Tag Archives: Leonard Fournette

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.

 

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Week 4 College Football Takeaways

Let’s overreact to another week of College Football.

It’s Sunday, so here’s my overreaction to week four of the college football season.

The B1G should replace a few of its schools with teams from the MAC, and would become a better overall conference. Northern Illinois got all the headlines for playing the defending National Champion Buckeyes close last week, but several of their conference brethren have given Power 5 schools headaches. Bowling Green has two wins against B1G schools (Purdue & Maryland) and played Tennessee out of the SEC close until succumbing 59-30. The Ohio Bobcats pushed the Minnesota Gophers to the final seconds this week, before losing 27-24. Kent State also only lost to the Golden Gophers by 3 points a week ago.

It’s clear the top teams in the MAC have caught up. My guess is that many of the top recruits from the Midwest who don’t accept or receive scholarships to power 5 schools–where they’ll have to sit for two years, behind upperclassmen who are also former top recruits–are getting on the field sooner at the mid major program’s, and it’s finally paying off for those programs. Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue are a few that come to mind that don’t help the B1G case when it comes to football. Check back with those schools later this fall when hoops tips-off.

TCU is not a top 5 team. Look at their defense. They gave up 52 points and 607 total yards, and needed a fluke tip drill to score a touchdown on 4th down in the following seconds to beat Texas Tech. Last week they gave up 37 points and 508 total yards to SMU. Minnesota, a mid level team in the B1G, gave them a scare in week one. The Horned Frog defense will have circles ran around it against their major in conference challenger, Baylor. Who, by the way, just put up 70 points against Rice on Saturday. Number fifteen ranked Oklahoma, number twenty-three ranked West Virginia and number twenty ranked Oklahoma State may dash their playoff hopes soon enough.

Which brings me to this point, if the College Football Playoffs started today, the top 4 teams would be from the B1G Champion (Ohio State or Michigan State), the SEC champion (Georgia or LSU), Notre Dame and Utah. To me those are the four teams playing the best football, even though they aren’t ranked that way in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

This means the Big 12 would get left out of the playoffs again. The Big 12 has become Arena Football with their focus on high volume passing offenses. Any champion from that conference would be physically dominated by the top teams in the B1G, SEC and PAC-12. The PAC-12 winner could have two losses because they best teams in conference and beating up on each other. However, the champion from the PAC-12 would still be highly impressive with two losses.

The Heisman Trophy race is a now two-man race between LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Georgia running back Nick Chubbs. I said last week Fournette should win hands down, but Chubbs is making a case while chasing history at Georgia. He just tied 1982 Heisman winner Herschel Walker’s school record for most consecutive 100 yard rushing games. The winner of the 2015 Heisman may be decided the night these two face off in the SEC Championship game. That is, if both teams continue winning.

Michigan just made the B1G a three team race. The “Fighting Khakis” are back in the Associated Press Top 25 at number 22. The FPI gives head coach Jim Harbaugh’s team a 25% chance of entering the bowl season with 10+ wins and a 56% chance to beat in state rival Michigan State. It was only 34% in the preseason. The Spartans and Buckeyes schedule just got a little more difficult. You happy Brett Bielema? I’m going to stay on his case all season.

The Razorbacks are 0-3 since Bielema called out the Buckeyes schedule.

Week 3 B1G Takeaways  


The NFL has overreaction Monday, in college football its overreaction Sunday. Here’s the biggest takeaways from week three in the B1G.

Michigan State is the best team in the country. Sure the Buckeyes are ranked number one in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, but after stealing two first place votes last week after their victory over then ranked #7 Oregon, the Spartans once again showed why they deserve more consideration this week.

The Green & White earned 7 first place votes this week after their victory over Air Force (Ole Miss got 11 first place votes).

The 35-21 score might not reflect it, but Sparty was dominant in the win, especially in the passing game. Connor Cook went 15-23 for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns, 3 of them to Aaron Burbridge to go along with 156 yards. The defense also forced 3 Air Force turnovers.

Next up, Central Michigan of the MAC in East Lansing. Hopefully for MSU fans, they can avoid a similar scare as Ohio State did this past week.

The B1G Conference as a whole isn’t as bad as original thought.  For the first time since November of 2006, the top two teams in the AP poll hail from the B1G.

The Northwestern Wildcats came into Saturday ranked #23 in the nation and improved to #17 after their 19-10 victory over Duke. Also, with Stanford’s win over then ranked #6 USC, the Wildcats win over Stanford week one looks even more impressive.

The B1G conference went 9-3 in non-conference games. Penn State beat Rutgers 28-3 in the only game between conference opponents on the schedule.

Matter of fact, the B1G has 4 teams in the top 25 this week (OSU, MSU, Northwestern & # 22 Wisconsn). What do you think about that Brett Beilema?

Bielema’s Arkansas Razorbacks on 0-2 since he called out Ohio State’s schedule. Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt

None of the Buckeyes quad of Heisman Trophy candidates will win the award. The internet exploded week one when Braxton Miller made his case for the “Bronze Stiff Arm” with the spin seen around the world against Virginia Tech. Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones, fresh off their performances in the College Football Playoff, entered the season as heavy favorites for the award. But, after three weeks, the stats and signature moments aren’t there.
Plus, there’s this guy in Baton Rouge, named Leonard Fournette, who has the stats and enough Heisman moments that producers of the award show won’t have enough time to show highlights of the other candidates.

J.T. Barrett is the better option for OSU at quarterback. Barrett didn’t play on Saturday like folks in Columbus are used to seeing him play in 2014 (11-19, 97 yards, 1 INT). However, he did throw a touchdown pass and led a drive to get the offense somewhat going.

But, it’s now clear why Barrett, not Cardale Jones, got the call last season when Braxton Miller went down to injury. On Saturday, Jones was 4-9 with 2 interceptions against Northern Illinois before he was pulled. 

If you really watch the game film from the first two games, he showed signs of erratic play then, especially not setting his feet on several throws. It just didn’t show up in the results because his teammates made great plays for him.

The time is now for Coach Urban Meyer to choose one QB to start, and allow that guy to take the majority of practice snaps. After Saturday’s game, Meyer said he didn’t know who would be his quarterback to start next week. I think that non answer says it all.

Jones even changed his Twitter bio that might signal what’s to come…..

He later took this update to his bio down, but the firestorm has already begun. Trouble in Buckeye-land?