2019 NFL Draft Report Cards: NFC West Edition

Welcome to Part 4 of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Today, I’ll be wrapping up the NFC draft reviews with the NFC West.  Which NFC West teams will benefit from this draft the most?  Keep reading to see my Draft Report Card for each team, including a grade for each pick as well as my final grades.  As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.

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NFL Draft Report Cards 2019

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

az-cards Arizona Cardinals

Overall Grade: B

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

What I love about this draft is that every pick was made for a good reason.  New head coach Kliff Kingsbury knows Kyler Murray is capable of leading the Cards, so there was no problem with trading Josh Rosen in favor of more security.  Murphy and Thompson add secondary depth at a great value.  The team also filled needs, drafting a trio of receivers, a tackle, a center, and a couple d-linemen.

The team could’ve found a way to fill a few more holes, such as linebacker.  But there was not a single pick in this draft class that I had a real problem with, and Arizona really made their biggest needs a priority.

sf-49ers San Francisco 49ers

Overall Grade: B-

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

Much like Chicago, this draft class is top heavy.  The 2nd overall selection of Nick Bosa was one of my favorite picks in this draft.  He’s a great fit and could eventually lead this rebuilding defense back to glory.  I didn’t mind the Deebo Samuel pick, but D.K. Metcalf would’ve been the smarter choice.  Kaden Smith was a steal in Round 6, so I’m not going to complain there either.

But some of these other picks confused me.  Despite the steal of Smith, the rest of San Francisco’s later round picks were major reaches.  They did need a punter, but taking one in Round 4 is unheard of.  They didn’t need to draft WR Jalen Hurd either.  Deebo Samuel will provide them enough at receiver and Hurd was drafted way too early.   The strong picks early on definitely boost this draft class, but the Niners could’ve added a few more quality players and filled a couple more needs.

los-angeles-rams-symbol Los Angeles Rams

Overall Grade: C+

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

It’s hard to start a draft strong without a first round pick, but the Rams definitely could’ve done better.  They could’ve waited on the safety and running back till later rounds.  There was no need for a corner in Round 3, especially someone who I didn’t have being drafted.  The team did rebound in the later rounds, snagging a strong tackle in David Edwards and a replacement for Ndamukong Suh in Greg Gaines.

There were some needs that weren’t filled as early as they should’ve been or were completely ignored.  The Rams interior o-line still needs serious help.  But there were some strong selections in the later rounds that will definitely highlight this draft class.

seattle-seahawks Seattle Seahawks

Overall Grade: C

Draft Report Card:

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Analysis:

There weren’t too many straight up confusing picks in this draft, but there weren’t many eye popping picks either.  The team made a lot of reaches in the early rounds, and that definitely brings their grade down significantly.  But the Seahawks did, to an extent, redeem themselves.  They received a blatant steal when they drafted WR D.K. Metcalf at the end of the 2nd round.  They continued to add to their depleted receiving corps throughout this draft, as Doug Baldwin will no longer be on the team.

But while they hyperfocused on finding Russell Wilson some guys to throw to, they threw aside some of their other needs.  The team is still in desperate need of secondary depth despite drafting a safety.  It wouldn’t have hurt to take a new TE either.  But the team did manage to fill a good number of holes despite their reaches, so you have to give them some credit for that.


 

That’s all for this portion of my NFL Draft Report Cards.  Next time, I’ll shift my attention to the AFC, starting with New England’s division, the AFC East.  Did the Pats outwit their division rivals again this year?  Stay tuned to find out what I think.

 

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2019 NFL Mock Draft: Who Takes the QB of Their Future?

Welcome to my 2019 NFL Mock Draft!  Today, I’ll be sharing a one-round NFL mock draft with trades.  I have also predicted what the rest of the New England Patriots’ draft will look like (Rounds 2-7).  There’s always a handful a QB prospects who are lined up to be future starters.  But while there’s a lot of teams that could use a young QB on the roster, most teams would do alright without one.  Even the Giants, who have been rumored to replace Eli Manning since the start of 2018 could make do with just Manning, Kyle Lauletta (drafted later last year), and Alex Tanney.  But I do see a few teams making their move this year, some in the first round, and some waiting till later rounds.  Who will they be?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Let’s begin with the Arizona Cardinals.  They own this year’s first overall pick and are likely close to making a decision.  But I cannot see them trading down.

1.  With the 1st overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals select…

Kyler Murray

QB

Oklahoma

I don’t typically predict something in a mock draft solely based on rumors, but all signs have pointed to Arizona taking Kyler Murray #1 after Kliff Kingsbury’s statement a year ago about taking Murray #1 if he ever had the chance.  If they do decide to stick with Josh Rosen at QB (who they drafted last year), they can take edge rusher Nick Bosa #1, who could definitely help this defense.  I have them trading Rosen to the Giants for a second or third round pick.  This will allow the Giants to use their first rounder to improve the team around Rosen while Arizona moves on to Kyler.

 

2.  With the 2nd overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers select…

Nick Bosa

DE/OLB

Ohio State

The 49ers could use Bosa as an OLB or a DE.  At whichever position they don’t put Bosa at, they can start the recently acquired Dee Ford.  The Niners definitely improved their front seven this off-season, but they could still benefit from more depth on the outside.  They can wait on a wide receiver, their biggest need, thanks to the deep WR class.

3. NYJ With the 3rd overall pick, the New York Jets select

Josh Allen

OLB

Kentucky

New York signed ILB C.J. Mosley this off-season, but after a failed attempt to add OLB Anthony Barr, the Jets are left with a gaping hole at outside linebacker.  Their 3-4 scheme is a perfect fit for Allen, who will fill a need and significantly boost the pass rush.  Allen totaled 17 sacks in his senior year at Kentucky, which nearly tops Nick Bosa’s college career total of 17.5.  The Jets have been rumored to trade down, but the outside linebacker class isn’t very deep.  They should take advantage of the 3rd overall pick here.

 

4.   With the 4th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

Quinnen Williams

DT

Alabama

The Raiders have been linked to Ed Oliver frequently, and if Williams is taken Top 3, the Raiders should consider taking Oliver.  But if Williams is available, this pick is a no-brainer.  The Raiders still have a gaping hole at defensive tackle despite drafting Maurice Hurst in 2018.  Williams is one of the best prospects in this draft and should definitely fill that hole playing next to Hurst.  The Raiders could also snag ILB Devin White or CB Greedy Williams, but it would be smart to take Quinnen while he’s still available, and who knows, Greedy might still be available at #24.

 

5.  With the 5th overall pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

Rashan Gary

DE

Michigan

Though the Bucs drafted Noah Spence a couple years back at this position, they would still benefit from drafting another edge rusher.  They have been linked frequently to Devin White since Kwon Alexander’s departure, but I don’t see it happening and trust Kendell Beckwith as the starting middle linebacker in his 3rd NFL season.  The Bucs also added Deone Bucannon, who can play on the outside or inside.  So rather than drafting a linebacker, they’ll draft Rashan Gary for additional d-line depth.

 

6.  NYG With the 6th overall pick, the New York Giants select…

Jonah Williams

T

Alabama

There has been a lot of Top 10 buzz surrounding T Jawaan Taylor, but I still think Williams, the Alabama product is the best o-lineman in this draft class.  The Giants finally released T Ereck Flowers in 2018, so Williams can start on the right side in Flowers’ former spot..  The G-men will stick with Nate Solder at left tackle for now.

 

7. JAX With the 7th overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…

Noah Fant

TE

Iowa

A lot of people have projected TE T.J. Hockenson in the Top 10, but the Jags are the only team I could see drafting a tight end in this Top 10.  My personal belief is that Fant is the better of the two Iowa TEs, and I have the Jags taking him over Jawaan Taylor or T.J. Hockenson.  The Jags don’t really need Jawaan Taylor even though they’ve been linked to him.  Though Hockenson outperformed Fant at the Combine, Fant has scored double the TDs Hockenson has scored in their final two years at Iowa.  With Fant off the board, Hockenson may fall to the latter portion of Round 1.

8.  With the 8th overall pick, the Detroit Lions select…

Montez Sweat

OLB

Mississippi State

If I were Detroit’s GM, I would be concerned about Sweat’s heart condition and consider Brian Burns instead.  But the Lions seem to like Sweat, who could fit in as a defensive end next to Trey Flowers or fill a gaping hole at outside linebacker.  Also, Sweat’s heart condition is not as concerning as DT Maurice Hurst’s.  Sweat’s was just noticed at the Combine, while Hurst couldn’t participate in the Combine at all.

 

9.   With the 9th overall pick, the Buffalo Bills select…

Brian Burns

OLB

Florida State

The Bills may like Ed Oliver as a prospect, but it’s too early to give up on 2018 2nd round pick Harrison Phillips at DT.  Instead, I have the Bills drafting someone on the outside in this defense-heavy draft.  This draft is flooded with elite edge rushers, and the Bills need help at both outside linebacker and defensive end.  Burns can help fill both of those needs, but they’ll need some pass rushers in the later rounds or free agents to support Burns.

 

10.  With the 10th overall pick, the Denver Broncos select…

Ed Oliver

DT

Houston

The Broncos could still use a QB despite upgrading in consecutive off-seasons.  Denver went from starting Trevor Siemian to starting Case Keenum to starting Joe Flacco in the span of two seasons.  But the Broncos don’t need a rookie QB in Round 1 as they should be able to trust Flacco as this year’s starter.  Plus, waiting will allow them to take advantage of the elite d-line class.  The Broncos have needed d-line help ever since Sylvester Williams left in free agency.  They could reunite with Williams, who is once again a free agent.  But if DT Ed Oliver is available at #10, it would be a no-brainer for Denver to take him.  In general, I feel that Denver should wait and see how the draft goes before making a move on any more free agents.

 

11.  With the 11th overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select…

Dwayne Haskins

QB

Ohio State

Andy Dalton has definitely declined in the last few years, and he has been inconsistent throughout his career.  It’s a shame that the Bengals couldn’t hold onto A.J. McCarron as a backup.  But it’s time to move on and draft another QB.  They’ll have plenty of options here with Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones all available.  But Haskins would be the best QB left on the board.  It’s easy to forget that he threw 50 TDs in 2018 alone at Ohio State, and he could learn a few things backing up Dalton.
12.  With the 12th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select…

D.K. Metcalf

WR

Ole Miss

After dominance at the Combine, Metcalf has proven himself as the best receiver in this draft class.  People have overrated his Combine performance, but it’s not too crazy to mock him at #12.  This would be a smart pick for Green Bay, who would add a solid WR2 with WR1 potential.  Metcalf would not have as much pressure on him in Green Bay as he plays next to star WR Davante Adams.
13.   With the 13th overall pick, the Miami Dolphins select…

Drew Lock

QB

Missouri

The Dolphins weren’t smart to trade away Ryan Tannehill so soon, especially to the Titans, who didn’t need a starting QB.  Tannehill will be forced to battle with Marcus Mariota for a starting job.  Meanwhile, in Miami, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best QB left on the roster.  He’s a respectable bridge QB, but he is not meant for a full time starting job.  The Dolphins should draft Lock behind Fitzy if Murray and Haskins are off the board.

 

14.  With the 14th overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons select…

Devin Bush

OLB

Michigan

With Vic Beasley in the 4-3 defensive end slot, Atlanta has a big hole at outside linebacker.  They don’t really need another edge rusher, but Bush is a quality outside linebacker who recorded 161 tackles and 10 sacks in his last two seasons combined at Michigan.  He can add depth to Atlanta’s defense, allowing Beasley to play defensive end full time.
15.  With the 15th overall pick, the Washington Redskins select…

Devin White

ILB

LSU

White falls to #15 since there are very few teams with a gaping hole at inside linebacker like Washington’s.  It’s very rare that linebackers of White’s ability level enter the draft, but unfortunately, there aren’t many teams in the Top 10 that need to draft someone like White.  He falls to the Redskins, who look to replace the released Zach Brown.  It’s a steal for the Redskins, who fill their #1 need in the 1st round.
16.  With the 16th overall pick, the Carolina Panthers select…

N’Keal Harry

WR

Arizona State

The Panthers may miss out on Metcalf if Green Bay or Washington drafts him.  But I think their need at WR is desperate enough for them to snag N’Keal Harry if Metcalf is drafted and Harry is still available.  They could also draft a tackle to replace Matt Kalil, and Cody Ford would be available.  But I think it’s more important for them to have a top line receiver than a top line tackle.

 

17. NYG With the 17th overall pick, the New York Giants select…

Clelin Ferrell

DE

Clemson

Ferrell doesn’t fit the Giants’ defensive scheme as well as some other prospects, but would fill a huge hole for New York and would be the best d-line prospect remaining by far.  Ferrell recorded 11.5 sacks last season, leading a stacked Clemson defense.  Hopefully, New York can adapt their defense to be favorable for prospects of different backgrounds, because they may need to start a lot of rookies on defense this season.

 

18.  With the 18th overall pick, the Minnesota Vikings select…

Christian Wilkins

DT

Clemson

Wilkins has been targeted by Tennessee aggressively.  Though the Vikings do need a defensive tackle to replace Sheldon Richardson, the Titans haven’t even thought about trying to trade up and could be left shocked if the Vikings snagged Wilkins one pick before them.  Defensive tackle is Minnesota’s top need in my eyes, so I’d have them taking Wilkins regardless of who was up next.  But preventing Tennessee from snagging him is an added bonus.

 

19.  With the 19th overall pick, the Tennessee Titans select…

Greedy Williams

CB

LSU

With Wilkins off the board, I have the Titans signing free agent DT Ndamukong Suh rather than reaching for a defensive tackle.  They will think about their other positional needs with this pick.  They could use another WR, and Kelvin Harmon would be available.  But if Greedy Williams is still available at #19, the Titans cannot pass up on him.  The Titans are deep at corner, but don’t really have a true #1 CB.  Greedy wouldn’t be their #1 right away.  He may even start on the bench as the #4 CB.  But he has the upside to eventually fill that #1 slot, which is what the Titans are looking for.

 

20.  With the 20th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…

Cody Ford

T

Oklahoma

Nothing against Alejandro Villanueva, but it’s a problem if Villanueva’s the only viable starting tackle on a roster.  If the Steelers add Ford to the mix, they should be able to trust Ford and Villanueva as starters.  The Steelers will have to figure out which of the two pays left tackle, but with this pick, they at least fill the hole Marcus Gilbert left them with and draft their 2nd viable starting tackle.

 

21.  With the 21st overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks select…

Byron Murphy

CB

Washington

With S Earl Thomas out of Seattle, the Legion of Boom’s entire core has left Seattle’s active roster.  It’s time to begin rebuilding this secondary.  They already added Shaquill Griffin in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they still have a huge hole at safety and could use another CB.  There’s no safety in this draft class I would take #21, but Murphy would be a steal at #21.  Murphy caught 4 interceptions in his final year at Washington, which is more than any Seahawks current corner has caught in their entire career.

 

22.  With the 22nd overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens select…

Kelvin Harmon

WR

North Carolina State

The Ravens don’t really have a #1 receiver right now, so wide receiver is by far their biggest need.  Harmon posted back-to-back 1000 yard seasons at NC State.  He should quickly obtain the WR1 role playing alongside Willie Snead IV, Seth Roberts, Chris Moore, and others.  The Ravens may need to add another receiver later in the draft for depth, but the NC State product will at least help make the WR corps look respectable.

 

23. HOU With the 23rd overall pick, the Houston Texans select…

T.J. Hockenson

TE

Iowa

Houston has plenty of tight ends on the roster after adding Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins in 2018.  But there is no clear #1 TE, so tight end is still one of Houston’s biggest needs.  Hockenson should be better than any tight end on this Texans roster from Day 1, so it would be smart for Houston to draft him, especially at #23.

 

24.  With the 24th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

DeAndre Baker

CB

Georgia

With Devin White off the board, Mack Wilson would be the top inside linebacker available here, and Wilson is not Round 1 material in my eyes.  It would be smarter for Oakland to take a corner here.  There are plenty of corners who are Round 1 material.  I’m not ready to trust Nick Nelson or Daryl Worley (who has off the field issues) as Oakland’s #2 corner.  Even Gareon Conley, Oakland’s #1 CB has off the field issues of his own.  Baker will provide stability to this secondary, and should eventually become the reliable #1 corner they have needed for a while.

 

25. TRADE ALERT (see details after pick #32): With the 25th overall pick,            the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

Josh Jacobs

RB

Alabama

Tampa reportedly has significant interest in making Jacobs their starting RB, but with the Raiders interested in drafting Jacobs at #27, there’s no guarantee the Bucs can draft Jacobs unless they trade up and leapfrog the Raiders.  It might be smarter to trade with a team who picks before Oakland’s #24 pick, but I can’t see them taking a RB until #27, so I don’t know if that’s necessary.  If the Bucs miss out on Jacobs, they could always sign Jay Ajayi to be their new RB1, but Jacobs wouldn’t just give them a 2019 RB1.  Jacobs gives them long term stability at running back, where Tampa has had issues since Doug Martin (now a free agent) began to decline.  Jacobs rushed for 640 yards and 11 TD in just 120 attempts during his junior year at Alabama, where he played as a part of a committee alongside fellow draft prospect Damien Harris.  Imagine what Jacobs could do as a full time NFL starter.

 

26.  With the 26th overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts select…

Dexter Lawrence

DT

Clemson

The Colts will take another Clemson d-lineman here.  Cornerback is probably their #1 need this year, but the CB class is pretty deep, and they should be able to wait until the #34 pick they acquired from the Jets to draft a corner.  Their current d-line is made up of washed-up, borderline starters, so Lawrence will bring some livelihood to Indy’s front seven if they draft him.

 

27.  With the 27th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

A.J. Brown

WR

Ole Miss

With Jacobs off the board, I have Oakland drafting A.J. Brown, a teammate of D.K. Metcalf who actually outperformed Metcalf at Ole Miss.  Even with Metcalf healthy all season in 2017, Brown totaled 1252 yards while Metcalf, then a redshirt freshman totaled just 646.  Metcalf will be drafted before Brown as his Combine performance and play style boost his draft stock.  The stats aren’t everything when it comes to NFL scouting.  But don’t discount Brown’s back to back 1000 yard seasons at Ole Miss.  He should still be a top 5 receiver off this draft board, and the Raiders could still use another WR for depth despite adding Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams.

 

28.  With the 28th overall pick, the Los Angeles Chargers select…

Jerry Tillery

DT

Notre Dame

The Chargers finally released injury prone DT Corey Liuget this off-season, but it would be smart to draft a young, healthy DT in Round 1, filling the hole Liuget left behind.  Tillery was a big contributor to Notre Dame’s dominant defense in 2018 as he led the team in sacks (7).  He would make a strong Chargers defense even stronger as he competes for a starting d-line job.

 

29. KC With the 29th overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs select…

Garrett Bradbury

C

North Carolina State

Kansas City would have also benefitted from drafting Jacobs here, but there is no other RB I see as first round material, and they have a bigger hole at center anyway.  Bradbury should be able to fill this hole if they draft him.  Bradbury played parts of his college career at other positions (tight end, guard), but should fit in as a center in Kansas City.  If he wanted to go back to playing guard, the Chiefs could use some depth there as well.

 

30.  With the 30th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select…

Deionte Thompson

S

Alabama

This year’s safety class wasn’t the greatest even before Thompson’s draft stock began to fall after an underwhelming Combine.  But I still see Thompson as the best safety in a weak class; the best of the worst.  I wouldn’t have a problem with safety-needy teams like Green Bay drafting Thompson later into Round 1.  The Alabama product caught 2 interceptions in his senior year.

 

31. LA With the 31st overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams select…

Dre’Mont Jones

DT

Ohio State

With Ndamukong Suh on the open market, the Rams will need a new defensive tackle to play next to Aaron Donald.  They could draft an interior offensive lineman here, but Bradbury is the only interior lineman I’d feel comfortable drafting in the first round.  Defensive tackle is LA’s next biggest need after Suh’s departure.  Only sophomore DE Chase Young had more tackles for a loss and sacks for Ohio State than Jones in 2018.  He could be a quality supplement to Donald in a strong Rams d-line.

 

32.  With the 32nd overall pick, the New England Patriots select…

Irv Smith Jr.

TE

Alabama

Fant and Hockenson may be off the board at #32, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins can fill in as New England’s starting tight end.  But I still think the Pats should draft their TE of the future in Round 1 after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.  They could also go for WR Marquise Brown or DT Jeffery Simmons here, but the TE class is not as deep as the WR and d-line classes in this draft, so it’s important they draft one early.  Smith caught 44 balls for 710 yards and 7 TD in his final season at Alabama and in my eyes, he’s the best tight end on the board that wasn’t an Iowa Hawkeye.

 

TRADES:


 

TB acquires: 2019 1st rounder (#25)

PHI acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#39), 2019 5th rounder (#145)

 

NYG acquires: QB Josh Rosen

ARZ acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#37), 2020 4th rounder

 

(FOR PATRIOTS MOCK DRAFT BELOW)

NE acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#60)

LAC acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#64), 2019 6th rounder (#205)


 

Patriots Mock Draft (Rounds 2-7)

I will not be a sharing a full seven round NFL Mock Draft, but as a Patriots fan, I figured I’d share my later round Pats’ predictions.  I have them drafting TE Irv Smith Jr. at #32 (as seen above), but what will they do after that?  Read below to find out what I think:

I have the Pats drafting the QB of their future on Day 2 so he’s ready to start by the time Brady retires.  It will be easier to find viable starters at WR and in the d-line than at QB, and the WRs the Pats would be willing to draft here will probably already be off the board.

Winovich led the Wolverines in tackles for a loss (15.5) in 2018.  He should boost the New England pass rush and fit in New England’s 4-3 scheme after the release of Adrian Clayborn.

Jelks’ draft stock has fallen of late, but he is still a good third round investment for the Pats, who could seek an upgrade over Elandon Roberts and another linebacker in the mix in case the injury prone Dont’a Hightower misses time in 2019.  The Ducks installed a 4-3 defense in 2018, so Jelks should be used to New England’s 4-3 schemes.

Copeland will replace Malcom Brown, who left for the Saints via free agency.  He should   be able to compete for the starting job next to fellow DT Lawrence Guy.

Though he will be the last of the four Clemson 2018 starting d-lineman to be drafted, Bryant will add more depth to the Patriots d-line.  He will join Michael Bennett, Winovich, and Deatrich Wise Jr. on the Pats defensive end depth chart.

So long as he is healthy, Demaryius Thomas should serve in the WR2 role for the Pats.  But if Thomas is hurt and Josh Gordon remains suspended, the Pats are left with Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and who else?  That’s why they should still draft a receiver at some point.  However, they should be okay to wait till Day 3 due to the deep WR class.  Guys like Mitchell and DaMarkus Lodge should still be available come Round 4.

New England owns one of the best interior o-line trios in the league, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another guard for additional depth.  Ted Karras is their best backup at guard, but injuries are frequent in this league, and if Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason both get hurt, there could be a slot open for Gray.

.

A lot of times, Round 7 is solely about taking some of the better available options and adding depth to shallow positions.  Saunders would be drafted to add more depth at DT in case Copeland or Guy struggles.

One of New England’s biggest questions headed into 2019 is whether Isaiah Wynn can be trusted as Trent Brown’s replacement, especially after missing all of 2018 with an injury.  Frantz will provide New England with another option at tackle in case Wynn or Marcus Cannon isn’t doing his job.

This pick will add more depth to the WR corps if they keep Hardman on the roster.  Hardman will likely compete with 2018 late round pick Braxton Berrios for the #6 or #7 WR slot.  Matthew Slater will most likely remain on the roster for his special teams abilities though.


 

That’s all for my 2019 NFL Mock Draft. Stay tuned for Patriots draft grades and possibly other teams’ draft grades after the draft!  On a side note, New England’s schedule has come out.  I will be posting NFL Predictions and Pats Game-by-Game Predictions sometime before the season.

 

 

Super Bowl LIII: How They Got Here

Welcome to my 1st of several Super Bowl LIII Preview articles.  The match-up is set, the teams are in Atlanta for Opening Night, and today I will be looking at how the Patriots and Rams got here and taking a first look at the match-up.  What can we expect from this year’s big game?  Keep reading to find out what I think.  You can also check out my entire Super Bowl LIII preview schedule below.  I will be posting preview articles throughout the week as festivities in Atlanta take place.

Image result for super bowl liii

Super Bowl LIII: Official Boston Sports Mania Preview Schedule

January 27 or 28: Super Bowl LIII: How They Got Here

January 28 or 29: The Case for the Patriots: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

January 29 or 30: The Case for the Rams: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

January 30 or 31: Super Bowl LIII Fast Facts and Their Significance

January 31 or February 1: Super Bowl LIII: Final Prediction, Projected Stats & MVP

February 1 or 2: Super Bowl LIII Video Preview

February 2 or 3: The Final Countdown: Final Injury Report, Outlook Before the Game (Including iMovie Trailer)

February 3: Enjoy the game and stay tuned for my recap after the game!

How They Got Here

Patriots

The Patriots were off to a rough start this season, going 1-2 in their first three games without WR Julian Edelman.  However, they brought in WR Josh Gordon to add back WR depth they’d lost in the off-season.  Gordon thrived in his first game with the Pats, and when Edelman returned, they made for a dynamic duo that led the offense to dominate.

Image result for josh gordon patriots

Though they started 7-2, they lost their third game in Tennessee before the bye as TE Rob Gronkowski sat out an extra game after an injury.  After the bye, they did win a couple games, playing the Jets and Vikings.  But after that their road struggles continued as they lost in Miami and in Pittsburgh.  After 14 games, the Pats were 9-5, and they were at risk of missing out on a first round bye.  They had the tiebreaker over the Texans, but the Texans were 10-4 at this point.  The Pats needed to win one more game than Houston.

It wasn’t a good sign when WR Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely once again for marijuana, but the Pats took care of the Bills and Jets easily in New England.  They nearly shut out the Jets in Week 17!  They did grab hold of the first round bye, but the question was, were these blowouts against the league’s worst a fluke, or were the Pats legitimate Super Bowl contenders?

Image result for pats jets 38-3

The fans’ doubts were silenced when the Patriots dominated their Divisional Round match-up, hosting the Chargers.  They would head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the AFC title game.  This was bound to be a close one, especially because the Patriots lost the last time they had played on the road.  They were off to a strong start, but they began to fall behind late in the game.

With two minutes to go, it was 28-24 Chiefs.  The Pats had the ball in what was still a one possession game.  They marched down the field and Burkhead scored the TD, but they scored a little too fast.  They left enough time for the Chiefs to add a field goal to tie it up  at 31-31 and force overtime.

Image result for rex burkhead 2019 afc championship

After that the Patriots won the toss, and though it was a nail biter with many close calls and 3rd downs, the Pats made their way down the field for the TD, winning the game 37-31!  This was Brady’s third OT victory in a postseason game, making him the first player to do so.  This was also the first time two playoff games had gone into overtime in one day.

You can read more about the AFC Championship at the link below:

Back to their Roots: Pats Dynasty Continues after OT Thriller

The Patriots are now headed to their 4th Super Bowl in 5 years, as Brady looks to ‘Blitz for Six’ and Gronk looks to potentially end his career with a bang.  The best part is, as intriguing as a Brady vs. Drew Brees match-up would be, they’re playing the Los Angeles Rams, taking the Brady-Belichick dynasty back to their roots.  Back in 2001, Brady led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory over the QB Kurt Warner-led St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams.  You could also compare that victory to this year’s AFC Championship when Brady and co. took down QB Patrick Mahomes II and an explosive Chiefs offense after coming in as 3 point underdogs.

Rams

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The last time the Rams won the NFC was back in 2001, when QB Kurt Warner led an offense known as ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ to their second Super Bowl in three years.  They would face QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  Though they had won in 1999, they could not get past Brady and Belichick, who won their first championship together and started a legendary dynasty.  17 years later, the Rams will seek revenge.

After Warner left St. Louis, things were ugly for the Rams for much of the 2000s.  But in 2015, they began rebuilding, drafting star RB Todd Gurley in 2015, trading up in 2016 to draft the QB of their future: Jared Goff, firing head coach Jeff Fisher, and hiring the young Sean McVay to replace Fisher.  To top off their rebuild, they moved back to Los Angeles as they seeked a culture change heading in to the second half of the 2010s.

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In 2017, Goff, Gurley, and McVay led the team back to the playoffs with help from a star-studded defense led by DT Aaron Donald.  However, as the #3 seed, they lost on Wild Card Weekend.  The 2017-18 off-season was a busy one for the Rams.  The Rams made it clear they wanted to win now, exchanging WR Sammy Watkins, TE Lance Kendricks, DE Robert Quinn, OLB Alec Ogletree, and CB Trumaine Johnson for WR Brandin Cooks, DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Marcus Peters, CB Aqib Talib, and CB Sam Shields.  Later in the season, they added RB C.J. Anderson and pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. as well.  They now had one of the best secondaries in the league, Gurley and Anderson made for a dominant RB duo, and WRs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods broke out, giving Goff a WR trio for most of the season.  Kupp has since torn his ACL and ended his season, but the Rams dominated in all aspects for most of the season.

After starting 8-0, the Rams headed to New Orleans, where they lost their first game in a shootout.  The Rams lost WR Cooper Kupp the next game despite a win.  Without Kupp, they weren’t as dominant, going 4-2.  But they took care of business against the Cowboys, winning 30-22.  They would travel to New Orleans once again for the NFC Championship.

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They were trailing for most of the game as expected, but they came back to tie it up at 20.  The Saints were going for one last drive.  When QB Drew Brees threw it to WR Tommylee Lewis, he was hoping for a first down.  However, the pass was broken up on a hard hit by CB Nickell Robey-Coleman.  I am not alone in my belief that the play by Robey-Coleman was blatant pass interference.  But the refs didn’t call it.  The Saints made the field goal.  But the Rams had time to respond with a field goal of their own.

The game went to overtime, and New Orleans won the toss.  But after S John Johnson picked off QB Drew Brees, the Rams drove down the field, kicked another field goal, and won the game, 26-23.  Saints fans were heartbroken.  But the Rams were ecstatic – they had won the NFC for the first time in 17 years.  This was only their third Super Bowl appearance, the other two coming during the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ era.

Championship weekend and the weeks leading up to it were very exciting.  But moving on to the Super Bowl, the Rams will take on the Patriots in just 6 days.  Who will come out on top?  Keep reading to hear my initial take on the match-up.

First Look: Patriots vs. Rams

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This is definitely going to be close.  The Pats aren’t coming off a great season by Brady-Belichick standards.  They went 11-5 for the first time since 2009, and the first time since their run of seven straight AFC Championships (now eight) began.  But the Pats have dominated offensively in each of their last 4 games, and they have motivation going on as QB Tom Brady looks to win his sixth ring and TE Rob Gronkowski looks to potentially end his career with one more.  Until this year, Gronk had been spoiled year after year with records of 12-4 or higher.  Despite a rough regular season, the Pats will look to make up for it with another Super Bowl victory (which would be Gronk’s third).  To get past a difficult Rams defense, they’ll have to use a large variety of plays to try and fake them out.  If they are as strong offensively as they have been in the last 4 games, they should be capable of winning this.  But the Rams’ D might be the toughest New England has faced since their latest win streak.

Coming off a first round playoff exit and a busy off-season that got fans excited, the Rams went 13-3 and earned the #2 seed in the NFC behind only the New Orleans Saints (who they lost to).  After being ‘overthrown’ by Brady-Belichick dynasty in 2001, they will look to dethrone the Pats in their return to the Super Bowl.  In order to do so, not only will they need QB Jared Goff and the RB duo of Gurley and Anderson to step it up, they’ll need the entire offense around Goff and Gurley to thrive against a mediocre New England defense.

Who will win Super Bowl LIII?  What is the game plan for each team?  What Super Bowl and season-long stats will burden, encourage and/or influence each team?  Find out this week as I release more articles each day.