By Ryan Crawford
Let me start off by saying this is a very interesting draft. While there are multiple Quarterbacks that everyone talks about, I don’t think they are on a level with many of the QB’s that have been top ten picks in the past. Of course the teams that generally need Quarterbacks reside in the top ten. You would expect some of those teams to trade down for some additional value but I don’t anticipate the teams looking to move up paying a steep price to move. Teams generally overpay for franchise QB’s and these guys don’t fit that description. Don’t expect teams to jump up for the strength of this draft, which are Wide Receivers, Tackles and a couple of Defensive studs at the top. The result will be a cat and mouse game and alot of picks that people will be shocked at, both high and low. It will be one of the hardest drafts in years to predict. Good luck to the experts on this one. Should be a lot of fun…
1. HOUSTON TEXANS- Jadaveon Clowney-DL- South Carolina
Texans need a QB but not at #1. Clowney is still the best player in the draft.
2. ST. LOUIS RAMS- Greg Robinson- Tackle- Auburn
This guy is a mountain with huge upside. I expected Rams to try to trade down but the price might not be worth it if someone is not coming up to get a QB or Clowney.
3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS- Khalil Mack-OLB- Buffalo
The Jags need a QB bad and if they jump it would probably be Bortles but I think they wait till later rounds to grab the QB and keep building their defense.
4. CLEVELAND BROWNS- Sammy Watkins-WR-Clemson
Another QB needy team that will wait till later. Any QB coming in to a situation with Josh Gordon and this stud receiver will look better anyway.
5. OAKLAND RAIDERS- Jake Matthews- Tackle- Texas A & M
If Al Davis were alive, this pick would have Johnny Manziel written all over it. Does anyone ever really know what the Raiders will do? Matthews is the smart pick for a team in need of protection up front.
6. ATLANTA FALCONS- Taylor Lewan- Tackle- Michigan
The Falcons need linemen to protect Matty Ice and Lewan is the third tackle off the board early.
7. TAMPA BAY BUCS- Darqueze Dennard- CB- Michigan State
Defense, Defense, Defense for new coach Lovie Smith as the Bucs secure one of the top corners in the draft.
8. MINNESOTA VIKINGS- Blake Bortles-QB-UCF
Vikings sit tight and grab the only QB they really wanted for new coach Mike Zimmer.
9. BUFFALO BILLS- Eric Ebron- TE- North Carolina
Bills snag a big time weapon for second year QB EJ Manuel.
10. DETROIT LIONS- Mike Evans- WR- Texas A&M
Could go corner here but teaming Evans with Megatron makes too much sense and scares the heck out of opposing secondarys.
11. TENNESSEE TITANS- Justin Gilbert- CB- Oklahoma State
With the secondary defections in free agency, a big need for Titans is filled with this pick.
12. NEW YORK GIANTS- Anthony Barr- OLB- UCLA
Giants are in need of strong defenders and haven’t had a linebacker with this much potential in years.
13. ST LOUIS RAMS- Ha Ha Clinton Dix- S- Alabama
If the Rams can’t trade down off the 2nd pick, look for them to trade down here to add more picks later on. If they use the pick, a good safety is a big need and Dix is one of the top two. Calvin Pryor also a strong possibility
14. CHICAGO BEARS- Timmy Jernigan- DT- Florida State
The Bears need to beef up the defensive line and Jernigan brings the beef in a big way
15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS- Aaron Donald-DT-Pittsburgh
The Steelers stay in town to pick the speedy, strong Donald. Another team that needs to rebuild its defense and this is a good start.
16. DALLAS COWBOYS- Johnny Manziel-QB-Texas A&M
Nothing more than a hunch on my part, but imagine this guy playing for America’s team. Jerry Jones is never one to miss a good marketing opportunity and Tony Romo is 33 and not exactly Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Makes sense from so many vantage points.
17. BALTIMORE RAVENS- Odell Beckham Jr-WR-LSU
Ravens can really use another weapon for Joe Flacco and Beckham Jr is one of the best. Brandin Cooks could go here as well.
18. NEW YORK JETS- Calvin Pryor- S- Louisville
Yes I know the Jets need another receiver badly but this guy is a hammer and Rex is drooling at the thought of a young Ed Reed. The Wide Receiver class is very deep and they will get a couple in later rounds.
19. MIAMI DOLPHINS- Morgan Moses- OT- Virginia
It’s no secret that the Dolphins need some serious help on the offensive line and this guy should slot in at one of the tackles.
20. ARIZONA CARDINALS- Bradley Roby- CB- Ohio State
Even with the addition of Antonio Cromartie, the Cards could use a young corner and this guy has all the talent in the world
21. GREEN BAY PACKERS – Kony Ealy- DE/LB- Missouri
The Packers need a lot of help on this side of the ball and the versatile Ealy can play multiple spots. CJ Mosley is a possibility here as well.
22. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES- Brandin Cooks-WR-Oregon State
Doesn’t take the Eagles long to replace Desean Jackson with this speedster whom Chip Kelly knows well from his Oregon days.
23. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS- Kelvin Benjamin-WR-Florida State
Chiefs need more weapons for Alex Smith and Benjamin is a big target.
24. CINCINNATI BENGALS- Jason Verrett- CB- TCU
Marvin Lewis is concerned about his secondary and the corners are starting to run so he grabs a very good prospect in Verrett
25. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS- Louis Nix- NT- Notre Dame
A strong nose tackle prospect, Nix is a great fit for the Chargers D.
26. CLEVELAND BROWNS- Teddy Bridgewater- QB- Louisville
How many times have we seen this one. The guy a team was considering at 4 drops to their next pick at 26. The last time we saw this was with Geno Smith and the Jets last year. The Browns can’t believe their good fortune and the shouts of joy are heard all the way from Cleveland.
27. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS- Ryan Shazier-OLB- Ohio State
The Saints need to improve their defense and Shazier is a good step in that direction. He can play inside or move outside if needed at the linebacker spot.
28. CAROLINA PANTHERS- Zach Martin –T-Notre Dame
Looking for another Tackle, Martin falls right into the Panthers lap.
29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- CJ Mosley- ILB- Alabama
Another defender for the Patriots. A wide receiver is a possibility here or trading down as the Pats like to do.
30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS- Marqise Lee- WR- USC
In need of another young receiver, 49ers are thrilled to get Lee at 30.
31. DENVER BRONCOS- Dee Ford- DE- Auburn
Think the Broncos need more defense? Me too. Another guy to rush the passer
32. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS- Ra’Shede Hageman- DT- Minnesota
What do you get the team that has everything? Another weapon for Russell Wilson? Another defender for a team full of stud defenders? Some protection for the offense? Just get the best guy available and at this point that is Hageman.
By Nick Vespasiano
Yesterday, Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota elected to return to Eugene next season. The redshirt sophomore was considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2014 NFL draft. He entered the 2013 season a Heisman hopeful but saw it slip away with losses to Stanford and Arizona.
Despite being out of the Heisman race for 2013, Mariota has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 3,412 yards, 30 touchdowns and four picks. He also has 582 yards on the ground and nine scores. Those are Heisman numbers but his team’s two losses are keeping him out of contention.
This decision comes as a surprise to me. Running back De’Anthony Thomas is likely entering the draft, number one receiver Josh Huff is a senior, and last season Chip Kelly abruptly bolted for the Philadelphia Eagles. Mariota could be vying for a better draft position. The upcoming NFL draft will feature quarterbacks like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Alabama’s A.J, McCarron, and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Despite the competition he would have faced in the next draft, he was widely considered a potential first round pick. Perhaps he’s just loyal to his Ducks.
Mariota should be an early Heisman favorite yet again heading into the 2014 season. Other players who are ineligible for the 2013 draft with legitimate 2014 Heisman ambitions include Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon, and my favorite, UCLA linebacker/running back Myles Jack.
Draft eligible but returning next season is Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty who should be on the short pre-season Heisman list. UCLA’s star quarterback Brett Hundley and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller have yet to make decisions on next year’s draft.
Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.
By Nick Vespasiano
(19) Wisconsin vs (25) Minnesota
As a native Minnesotan, it’s hard to feel anything but apathetic about Gophers football. So far this season they have exceeded everyone’s expectations but their own. Jerry Kill and this coaching staff have turned this team around, especially by playing to the strengths of the running game. Junior running back David Cobb has burst onto the Big 10 this season, rushing for 942 yards thus far and averaging 142 yards in Minnesota’s last four games. The key matchup will be this heavy run attack going up against a Wisconsin defense that has impressed all season. New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s switch to a 3-4 scheme has worked wonders for the run defense, which ranks fifth in the country with 4.3 yards per carry for opponents. Last week the Badgers’ defense held an Indiana offense that is averaging 40-plus points per game, to just a field goal. The Gophers have their hands full on defense, with Heisman Trophy sleeper, sophomore running back Melvin Gordon and dynamic playmaker Jared Abbrederis highlighting Wisconsin’s offense. The main storyline here is the renewed rivalry. Wisconsin has won the last nine meetings but both teams go into the game at 8-2, making this matchup relevant for the first time since 2002. This Saturday will also mark my first Gophers game at TCF Bank Stadium, which should be cool.
(4) Baylor vs (10) Oklahoma State
Those poor Baylor Bears, they have to win out the rest of the season with no guarantee that it will even matter (sound familiar Ohio State?). This is arguably the hardest opponent on their remainder of their schedule and all signs point to a shootout. Baylor and Oklahoma State rank first and fourteenth respectively in points scored per game. I was surprised to see they both rank in the top-fifteen in points allowed per game but both defenses are inconsistent. For example, Oklahoma State held Mississippi state to three points and gave up 35 the next week to UT-San Antonio. However, OSU had a nice 52-34 win week 8 over Texas Tech, a team with a potent offense like Baylor’s. Both teams feature great passing offenses. Clint Chelf has impressed replacing JW Walsh at quarterback for OSU. While Baylor’s Bryce Petty sits third on most hypothetical Heisman ballots (including mine). The edge on offense here goes to Baylor because of their running attack. Star junior Lache Seastrunk is still injured but freshman Shock Linwood has replaced him effortlessly and has 812 yards on the season. Add Petty’s 10 rushing touchdowns and the ground as dangerous as the air against Baylor. Both teams rank higher than I would have expected. There are Big 12 title (and possible National Title in Baylor’s case) implications. The last 10th ranked team Baylor played was the Oklahoma Sooners on week 9, and they won by four touchdowns.
(12) Texas A&M vs (22) LSU
In last season’s matchup on 10/20, LSU defeated Texas A&M 24-19. Johnny Manziel played probably his worst game of the season finishing 29-59, 276 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, and just 27 yards rushing. That was in College Station. This year the Aggies travel to Death Valley for the first time in the careers of head coach Kevin Sumlin and repeat-Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel. For LSU to earn a second straight win against A&M, they’ll have to keep the ball out of Manziel’s hands and that means running the football. Sophomore running back Jeremy Hill is averaging 6.8 yards per carry, totaling 964 yards and 13 touchdowns through week 10. He had 127 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in last season’s game and can expect to see a lot of action for LSU to keep the clock moving. Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger and junior wide receiver Odell Beckham are one of the deadliest QB/WR duos in the SEC. In the midst of a breakout year, senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger will at least have to play the “game manager” role well and above all, not turn over the ball. That was the key last season where LSU won the turnover battle with zero to A&M’s five. How well Manziel and A&M’s offense plays depends on LSU’s defense which has been inconsistent this season. Head coach Les Miles plans to regularly rotate two to three players at every position on defense to limit fatigue versus an athletic no-huddle offense. We’ll see if they’re up for the challenge, Manziel, Malena, Evans, and the top offense in the SEC have a tendency to tire out a defense.
is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.
By: Matt Federbusch
It may be too early for Heisman talks but Florida State QB Jameis Winston seems like a good candidate. The true freshman from Bessemer, Alabama has been putting up videogame numbers for the Seminoles as of late and it doesn’t look like he’s going to cool down anytime soon. In every game so far, the Seminoles have scored more than 40 points and they practically routed every opponent. Winston is responsible for putting up most of these points and leading the Noles to 1st place in the ACC. Jameis already has 23 touchdowns and an unbelievable passer rating of 207.0.
He is not a guy that shies away from a challenge either. Just ask the Clemson Tigers. Against #3 Clemson on October 19, the Seminoles destroyed the Tigers, winning 51-14. Winston had 444 yards (Yes, you read that correctly), 3 passing touchdowns, and 1 rushing touchdown. This is an unbelievably talented athlete and the scary thing is that he is only a freshman. Will he be the Heisman winner? I’m not sure, Mariota and Manziel look pretty good too. All I know is you should fear the spear because this guy is for real.