Ole Miss

College Football Week Five Review

This past weekend felt like the truest indicator so far of where the major teams are at this season. Five weeks in and some secured statement wins, some recovered well and some struggled in victory. Let’s take a look at some of the main talking points from yet another exciting weekend in college football.

1) Ohio State Flashes Potential on National Stage

Ohio State laid their biggest indicator of the season that this team is for real. They throttled a good Nebraska side 48-7, excelling on all phases of the ball. The offense always gets the headlines, but Justin Fields deserves praise for another stellar performance since transferring from Georgia in the summer.

15-21 for 212 yards and 3 TD’s, along with 177 rushing yards for Running Back J.K Dobbins shows how dominant they were. The defense did even better, limiting Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez to 47 yards passing and three interceptions. Now 5-0, they find themselves in the play-off places for the first time this season.

2) Clemson Battle Past North Carolina

From convincing to unconvincing wins, as top ranked Clemson came very close to a loss against a resurgent North Carolina. They didn’t look good in this game, with sophomore phenom Trevor Lawrence struggling again.

The Clemson team is an embarrassment of riches, but being a failed two-point conversion away from losing doesn’t inspire confidence. They’ve dropped to second in the AP Top 25 poll, and will need to regroup quickly as the pressure mounts.

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North Carolina gave Clemson an almighty scare, falling short 21-20 to a more talented Clemson side. Their response will show their character going forward. Photo: Chris Seward/AP.

3) Notre Dame Put Georgia Loss Behind Them

Notre Dame recovered from a tough loss to Georgia with the perfect rebuttal in this potential banana skin. Virginia came into this game full of confidence, but Notre Dame proved too strong and deserved their 35-20 victory.

Notre Dame relied on Running Back Tony Jones Jr on offense, with 131 rushing yards and 3 TD’s proving vital. On the defensive side of the ball, Defensive End Julian Okwara had a career day with three of the teams eight sacks, as well as forcing a fumble in one of their five turnovers. The defense played lights out and deserves national recognition for this performance.

4) Washington Back in Pac-12 Mix

Washington have recovered well from a tough early season loss to California, swatting aside USC 28-14 to regain ground in the Pac-12. Salvon Ahmed had a big day at Running Back, with 153 yards and touchdown in a vital win.

This win jumps them back up to second in the Pac-12 North. Whilst any faint dreams of a national title chance are long gone, they find themselves 15th in the AP Polls. If they can win out from here on out they will have earned a top ten berth and a prominent bowl game.

5) Penn State Shutout Maryland

Penn State responded perfectly to their first challenge this season, mauling a high-powered Maryland offense. The defense stood out in this game, keeping a previously top ranked scoring offense to zero points. A previously unstoppable Maryland team couldn’t get anything going at all, holding Quarterback Josh Jackson to 65 passing yards and two interceptions.

For Penn State their offense had no problem scoring points, with sophomore Quarterback Sean Clifford going off with over 450 combined yards and four touchdowns in this rout. This is a big win for Penn State and they have kept themselves in the hunt.

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Penn State Running Back Ricky Slade celebrates his touchdown in this 59-0 rout of Maryland on their own turf. Photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sport.

6) Other Key Results This Week

After such a disappointing loss last weekend Michigan responded in the perfect manner, dismantling a poor Rutgers team. Much criticised Quarterback Shea Patterson responded with three passing touchdowns and a rushing TD in a 52-0 rout. The only negative for the Wolverines was their running game struggling again.

Arizona State beat 15th ranked California 24-17, which is a pivotal win for them after a slow start to their Pac-12 season. They are on the outside looking in right now, but this is a massive win and will give them confidence going forward.

7) Stand Out Week Five Performers 

For the standout performer we can’t overlook Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The third head of their receiving core behind Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs went off against Ole Miss, with 274 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Another receiver who impressed is Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, who showed an incredible turn and burst of speed on a 71 yard touchdown against Texas Tech, ending up with 185 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a first round prospect in a loaded wide receiver class this year.

8) Heisman Contenders Update

Now we’re well into the season, the key contenders for the 2019 Heisman Trophy are emerging. Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa is having a monster season, currently second in the nation with over 1700 yards in only five games. He’s also protecting the football, with 23 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Of the rest Joe Burrow is the outside bet, having surprised everyone with the impressive start he’s had. Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts has played lights out this season, going for over 1200 yards passing and over 440 yards rushing in four games. Tua remains the favourite, but there’s plenty of contenders keeping him honest.

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Tua Tagovailoa is living a charmed life this year. He’s the current Heisman favourite and is many draft experts pick for the first overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

9) AP Top 25 Rankings

The latest rankings going into week six have been released, with the mild surprise that Alabama have overtaken Clemson for the top spot. It’s an understandable move after their performances last weekend. After their impressive win Ohio State jumped LSU for fourth and the final play-off place.

Further down, Notre Dame are the only other team to move in the top ten, vaulting Florida for ninth. Washington improve two places to 15th, with Utah, UCF and Michigan all moving up to 17th,18th and 19th respectively. California, USC and Kansas State are the big losers, all dropping out of the rankings this week.

10) First Coaching Casualty of the Year

Rutgers head coach Chris Ash was the first casualty of the 2019 season. After his teams 52-0 demolition against Michigan he was shown the door after three years in charge. His 8-32 record is poor, along with a 3-26 record in the Big Ten conference. Offensive coordinator John McNulty has also been fired after their 1-3 start.

Tight Ends coach Nunzio Campanile will take the interim head coach job for the season. Ash had previously been defensive coordinator for the 2014 national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Early favourites to replace him include Greg Schiano, Mike Elko and Jeff Monken.

That wraps up the main talking points from another week of college football, if you have any thoughts on this points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it!

 

2016 NFL Mock Draft Part 2

This is part two of my look at the fast approaching 2016 NFL Draft. Teams will be fairly confident of who they want and realistically will be able to select come Thursday evening. For part one of my mock draft looking at picks one to ten, please click this link NFL Mock Draft Part One .

This part of my mock draft is dedicated to the real meat of the draft, picks 11 through 20. There is lots of potential for trades with these picks as teams either move up or down to select the player they want. Without further ado, let’s look at my predictions for these middle first round picks.

11th Overall Pick: Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson – Defensive End – Clemson

The Chicago Bears are in the unfortunate position of having a varied amount of team needs, but without a top ten pick to use as trade material. With the eleventh pick their top need seemingly is with their pass rush which ranked 22nd in sacks last season, this despite signing promising free agent Pernell McPhee last off-season.

With this in mind I think the Bears will select Clemson’s all-American defensive end Shaq Lawson. He led college football in tackles for loss and was top five in sacks last season. He is a very good player who could team well with McPhee to strengthen and inject some youth in Chicago’s pass rush. For every quarterback in the NFC North, they should be worried if the Bears make this pick.

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Shaq Lawson was a wrecking ball last season as Clemson reached the national championship game. Can his immense talents translate well in the NFL? Photo copyright USA Today Sports.

12th Overall Pick: New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins – Defensive Tackle – Louisville

The New Orleans Saints have been significantly hindered from addressing their areas of need thanks to a significant lack in cap space. This didn’t allow them to make any splashes in free agency, which means they really have to nail the draft if they want to address their weaknesses.

Much like the Bears their biggest issue is their pass rush, which was an abysmal 25th in the NFL for sacks last season. With this in mind they can immediate improve this with the selection of Sheldon Rankins from Louisville. He was a very productive player in college and should translate well into the NFL.

Whilst some may argue getting an offensive weapon for quarterback Drew Brees is a more important position to address, I feel it would be a reach to select a wide receiver with this pick. We’ll see which side of the ball the Saints address with this first round selection.

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Rankins showing his ability to be a disruptive pass rusher in college, but can he have similar success with the step up to the NFL level? Photo copyright Tim Easley/Associated Press.

13th Overall Pick: Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliott – Running Back – Ohio State

The Miami Dolphins are close to being a play-off calibre team, they only have a few positions to address to achieve this. They stole headlines with their defensive free agent signings last off-season, but they still need help with the offense. Ryan Tannehill is firmly entrenched as their starting QB, but they need to give him further help.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry helps with this, but with this pick I think they will select premier running back Ezekiel Elliott to help their at times spluttering offense. Elliott is by far the best back in this draft, and rumours of the Cowboys selecting him with the fourth pick are a smokescreen in my opinion. He could immediately come in and becoming a 1,000 yard rusher in his first season, something that would hugely help Tannehill and the offense to score points and win games.

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Elliott proved himself as the best college running back at Ohio State, and looks set for a successful career in the NFL. Photo copyright Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images.

14th Overall Pick: Oakland Raiders – Taylor Decker – Tackle – Ohio State

The Oakland Raiders were one of the major winners from the free agency period, as they made several significant statements with their signings that they want to win now. They have also drafted well in the past few years and will be looking to continue this year.

Although they signed Kelechi Osemele they still have needs on the offensive line. This is something they will address with the selection of Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker with this pick. Drafting an offensive lineman in the first round is never a sexy pick, but provides great insurance for QB Derek Carr and adds some youth to the line.

Some may argue they should select Jake Conklin instead, I think the size and good technique skillset of Decker will win over the Oakland front office.

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Taylor Decker showed despite his 6ft 7 size, he still has good footwork and technique for a tackle. Photo copyright Justin Galler/Getty Images North America.

15th Overall Pick: Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin – Tackle – Michigan State

The Tennessee Titans started the trade madness that has engulfed this draft in the past few weeks, after they traded away the first overall pick to the L.A Rams. After swapping first round picks they not sit with the 15th pick, with some major needs for the organization.

After selecting building blocks such as Marcus Mariota last year, this year they need to help him by giving him some protection on the offensive line. They can use this pick to select Jack Conklin from Michigan State, who has elite technique for a tackle.

Some experts have questioned his physical attributes at the NFL level, but he could be a day one starter at either tackle position. This gives insurance to Mariota as he looks to progress in his second NFL season. It also adds some youth to the line and the franchise can be confident in Conklin for the coming years.

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Jack Conklin has some question marks on his physical intangibles heading into the draft, but can overcome this with his excellent technique. Photo copyright USA Today Sports.

16th Overall Pick: Detroit Lions – Reggie Ragland – Linebacker – Alabama

The Detroit Lions are another team who have plenty of the building block to be real contenders, but are just one or two pieces away from achieving this. The franchise has a lot of needs on defense, and despite losing superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson to retirement, the defensive side of the ball is what they will improve with this 16th pick.

Reggie Ragland is the latest linebacker stud to come out of serial winners the University of Alabama, and will be a great pick for the Lions. He can play outside but is much better suited as an inside linebacker, but his versatility is one of the many strengths of his game. He could be an immediate starter and impact player in Detroit, as they look to building a winning team.

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Reggie Ragland showing his big hitting ability at Alabama. Could his talents make other teams which they had selected him in the coming years? Photo copyright Chuck Cook/USA Today Sports.

17th Overall Pick: Atlanta Falcons – Leonard Floyd – Linebacker – Georgia

The selection of Ragland will start a run on linebackers, as many defensive needy teams select the best available talent after the early talents are taken off the board. The Falcons have a sound offense, but need some help on defense if they want to become a serious play-off contender in the coming seasons.

The franchise will have the choice between Darron Lee of Ohio State or Leonard Floyd from Georgia. I think they will select Floyd, who had more production in college. Some argue he is the best pure pass rusher in this draft, and the chance to select such an athlete at this stage in the lower middle first round is surely too enticing for the Falcons to pass on.

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Leonard Floyd showed tremendous athleticism and production whilst at Georgia, and will be rewarded with a first round selection in this years draft. Photo copyright Brett Davis/Associated Press.

18th Overall Pick: Indianapolis Colts – Darron Lee – Linebacker – Ohio State

The Colts will be looking at a return to the play-offs as their objective this season, after an injury plagued 2015 season. The franchise has a very good young offense who can outscore almost anybody in the league, but needs help on defense to become a true all round championship calibre team.

With this in mind I feel they will select Darron Lee from Ohio State, the best available linebacker after Ragland and Floyd come off the board. He didn’t have as much game time at Ohio State as he would of liked, but when he did play he showed he is a very gifted football player. His athleticism is up there with any linebacker in this draft and will likely become a day one defensive anchor for the Colts in the coming seasons.

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Darron Lee showed his potential on a loaded Ohio State team, and will now take his limitless talents to the NFL. Photo copyright USA Today Sports.

19th Overall Pick: Buffalo Bills – Laquon Treadwell – Wide Receiver – Ole Miss

The Bills are still in transition under head coach Rex Ryan, but showed great potential with their debut 8-8 season last year under Ryan. With the top end prospects at positions of more important need already off the board, I predict they will choose to fill a lower end need at wide receiver.

They will have the opportunity to select any of the top level receivers in this draft, in what many consider a slightly down year for the position. This should not put teams off as there are still at least half a dozen player who have the potential to be great in the NFL. Despite some pre-draft concerns with his measurable, I feel the Bills will select Ole Miss man Laquon Treadwell.

He was a stud player in college and this should not change once he moves into the NFL. The partnership of Treadwell of Sammy Watkins will be a scary prospect for any NFL defensive cop-coordinator, and arguably the best young receiver combination in the NFL this coming season.

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Laquon Treadwell is for many NFL personnel and draft experts the best WR available this year, and would cause defensive nightmares in partnership with Watkins. Photo copyright USA Today Sports.

20th Overall Pick: New York Jets – Noah Spence – Linebacker -Eastern Kentucky

The New York Jets are in the very tricky position of being very close to a serious contender in the NFL, but with several pressing needs going into the 2016 season. These needs are not something the franchise is unlikely to be able to address with this 20th pick in the draft, therefore they have the potential to be a team that organises a trade to move up or out of this pick.

If they keep this pick I think it would be hard for the team to pass up selecting the high profile prospect Noah Spence from Eastern Kentucky. The former Ohio State linebacker has showed he is in terms of pure talent probably one of the best linebackers in this draft, but has off-field concerns.

He was dismissed from Ohio State for repeated failed drugs tests for Ecstasy, but has rebuilt his draft stock at Eastern Kentucky. He appears to have come through the draft process well and has solidified himself as a first round talent. Some teams may be wary of drafting him so high, but purely based on his production and talent he is a top 15 pick. The ability to get a top 15 calibre player with the 20th pick is an enticing prospect for the Jets front office, and something they may find hard to pass on.

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Noah Spence has proved he’s going to be a disruptive pass rusher in the NFL, but can he leave his off-field concerns behind him? Photo copyright Kirk Irwin/Getty Images.

That wraps up part two of my NFL mock draft, looking at picks number 11 through 20. There could be some very productive future NFL players who slide down because of a myriad of concerns, both on and off field. Time will tell who makes the right and wrong selections this year, but all of these players can contribute immediately at the next level.

The third and final part of my mock draft will look at the final eleven picks from 20 through 31, looking at who the play-off contending teams will select to push them one step closer to the Superbowl this coming season. Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed my NFL mock draft.