one-yard line. As it happened, they won on a game-ending field goal to give us the push, but we could have finally been in the green if they’d been able to dial up any successful play call on several tries from the goal line.

We won’t get bitter, we’ll get better. We’ve only picked more losers than winners one week out of five this season, so that should be seen as a good sign of things to come. Here’s a recap from all the games we picked over the past week.

LOSS: Broncos to beat the Jets (-110): Jets 34, Broncos 16.

Wow, did Denver look bad in this game. After taking the Chiefs to the brink at home, the Broncos looked like a whole other team in the Meadowlands. Chalk it up to the short week or whatever you want, but there are very few excuses to allowing Sam Darnold and company to torch you all afternoon.

The Broncos are officially in a long list of teams that are now dangerous to bet either way, just because they’re too unpredictable. It was good value to get them at -1 headed into the week, but New York showed some fight and started our week on a sour note. The win: $0.

PUSH: Texans -3 vs. Cowboys (-110): Texans 19, Cowboys 16 (OT)

Like we mentioned off the top, if Houston was able to come away with ANY points on two drives that found them in goal-to-go situations from the one-yard line, we would have easily won this bet. We did catch a break with Jason Garrett deciding to punt on fourth and one in overtime on the Texans side of the 50.

That terrible decision allowed Houston to drive the length of the field and kick the game winning field goal to earn us the push. It certainly could’ve been better, but based on how overtime played out, it could have also been worse. Total win: $4.

LOSS: Browns-Ravens OVER 47 points: Browns 12, Ravens 9 (OT)

I’m at a loss for words. Wow, was this a brutal game. When you get five field goals in a game, you know you’re probably not hitting an over. When those five field goals are the ONLY POINTS OF THE GAME, you know you’re toast. Both these teams showed an ability to be explosive on offense in past weeks, which made you think they should both be well into the 20’s in this one.

However, neither offense could convert inside the red zone and that is the biggest killer of overs. Just imagine if a few field goals had turned into touchdowns. This would have been a lot closer. As it stands, we didn’t get halfway there, so we’ll try to block this one out of memory. The win: $0.

WIN: Jaguars-Chiefs UNDER 49 points: Chiefs 30, Jaguars 14.

Breathe a sigh of relief, because this was almost a terrible beat. The under seemed well in hand after we realized the Jaguars couldn’t move the ball offensively, but everything was almost ruined late. With Kansas City leading 30-14, the Jaguars marched the ball down the field on a meaningless drive in the closing minutes. Jacksonville got inside the red zone, but Blake Bortles threw an interception in the end zone to end it. The win: $7.60.

They had a couple legit shots at the end zone and had they been able to complete it, we would’ve lost this under by two garbage time points. We will thank the sports betting gods for now, while acknowledging that probably means we will be on the other side of this luck at some point later in the season.

WIN: Dolphins-Bengals UNDER 49.5 points: Bengals 27, Dolphins 17.

Betting the Bengals -3 wouldn’t have been a bad move in this game either, but the under hit, which is all that matters for us. A late Bengals touchdown made it closer than it actually was; this was pretty much in hand most of the game. Cincinnati didn’t set the world on fire with Joe Mixon back in the starting lineup, but they did enough while holding Miami in check.

So, we picked three over/unders this week and all of them went under. Luckily, we had two out of the three correct. Remember, life might be too short to take the under, but unders hit slightly more than half the time. The win: $7.60.

PIGGY BANK: $91.31 (-8.7% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 58%

Our ROI and pick percentage look to be at odds with one another. We’re approaching that magical 60 percent pick mark now, but we’ve been putting too much money on losing games. This coming week, we will put a large percentage on the games we’re most confident in, in an effort to finally get us solidly into the green. With us gaining more information on teams each week, we should get better as the season goes along. Keep an eye out for Week 6 picks coming in the next couple days.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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Finally healthy, Clowney dominates for Texans defense

HOUSTON (AP) — Jadeveon Clowney pounced on a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown on Sunday against the Colts.

On the next drive, he shoved a lineman out of his path and tossed Andrew Luck to the ground for a 9-yard loss to force a punt.

This is what the Houston Texans envisioned

HOUSTON (AP) — Jadeveon Clowney pounced on a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown on Sunday against the Colts.

On the next drive, he shoved a lineman out of his path and tossed Andrew Luck to the ground for a 9-yard loss to force a punt.

This is what the Houston Texans envisioned when they selected the defensive end with the first overall pick in the 2014 draft.

After missing all but four games as a rookie because of a knee injury, Clowney has steadily improved each year and had the best season of his career in 2017 when he played all 16 games for the first time.

He’s had some good games in the past, but Sunday was perhaps the finest performance of his career, a game where he made play after play to help the Texans to their first win of the season.

Clowney finished with two sacks, four quarterback hits, four tackles for losses and that fumble recovery for a touchdown to earn AFC defensive player of the week honors for the first time in his career.

The recognition meant a lot to Clowney after the struggles he’s had since being drafted out of South Carolina.

“I’ve been through a lot from the day I walked in here, the first game ever I get hurt, battled back, got hurt again, battled back,” he said. “My back’s against the wall. Just keep battling, competing and showing up. That’s the way I live and that’s what I’m going to keep bringing every week, hopefully.”

Coach Bill O’Brien said there’s a simple reason why Clowney has been playing so well this season.

“I think he feels better,” O’Brien said. “I think with JD, when he feels good, body-wise, he goes out there and he’s hard to handle.”

Clowney missed most of training camp recovering from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery and sat out in Week 2 with a back injury. But he’s feeling great now and it showed on Sunday.

He said now that he’s not dealing with any injuries it makes it easier for him to improve during the week at practice.

“I’m going to practice every day, working on my craft and just working on stuff I wasn’t good at, trying to get better at it and enhancing stuff I was already good at,” he said.

The 25-year-old is trying to use his hands better and come off the corner quicker and said being healthy makes trying new things much easier.

After his big game, the question is if this is the Clowney the Texans can expect every week, starting on Sunday night when they host the Dallas Cowboys.

“Yeah, I hope so,” he said. “That’s what I expect out of myself. Just go and put all my effort to this team and my teammates and go out there and compete at a high level.”

Clowney has paired with three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt to power a fearsome defensive front.

Injuries to both players over the past few years have made it rare for both Watt and Clowney to play together. Now that they are both back on the field they believe that they’ll only get better.

“We know what our team is capable of when everybody is out there and healthy and flying around,” Watt said. “We’ve all had our issues in the past with health. If we can stay healthy and we can all put it together at the same time and play the game we know how to play, we have a chance to be pretty good, but it’s a matter of doing it, not talking about it.”

Dallas coach Jason Garrett discussed the difficulty of dealing with both Watt and Clowney and how they might try double-teaming them or using tight ends or running backs to try and help slow them down.

“Every time those guys go out there, they seem like they’re disrupting what the offense is trying to do,” Garrett said. “They’re both really good run defenders. They can pressure the passer and make those impact plays throughout a game. It’s obviously critical for the guys who are blocking them to be able to handle it and block them well.”

But Clowney doesn’t care who they try to block him with, he has just one thought.

“Go run through him, get to the quarterback, no matter who I’m going against,” he said. “Just try to run through this guy and get to that quarterback as quickly as possible.”

He isn’t sure if Sunday was his best game as a Texan, but has a plan for trying to replicate that success.

“I’m just trying to get better week by week, play by play and just keep competing at a high level,” he said.

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For more AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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2019 NFL Draft Preview – Defensive Line

Saddle up, because this year's group of draft-eligible defensive tackles has the pure talent to be one of the more legendary positional classes in recent memory. Featuring three or four players with legitimate early round ability, the class is led by Houston product Ed Oliver - who already announced he will enter the 2019

Saddle up, because this year’s group of draft-eligible defensive tackles has the pure talent to be one of the more legendary positional classes in recent memory. Featuring three or four players with legitimate early round ability, the class is led by Houston product Ed Oliver – who already announced he will enter the 2019 NFL Draft after this season. The positional grouping’s top talents primarily occupy the interior/defensive tackle space for their respective teams, but all have the skill-set to provide versatile coverage as base 3-4 five-techniques. This a particularly outstanding group, especially because the modern NFL seeks diversity in matchup profiles along the defensive front in all setups.

1. Ed Oliver, Houston (6’3″ 290lbs.)
• A truly special talent. We haven’t seen a defensive tackle prospect of Oliver’s caliber since Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy entered the league in 2010 – and the former five-star recruit compares favorably to the latter. In two seasons, Oliver has amassed a colossal line of 139 tackles, 39.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. As an ideal 3-technique profile, most-suitable for a 4-3 base, Oliver possesses a mouthwatering blend of explosion and power, largely attributable to his tremendous understanding of leverage. His performances only improved despite commanding more attention in 2017. It’d take a catastrophic collapse to knock him off his perch as the top eligible interior defender.

2. Raekwon Davis, Alabama (6’7″ 306lbs.)
• The Tide’s mammoth lineman is as physically imposing as he is athletic. After spending a Freshman season buried on the depth chart, Davis exploded onto the scene as a Sophomore in 2017. That season he accumulated 69 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, and added an interception for good measure. He possesses the tantalizing physical skill-set to project as an interior 4-3 defender, but also as a 5-technique in a base 3-4, both of which would maximize his freakish dimension and length. While he enters his Junior campaign as something of a one-year wonder, Davis is firmly on the radar and his size + speed ratio combined with his production are impossible to dismiss.

3. Rashan Gary, Michigan (6’5″ 281lbs.)
• Remember, the modern NFL is about creating mismatches along the defensive line through diversity in speed and length. The in-out defender is ‘in’ at the moment, and Gary will stand as one of the more versatile front seven defenders available when he jumps to the pros. Gary is a power-player with explosion and length, who has had pro caliber coaching over the past two seasons. An all-encompassing talent, he’s one complete season away from entrenching himself as a first-round selection (if he isn’t already).

4. Christian Wilkins, Clemson (6’4″ 300lbs.)
• It caught many by surprise when Wilkins elected to return for his Senior campaign this offseason in search of another national title. He’s a bigger, beefier 3-technique with a skill-set that could appeal to teams seeking a 5-technique as well. A fixture on Clemson’s historically talented defensive line, Wilkins’ ability to disrupt and pocket-push has markedly improved with every passing season. Coming out, some will inevitably ask the unfair, but necessary question: How much of any Clemson defender’s success boils down to an elite supporting cast?

5. Derrick Brown, Auburn (6’5″ 325lbs.)
• One of the most influential pieces of Auburn’s sharp defense in 2017, particularly in the front seven. Brown possesses a huge frame, but exhibits ‘plus’ movements skills and range, as well as deceptive athleticism. On numerous occasions, he was able to collapse a pocket, but also absorb double-team attention and create space for teammates. If he can replicate or improve upon his Sophomore campaign he could easily slide up this ranking. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s an honor roll student with an academic pedigree.

Honorable Mention: Olive Sagapolu, Wisconsin (6’2″ 346lbs.)
• The role of the out-and-out, two-down nose tackle has largely been diminished at the pro level and it’s translated to the college game as well, but players like Olive Sagapolu will always have a place. His role within the Badgers’ defensive front is the primary space-eater and thus his statistical production is quite limited. Sagapolu still notched three sacks as a Junior last year in his only full season of game experience. Former Washington Husky nose tackle Danny Shelton did not produce quality numbers until his Senior campaign in 2014, subsequently being selected in the first-round. While I’m not suggesting this situation will play out as such, be prepared to hear more about the Badgers’ backflipping nose tackle in 2018.

This is the first defensive positional group of NFP’s 2019 NFL draft preview. Here are the standouts on offense: QB, RBWRTEOTG/C

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2019 NFL Draft Preview – RBs

Fresh off a loaded 2018 running back class, this year doesn't boast as much top end talent or depth but still holds an assortment of interesting prospects. The group is defined by electrifying Stanford standout Bryce Love, who I graded just behind the comparably elite Saquon Barkley. Past Love, we see a stable of well-built

Fresh off a loaded 2018 running back class, this year doesn’t boast as much top end talent or depth but still holds an assortment of interesting prospects. The group is defined by electrifying Stanford standout Bryce Love, who I graded just behind the comparably elite Saquon Barkley. Past Love, we see a stable of well-built backs with a combination of size + speed, peppered with a collection of quality scat-back profiles who could be effective third-down contributors. Not unlike this year’s quarterback class, the college season will reveal a lot about what order the runners will come off the board next spring.

1. Bryce Love, Stanford (5’10” 196lbs.)
• Springy pin-ball with track speed. Love’s junior campaign was eerily reminiscent of Chris Johnson’s 2k season in 2009, littered with long touchdown runs and dizzying elusiveness. He continued the Stanford tradition of finishing second in the Heisman voting but is an early favorite for the award this season. Had he entered the 2018 NFL Draft, Bryce Love could easily have been a top 25 selection.

2. Damien Harris, Alabama (5’11” 221lbs.)
• An explosive, efficient runner who’s amassed a staggering 2,037 yards over the past two seasons in just 281 carries (7.2yards per carry). Rough and tumble style that doesn’t wane over four quarters, he’s also deceptively good in the passing game.

3. Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky (5’11” 223lbs.)
•  Snell was a surprise Sophomore who improved as the 2017 season went on, despite defenses keying in on him as Kentucky’s best offensive threat. He boasts an ideal blend of size, speed and vision;and is adept in short-yardage situations. Receiving skills are totally untested entering 2018.

4.L.J. Scott, Michigan State (6’1″ 226lbs.)
• All-around back with a complete game who should translate quite comfortably to the NFL in 2019. Like fellow Sparty alum Le’Veon Bell, many believe L.J. Scott could benefit from trimming down slightly. Though he’s yet to have a 1,000-yard rushing season, Scott profiles as the draft’s premier three-down bell-cow.

5. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma (6’1″ 219lbs.)
• Two serious injuries (broken leg, 2015 / neck, 2016) derailed two seasons of his collegiate career, but if not for those concerns Rodney Anderson is comfortably a top three runner in this class entering 2018. Anderson bounced back with a tremendous RS-Sophomore campaign with an angry, downhill style. Also doubles as a terrific receiver.

Honorable Mention: Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic (5’9″ 200lbs.)
• Thickly built despite his diminutive frame, Singletary was one of college football’s most productive players over the past two seasons, particularly in 2017 – rushing for 32 touchdowns. If he can become a little more efficient with his carries in 2018 he’ll be well-prepared for the pro level, as there’s little left to prove for him in Boca Raton.

This is the final offensive position of our look at the 2019 NFL draft. The other positions can be found here: QB, WR, TE, OT, G/C

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2019 NFL Draft Preview – TEs

For a position where age often wins out, this year is a uniquely youthful group of underclassmen with lots of pass-catching potential. This projection hinges on how many will actually enter the 2019 draft. Some of the top talents will break in new quarterbacks while others must continue growing physically. UCLA's Caleb Wilson and Iowa's

For a position where age often wins out, this year is a uniquely youthful group of underclassmen with lots of pass-catching potential. This projection hinges on how many will actually enter the 2019 draft. Some of the top talents will break in new quarterbacks while others must continue growing physically. UCLA’s Caleb Wilson and Iowa’s Noah Fant are vying for the preseason crown, but I’m eager to see if a dark horse emerges as the top talent. Wilson is the classic every-down workhorse, while Fant is the explosive playmaker.

1. Caleb Wilson, UCLA (6’4″ 235lbs.)
• Many will remember Wilson as the centerpiece of the Bruins historic comeback against Texas A&M, but the former USC walk-on was more than a one-game wonder in 2017. Wilson was on a torrid pace with 490 yards and one touchdown on 39 receptions in just five games before his season was cut short due to a foot injury.

© Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

2. Noah Fant, Iowa (6’5″ 232lbs.)
• Little separates Fant from Wilson, and it may come down to preference – so understand this is a 1a, 1b ranking. As Fant continues adding to his frame his appeal will only increase. The 2017 Big Ten touchdown leader (11) regardless of position can score in and out of the red zone and possesses mouthwatering athleticism.

3. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (6’5″ 260lbs.)
• An exciting passing-game threat, particularly in the red zone, he caught 11 touchdowns as a redshirt-Freshman last season. I suspect if he produces comparable numbers in 2018 then Okwuegbunam could leave school early with his graduating quarterback Drew Lock. Physically speaking, he’s already mature and ready for the pro level.

© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

4. Tommy Sweeney, Boston College (6’5″ 255lbs.)
• Lacks the speed and athleticism to punish defenses, but there’s probably not a safer, more complete player available at the position. Sweeney blocks in-line competently, will move chains as a receiver, and has some yard-after-catch ability. I’ve noticed he has a good feel for soft zones in the passing game.

5. Kaden Smith, Stanford (6’5″ 259lbs.)
• The latest creation from a developing tight end factory at Stanford, Kaden Smith is a physically impressive athlete with desired length and movement skills to impose as a receiver. Another year of sustained production could convince Smith to make the pro leap.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Petite, USC (6’4″ 250lbs.)
• It’s apparent that Petite has plenty of untapped ability as a pass-catcher, as he generated a lot of positive momentum in that regard with Sam Darnold under center in 2017. Petite’s got an otherwise all-around game and if he can maintain his annual growth in production he’ll enter the NFL as a polished option for any team.

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2019 NFL Draft Preview – G/C

Going into this collegiate season, it's wise to remember that when evaluating draft-eligible offensive linemen - particularly along the interior - how they physically project to translate to the pro game. Size and length are crucial so some of the better collegiate blockers may not make for the best pro prospects. That said, this class

Going into this collegiate season, it’s wise to remember that when evaluating draft-eligible offensive linemen – particularly along the interior – how they physically project to translate to the pro game. Size and length are crucial so some of the better collegiate blockers may not make for the best pro prospects. That said, this class of interior linemen is full of experience and grit. The 2018 class seemed to possess more plug and play talent atop the board, but the polish of many 2019 blockers should produce a handful of early contributors.

1. Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas (6’5″ 315lbs.)
• The Denmark native transitioned from defensive tackle to left guard as a Sophomore in 2016 where he’s since made 25 starts. His combination of desirable size and length are supplemented by his mean streak and brute strength. Froholdt has immersed himself in the guard position rather quickly and considerably cut down penalties in 2017, committing only two. He’s primed for a big year and subsequent first-round consideration.

2. Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin (6’6″ 317lbs.)
• The epitome of a Badger lineman, Benzschawel is tough, polished, highly experienced and physically mature. Moved from right tackle to right guard as a redshirt-freshman and has started there ever since. Possessing the ideal length, he also played through injuries and remained a reliable cog at Wisconsin. After receiving a “return to school grade” he opted against entering the 2018 draft, which was the right decision – he has a chance to be a top 60 pick in 2019.

3. Connor McGovern, Penn State (6’5″ 320lbs.)
• Not to be confused with the Denver Broncos guard of exactly the same name. McGovern is a physically mature true Junior with advanced abilities. As a Freshman in 2016, he took hold of the right guard job early on, making nine starts, prior to becoming Penn State’s full-time starter at center as a Sophomore. His bigger, longer frame aligns with the modern profile of NFL centers and accruing one more strong season would leave him with little left to prove at the college level.

4. Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama (6’4″ 303lbs.)
• Perhaps the most experienced and distinguished blocker in this entire class, Pierschbacher – a redshirt-Senior – has 43 career starts under his belt (42 at left guard, one at right guard). Bama has many moving pieces along it’s offensive line, but he will be shifting to center for the 2018 season, further adding to his pro appeal.

5. Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State (6’4″ 313lbs.)
• A well-built, industrious interior blocker with excellent mobility and prototype dimension. Jenkins comes from an offensive tackle background, but his genuine ability was unlocked when kicked inside. At center, he’ll be a key figure in new head coach Joe Moorehead’s multi-tempo spread employing modern RPO looks. He’s featured on the 2018 Rimington Trophy watch list.

Honorable Mention: Dalton Risner, Kansas State (6’5″ 300lbs.)
• Keeping with the theme of experience, Risner – a redshirt-Senior – has started 38 games in his Wildcat career (13 at center, 25 at right tackle). A team captain who moved to right tackle after a Freshman season at center that landed him on the 2016 Rimington Trophy watch list, his best fit at the pro level will come on the interior. Intangibles are off the chart and teams will like his attitude. The only remaining question for Risner is whether or not he can return to full effectiveness after surgically repairing his left shoulder prior to the 2017 Cactus Bowl.

Here are the rest of our positional breakdowns looking way forward to next April and the 2019 Draft: QB, WR, TE, OT.

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2019 NFL Draft Preview – WRs

The 2019 receiving class is a mix of size, length and speed, yet most (but not all) are plagued by issues, whether it's inconsistent quarterback play or injury. Despite those drawbacks, all have remained productive. My (very fictional) crystal ball tells me that at the end of the 2018 collegiate season we'll be more excited

The 2019 receiving class is a mix of size, length and speed, yet most (but not all) are plagued by issues, whether it’s inconsistent quarterback play or injury. Despite those drawbacks, all have remained productive. My (very fictional) crystal ball tells me that at the end of the 2018 collegiate season we’ll be more excited about this year’s crop than last years.

1. A.J. Brown, Ole Miss (6’1″ 225lbs.)
• Though catching passes from multiple quarterbacks in 2017, Brown remained highly productive. Despite lacking in top-end speed, Brown possesses dangerous ability after the catch, running with reckless abandon. His pro comparison is a rich man’s 2010-2011 Hakeem Nicks.

2. N’Keal Henry, Arizona State (6’4″ 216lbs.)
• Long, big-bodied volume catcher with a wide catch radius, Henry does quite well in most 50-50 situations, imposing size on smaller defenders. A former blue-chip recruit, Henry has acrobatic athleticism and makes play-saving adjustments on film. The question he will have to answer is can he separate against speed consistently in 2018?

© Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

3. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina (6’0″ 210lbs.)
• Your quintessential Swiss Army knife. Before suffering a broken leg injury that ended his season in SC’s third game, Deebo accumulated four offensive touchdowns (three receiving, one rushing) and returned both of his two kick return attempts for scores. He could be a special playmaker, but needs to stay healthy.

4. David Sills V, West Virginia (6’4 203lbs.)
• A former quarterback prodigy who committed to USC at the tender age of 13, Sills ultimately wound up in Morgantown and, after a transition year in JUCO, he went on to lead the NCAA in receiving touchdowns (18, tied with Anthony Miller). Though quite raw, if Sills continues to develop and proves he can run a greater variety of routes he will shine at the pro level. He’s already a lethal red zone threat.

© Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

5. Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska (6’1″ 195lbs.)
• The focal point of Nebraska’s passing offense in 2017, Morgan’s blend of physicality and inside-outside versatility will assure him of even more responsibility this season. Due for a production bump in Scott Frost’s newly implemented offense, Morgan could become a household name.

Honorable Mention: Marquise Brown, Oklahoma (5’11” 162lbs.)
• This underclassman is one of college football’s fastest offensive players. While size and bulk are concerning, the success of diminutive profiles like Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown have broken barriers for receivers like Marquise Brown. Lincoln Riley’s offense should give him a good place to showcase his skills.

This is our way-too-early position by position look at the 2019 NFL draft. The previous parts in the series were Quarterbacks and Offensive Tackles.

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2019 NFL Draft Preview – Tackles

This year's crop of offensive tackles stands to produce a couple more high-level draft talents than in 2018. Prior to tearing his ACL, Washington's Trey Adams was pegged to be the first edge blocker selected but opted to return to school. He's followed by an impressive pair of SEC underclassmen in Alabama's Jonah Williams and

This year’s crop of offensive tackles stands to produce a couple more high-level draft talents than in 2018. Prior to tearing his ACL, Washington’s Trey Adams was pegged to be the first edge blocker selected but opted to return to school. He’s followed by an impressive pair of SEC underclassmen in Alabama’s Jonah Williams and Mississippi’s Greg Little – both of whom are primed for the national spotlight. All told, there is a considerably higher amount of blockers with long-term left tackle potential in the 2019 class.

1. Trey Adams, Washington (6’8″ 327lbs.)
• Adams enters this collegiate season as the most polished and distinguished blocker and would likely have been a first round pick in 2018 despite a torn ACL. Possessing a mammoth frame with the desired length for the edge, if he proves he can overcome his injury it’ll be difficult to dethrone him as the top tackle available.

© Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

2. Jonah Williams, Alabama (6’5″ 301lbs.)
• A gifted, physical blocker equally skilled in the pass and run games, Williams took hold of Bama’s left tackle as a Sophomore (after starting on the right as a Freshman) and became a pillar for the Tide’s offense. He’s technically advanced and often initiates at the point of attack first.

3. Greg Little, Ole Miss (6’6″ 325lbs.)
• Despite his tremendous size, Little is a fine technician with excellent footwork. Terrific at carrying his weight, he gets to the second level quite comfortably in the ground game. Though he could be more physical while engaged with defenders, the dimensions and exciting upside will generate a strong buzz throughout the season.

4. Andre Dillard, Washington State (6’5″ 306lbs.)
• A ‘plus’ athlete at left tackle with excellent mobility and lateral movement skills. Dillard’s skill set caters to many modern NFL spread offenses and his profile will be of great value to teams who like to pass. Shades of Duane Brown out of Virginia Tech in 2008, though probably with more polish.

5. Michael Deiter, Wisconsin (6’6″ 328lbs.)
• Uniquely experienced, Deiter has started full seasons at center, guard and tackle. His reps as an interior blocker proved useful as an edge blocker last season and it looks like he could remain there at the next level. He even scored a touchdown against Illinois last season. He enters his Senior campaign with a whopping 41 starts under his belt. The next prototypically polished Badger lineman.

Honorable Mention: Calvin Anderson, Texas (6’5″ 300lbs.)
• Keep an eye on Anderson. Texas landed him as a coveted graduate transfer from Rice despite interest from the likes of Michigan, Auburn and Oklahoma among others. A highly intelligent individual on and off the field, Anderson grades out as an excellent pass blocker and is fully expected to fill the void left by outgoing Connor Williams on the blindside. He’s positioned himself well to skyrocket up many draft boards this fall.

This is part two of our positional look at the 2019 NFL Draft. Part one was quarterbacks which can be found here.

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2019 NFL Draft Preview – QB

Despite the weight of a uniquely never-ending draft grind, there's something poetic about the start of a new collegiate cycle that attracts a total spectrum of fans, from the educated onlookers to the full-blown draft degenerates (such as myself).

As such, we proceed with a detailed evaluation of my introductory positional rankings - coming out one group

Despite the weight of a uniquely never-ending draft grind, there’s something poetic about the start of a new collegiate cycle that attracts a total spectrum of fans, from the educated onlookers to the full-blown draft degenerates (such as myself).

As such, we proceed with a detailed evaluation of my introductory positional rankings – coming out one group at a time, beginning with quarterbacks.

So, to (inaccurately) quote the great Matthew McConaughey: “I’ll write, I’ll write, I’ll write.”

 

QUARTERBACK

Overview:

Five teams selected a first-round passer in the 2018 class and my suspicion is that it was a partial indictment of the potential 2019 crop. Presently, we’re faced with a quarterback class asking numerous questions of evaluators – who only seem to agree about being unable to distinguish who will emerge on top.

Simply put, there are a handful of quarterbacks with the potential to rise above the class, but most require a step-forward season in 2019 in order for that to happen. This year’s preseason quarterback evaluation requires more projection than most years I’ve studied the NFL Draft, which personally elicits equal levels of excitement and indignation.

1. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (6’3″ 215lbs.)
• Will be hit with the ‘system’ tag, but he completes a high degree of attempts and rapidly immersed himself in Gus Malzahn’s intricate passing offense. I don’t see a quarterback with better ‘feel’ for his position in this class right now.

2. Justin Herbert, Oregon (6’6″ 225lbs.)
• Possesses all of the tantalizing physical traits evaluators want in a franchise passer: size, arm and athleticism. Also boasts a smooth delivery and statistical accuracy. If he takes the next step this season it’ll be tough to value another passer more.

3. Will Grier, West Virginia (6’2″ 214lbs.)
• The ex-Florida Gator was highly prolific throughout his first season in Morgantown, forming a good connection with stud receiver David Sills. Everything’s on a rope; makes NFL-esque window throws, but needs to learn that not every pass needs to be a bullet.

4. Drew Lock, Missouri (6’4″ 225lbs.)
• Ticks all of the prototype passer boxes, possessing ideal size, arm talent and an ever-present inclination to push the ball downfield. Must overcome issues relating to accuracy (both in-game and statistical), but did suffer from receiver drops last year.

5. Brian Lewerke, Michigan State (6’3″ 215lbs.)
• Underclassmen who must drastically improve accuracy, but showed plenty of promise in his ten-win Sophomore campaign. Moves through reads in rapid-fire. Will take a hit to deliver an accurate pass. Nice pocket footwork, but liable to hurt a defense with them too.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Finley, North Carolina State (6’4″ 210lbs.)
• Boise State transfer with prolific aerial numbers. Major positive is his compact, lightning-quick release and decisive style – always aware of quick-read options and fall-back outlets. Has many physical tools at his disposal. Downfield ball placement is inconsistent.

 

Find me on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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Behind the times: the 10-yard split

One of the biggest misconceptions that emerges from the NFL Combine each year is the importance of 40-yard dash times. The 40 is the considered the glamour event of the combine, and every year NFL executives, scouts, draftniks and fans (including me) get carried away by some of the mind-boggling times. This often puts too

One of the biggest misconceptions that emerges from the NFL Combine each year is the importance of 40-yard dash times. The 40 is the considered the glamour event of the combine, and every year NFL executives, scouts, draftniks and fans (including me) get carried away by some of the mind-boggling times. This often puts too much value on a player’s straight-line speed, more so than on his pure football talent.

Am I saying that the workouts at the combine aren’t important? No, but some of the workouts need/should be evaluated from a more football-related standpoint.

One of the most important and consistently overlooked measurements at the combine is the first 10 yards of the 40, known as the 10-yard split. This is simply a measurement to see how fast a prospect can cover the first 10 yards of their 40. It’s great to see how fast someone can run 40 yards, but how often in an NFL game are players required to cover that distance on one play? A more reasonable measurement, and a better indicator of “football speed,” is 10 yards.

A 10-yard split not only measures the short-area burst of an NFL prospect but also allows evaluators to determine if the prospect is a two-stepper (a player who can get up to full speed in two steps) or a strider (a player who needs to hit full stride to reach his top speed). Since football players as a whole are consistently forced to quickly explode in and out of their breaks throughout the game and change directions, short-area explosion (typically within 10 yards) is a pivotal reflection of a player’s overall “football speed.”

The 10-yard split is a vital time gauge for every position in the NFL, but it’s arguably more important for edge pass rushers than at any other spot. Pure pass rushing specialists who rely on their first step to gain an advantage on offensive tackles need to display explosive first-step quickness out of the stance. So the timing of a pass rusher’s 10-yard split is an excellent indicator of how quickly he can explode off the ball and cover the ground needed to get after the quarterback. To put this into perspective, I broke down some past year’s top hybrid defensive end/outside linebackers to give you an idea which prospects’ 10-yard split times are NFL-worthy and which prospects’ fast 40 times are simply a mirage.

I constructed a range of times from past drafts using only the DE/OLB position. Note: NFL Combine times as a whole have gone down dramatically each of the past couple of years, so the most times that are being used are only from the past five years.

A “Great” 10-Yard Split Time (1.55 seconds and under)

Cliff Avril, Lions: 1.50 (2008)
Chris Long, Rams: 1.53 (2008)

A “Good” 10-Yard Split Time (1.56-1.59)

Gaines Adams, Buccaneers: 1.58 (2007)
Derrick Harvey, Jaguars: 1.59 (2008)

An “Average” 10-Yard Split Time (1.60-1.62)

Kamerion Wimbley, Raiders: 1.60 (2006)
Bruce Davis, Patriots: 1.62 (2008)

A “Below Average” 10-Yard Split Times (1.63-1.69)

Charles Johnson, Panthers: 1.63 (2007)
Anthony Spencer, Cowboys: 1.64 (2007)

 

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