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.

 

 

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Boston Marathon 2019: Runner Spotlight – Michael Palmer and the Snow Angel Challenge

Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day.  As you may know if you have read this blog before, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.  Doctors said I may never speak.  But almost 14 years later, not only am I talking, I am a budding sports journalist who has written this blog for 5 years.

In honor of Autism Awareness Day, the Boston Herald asked me to tell my story for today’s paper!  I met Joe Sciacca, the editor-in-chief of the Boston Herald at a Red Sox game in 2015.  Since that day, I have gained multiple exciting sportscasting experiences from the Herald, including guest co-hosting a Boston Herald Radio show.

Now, I also serve as a Flutie Fellow for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism so I’d like to share a story about a Dougie’s Team Boston Marathon runner named Michael Palmer.  Leading up to the marathon, he started something inspirational within the autism community.  Below is my video about Michael alongside what I said in the video:

For Michael Palmer, running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Doug Flutie, Jr Foundation for Autism has personal meaning. Michael has Aspergers. He wants to spread the message that people on the autism spectrum are not alone in their daily struggles to connect with others.

Michael literally spread his wings in creating a “snow angel challenge” as part of his marathon efforts. Michael put out the challenge for people to overcome their fears and barriers and support people like him who overcome challenges daily. I can relate to Michael’s challenges and I am grateful for his efforts, as they benefit me as well. I’m Flutie Fellow Andrew Roberts, and thanks in part to Michael’s efforts, the Flutie Foundation is helping me pursue my goal of being a sports broadcaster.

Michael’s “snow angel challenge” spread through other team members and friends of the Flutie Foundation. Then, recently-retired All-Pro New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski got word of the challenge. While he didn’t jump in the snow, Gronkowski did participate in his own way. Thanks Gronk!

If you’d like to support Michael Palmer’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for autism, please check out the Flutie Foundation website at FlutieFoundation.org.

This is not the last of my Boston Marathon coverage.  I will be writing more runner spotlights this year, including one about a runner for Get Air Sports, a partner of the Flutie Foundation.  On a side note the Pats need a replacement for Rob Gronkowski who had fun in contributing the video for Michael.  Will they address the TE position in the draft?  Find out what I think in my upcoming 2019 NFL Mock Draft.

Stay tuned for more sports coverage soon.  But as the Herald headline noted, my sportswriting journey is only just getting started.

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions Part 3: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

Welcome to the final article of my 2019 NFL free agency prediction series!  Today, I’ll be sharing my predictions for where the best linebackers and defensive backs end up signing.  Where will Justin Houston, C.J. Mosley, LaMarcus Joyner and other top defensive free agents end up?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and you check out my tentative schedule for the entire series below with links to previous articles.

Image result for nfl logos

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions

Series Schedule

Monday, March 4: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Sunday, March 10: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 2: Linemen

Monday, March 11: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 3: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

 

Note: Predictions as of March 10, 2019.

Linebacker Predictions

OLB

Top Tier OLB

img_3662

Matthews may not be the best defender in the game anymore, but he is still a high tier talent at linebacker who will sign a multi-year deal.  I have him going to Buffalo, who has a huge hole at outside linebacker.  After being released by the Chiefs, Houston will head to another LB needy team – Detroit.  Look for Suggs, Bucannon, and Barr to resign with their former teams, who will end up with similar holes without their star linebackers.  McPhee will head to San Francisco, playing next to Malcolm Smith and providing experience to a young defense.

Cheaper OLB Options

img_3678

Kendricks and Wright will leave a crowded Seahawks front seven, with Kendricks providing depth in Green Bay and Wright playing across from second year star Darius Leonard in Indy.  Morgan will head to Miami to help out the pass rush in Wake’s absensce.  DE Charles Harris and Morgan could lead their 2019 pass rush.  Smith will serve as a veteran presence on a young Jets defense similar to McPhee in San Fran, while Worrilow returns to Philly for another year despite missing much of 2018.  Ray will fill a lingering need at linebacker for the Pats.

ILB

img_3676

Mosley and Alexander will wind up back with their 2018 teams despite interest from many others.   But Barron, who was just released, and Williamson will leave their former teams – with Williamson replacing Barron in LA and Barron heading to Philly as additional LB depth.  Te’o will also leave his 2018 team, heading to Arizona, close to his first NFL home in San Diego.  Brown will return to the Bengals after maintaining a starting job there in 2018.

Defensive Backs

Cornerbacks

CB1s

img_3686

There aren’t any top tier corners on the open market, but there are a handful that will score 2-3 year deals.  Claiborne will head to Cleveland after one year on the Jets for 3 years, and Scandrick will resign with Kansas City for 3 years after getting settled there in 2018.  Verrett may have missed 2018 with a torn ACL, but prior to that, he was a star on the rise, and he may benefit from a fresh start with the Colts.  Grimes will replace Jimmie Ward in San Fran on a 2-year deal.  Roby has established himself as a trustworthy starter in Denver, so I see him returning.  Darby, on the other hand, got hurt during his stint in Philly.  He underperformed leading up to that, but he could thrive in Tennessee as an upgrade over some of their current CBs.

CB2-Nickel Options

img_3693

Johnson and the young Shaquill Griffin could make for a good CB duo in Seattle.  I have J-Mac and Ward replacing him in Houston.  Gaines will head to Miami and battle against Minkah Fitzpatrick for the #2 CB job, while Skrine and Lippett will return to their New York teams for the same purpose.

Safeties

Top Tier S

img_3700

Honey Badger will head to San Francisco, filling a hole the Niners have had at safety since Eric Reid’s departure.  I originally thought Joyner would return to LA joining Mathieu on the west coast, but the Rams signed Eric Weddle recently.  That probably implies that Joyner’s moving on.  Hopefully, the young Packers secondary can follow by his example.  Bethea is not what he used to be, but should still score a one year deal with a safety-needy team.  Thomas may be injury prone, but the Cowboys have been linked to him and should give him a try in 2019.  Iloka can replace Thomas in Seattle, even though they were fine with Thomas on the sidelines in 2018.  Collins will return to New York after other teams don’t want to invest too much in him.

Cheaper S Options

img_3707

Amos will return to Chicago, maintaining a dynamic safety duo alongside Eddie Jackson.  Clinton-Dix will join J-Mac and Ward in a changing Houston secondary.  Vaccaro will head to Jacksonville after a year in Tennessee, while an aging Corey Graham provides depth to a strong Ravens secondary.  Exum will play alongside Eric Berry in Kansas City, and Nelson will return to Oakland as they give him one more chance to prove himself despite a decline during his time in Oakland.

That’s all for my NFL free agency predictions.  Stay tuned for more NFL coverage after free agency settles down.

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Welcome to the first article of my 2019 NFL free agency prediction series!  Today, I’ll be sharing my predictions for where offensive skill position players (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs) end up signing.  Where will Le’Veon Bell be headed after a year away from football?  Where will Nick Foles find himself a starting job?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and you check out my tentative schedule for the entire series below.  In later articles, I will include links to the previously posted articles:

Image result for nfl logos

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions

Series Schedule

Monday, March 4: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Wednesday, March 6: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 2: Linemen

Saturday, March 9: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 3: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

 

QB

In my eyes, Foles is the only viable starter that’s currently on the free agent market. Blake Bortles or Ryan Tannehill could eventually be released/traded, but for now, the choice is targeting Foles or waiting for the draft. Unlike other QB needy teams, the Jags could easily return to the playoffs with the right QB leading them. That being said, a veteran QB makes sense. The Giants, Redskins, and others will go for a combo of a rookie and a veteran mentor.

For Washington, Alex Smith will not be able to serve as a veteran mentor considering his severe knee injury in 2018. Colt McCoy isn’t a viable starter in my eyes either. However, Teddy Bridgewater is a free agent who has experience starting, so he could serve as Washington’s bridge starter (no pun intended) until their young QB, whether it be Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, or someone else, has time to develop.

The Bucs and Dolphins will also be on the lookout for veteran backups. Look for them to resign their 2018 backup QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler. The Bills could also use some depth at QB behind Josh Allen, so bringing back their former QB, Tyrod Taylor, could be smart.

That would leave Josh McCown as the best free agent QB left. I have him going to LA to backup Philip Rivers until they draft Rivers’ successor.

RB

Viable Starters

Bell might be the best player on the open market in a long time. The Steelers refused to pay him what he wanted. But who will be up to pay him? He reportedly wants $25 million annually. I don’t think anyone will give him that, but I think he’d settle for $20 million/year if he ever wants to play again. If the Eagles free up enough cap between Foles’ departure and a release or two, they will be willing to pay for him for some answers at RB. Right now, they have a surplus of RBs, but no clear cut starter.

I see Ajayi, Philly’s last starting RB, leading a refined RB committee in Tampa. Expect an aging Adrian Peterson to do the same in Indianapolis. On the contrary, Ingram and Coleman will leave RB committees to become full time starters on RB needy teams. Coleman will replace Kareem Hunt, while Ingram will replace Marshawn Lynch (I see him retiring). The Ravens’ backfield is getting pretty crowded after the emergence of Gus Edwards, but I think Alex Collins will wind up back in Baltimore.

RB2 Options

The 49ers may have Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida at RB, but a veteran mentor like 3-time Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount could be helpful if they resort to an RB committee.  Yeldon will serve a similar role in Green Bay, playing alongside young RBs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.  The Steelers could also use a veteran in their backfield behind new starter James Conner, and I think Martin could be a good fit.  Despite leading the Rams in the playoffs, Anderson may have to settle for a backup/committee role as well.  He could be a good replacement for Coleman in Atlanta.  Murray was successful in Minnesota, and there’s room for him in the backfield, so I see him coming back.  With Coleman headed to Kansas City, the Chiefs will move on from Spencer Ware as he heads to Dallas to backup Ezekiel Elliott.

WR/TE

Top Tier WRs

Sam Darnold showed flashes of talent in his rookie year.  I think a better RB and a #1 receiver could make all the difference for him.  They should chase after Tate aggressively if they cannot land Antonio Brown (I have him going to San Fran).  Bryant barely played last year, but he still could serve as a WR1.  The Bills could be a fit, but if they pass up on Bryant, they could also take D.K. Metcalf in Round 1 of the draft.

Cobb looks to be leaving Green Bay, and the Steelers may seek depth options at receiver after Antonio Brown leaves.  Cobb could be a fit to play across from JuJu Smith-Schuster.  The Lions have no clear cut WR1 after Tate’s departure, but if they sign a lower tier option like John Brown, Matthew Stafford could look evenly split targets among Brown, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay.

Moncrief and Wallace aren’t viable #1 receivers at this point, but they could still be a big help for WR needy teams.  Moncrief could be a good option for the Pats, rather than overspending for Golden Tate.  I have Wallace returning to the Eagles to play alongside Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.  This trio never played together despite being lined up as Philly’s top 3 receivers on the depth chart in 2018 training camp.

WR Depth Options

The Bills need more than just Bryant or Metcalf – maybe they can pair up Bryant with Beasley, his former teammate.  The Ravens could also use some more depth at WR.  Funchess isn’t a top tier option, but if they cannot land or draft someone top tier, he will have to do.  Maybe they can pair Funchess with a rookie WR1.  The Chiefs may not bring in anyone new, but they could bring back Conley to play behind Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

The Colts could use some more experienced options across from T.Y. Hilton – Matthews could be a good choice.  They could always draft someone to split time as the #2 receiver with him.  Williams upped his value this season, but I still cannot see many teams paying him WR1 money.  The Jets could use another depth option behind Tate, especially if Robby Anderson leaves.  The Patriots need all the quality WRs they can afford, so Dorsett could be a good option to bring back considering his developing chemistry with Tom Brady.

Top Tier TEs

Eifert has a concerning injury history, and I think it’s time for Cincinnati to move on.  But Detroit could pair him with a drafted TE to ensure security at the position.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  The Saints could also use a veteran TE alongside the young Dan Arnold, and Cook might be the most consistent veteran on the market.  It would be smart for the Texans to target Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson in the draft, but signing a veteran in the meantime couldn’t hurt, and James could be a good mentor for their new TE.

Lewis and Rodgers are not cut out to be a team’s #1 tight end at this point.  But they can provide depth as a TE2, with Lewis backing up Vance McDonald and Rodgers backing up Chris Herndon IV.

WR/TE Depth Options

Darnold needs more consistent receivers, so I could see the Jets moving on from Robby Anderson.  Anderson could be a good depth piece in Cleveland, serving as the WR2 over Antonio Callaway.  Humphries is also going into free agency expecting WR2 money.  But I think he will have to settle for a little less, and if his price drops, the Pats may be willing to pay for him for additional depth.  He is a good fit in New England.  Despite a disappointing 2018, I could still see Benjamin contributing behind Davante Adams in Green Bay.  They’ll need to draft a younger receiver to play alongside them though.

If the Lions sign anyone else at TE besides Eifert, I don’t think it will be their 2018 tight end Luke Willson.  Josh Hill has a slightly better track record and could be a good bargain for the Lions.  I see Willson returning to Seattle to compete for playing time with Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, and others.  Kendricks was the most consistent of Green Bay’s tight ends this year, so look for them to retain him alongside Jimmy Graham.

 

Wow, that’s a lot of quality free agents.  The madness will begin in a little over a week.  Stay tuned for more predictions later in the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MLB 2019 Predictions: Who will Follow in Houston and Chicago’s Footsteps Post-Rebuild?

The time has finally come.  If you are reading this, the NFL season is over, both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have signed, and Spring Training has begun.  After a long off-season, baseball is finally back, and it is time for my MLB 2019 Predictions.  I will be predicting each team’s win-loss record, sharing my projected playoff bracket, and sharing some award predictions.  My projected World Series winner is a team that began rebuilding a couple years after the Astros and Cubs rebuilds and has now followed in their footsteps to contention.  Keep reading to find out who that team is and how they will achieve a World Series victory.

Part I: Projected Records

American League

AL East

  1. new-york-yankees New York Yankees (94-68) (2nd Seed in AL Playoffs)
  2. boston-red-sox Boston Red Sox (93-69) (4th Seed in AL Playoffs)
  3. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays (80-82)
  4. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays (75-87)
  5. Baltimore-Orioles-Logo Baltimore Orioles (67-95)

2018 was Boston’s year.  They built up the roster preparing for a World Series, and now the damage is done.  Expect a mild World Series hangover due to the departure of closer Craig Kimbrel and the loss of momentum.  If Kimbrel returns, they may be more equipped to repeat.  But right now, as much as I hate to admit it, the Yankees have the most talent in the division.  Their rotation depth issues are finally fixed, the bullpen could go down in record books, and the lineup is still flooded with big hitters, including the superstar duo of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.  Expect New York to win the division this time around, but the Red Sox should still easily score a Wild Card spot.

Image result for stanton and judge

Toronto should be moving quickly in their rebuild thanks to a talented group of prospects including the leagues #1 prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  Now, they are an extra starting pitcher away from becoming a sub .500 team close to contention.  Remember, they are just a couple years removed from the start of a rebuild.  But this group of prospects will give them a respectable major league roster by the end of the season.  With Toronto on the rise, the Rays will take a step back.  The Rays never really replaced 1B C.J. Cron, OF Carlos Gomez, or reliever Sergio Romo.  If they want to keep using an opener, they’ll need to beef up the bullpen.  Otherwise, expect significant regression in 2019.  They were right on the verge of contention in 2018.  Had they beefed up the roster a little more, they might have had playoff chances this year.  But instead, they’ll sit towards the bottom of the AL East.  However, the Orioles will remain in the AL East basement after a 47 win season.  The Orioles finally began a full rebuild in 2018, but this may be a long, painful rebuild considering their 2018 final record.

AL Central

  1. cleveland-indians Cleveland Indians (89-73) (3rd Seed in AL Playoffs)
  2. chicago-white-sox Chicago White Sox (82-80)
  3. minnesota-twins Minnesota Twins (80-82)
  4. kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals (68-94)
  5. detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers (66-96)

Despite an underwhelming off-season, the Indians should be able to stay atop the AL Central.  In most other divisions, the Indians would have to fight for a Wild Card spot, but in the AL Central, they should have an easier route to the playoffs, as none of the other teams in their division are ready for contention.  Despite coming up short in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, the White Sox made several improvements this off-season that can assist their young core in the next step towards contention.  If they add a starter or two and another infielder, they could be chasing the Indians for the division by 2020.  The Twins won’t see a significant improvement this year, but hopefully the return of SP Michael Pineda and better years from Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton will help them move up the standings slightly.

Image result for buxton sano

That leaves the Royals and Tigers, two rebuilding teams, in the basement of the AL Central.  With Billy Hamilton on board and some of their younger players ready to start, the Royals may see slight improvement.  But it will take a couple years for the Tigers to do the same.

AL West

  1. houston-astros Houston Astros (96-66) (1st Seed in AL Playoffs)
  2. la-angels-of-anaheim Los Angeles Angels (86-76) (5th Seed in AL Playoffs)
  3. oakland-a's Oakland Athletics (80-82)
  4. texas-rangers Texas Rangers (73-89)
  5. seattle-mariners-logo Seattle Mariners (70-92)

Image result for michael brantley astros

Though the lineup will be better with the addition of LF Michael Brantley, the Astros’ rotation took a significant hit thanks to the free agent departures of Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton and an injury to Lance McCullers Jr.  If the rotation does well without Morton and Keuchel, the Astros could win another World Series.  No matter what, I think they’ll win the division, but if the rotation struggles I wouldn’t expect a deep playoff run.

Image result for mike trout and angels lineup

The Angels will also sneak into the playoffs in an extremely top-heavy American League. In my eyes, the American League will have three 90+ win teams: the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox.  That leaves the door open for slightly above average teams like the Angels to make the playoffs.  Led by Mike Trout and the rest of the big-hitting lineup, they’ll snag a Wild Card spot.

Image result for jurickson profar a's

The Athletics will take a step back this year after a playoff appearance in 2018.  The rotation will be without Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton for a good portion of the season.  Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada cannot lead this rotation alone.  Plus, the only Jed Lowrie replacement the A’s were able to find was former Rangers utility man Jurickson Profar.  The losses of Jonathan Lucroy and Matt Joyce will also make an impact on the team.

Image result for gallo and mazara

That leaves the Rangers and Mariners.  The Rangers won’t improve much quite yet despite an experienced rotation and a core led by outfielders Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara.  They’ll need to undergo a full rebuild before significant improvement can occur.  The Mariners are starting that process, though they still boast a respectable MLB roster.  They could’ve probably contended this year if it weren’t for the start of a rebuild.  But instead, they gave up some of their most talented players in exchange for minimal top prospects.  The less talented roster will put the team into a situation similar to that of their division rivals, the Rangers.  Despite a respectable roster with experience, the team won’t be talented enough to produce above average seasons.

National League

NL East

  1. atlanta-braves Atlanta Braves (93-69) (2nd Seed in NL Playoffs)
  2. philadelphia.phillies  Philadelphia Phillies (92-70) (5th Seed in NL Playoffs)
  3. washington-nats Washington Nationals (84-78)
  4. new-york-mets New York Mets (83-79)
  5. Related image Miami Marlins (61-101)

Image result for freddie freeman

This will undoubtedly be the most competitive division in baseball.  I see a young, but emerging Braves team repeating as the division winner, led by a big year from Freddie Freeman, significant contribution from new 3B Josh Donaldson, and a bounce back for SP Julio Teheran.  In 2018, the Phillies were a star or two away from greatness.  This off-season, they added C J.T. Realmuto, OF Andrew McCutchen, SS Jean Segura, and most of all, OF Bryce Harper.  Led by Harper, the lineup will be loaded with talent, leading to a big year.

Image result for bryce harper phillies

The Nats and Mets will also contend.  The Nats made up for Harper’s departure by boosting the rotation with SPs Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez.  To add to it, they signed 2B Brian Dozier.  Even without Harper, they should still be in good hands with Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and others.  After adding 2B Robinson Cano among other stars, the Mets should also stay in contention, at least for this year.

Image result for robinson cano mets

The only team that’ll be out of this hectic NL East race is the Miami Marlins.  The Marlins sold their entire outfield plus Dee Gordon and J.T. Realmuto in trades within the last two off-seasons.  Without Realmuto, they will remain one of the worst teams in the league.

NL Central

  1. Chicago_Cubs Chicago Cubs (94-68) (1st Seed in NL Playoffs)
  2. St_Louis_Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals (93-69) (4th Seed in NL Playoffs)
  3. Related image Milwaukee Brewers (86-76)
  4. cincinnati_reds_logo Cincinnati Reds (80-82)
  5. pittsburgh-pirates Pittsburgh Pirates (69-93)

Image result for yu darvish

I know people are concerned about the Cubs due to uncertainty about Yu Darvish’s health.  But regardless of Darvish’s health, I think the Cubs have one of the best rotations in the league.  Add in an underappreciated bullpen and a respectable lineup, and the roster begins to look underrated.  I do have confidence that Darvish will be alright though.

Image result for paul goldschmidt cardinals

The Cardinals should be Chicago’s biggest concern, as I expect the Cards to be knocking on Chicago’s door in the NL Central.  With Paul Goldschmidt on board, they will combine their young, exciting pitching staff with a star-studded lineup and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.  Meanwhile, despite adding C Yasmani Grandal, I expect the Brewers to take a step back.  I don’t trust 1B Jesus Aguilar or Jhoulys Chacin to repeat their strong 2018 seasons.  With the rotation depleted and the lineup looking a little less overpowered, Milwaukee will fall behind as the NL Central competition gets more intense.

Image result for joey votto yasiel puig reds

Meanwhile, the Reds will begin to take steps toward contention, led by new OF star Yasiel Puig and long time Reds 1B Joey Votto.  They added a lot of experience to the rotation as well, so that should help.  That leaves the Pirates in the division’s basement as they begin a rebuild.  Their rotation should look pretty good this year, and when Gregory Polanco gets healthy, the outfield will thrive as well.  However, I don’t fully trust Trevor Williams yet, and in such a tough division, I can’t see this rebuilding team finish very well.

NL West

  1. colorado-rockies Colorado Rockies (89-73) (3rd Seed in NL Playoffs)
  2. los-angeles-dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers (85-77)
  3. sanfran-giants San Francisco Giants (84-78)
  4. san diego-padres San Diego Padres (71-91)
  5. arizona-dbacks Arizona Diamondbacks (68-94)

Image result for kershaw and buehler

I think this might be the year when the Dodgers are finally dethroned.  Despite a strong rotation led by Clayton Kershaw and the young Walker Buehler, the bullpen lacks depth beyond Kenley Jansen.  In addition, they traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp for next to nothing.  It does open up space in the outfield but the team will take a step back as a result.   The infield already lacked depth with Brian Dozier leaving.  Failing to sign Bryce Harper after the Puig/Kemp trade just made the depth problems worse.

This will allow the Rockies to win the division.  Their rotation isn’t amazing, but they’ll be able to manage thanks to hitter friendly Coors Field and a strong bullpen to back the rotation up.  It’s the star-studded lineup that will lead them to a division victory.  The Giants are also closer to contention than you might think.  They quietly boosted the rotation this off-season.  This will add to their strong bullpen and allow them to achieve a winning record despite a subpar lineup and questionable outfield situation.

Image result for manny machado

Even though they signed Manny Machado, the Padres won’t contend unless they significantly upgrade the rotation.  Plus, they should have better luck contending once Fernando Tatis Jr. is in San Diego for a full season.  They will finish ahead of the D-Backs, who will take a significant step back without Goldschmidt.  That leaves SP Zack Greinke as the best player left, and there were trade rumors surrounding Greinke as well.

Part II: Playoff Bracket

Screenshot 2019-03-02 at 10.14.45 PM

When the Cubs won the World Series back in 2016, they set a precedent in the MLB.  Their 5-year rebuild led to a World Series victory, and this has become a formula for World Series titles.  The Astros, who were already following this formula, won the next year in 2017.  Now, I think the Braves will be the next to do this.  Their rebuild didn’t feel as long, because prospects like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. developed quickly.  But there are still more top prospects on the way, and thanks to this first wave of young talent, the Braves will be able to contend before their rebuild is finished.  I think they may even be World Series ready.

The Bryce Harper-led Phillies, Atlanta’s division rival, will challenge them for the National League.  Led by their HR-hitting duo of Stanton and Judge and upgraded rotation, the Yankees will come close as well.  But I think the Braves are capable of outperforming these teams.

The Cubs and Astros should still be competitive in these playoffs and stay competitive down the stretch.  But I think they will have their playoff runs cut short by a Red Sox team looking to repeat and a Phillies team looking for validation that Bryce Harper was worth the money.

Part III: Awards

Below are my projected finalists for the AL and NL MVPs, Cy Youngs, and Rookies of the Year.

AL MVP

1. Jose Ramirez CLE – Ramirez has emerged as one of the league’s premier power hitters. Expect him to come through at the plate on a more consistent basis and contend for the AL MVP award.

2. J.D. Martinez BOS – At the age of 31, I cannot see Martinez quite repeating what he did in 2018. But he will put up another consistent, 40-homer year despite just falling short of the MVP after playing over half of his games at DH.

3. Jose Altuve HOU – Altuve will return to MVP form after a 2018 that was subpar for his standards. His season will be highlighted by a hint of power mixed in with his speed and ability to get on base frequently.

HM: Giancarlo Stanton NYY

NL MVP

1. Nolan Arenado COL – His 8-year extension will be motivation to live up to expectations in Colorado. Expect an dominant offensive year to go along with his elite defensive skills.

2. Freddie Freeman ATL – Freeman will help lead a young Braves team to the first World Series of what could make for the MLB’s next dynasty. After emerging as the top first baseman in the league last year, he will contend for the MVP as his offensive stats continue to increase.

3. Christian Yelich MIL – After winning NL MVP in 2018, Yelich will run with the momentum and top off the prime of his career with another dominant season.

HM: Starling Marte PIT

AL ROTY

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR – This top prospect has the genetics and he’s been all out dominant in the minors. Expect him to make it up to Toronto early, earn the starting job at third and do the same in the majors, contending for Rookie of the Year.

2. Kyle Tucker HOU – Tucker may not have a starting job – yet. But he showed flashes of potential in 2018 and could get some time in the outfield or at DH in 2019.

3. Eloy Jiménez CWS – Another top prospect who needs just a few weeks in AAA before a major league call up. After that, expect him to earn a time share in the outfield and eventually (after a strong start) a starting job.

HM: Forrest Whitley HOU

NL ROTY

1. Peter Alonso NYM – If Alonso has a strong Spring Training, look for him to compete for the first base job as Todd Frazier, Jed Lowrie, Amed Rosario, and Robinson Cano split time between second, shortstop, and third. Cano could try playing first, but having Alonso there from Opening Day could be beneficial. I see him breaking out in his rookie year and winning NL Rookie of the Year.

2. Fernando Tatis Jr. SD – Tatis Jr. isn’t MLB ready yet, but I think he’ll make an immediate impact if they bring him up when the time is right. I could see a Hosmer-Kinsler-Tatis-Machado infield working out well. Luis Urias will have to wait until 2020 for another starting job.

3. Mitch Keller PIT – The Pirates’ first four starters have their jobs locked down. But if Keller gets off to a strong start in the minors, look for him to challenge Jordan Lyles for the #5 slot in the rotation and contend for NL Rookie of the Year.

HM: Victor Robles WSH

AL Cy Young

1. Corey Kluber CLE – Kluber heads into 2019 with something to prove. He needs to convince the Indians that he’s worth the money to keep around. The Indians don’t have much money to spend, so Kluber will need to put up a Cy Young-caliber year in order to do this.

2. Chris Sale BOS – If Sale can get healthy and stay healthy, he’ll be the best pitcher in this league. But he always ends up collapsing at the end of the year, so I have slightly more confidence in Kluber. However, maybe Alex Cora can figure out a way to allow him to stay healthy all year. If Cora can figure this out, Sale’s definitely worth re-signing.

3. Tyler Skaggs LAA – A healthy Skaggs showed potential last season, especially early on. With no clear ace atop the Angels rotation for 2019 and Shohei Ohtani restricted to just hitting, expect Skaggs to step it up and emerge as LA’s new ace, something they have longed for since Garrett Richards began to decline after LA’s 2014 playoff appearance.

HM: Justin Verlander HOU

NL Cy Young

1. Max Scherzer WSH – Expect Scherzer to emerge as the top pitcher in the league this year when Jacob deGrom takes a slight step back in his age 30 season. Scherzer has not let his age define him, and if anything, he has only gotten better with age. I don’t see a decline happening anytime soon for Mad Max, and he has another Cy Young year or two still ahead of him.

2. Clayton Kershaw LAD – Kershaw has dealt with lingering injuries, but when he’s on the mound and healthy, he has looked like the same Kershaw we’re used to seeing. Despite injuries, he has posted an ERA under 3.00 in each of the last 10 seasons. As usual, I expect Kershaw to contend for the Cy Young, especially if he remains healthy.

3. Julio Teheran ATL – Teheran hasn’t looked like the ace we thought he would be since 2014. But he is still just 28, and as long as it happens in the next year or two, I could definitely see him return to ace form and lead a young Braves rotation.

HM: Stephen Strasburg WSH

That’s all for this year’s MLB predictions.  Stay tuned for more Red Sox and baseball coverage soon.

Super Bowl LIII Video Preview

Welcome to my 6th post in my series of Super Bowl LIII Preview articles.  My video preview of the game with a transcript is below.  How do these two teams match up?  Watch the video 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 28: Super Bowl LIII: How They Got Here

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

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

February 1: Super Bowl LIII Fast Facts and Their Significance

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

February 3: Super Bowl LIII Video Preview

February 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!

Video Preview:

Transcript:

After taking the Rams down in the first Super Bowl of the Brady-Belichick era, the Patriots take them on again in Super Bowl LIII. Coming off an OT thriller over the Chiefs, the Pats should have plenty of motivation for this game after losing the Super Bowl last year. In addition, a win will give the Pats 6 Lombardi trophies and tie the Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins all time by an NFL team. The Rams made it here after an overtime victory of their own that was made possible because of a Rams pass interference no-call, but they’ll look to get revenge on the Pats for derailing the “Greatest Show on Turf” back in 2001. 17 years later, the Pats are the experienced dynasty, and the Rams are once again on the rise. But the Pats took down a high scoring Rams offense back in 2001 and with 2 weeks to prepare, Belichick should have a game plan to shut down the Rams again. Though the Patriots dynasty is headed “Back to their Roots”, there are several factors that make this game different.

The Patriots defense isn’t quite as good as it was back in 2001. So for the Pats to beat the Rams again, they’ll need to play like they did in the first half in KC and stop the Rams running game led by Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. The Patriots defense has struggled to contain big name running backs in recent years, and if they fail to contain Gurley and Anderson, it may prevent them from winning. Winning the turnover battle will also help their case. Both QBs have had interception troubles this year, and both teams are Top 5 in interceptions. The question is, who will throw more? About 80% of the time, teams who win the turnover battle win the game. The Pats will also need to score early as they did against the Chiefs and Chargers. Though they did score their only Super Bowl first quarter points in the Brady-Belichick Era last year, they were outscored in the first quarter. Starting out strong with a TD will prevent that from happening again.

If the Rams want revenge, they will need to put pressure on QB Tom Brady. If they can apply the pressure up the middle, Brady could be limited and interception-prone. The battle in the trenches will be key as New England’s offensive line has been playing well but the Rams defensive line is probably the toughest they’ve faced all year.

QB Jared Goff will need to show that his lack of experience doesn’t matter and avoid interceptions. Gurley and Anderson cannot lead the offense alone, and Goff has not been throwing it as much since WR Cooper Kupp got hurt. Interceptions could significantly impact the game so it will be interesting to see if he forces some throws.

I expect Julian Edelman to have another stellar playoff performance with about 100 receiving yards and a TD. I also won’t be surprised to see Gronk play a big role in what could be his last game.

This will definitely be a close one like all of the Pats Super Bowls but in the end, I believe the Pats win 26-24 making it 3 Super Bowl wins in 5 years.

Stay tuned for a final update before the game including my iMovie Trailer.

2018-19 NFL Playoff Predictions: Pats Win it All Thanks to Favorable Schedule

Welcome to my 2018-19 NFL Playoff Predictions.  Today, I will show you my playoff bracket alongside score predictions and analysis for each game.  Next week, I will update you with Divisional Round predictions unless all of this week’s games are predicted correctly.  Below is my official playoff bracket:
I have the Patriots winning it all, though I don’t see them as the most talented team here.  I think a favorable schedule, including home field advantage in the AFC Championship after Kansas City’s elimination will help them to a Super Bowl victory.  The Super Bowl itself will be an epic battle of two aging superstar QBs, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  It will be close, but I have the Patriots coming out on top.  Check out my score predictions and in-depth analysis for all 11 games below.

Wild Card Weekend

Offensively, these two teams are pretty evenly matched.  The Colts have given the Texans a hard time in the past.  But on Wild Card Weekend, I expect Houston’s defense to step it up and secure the Texans a victory.  While Indy struggles to get into the red zone against a strong Texans D, Houston will score on an inexperienced Colts defense with ease as WR DeAndre Hopkins puts up another huge game.
This will be a high scoring game, and it could potentially end up being a complete shootout.  Both these defenses lack the experience to thrive in the playoffs.  This will allow QB Dak Prescott to find his receivers and lead the Cowboys to victory.  However, QB Russell Wilson and his versatile offense will make it close and come within one possession of the victory.
With TE Hunter Henry back, this Chargers offense will only get better from here.  I think they’ll be able to handle the rising Ravens D this time around.  You know what they say: it’s hard to beat the same team twice.  This time around, the Chargers D will figure out how to shut down QB Lamar Jackson, RB Gus Edwards, and a talented Ravens offense.  It won’t be easy, but I see the Chargers as the only road team to win on Wild Card Weekend.
This will be closer than most people expect. QB Nick Foles has unlocked the full potential of the Eagles offense, and it will not be easy for even a dominant Bears D to contain them.  But I see QB Mitch Trubisky and his receivers stepping it up and leading a late comeback effort.  They will take advantage of the banged-up Eagles secondary and eventually secure the victory in overtime.

Divisional Round

This will not be an exciting one to watch.  The banged-up Houston offense will struggle to put up points, even against a mediocre New England D.  Don’t expect Brady the Pats to score much either against Houston’s strong defense.  But I see the Pats getting by, as Brady and his receivers take advantage of Houston’s defensive weakness: their secondary.  On the other hand, the Patriots’ well-rounded defense will stand strong.
No matter who wins in this divisional rubber match, it will be a complete shootout.  The Chiefs have next to no defense, which will not serve them well against any playoff team.  But will QB Patrick Mahomes II and company put up enough points to get by anyway?  In the playoffs?  I don’t think so.  Mahomes will put up a multi-TD effort.  But the Chargers’ revamped offense will dominate a weak Kansas City defense and outplay Mahomes and his squad.  Even with Mahomes replacing QB Alex Smith, the Chiefs will choke in the playoffs, again, as the Chargers move on to face New England in the AFC Championship.
This will be another close one.  But I don’t see this being as high-Scoring as Chicago’s Wild Card Weekend match-up with the Eagles.  The Rams have one of the most star-studded defenses in the league.  They will severely limit the abilities of a young Bears offense.  But Chicago’s D is up there with LA’s.  QB Jared Goff has had a good season in general, but he has put up a few duds here and there.  After putting up a dud the last time these two teams played, I could see him doing it again.  RB Todd Gurley is not at full health and WR Cooper Kupp is done for the year.  Goff will find himself short of weapons and will fall short in OT, going one and done for the second year in a row.
Dallas will be able to get by in the first round, but wait till they see an elite contender.  The Saints should be able to top the Cowboys with ease, even after their defeat in Dallas.  This game will take place in New Orleans, and it will be easier on the Saints now that they have an idea of what they’re up against.   Brees and his receivers will put up a decent game, but it’s the Saints defense that I could see stepping it up here against Prescott and his young offense.

Conference Championships

AFC Championship
In order for TB12 and the Patriots to take down this dominant Chargers offense, they’ll need to get their own act together offensively.  But at Gillette Stadium, I have confidence in them.  As long as the Chargers or somebody else dethrones the Chiefs before New England has to play them, the Pats will get the opportunity to play the AFC Championship at home, where they are undefeated on the season.  Against a decent Chargers D, Brady will have to use a variety of receivers, and the Pats will have to run the ball occasionally.  But I have confidence that they are capable, especially on home turf, though this will not be easy.  If this was played anywhere but Gillette, the Patriots would likely fall short to LA’s overpowered offense.
NFC Championship
Against a tough Bears D, you cannot expect a huge game out of Brees and company.  But the Saints have made defensive improvements of their own throughout the season, and I could see them holding the Bears to just 1 TD of their own.  The Saints will get by in the end, making the Super Bowl for the first time since 2009.
Fun fact: In 2009, the Saints went 13-3, losing to the same opponents as they did this year.  They went on to win the Super Bowl that year.

Super Bowl LIII

In a battle of two star QBs in Brady and Brees, I have the Pats winning it all. But it won’t be Brady who drives the victory.  The Saints have succeeded in stopping the run for most of the season, but the at times dominant Pats RB trio might overwhelm them.  Meanwhile, Brees will have a strong game here, but I think the Pats’ star-studded secondary will stand strong, holding Brees and his receivers to just 2 TDs.  These two things along with a vintage game by TE Rob Gronkowski will lead New England to a 6th Super Bowl victory.  I think RBs James White and Sony Michel will shine in this game, and I see the future of this team depending on their success.
That’s all for today’s predictions.  Stay tuned for more NFL Playoffs coverage and updates soon.