Tag Archives: NFL Draft

Where Each Buckeye Prospect SHOULD Go in the ’16 NFL Draft


To many, the Ohio State Buckeyes had the best collection of talent on any roster in college football this past season. That’s why 14 of them were in Indianapolis in late February to participate in the NFL Combine, by far the most of any college program. It’s very likely that they all will hear their names called by Commissioner Goodell on April 28, 29 or 30th in Chicago at the draft.

This post is simply where I think each Ohio State Alumn eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft will make the most sense and reach their potential to have as productive of a professional career as they had in Scarlet and Gray. This is not a mock draft. I repeat, this is not a mock draft! Those are created based on insider information that hints as to where teams are leaning towards using their pick.  I only included the picks so you would have an idea of where the teams selected.

Joey Bosa (DL) – 2nd pick, Cleveland Browns. The consensus of mock drafts have the Browns selecting California quarterback Jared Goff with this pick. I haven’t seen him play enough to say he is or isn’t worthy of such a high pick, but I do know that he wasn’t as heralded as a top prospect for long as Bosa has been during his time in Columbus. Bosa has been projected as the top player in this class for at least two seasons.

The Tennessee Titans have the number one pick and are likely to draft a left tackle to protect their franchise QB Marcus Mariotta. That makes sense, but if you’re Cleveland, it doesn’t make sense to draft a QB who just started climbing the draft boards after one season.

I only have to mention one name that Browns executives should think of when making this pick; J.J. Watt. Bosa has that type of potential. Cleveland could do better in the QB market in free agency, or maybe new head coach Hugh Jackson should make a deal with his old team the Cincinnati Bengals for backup A.J. McCarron. The Browns could also wait until the second round an make a run at Michigan State and Cleveland area native Connor Cook, or the Buckeye’s Cardale Jones-more on him later.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB) – 4th pick, Dallas Cowboys. Zeke is hands down top running back prospect in this class. If this were the 90’s he would be a top three pick easily. However, this is the NFL where the running back position has been devalued, and Elliott is projected to go anywhere from 15th to 25th.

The Cowboys were at their best in 2014 when they had All-Pro running back DeMarco Murray leading the NFL in rushing. Dallas finished with a 12-4 record. Without him, as well as Tony Romo and Dez Bryant due to injury, the ‘Boys had the fourth worse record in the League. Dallas is desperate for a game changing RB. Zeke is dynamic in the run game and versatile enough to be used in the passing game to the point he’d be on the field all three downs. He’s also a devastating blocker in pass protection, so he could help keep guys off Tony Romo’s ailing back and shoulder.

What Dallas should do is trade down around the 10th selection, pick up more pieces to help a team that finished with a 4-12 record. If Dallas is serious about winning now, this is the move. As a bonus, if Zeke were to be drafted by Dallas, his new home would be the site of his greatest moment as a Buckeye.

Eli Apple (CB) – 25th pick, Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers desperately need help in the back end of their defense. Pittsburgh was 30th in pass defense. They haven’t selected a defensive back in the first round since Troy Polamalu with the 16th pick in 2003.

Apple is a big corner at 6’1″ 200 pounds who plays physical press coverage and is very good in man-to-man. He’s one of three corners expected to go in the first round along with Jalen Ramsey out of Florida State and Vernon Hargreaves from Florida.

Taylor Decker (OL) – 16th pick, Detroit Lions/18th, Indianapolis Colts. The uncertainty surrounding WR Calvin Johnson’s possible retirement may change the plans Detroit had coming into the offseason for the draft. It won’t matter if Megatron stays or goes if his QB Matt Stafford can’t get enough time to throw him the ball. They desperately need offensive line help. This may be high for Decker, but with other teams picking ahead of them needing offense line help as well, there may be a run of them selected early in the draft starting with the Titans with the first pick that may force the Lions hand.

The Indianapolis Colts also are in badly need of some protection for Andrew Luck. Luck has been sacked more than any QB in his 4-years in the League; 115 times in 55 games. Considering how bad the O-line was in 2015, the Colts may be sprinting to the podium to select Decker if he’s still there.

Darron Lee (LB) – 12th pick, New Orleans Saints/18th pick, Indianapolis Colts. Linebacker along with offensive line help is a big need for several teams in this year’s draft. The 6’1″ 232 pound Lee has the look and measurables of former Buckeye and current Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Ryan Shazier. If you saw the playoff games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos, you see how well that’s working out for Steeler Nation. Lee could boost a Saints defense that was the second worse total defense in the NFL this past season.

The Colts would also be a good fit for Lee if they don’t go offensive line, they have some holes due to free agency and poor play from last seasons’ unit.

Michael Thomas (WR) – 22nd pick Houston Texans/26th pick, Seattle Seahawks/30th pick, Carolina Panthers. Thomas, the nephew of Keyshawn Johnson, is a big receiver at 6’3″ 215 pounds. Coming into the NFL combine he was the third rated WR in this class, so going late in the first round is a realistic option for a few teams.

The Texans DeAndre Hopkins needs some help! He was dominant in his first season as the number one in replacement of Houston’s all-time leading receiver Andre Johnson, who moved on to the Indianapolis Colts. Thomas can be the number two WR to alleviate the pressure on Hopkins in H-Town. Granted part of the passing problem with the Texans is they had four QBs start for them in 2015. But, if you believe the RG III or Colin Kaepernick trade rumors, they may have better luck at that position in 2016.

Thomas could also boost the Seahawks who lost Golden Tate in free agency in 2015 and a Panthers group that was pretty lackluster–even though they made the Super Bowl–to say the least with 2014 top pick Kelvin Benjamin missing the entire 2015 with a knee injury.

Braxton Miller (WR, KR, PR) — 2nd round 34th pick, Dallas Cowboys. Braxton is turning heads with his athleticism and quick ability to pick up the nuances of the position after switching from QB to WR for his senior season at OSU. From an athletic stand point, he is a 1st round talent, but because of the late position change and his 40-yard dash time of 4.55, it may have caused him to slip in the eyes of decision makers. The consensus of the mock drafts have him going anywhere early second round to late third round coming into the combine.

Cowboys coaches were at the helm of the North squad at the Senior Bowl in Mobile Alabama and got an up close look at what the 6’2″ 215 pound Braxton could do. They have a huge hole at the WR position opposite Dez Bryant in the slot as well as the return game. Miller could kill two birds with one stone in” Jerry World.”

Vonn Bell (SS) – 2nd Round pick 38th, Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags need help all over the defensive side of the ball. If they choose to fill their needs on the defensive line in the first round, Bell would be there to help sure up the back end of the unit in the second round. He’s ranked by many as the second best strong safety in the 2016 class.

Cardale Jones (QB) – 2nd round 58th pick/3rd round 89th Pittsburgh Steelers. Cardale is a Cleveland born and raised kid so he’d probably wouldn’t be so thrilled with this, but it sets him up to have a great career. Steelers fans know that two things are stopping this team from greatness; a suspect secondary and the lack of a viable back up to Ben Roethlisberger. Cardale has the similar measurables at 6’5″ 249 pounds to #7.

Landry Jones in his 3 years in the Steel City hasn’t proven he can carry the load when Roethlisberger is out, and bringing in Michael Vick in 2015 wasn’t the answer either.

When the Steelers have had good backup QBs, it’s been when they acquired former All-Pro Charlie Batch and Pro-Bowler Byron Leftwitch at the latter stages of their careers and no longer capable of being full time starters. Roethlisberger has only played 16 games 3 times in his 12-year career. It’s time Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert wise up and stop trying to fill this void with 4th round picks or lower.

For Cardale it’s also a chance to learn behind a two-time Super Bowl Champion, who will be 34 years old when the 2016 season starts, and probably only has 3 to 4 good years left. For both Cardale and Pittsburgh, this could be the move that keeps them as contenders well into the next decade.

Joshua Perry (OLB) – 2nd round 60th pick, New England Patriots. This will be the Pats first pick of the draft due to punishment from deflate-gate unless they trade into the first round. Jerrod Mayo just retired and they’ll likely need to find his replacement immediately in this draft. The 6’3″ 253 pound Perry is the kind of versatile playmaker and character guy Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft covet.

Jalin Marshall (WR, KR, PR) – 3rd round 72 pick, Chicago Bears. Marshall has a similar skill set to former Buckeye and current Carolina Panther Tedd Ginn Junior. They have that world class track speed, great elusiveness in the return game, but questionable skills at the wide receiver position. Outside of Alshon Jeffery, the wide receiver group is limited in the “Windy City” and Marshall can take the top off the defense to help Jeffery get the space he needs to do what he does.

Tyvis Powell (S) – 3rd round 74th pick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After defensive end, the Bucs need help at corner and Safety. At 6’3″ 209 pounds, Powell would check off several boxes for a Tampa defense that finished 23rd overall and 16th against the pass. Powell led the Buckeyes in interceptions in 2015 and finished his career at OSU with 15.

Adolphus Washington (DT) – 3rd round 73rd pick, Miami Dolphins. Washington missed the Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame after being arrested for solicitation. He’ll undoubtedly will be hammered with questions about this at the combine. However, he was a very productive lineman in his time in Columbus and several teams with defensive line needs will want him. He’s very athletic and agile at 6’3″ 297 and can help free up All-Pro Gerald Mccoy and keep blockers off Pro-bowler LaVonte David.

Nick Vanett (TE) – 4th round 120th pick, Pittsburgh Steelers/4th round 124th pick, New England Patrits. The Steelers have a hole at tight end with the retirement of Heath Miller. Jesse James the second-year guy out of Penn State will likely get the nod to start coming into 2016, but as he’s virtually unproven, they’ll need to get some depth behind him. Vanett did more blocking than catching in Columbus–55 catches for 585 yards and 6 TDs for his career (19 receptions for 162 yards in 2015)–but showed at the Senior Bowl he has the athleticism and hands to be very productive in the passing game.

He’d also be a plus for the Patriots. Remember how lethal their offense was when Tom Brady had Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez? Vanett could be the type of TE who could allow them to go back to more two TE sets where they’d have the versatility to run through you and pass all over you.

2015 NFL Rookies Most Likely To’s…

The careers of the class of 2015 is now on the clock. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

The 2015 NFL draft class has taken their photos with the commissioner and received their hats and jerseys. Now it is time for them to begin working towards making a significant contribution to their new team. And, it’s the fans and media types turn to critique or criticize each selection as well as prognosticate their careers. The key for these guys to have a successful career depends on the team they’re drafted to, as much as their own talent and work ethic. Every year some prospects fall well below their projected draft spot into a better situation. See Dan Marino, Randy Moss, Warren Sapp, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to name a few. Predicting the future of a professional athlete is harder than trying to read HTML text. So of course, I took my shot. Here are my 2015 NFL Draft Class’ most likely to’s. (Note: this is not what I think they’ll do in their rookie season, but at some point in their careers.)

Most likely to pass for 4,000 yards ~ Jameis Winston (QB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winston has all the tools of a prototypical NFL quarterback; 6’4″, big arm, above average mobility and played in a pro style system. In Tampa Bay he will have two beast at wide receiver to throw to in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, who are both 6’5″ like Kelvin Benjamin, his go to target at Florida State the season they won the National Championship.

Most likely to lead the NFL in rushing ~ Todd Gurley (RB) St. Louis Rams. He is an Adrian Peterson clone. At 6’0″ 222 pounds he has Olympic speed having been a track star at the University of Georgia in addition to running for the second most yards in Bulldogs history. He will run over you, then away from you. Head Coach Jeff Fisher is all about tough physical defense complimenting a power running game. He did it for nearly a decade in Houston and Tennessee with former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. That’s the recipe to win In the NFC West.

Most likely to lead the league in receptions/receiving yards ~ Nelson Agholor (WR) Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly’s crew has lost their leading receiver each of the last two seasons (Desean Jackson 2013, Jeremy Macklin 2014). Drafting Agholor with their first round pick was a dire need and a perfect fit. At 6’0″ 198 pounds, the former USC Trojan is built similarly to Macklin and will need to be featured and targeted often in this offense if it has any hopes of making it back to the playoffs. Kelly is familiar with Agholor from recruiting him out of high school, to coaching against him in the PAC-12. Jackson and Macklin weren’t Kelly’s guys, Agholor is and he will get the opportunities to flourish.

Most likely to lead the league in touchdowns ~ Marcus Mariota (QB) Tennessee Titans. Mariota is a dual threat QB and in order for him to be successful in the NFL, he’s going to have to do it with his legs as much as with his arm. I can see Mariota being what RG III showed flashes of in his first season in D.C. For the Titans to be successful, Mariota will have to consistently post 10+ touchdowns on the ground, along with 20-25 in the air.

Most likely to lead the league in interceptions ~ Marcus Peters (CB) Kansas City Chiefs. Draft gurus said he’s the best corner in the draft, but issues with the coaching staff at the University of Washington that caused him to be kicked off the team in his final season are why he was selected number 18 instead of the first defensive back to come off the board. Peters allowed just 38.1 percent of the passes against him to be completed and had 24 passes defended and 8 interceptions in two seasons with the Huskies.

Most likely to lead the league in sacks ~ Bud Dupree (OLB) Pittsburgh Steelers. Dupree has in many draft experts eyes top 10 potential. He is a versatile linebacker who can play many roles in the 3-4 scheme the Black and Gold will run even without longtime Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau. Dupree won’t have the pressure of being “the guy” playing alongside the ageless James Harrison, Pro Bowler Lawrence Timmons and the potential of Ryan Shazier (last year’s top pick) and Jarvis Jones. Chris Burke of SI.com says “As a stand-up rusher, has tremendous first-step quickness and closes to the pocket in a hurry. Bends the edge in space quickly enough for blockers to struggle in adjustment.” That’s a Blitzburgh linebacker.

Most likely to lead the league in tackles ~ Eric Kendricks (LB) Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks was a tackling machine in his collegiate career at UCLA (481). The 2014 Butkus and Lott IMPACT award winner can play on all three downs and will have the advantage of playing next to his former college teammate, Anthony Barr. In Minnesota he should be kept clean to get to the ball carrier by DT Shariff Floyd and NT Linval Joseph.

Most likely to lead the league in tackles for loss ~ Leonard Williams (DT) New York Jets. Williams was not only called the safest pick in the draft, but possibly the best player in this class. He is a late bloomer to the game and is still learning just what he can do. He’s a three down player and is well conditioned from playing against uptempo offenses in the Pac-12. With the Jets he’ll benefit from playing for a great defensive minded coach in Todd Bowles and next to Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Gang Green has potentially the best D-Line in football and this kid will be getting single coverage to wreck backfields. Matter of fact, the Jets are the leading candidates to have the league’s best overall defense with the additions of Revis and Cromartie in the secondary. They’ll need it, because there offense may be near the worse unless Geno Smith drastically improves.

Most likely to lead the league in turnovers ~ Jameis Winston (QB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Baring injury he will start day one. Rookie QBs thrown in the fire historically struggle with the turnover bug. The knock on him during the draft process has been his decision-making on and off the field. On the field, he forced a lot of passes into tight windows, relying on his arm strength—similar to Bears QB Jay Cutler who some have compared him to—and we all know the windows are tighter in the NFL. In his second season at FSU, Winston threw 18 interceptions. He also is loose with the ball in the pocket as he tries to maneuver around similar to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger–who I think is his best case scenario. I’m not saying Winston will be a bust or anything, but when you’re the number one pick it is trial by fire. Ask Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, Peyton and Eli Manning and other quarterbacks who were drafted number one overall. Turnovers are part of the growing pains.

Most likely to be Rookie of The Year ~ Melvin Gordon (RB) San Diego Chargers. Gordon will have the benefit of playing with Pro Bowlers in quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Kennan Allen as well as Malcolm Floyd. That means he won’t see many eight man fronts loading up to stop him like his draft counter part Todd Gurley will face with St. Louis. Gordon will be the game one starter replacing Ryan Matthews who’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles. He will also play a huge role in the Chargers passing game, as he showed at Wisconsin he can be an every down back like his draft comparison Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs. I still think Gurley is the better back and will have the better career, but the fit for Gordon in San Diego sets him up to have a better start.

Most likely to be a perennial Pro Bowler/All-Pro ~ Andrus Peat (OL) New Orleans Saints. This is a cop-out pick for me. Top rated offensive lineman typically transition very well to the next level. See Jake Long, Joe Thomas, Maurkice Pouncey and the list goes on. The 6’7″ 313 pounder has a much easier road because of his pedigree being the son of a former pro and playing with one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees.

Most likely to fade into obscurity ~ Randy Gregory (OLB) Dallas Cowboys. The NFL is in an era of steering clear of guys with off the field issues. Gregory not only failed a drug test at the combine he knew was coming, but missed interviews or showed up to a few ninety minutes late during the draft process. If he can stay on the field the Cowboys may have something, but Dallas hasn’t been known as an organization that does a good job of keeping troubled guys out of trouble.

Most likely to be the steal of the draft ~ Brett Hundley (QB) Green Bay Packers. The 6’3″ former UCLA Bruin was drafted 147th when the Packers traded up from 166th to select him. He won’t be expected to play for a while, because he will sit behind arguably the best in the game in Aaron Rodgers. But he’s in the best position because obviously GM Ted Thompson coveted him to make such a jump to select him. He’s been compared to journeyman quarterback Jason Campbell, but unlike Campbell, Hundley will most likely have the benefit of learning one system from one coordinator. The best thing for Hundley is he will not only learn from Coach McCarthy, who has experience working with elite quarterbacks, but Rodgers experience on the field and patiently waiting his turn behind another future Hall of Famer.

Late rounder most likely to be a Pro Bowler ~ Michael Bennett (DT) Jacksonville Jaguars. Bennett was selected a lot later than expected (NFL.com projected him in the second round). But, it may have been best for him. He’ll play for Gus Bradley, who has been very successful in the NFL, most notably as an assistant in Seattle and Tampa Bay where he was apart of Monty Kiffin’s staff. From his draft profile via NFL.com; Great burst off snap, coming in low and looking to disrupt. Is always first with his hands. Good arm length for a player his height. Violent, active hands are his calling card. Uses powerful hands to snatch and pull guards off their spot. That’s what you want in a defensive tackle.

Steelers Need to Use First Round Pick on a Defensive Back

The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a defensive back in the first round was 2003. That choice was future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu. That’s the good news. The bad news is, he’s closer to retirement than the All-Pro, former Defensive Player of the Year he’s been throughout his career. 

Pittsburgh currently holds the 22nd pick and it’s time for general manager Kevin Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin and newly promoted defensive coordinator Keith Butler to upgrade the secondary. 

Polamalu and fellow veteran defensive back Ike Taylor are hanging on by the gray hairs in their beards. It is time to select their replacements while they can still tutor them on how to be a Steeler.

The Steelers had the 6th ranked defense in the NFL in 2014 against the pass, but they gave up a NFL second worse fifteen pass plays over 40 yards and a 14th league worse fifty pass plays over 20 yards. 

The thirty passing touchdowns given up was tied for 4th worst in the NFL. The Black and Gold were also 6th worse in total passing yards 4,049 and gave up a 5th worse 98.3 rating to opposing quarterbacks. The numbers don’t lie, it’s time to invest in some defensive backs. 

If you go to NFL.com and look at the mock drafts from their four draft analysts, they are split as to what the Steelers should do. Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis have Pittsburgh going defensive back with Jeremaih suggesting P.J. Williams from Florida State and Davis suggesting Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest. The other two analysts, Lance Zierlein and Bucky Brooks suggest Pittsburgh should select outside linebacker Vic Beasley from Clemson and defensive tackle Malcolm Brown from Texas respectively.

In recent drafts the Steelers have looked to fortify their front seven hoping to get pressure on the elite passers in this league. That’s all well and good, but if the back-end of the defense is below average, it won’t matter if the front seven is the best in the league, as the stats show, they’ll still get torched.

Steeler Nation is hoping the Pittsburgh brass will make the correct selection to avoid that from continuing to be a weakness. They’ll have several options  as their are several talented defensive backs in this 2015 Class. Good thing too, because they should be looking to add another with their second round pick as well. 

2013 Steelers Post Mortem


2014 Steelers will have many changes, Ryan Clark may be one of them.

Now that I’ve had a week to think about it (and get over it), here’s my final thoughts about the Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 season.

It’s been two disappointing winters for Steeler Nation, three if you count the shocking overtime wild card playoff loss to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos at the end of the 2011 Season. The Steelers have a lot of work to do in order to regain their form as one of the NFLs top Super Bowl contenders, but the way they finished the season—winning 3 of their last 4 games and 6 of their last 8—showed they steadily improved over 2013 and have a better outlook on 2014 then it looked after the first four games of the season.

The offensive line improved greatly considering all the different lineups used due to injuries during the season. In the last four games they only gave up 6 sacks, compared to 15 in the first four games. On the season they gave up 42, still a high number, but they were on pace for 60. The fact that this offensive line found their way is why Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to play in all 16 games and take every offensive snap. It’s another reason why I feel that all this unit needs is more time together, not more turnover. Sign those free agents like Fenando Velasco and use early draft picks elsewhere. I’ll get to that.

Even though he wasn’t selected for the Pro Bowl, Roethlisberger passed for 4,261 yards (266.3 YPG) and 28 touchdowns with a 92.0 QBR on the season to go along with a running game that finally looked like STEELER football led by a healthy Le’Veon Bell—who rushed for 860 yards and 8 TDs and broke Hall Of Famer Franco Harris’ rookie record for total yards from scrimmage with 1,259 yards, all after missing the first three games of the season. So the offense looks to be fine going into 2014, especially when you take into account they’ll be getting back an All-Pro in Maurkice Pouncey.


Roethlisberger will be back, but what about Troy?

The area that needs the most work is the defense, specifically the secondary. Troy Polumalu is going to be 33 years old in 2014. He finished the season playing more of a run stopping hybrid linebacker then in coverage. Ike Taylor will be 34, Ryan Clark 36. One or all those Steeler greats may have played their final game in a black and gold jersey. Loyalty aside, that may be in the best interest for the organization.

I said earlier in the season, the steelers need to spend their first three picks on selecting the best defensive back available at the time their number is called during the 2014 Draft in May. They will select 15th overall and need to target Jim Thorpe Award winning cornerback Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State, Safety Ha’Sean Clinton Dix from Alabama, Cornerback Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State and USC Safety Dion Bailey if he decides to forgo his Senior Season. All of them are projected to be available when the Steelers pick.

Right now I’ve seen two updated, prominent Mock Drafts that have the Steelers drafting USC wideout Marquis Lee (WalterFootball.com) and Offensive Tackle Greg Robinson from Auburn (bleacherreport.com). I already addressed the Offensive line situation and there’s no need to select a wideout this early when GM Kevin Colbert has had great success drafting pro bowl caliber wide receivers in later rounds—see Antonio Brown, selected pick in the 6th round at puck 195 In 2010; Mike Wallace at pick 84 of the 3rd round In 2009. The last time Pittsburgh used a first round pick on a defensive back was Troy Polumalu at pick 16 In 2003. It’s time to change that.

The line backer core is solidified with Lawrence Timmons, Lamar Woodley, Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones. Worilds is one of the many free agents, and should be a top priority to resign. The Defensive line appears to be in better shape headed into the offseason with the emergence of Cameron Heyward and Ziggy Hood. So the onus is on the coaching staff and management to improve a secondary that showed its age by allowing several big plays of more than the season.

After starting 0-4, the Steelers showed major growth over the final three quarters of the season, giving more hope to fans of a better 2014 to come. The work begins now, this is where the black and gold needs to show up and prove why they are viewed as “The Standard.”


Coach Tomlin will ensure the Black & Gold returns to “The Standard.”