Tag Archives: Carolina Panthers

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Wild Card Weekend)

The 2017 College Football Playoff committee left Ohio State out, we can argue all day if it was the right call (I think it was), but for Scarlet and Gray fans, there are plenty of Buckeyes playing NFL Playoff football and playing well that you can root for. 

The New Orleans Quartet of Buckeyes have been leading the way for the Saints all season, and it was no different in the Wild Card round against the Carolina Panthers. Mike Thomas caught 8 passes for 131 yards, and Ted Ginn Junior caught 5 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 31-26 win. Vonn Bell led the way for the defense with 9 total tackles (7 solo), 1 tackles for loss and a game clinching sack on Cam Newton. Rookie Marshon Lattimore made 2 total tackles and broke up 2 passes in his first ever playoff action. The Saints will play at the Minnesota Vikings next week. Panthers’ safety Kurt Coleman played despite an ankle injury. 

Adolphus Washington and the Buffalo Bills made their first trip to the playoffs since 1999. Washington made 1 tackle for the Bills in a 10-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Cam Heyward and the Pittsburgh Steelers had the week off, but the 7th year defensive lineman made some headlines. After being snubbed for the Pro Bowl, he was named 1st-team All-Pro for the first time in his career. He’s the only Buckeyes to make either the 1st or 2nd team this season. Pittsburgh will host the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday.

There was also encouraging news on Pittsburgh Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier. His father, Vernon Shazier, told local media in the “Steel City” that Ryan has feeling in his legs. He went on to say that the night of the injury his son told him he couldn’t feel his legs. But, Mr. Shazier went on to say that they will keep the rest of Ryan’s progress private.

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NFL Buckeyes (2017, week 6)

Ryan Shazier (50) has the leader of the Steelers D. Photo Courtesy: Steelers.com

 
Week Six in the NFL was busy for several Buckeyes with news of one being suspended, another’s season over and a couple of OSU Alumns reaching the end zone for the first time in their careers.

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Circuit Court of appeals in New Orleans upheld the NFL’s six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence. As it stands, the 2nd-year running back would not be able to return to the team until November 23rd. But Zeke and his team are looking at other options to appeal the suspension. The Dallas Cowboys are on a Bye this week and the suspension could begin starting week seven.

Indianapolis Colts starting offensive lineman Jake Mewhort was placed on injured reserve after aggravating his knee in practice. The 2014 draft pick missed six games last season with an injury to the same knee.

Philadelphia Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins made 2 total tackles to help Philly get their fifth win of the season on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers, 28-23. Rookie Curtis Samuel carried the ball once for eight yards in the loss. 8-year safety Kurt Coleman missed the loss with a knee injury.

The New Orleans Saints quad of Buckeyes in Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Vonn bell and Marshon Lattimore played in the wildest game of the weekend against the Detroit Lions. Ginn caught 4 passes for 66 yards, a touchdown and rushed once for 3 yards to help defeat the Lions 52-38. He also had 2 kick returns for 26 yards and 2 punt returns for 6 yards. The Saints leading receiver Michael Thomas only caught 3 passes for 11 yards. The 90 combined points are the most scored in an NFL game since 2015.

Saints rookie Marshon Lattimore intercepted his first career pass and returned it 37 yards for his first career touchdown. His returned TD was one of five defensive or special teams returns for touchdowns in the game. That’s the most in the NFL since 2012. Lattimore also collected 5 total tackles and defended 2 passes. Vonn Bell made 5 total tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss and hit the Lions quarterback Matt Stafford twice.

Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward of the Pittsburgh Steelers led the defense in their victory over the previously unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs. Shazier made 4 tackles and broke up a couple of passes. Heyward made 2 tackles and registered a hit on Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith in the 19-13 win.

Houston Texans’ wide receiver Braxton Miller caught his first career touchdown in acrobatic fashion to help the Texans knock off the Cleveland Browns 33-17.

Another former Buckeye caught his first career touchdown in primetime on Sunday Night Football. Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heureman caught a 13-yard touchdown against the New York Giants. On the night he had 2 catches for a total of 24 yards in the Broncos 23-10 loss. Bradley Roby made 2 tackles in defeat. On the Giants side, Eli Apple collected 5 total tackles, defended 3 passes and recovered a fumble in the victory.

Joey Bosa had 3 tackles (2 solo), one forced fumble and a sack for the Los Angeles Chargers in their 17-16 come from behind victory over the Oakland Raiders. Oakland’s rookie cornerback Gareon Conley missed his third consecutive game with a shin injury.

Darron Lee of the New York Jets collected 6 tackles (4 solo); one pass defended and forced a fumble in their 24-17 loss in the battle for first place in the AFC East to the New England Patriots.

Terrelle Pryor Senior caught 3 passes for 27 yards for Washington in their 26-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Carlos Hyde scored 2 rushing touchdowns, but only had 28 yards rushing and caught 5 passes for 47 yards in defeat.

Indianapolis Colts linebacker John Simon had a huge night on Monday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans. He got his first career interception and returned it 26-yards for his first career touchdown. Simon also made 11 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 3 hits on Titans QB Marcus Mariota. But his career night wasn’t enough as Tennessee got the win 36-22.

Rookie safety Malik Hooker made 3 solo tackles and defended one pass, while Johnathan Hankins made 4 total tackles and got one hit in the QB in defeat.

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 5)

Week five in the NFL started off with great news for a former Buckeye speedster.

The Buffalo Bills signed Corey “Philly” Brown. The 4-year wide receiver last played for the Carolina Panthers last season. He didn’t record any stats in the team’s 20-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington had 2 tackles for the Bills defeat.

New England Patriots’ special teams ace Nate Ebner made 2 tackles on Thursday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also recovered an onside kick with 2:08 in the fourth quarter to preserve the 19-14 victory.

New York Jets 2nd-year linebacker Darron Lee returned to the Buckeye State to face the Cleveland Browns. He recorded 6 tackles (5 solo) for New York in their 17-14 win.

Ezekiel Elliott had 116 yards on 29 carries and caught one pass for 16 yards for the Dallas Cowboys in their 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Elliott’s former roommate at Ohio State, Joey Bosa, made 6 total tackles, forced a fumble and sacked Eli Manning twice for the LA Chargers in their 27-22 win over the New York Giants. It was their first win of the season while the Giants dropped to 0-5. Eli Apple had 5 solo tackles in a losing effort for the G-Men.

Malik Hooker’s streak of three games with an interception came to an end, but the rookie safety collected 5 tackles to help the Indianapolis Colts move to 2-3 with a 26-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers. John Simon made 4 tackles (3 solo) and Johnathan Hankins had 2 tackles in victory. Carlos Hyde rushed for 11 yards on only 8 carries and caught one pass for 7 yards in a losing effort for the San Francisco 49ers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers duo of Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward had a rough day at the office. Shazier collected 8 tackles (5 solo) a pass defended and an interception, while Heyward made 2 tackles and had a QB hit in the Steelers 30-9 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Carolina Panthers safety Kurt Coleman had 2 tackles in the Panthers 27-24 win over the Detroit Lions. Rookie Curtis Samuel was targeted twice, but no catches in the victory.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had 4 total tackles and a pass defended to help Philly defeat the Arizona Cardinals 34-7.

Oakland Raiders rookie defensive back Gareon Conley missed his second consecutive game with a shin injury. The injury ridden Raiders lost to the Baltimore Ravens 30-17.

Braxton Miller was inactive for the Houston Texans 42-34 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. This is the second consecutive week he was a healthy scratch.

The New Orleans Saints Buckeye contingent of Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Junior, Marshon Lattimore and Vonn Bell were on a Bye. Their next game is next Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Bradley Roby, Jeff Heuerman of the Denver Broncos were also on a Bye and will play the New York Giants next Sunday night.

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 4)

It was the former Silver Bullet defenders that represented well for THE Ohio State Buckeye Alumni in the NFL in week four.

Cam Heyward and Ryan Shazier led the way for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Baltimore Ravens. Heyward recorded two sacks, forced a fumble and recovered it to go along with 4 tackles (3 solo) and 2 hits on the QB. Shazier had an interception and made 11 tackles (10 solo), 1 tackle for loss and broke up 3 passes in the 26-9 victory for the Steelers who moved to 3-1 and first place in the AFC North.

On Sunday Night Football, Malik Hooker was doing “Malik Hooker things” against the Seattle Seahawks. The Indianapolis Colts’ rookie safety captured his 3rd career interception in as many games. He also made 3 tackles (1 solo). Linebacker John Simon had 4 tackles (1 solo) and defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins had 4 tackles (1 solo), a tackle for loss, 1.5 sacks and 2 hits on the quarterback in the Colts 46-18 loss.

Joey Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers faced Malcolm Jenkins and the Philadelphia Eagles in southern California. Bosa collected 6 tackles (5 solo) and 1 QB hit. Jenkins made 6 tackles (5 solo) to help the Eagles get the 26-24 win to move to 3-1. The Chargers drop to 0-4 and last place in the AFC West, while the Eagles moved to 3-1 and 1st place in the NFC East.

Michael Thomas made it back into the end zone for the New Orleans Saints across the bond. Thomas scored on a 3-yard touchdown pass against the Miami Dolphins in London to help the Saints win 20-0. He also had 8 catches and 89 yards on the day. Ted Ginn Junior caught 2 passes for 25 yards and had 1 rush for 9 yards. He also had 3 punt returns for 26 yards. On the defensive side, Vonn Bell made 4 solo tackles and 1 pass defended, while Marshon Lattimore had 5 solo tackles to hold the shutout and get New Orleans to 2-2.

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 85 yards on 21 carries, and caught 4 passes for 54 yards against the Los Angeles Rams, but it wasn’t enough to get the win. The Dallas Cowboys lost 35-30 to fall to 2-2.

Carlos Hyde rushed for 68 yards on 16 carries and made 5 catches for 27 yards for the San Francisco 49ers in their 18-15 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers are now 0-4.

Eli Apple made 4 tackles and defended 2 passes for the New York Giants in their 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The “G-Men” are winless at 0-4.

New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee made 7 tackles (4 solo) and 1 tackle for loss to help them beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-20 in overtime. The Jets are 2-2 and are tied with the New England Patriots for 2nd place in the AFC East.

Kurt Coleman made 2 tackles (1 solo) for the Carolina Panthers in their 33-30 victory over the New England Patriots. Nate Ebner also had 2 tackles (1 solo) for the Patriots.

Gareon Conley was inactive for the Oakland Raiders game against the Denver Broncos. Bronco’s cornerback Bradley Roby made 2 tackles and defended one pass to help the Denver get the 16-10 victory.

Monday Night Football, Terrelle Pryor Senior of Washington caught a 44-yard touchdown pass on the first possession of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s his first TD with his new team and the longest of his career. He finished the night with 3 catches for 70 yards in the 29-20 loss. Washington is tied with the Dallas Cowboys for 2nd place in the NFC East at 2-2.

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 3)

Week three of the 2017 NFL season kicked off Thursday night with an intense thrilling NFC West matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams.

The star of the night for the Niners was running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde came into the night as the NFL leader in yards per carry after having an explosive game last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks’ vaunted defense. The self-proclaimed “El Guapo” scored two rushing touchdowns to go along with 84 rushing yards on 25 carries, and 3 catches for 10 yards. But it wasn’t enough as the Rams held on late to win 41-39.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Buckeye Duo of Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward played in the craziest game of the day in the “Windy City” against the Chicago Bears. Shazier led all players with 11 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Heyward added 3 solo tackles. Pittsburgh suffered its first loss of the season in overtime 23-17.

Three Buckeyes led the way for the New Orleans Saints in their 34-13 win over NFC South division rival Carolina Panthers. 2nd-year wideout Mike Thomas caught 7 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, Ted Ginn Junior caught 2 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown to go along with one carry for 15 yards, while defensive back Vonn Bell had 4 tackles (2 solo) to help the Saints get their first win of the 2017 season. Rookie Marshon Lattimore missed the game with a concussion. 8th year safety Kurt Coleman made 9 tackles (6 solo) and rookie Curtis Samuel had 2 catches for 5 yards and one carry for 31 rushing yards in the loss for the Panthers.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had 7 tackles (5 solo) in the Eagles 27-24 win over Eli Apple and the New York Giants. Apple made 5 tackles (3 solo) and linebacker Curtis Grant made one tackle in defeat. The Giants are now 0-3, while Philadelphia moved to 2-1.

Malik “ball-hawk” Hooker grabbed his 2nd career interception for the Indianapolis Colts against the Cleveland Browns. His first came last week against the Arizona Cardinals. Hooker also made 3 tackles (2 solo). John Simon had 6 tackles (4 solo) and a sack as Indy got their first win of the season 31-28.

Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby collected 4 tackles (3 solo) and broke up one pass in their 26-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Tight end Jeff Heuerman missed the game with a shoulder injury. On Buffalo’s side, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington made 2 solo tackles in the win.

Braxton Miller caught one pass for 15 yards for the Houston Texans in their 36-33 loss to the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. Patriots special teams star Nate Ebner made 2 tackles for the winners.

Darron Lee made 2 solo tackles for the New York Jets in their 20-6 win over the Miami Dolphins. Joey Bosa made 6 tackles (3 solo) and a half sack for the Los Angeles Chargers in their 24-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs

On Sunday Night Football, two former Buckeyes lined up against each other. Washington wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Senior against the team that drafted him to play quarterback, the Oakland Raiders and rookie cornerback Gareon Conley. Pryor caught two passes for 19 yards to help Washington move to 2-1 with a 27-10 victory over Oakland. Conley had 4 tackles (3 solo) in defeat.

Ezekiel Elliott had a bounce back game for the Dallas Cowboys against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football to close out week three. Elliott, who rushed for only 8 yards on 9 carries last week against the Denver Broncos, had 80 rushing yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown. He also made 3 catches for 14 yards to help the Cowboys win 28-17. Rookie Noah Brown caught his first NFL pass for 13 yards for Dallas. Rod Smith made one tackle on special teams for the Cowboys. Offensive tackle Alex Boone made his 2017 debut with the Arizona Cardinals. He started the season in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings.

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 1)

Rookies Marshon Lattimore and Pat Elflein share a moment after playing their first game as NFL players. Photo Courtesy: NFL snapchat

While Buckeye Nation attempts to process what happened Saturday night in the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, several former Buckeyes made their 2017 debuts in the League.

Seven Buckeyes were selected at April’s draft, three in the first round. In all, 42 Ohio State Alumni opened the season on NFL rosters.

The Indianapolis Colts have five former Buckeyes on their team. The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys are tied for second with four each.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is the most notable of the former Buckeyes. Elliott’s team faced off against his former 2014 National championship teammate cornerback Eli Apple and the New York Giants. Elliott rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries and caught 5 passes for 36 yards in “America’s Team’s” 19-3 victory. Apple made 7 tackles (5 solo) in defeat for the “G-Men.”

New York Jets 2nd-year linebacker Darron Lee collected 10 tackles (7 solo) and a sack in his team’s 21-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward made their return to the Buckeye State in their season opener against the Cleveland Browns. Shazier had 7 tackles (4 solo), while Heyward had a sack, a tackle for loss and 3 tackles (1 solo) in the Steelers 21-18 win over the Browns.

The Carolina Panthers and their three Buckeyes of Kurt Coleman, rookie Curtis Samuel and offensive lineman Andrew Norwell lined up against running back Carlos Hyde and the San Francisco 49ers. Coleman made 6 solo tackles in Carolina’s 23-3 win. Samuel was limited with an ankle injury. Hyde rushed for 45 yards on 9 carries and had 6 catches for 32 yards in the loss.

Terrelle Pryor Senior caught 6 passes for 66 yards in his debut with Washington against NFC East rival the Philadelphia Eagles. 9-year vet, Safety Malcolm Jenkins had 4 tackles for the Eagles in their 30-17 win in the Nation’s capital.

The Indianapolis Colts quintuplets of Bucks had a difficult opening day against the Los Angeles Rams. LA won by a score of 46-9. Jonathan Hankins had 2 solo tackles, John Simon collected 6 tackles (5 solo) and rookie safety Malik Hooker had 4 tackles (3 solo) in defeat. Tyvis Powell and Jake Mewhort didn’t register any statistics.

Several Bucks had to wait until Monday night to start their 2017 season. Ted Ginn Junior, Mike Thomas, Vonn Bell and Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints took on center Pat Elflein the Minnesota Vikings. Thomas caught 5 passes for 45 yards, while Ginn Junior made 4 catches for 53 yards and had one rush for 5 yards in the Saints 29-19 loss. Defensively Lattimore made 4 solo tackles in his NFL debut. Elflein the 70th overall pick (3rd round) in the 2017 draft made the first start of his career.

Joey Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers went to Denver to face Bradley Roby, Jeff Heurerman and the Broncos in the second of the Monday Night Football double header. Roby had 5 tackles (3 solo), 2 passes defensed and a key interception in the Broncos 24-21 win. Tight end Jeff Heuerman had one catch for twenty yards to help progress a scoring drive. Bosa made 6 tackles (3 solo), and 1.5 sacks in defeat.

2017 NFL Rookie Most Likely to…

The 2017 NFL Draft Class was full of star power and several of those members will light up the League real soon. Photo Credit: ESPN.com

The dawn of the 2017 NFL Season has arrived and a new crop of college stars are preparing to make their mark in pro football.

Teams put a premium on defense this past draft. 131 defensive players were selected to 118 offensive. 34 of those players were cornerbacks, the most of any single position, 5 in the first round. If you combine the 3 Safeties, defensive back was the most selected unit in the draft. In all 67 defensive backs were picked in 2017.

I’ve done this exercise the two previous seasons and I’ve hit on some already, some are close to happening, and I’ve missed VERY BADLY on one. My apologies to my fellow Ohio State Alum Joey Bosa.

As with any draft in every sport, the situation you’re drafted to is more important than when you’re selected. It’s fun and difficult to predict how these guys will affect their team’s success or failures. So, here’s how I see several of this year’s crop of rookies careers panning out.

Most likely to lead the NFL in passing yards…. Patrick Mahomes (10th overall pick/Kansas City Chiefs). Andy Reid and his staff moved up to select the Texas Tech QB. Everyone knows the Red Raiders offense is a hyper passing scheme that tends to lead to video game numbers that doesn’t necessarily transition to the NFL. But, Mahomes should be different because he’s no “check down Charlie” like current Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith. Mahomes has the arm strength to push the ball down the field and Reid, a west coast offense guy, who’s called plays for Donovan McNabb when the Philadelphia Eagles went to four NFC title games and a Super Bowl, Brett Favre when he won three consecutive NFL MVPs and Michael Vick when he revived his career after a stint in prison. Mahomes has a real QB whisperer in his ear.

Most likely to lead the league in rushing yards…. Leonard Fournette (4th overall pick/Jacksonville Jaguars). He will play with a quarterback, in Blake Bortles, that has led the league in turnovers with 63 since entering the League in 2014. Bortles struggled to hold on to the starting job in the preseason, with Coach Marrone going as far to say he preferred to not have Blake pass the ball.

The Jags coaching staff already believes in smash mouth defense and a ball control offense.  In 2016 the Jags running game averaged 4.2 yards per carry, which was 17th in the NFL, and 101.9 yards per game that was 22nd. Fournette alone will improve those numbers. He’ll have to if Bortles can’t shake the yips.

Most likely to lead the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs… Taywon Taylor (3rd round, 72nd pick/Titans). The ball is like a magnet to his hands. During his senior season with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers he broke and set the school’s single season record for receptions and yards with 98 catches for 1,730 yards to go along with 17 TDs. He finished his career with a school record 253 catches for 4,234 yards and 41 TDs.

The Titans have a strong running game with DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry and Marcus Marriota running the read-option. What they need is a threat in the passing game and Taylor will provide just that.

Most likely to lead the league in sacks… T.J. Watt (30th overall pick/Pittsburgh Steelers). First reason, it is in his blood lines. He’s a Watt. Second, he plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 3-4 scheme that is only successful when it’s LBs blitz the QB. He got his first sack on Pittsburgh’s first defensive trip on the field in their first preseason game, he followed that up with another sack on the first play of their second defensive drive. At Wisconsin he collected 11.5 sacks in the 27 games he played. It’s what he does. Third, he’ll have the likes of Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt occupying offensive linemen to allow him to get free, plus with Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams and Bud Dupree playing alongside him, offenses won’t be scheming to stop Watt. Initially.

Most likely to lead the NFL in turnovers… Deshone Kizer (2nd round, Pick 52nd/Cleveland Browns). This organization has been snake bitten at the quarterback position since they returned to the League in 1999. Nearly 30 have started a game for the Browns in the last 18 seasons.

Cleveland is in the midst of a fire sale and don’t have much around Kizer at the skills positions. Their leading receiver from 2016, Terrelle Pryor, is in Washington and their second leading receiver, tight end Gary Barnidge, is still on the free agent market. The current leading receiver from 2016 is running back Duke Johnson Junior who had 52 catches for 514 yards.

Coach Hue Jackson has made the decision to start Kizer week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Therefore his growing pains are going to start early and he may very well have to shoulder the entire offense load. That’s not a good thing. Cleveland’s coaching staff and management is willing to suffer through his development, while investing in his future. He may fulfill this prediction of mine in season number one.

He will have to rely on guys who may not be on the roster next season as the team goes through a rebuilding period. It’s safe to say the turnovers will pile up, even it they aren’t entirely his fault.

Most likely to lead the League in interceptions (takeaways)…. Tre’Davious White (27th overall pick/Buffalo Bills). He hails from DBU better known as LSU, the same school that brought the NFL Patrick Petersen, Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne to name a few. The Bills still have a strong front seven that will put pressure on opposing QBs causing them to force some passes where they shouldn’t. Plus he plays in the AFC East where outside of Tom Brady, the quarterback play is VERY shoddy.

Most likely to be Offensive Rookie of the Year…. Christian McCaffrey (8th overall pick/Carolina Panthers). The Carolina Panthers will be attempting to lessen the workload on Cam Newton after his off-season shoulder surgery. Thus, they drafted McCaffrey in the first round to make use of his versatility. The Stanford alum is an all-purpose back that can contribute in the running, passing and return game. He’s going to get the most opportunities of any offensive player in this draft class.

Most likely to be Defensive Player of the Year…

Linebackers and defensive ends have dominated this award. Basically, pass rushers. The guy I really like is San Francisco 49ers LB Reuben Foster out of Alabama (31st overall pick/San Francisco 49ers). He never should have fallen this far, but, character issues hurt him.

The Niners used their two first round picks on defense (DT Solomon Thomas 3rd overall pick). While everyone is expecting new Head Coach Kyle Shanahan to rev up the offense, the San Fran D has drastically declined since the days competing with Seattle for the NFC West crown under Jim Harbaugh. Foster will rack up the tackles on a team that was the 32nd ranked defense last season. If he has the numbers and as a unit they continue to climb to a top ten team, many voters will point to him as the catalyst.

Most likely to be steal of the draft… Jake Butt (5th round, 145th pick/Denver Broncos) a nasty knee injury in Michigan’s bowl game is the reason he fell this far. Coming into the 2016 College football season, he was a projected first round pick. It was between him and Alabama’s O.J. Howard, who was selected in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as to which was the better all-around tight end.

Denver has young QBs who will need a safety blanket in the middle of the field. He will be that. Plus, he will draw lots of one-on-one coverage with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders stretching defenses out deep down field.

Most likely to be a perennial All-Pro…. Ryan Ramczyk (32nd overall pick/New Orleans Saints)He comes from Wisconsin where they churn out as many All-Pro offensive linemen as the state does butter. Not really, but you get it. Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns, Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys and Kraig Urbik of the Miami Dolphins to name a few.

Ramczyk will be charged with keeping Drew Brees up right so he can continue to pass for 5,000+ yards a season. One of the easiest ways to make an All-Pro team is to block for a QB that puts up historic numbers or a RB that is a top five rusher

Most likely to be NFL MVP…. Only six non-QBs have won the award in the last twenty seasons. The six players were running backs and one of them (Barry Sanders, 1997) shared it with Brett Favre. Therefore it’s not going out on a limb for me to predict a QB from the 2017 class will one day etch their name on the trophy.

With that being said, I’m going with DeShaun Watson (12th overall pick/Houston Texans). He’s a better version of Dak Prescott. No disrespect to the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and reigning Offensive Player of the Year. But, Watson has the same intangibles to lead a team and a better skill set. He’s shown it on the biggest stage in back-to-back National Championship games against a vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide team. His college coach Dabo Sweeney said he has some “Michael Jordan in him.” It’s hard to disagree after what we’ve already seen. The Texans are tailor-made for him to step in and lead them to glory.

Most likely to be Super Bowl MVP… Once again I’m going with DeShaun Watson. He has the number one ranked defense. The only thing that has been missing from the Houston Texans over the last three seasons has been a competent QB. Watson is more than competent and very capable of leading a team as he showed in college at Clemson. He’s a big gamer and his abilities will be even more amplified by a coach that’s already work with arguably the greatest QB of All-Time, Tom Brady.