Articles By Braden Gall

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The Browns haven’t won an NFL championship since 1964. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. The Cavaliers won their first NBA Finals game just X days ago in Game 2 of the 2015 championship series.

 

Needless to say, the professional sports fans in Cleveland have dealt with some serious heartache. Despite his best efforts, Lebron James wasn't able to get his city over the championship hurdle this season, losing in six games to Golden State in the NBA Finals. For what it's worth, the superstar should have been the MVP in a losing effort.

 

As a heavy underdog to the Dubs and without two star players, the loss isn't nearly as painful as some of the other gut-wrenching moments in Cleveland sports history.

 

Note: Cleveland fans, avert your eyes.

 

October 2, 1954

The Indians won 97 games in 1954, posting one of the best records in franchise history. Willie Mays made one of the most famous catches in baseball history in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the World Series. What most don’t remember, however, is that had Mays not made the play, the Indians likely would have returned home to Cleveland tied 1-1 in the series against the Giants. Instead, Cleveland was swept and lost Game 4 at home in front of 78,102 fans.

 

April 17, 1960

The Curse of Rocky Colavito haunted Cleveland for more than three decades. The Indians right fielder led the league with 42 home runs in 1959 but was inexplicably traded by GM Frank Lane to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn just before the ’60 season began. Colavito hit 139 home runs in four seasons for the Tigers while Kuenn played one year in Cleveland, hitting nine home runs. Cleveland didn’t finish within 11 games of first place again until 1993.

 

July 13, 1966

Many believe Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all-time. So his unexpected retirement at age 29 shocked the NFL and the city of Cleveland prior to the 1966 season. Brown was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher when he retired (12,312) and had just led the NFL in rushing (1,544) and touchdowns (17) in 1965 before hanging up the cleats for the silver screen. His Browns single-season rushing record of 1,863 is the oldest team record in the NFL today.

 

January 4, 1980

In one of the coldest games in NFL playoff history — try minus-36 degrees wind chill — the Browns turned in their first of many painful playoff home losses. The “Kardiac Kids” only needed a field goal to beat Oakland with time running out in the AFC Divisional round. But Brian Sipe threw a last-minute interception in the end zone that gave the Raiders the win 14-12. The famous call from head coach Sam Rutigliano was Red Right 88.

 

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January 11, 1987

Infamously dubbed “The Drive,” the first of many painful John Elway memories for Cleveland fans took place 5:32 away from the Super Bowl. Elway drove the Broncos 98 yards to tie the AFC Championship Game at 20-20 with less than 40 seconds left. Denver earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a game-winning field goal in overtime, knocking off the 12-4 Browns in Cleveland — what many consider the best team in franchise history.

 

January 17, 1988

One year later, Elway and the Broncos were once again the culprit of the Browns' Super Bowl sorrow. Down by five points with 1:12 left to play on the nine-yard line in the AFC title game, Ernest Byner broke free off the left edge and appeared poised to go into the end zone. But he fumbled just shy of the goal line, Denver recovered and advanced to its second straight Super Bowl.

 

May 7, 1989

The Cavaliers won 57 games in the 1988-89 season, setting a franchise record for wins at the time. In the first round of the playoffs, Craig Ehlo gave the Cavaliers a lead over the Bulls with three seconds to play in the decisive Game 5 of the series. But Michael Jordan would begin to build his NBA legend with a play affectionately dubbed “The Shot.” The game-winning jump shot with no time remaining was the first of many painful Jordan-related memories for Cavs fans.

 

January 14, 1990

For the third time in four years, the Browns lost in the AFC Championship Game to Elway and the Broncos. After a low-scoring first half, the Browns entered the fourth quarter down 24-21. Elway outscored Cleveland 13-0 in the fourth quarter and moved on to the Super Bowl once again.

 

May 17, 1993

One year after losing to the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs got swept by Michael Jordan in the playoffs yet again. Jordan drilled a fadeaway jumper with two guys in his face to win Game 4 103-101 and finish off the series. It was the fourth of five times that Jordan would eliminate the Cavs from the playoffs.

 

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November 6, 1995

At a press conference at Camden Yards, Browns owner Art Modell announced that he was relocating the franchise to Baltimore for the 1996 season. Subsequent legal action eventually led to the creation of an entirely new organization named the Baltimore Ravens. “The Move” left Cleveland without football for an unfathomable three years.

 

October 26, 1997

Up there with The Fumble and The Drive and The Shot is Jose Mesa’s blown save three outs away from a championship in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. A costly Tony Fernandez error set up a game-tying sac fly by Craig Counsell. Edgar Renteria won the Series for the Marlins with a game-winning base knock in the bottom of the 11th inning.

 

January 5, 2003

The one and only time the second rendition of the Browns has been to the postseason it lost to Pittsburgh in truly Cleveland fashion. The Browns led the archrival Steelers 24-7 with just a few minutes left in the third quarter. Pittsburgh went on to outscore Cleveland 29-9 over the final 19 minutes. It’s the only playoff game the new Browns have played in since returning to the league in 1999.

 

October 21, 2007

After winning three straight games to take a 3-1 lead over the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, the Indians proceeded to lose three straight and the series. Boston outscored Cleveland 30-5 over the last three games. The Indians won 96 games in 2007.

 

May 11, 2010

In one of the most bizarre nights in pro sports, LeBron James spent his final home game in Cleveland missing shots, mishandling the basketball and looking generally uninterested. It was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Boston took a 3-2 series lead with a 120-88 drubbing of the Cavs. James was 3-of-14 from the floor in 41:40 minutes of lethargic play. It was an eerie evening for Cavs fans and a precursor of what was to come a few months later.


July 8, 2010

“In this fall… this is very tough… in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” It made money for charity and it eventually led to multiple championships for the Heat, but Cavs fan likely don’t care about any of that — or the poor grammar.

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Timeline of Pain: Top 15 Worst Cleveland Sports Memories
Post date: Monday, June 8, 2015 - 11:17
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The rest of the country doesn’t want to believe it but it’s true.

 

The Pac-12 has elevated itself into national prominence. The Big Ten is the reigning national champion and has added serious coaching cache over the last few seasons. The Big 12 is rolling in new television dough and the ACC is slowly but surely regaining form.

 

But the SEC is still the best conference in college football and the SEC West could be better in 2015 than it’s ever been before.

 

It all starts with the coaching, continues with talent and ends with victories.

 

and have a combined five national titles and have played in the BCS title game or College Football Playoff six times since 2007. Saban (.802) and Miles (.780) are fifth and sixth all-time in SEC history in winning percentage and second (.780) and 11th all-time (.690) in league games.

 

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Gus Malzahn is nipping at their heels. He’s won one national title as a coordinator and played for another as a first-year SEC head coach and .

 

Needless to say, their resumes speak for themselves. But the depth of coaching is what makes the SEC West so daunting. Bret Bielema has a losing record (10-15) at but is a hot pick by many as the top challenger to the state of Alabama this fall and he won three straight Big Ten titles at Wisconsin before jumping ship to Fayetteville.

 

Kevin Sumlin has ushered into a new conference with a Heisman Trophy and a better winning percentage (.718) than every coach in College Station since 1928 with the exception of R.C. Slocum (.721).

 

Dan Mullen is doing things at that are unprecedented. No coach has left Starkville with a winning SEC record since Allyn McKeen in 1948. Mullen has led his program to its first AP No. 1 ranking and reached a bowl game in four (much less five) straight seasons for the first time in school history.

 

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In Oxford, Hugh Freeze is doing things only Johnny Vaught had accomplished. Only one Rebels coach since Vaught (David Cutcliffe) has posted a winning SEC record and only once since Vaught has entered a season ranked in the preseason AP top 15 (2009).

 

The Rebels are ranked No. 11 in .

 

That’s just the head coaches. John Chavis, Will Muschamp, Cam Cameron, Kirby Smart and Lane Kiffin are some of the best (and highest paid) coordinators in the nation.

 

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It’s not just the elite-level coaching that makes this league so terrifying, however, it’s also the players. The SEC led all conferences at the NFL Draft for a ninth consecutive year in May and is a near lock to do so again in 2016.

 

All seven teams in the SEC West are . Six of the seven are ranked among the nation’s 22 most talented rosters.

 

This division is responsible for seven preseason first-team All-Americans and seven second-team preseason All-Americans.

 

One could argue the SEC West has the best quarterback (Dak Prescott), running back (Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry), wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell, D’haquille Williams), tight end (Hunter Henry, Evan Engram, O.J. Howard), offensive tackle (Laremy Tunsil, Cam Robinson), offensive guard (Sebastian Tretola), defensive tackle (Robert Nkemdiche, A’Shawn Robinson), defensive end (Myles Garrett), linebacker (Reggie Ragland) and safety (Tony Conner) in the nation.

 

The SEC West may have the best player at almost every position… IN THE NATION.

 

This says nothing of how this division fared on the field a year ago. The SEC West went 28-0 in non-conference play with wins over Wisconsin, at Kansas State, West Virginia, at Texas Tech, Boise State and Memphis. This division lost a combined 25 regular season games a year ago — four to the SEC East and 21 to itself.

 

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(Don’t talk to me about bowl… ahem, exhibition games. I won’t count Arkansas’ romp over Texas if you don’t count TCU’s crushing of an injured and unmotivated Ole Miss. The only one that actually counts is Alabama’s loss to Ohio State.)

 

There is a reason that Mississippi State is picked last in the West and . There is a reason that two teams from this division are projected to make the Playoff.

 

This division isn’t the best because of some southern broadcasting media bias.

 

The SEC West is the best in football because it has the best coaches in the nation leading the best players in the nation on the best teams in the nation.

Teaser:
Stop the Debate: SEC West is College Football's Best Division
Post date: Monday, June 8, 2015 - 10:00
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How is LeBron James not the MVP every year?

 

Steph Curry is probably one of the greatest shooters of all-time, like many have written over the last week, and a very deserving MVP winner. James Harden would have been totally acceptable as well.

 

But I don’t know how LeBron James isn’t the MVP of every court he’s ever stepped on. Maybe voters have developed a case of LeBron fatigue and they are just tired of giving it to the same guy.

 

The depleted Cavaliers lost in overtime in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to Golden State. David Blatt and Steve Kerr watched as James isolated his way to a career Finals high 44 points. He added eight rebounds and six assists as well.

 

The Cavaliers are grossly overmatched as a team against the Warriors and the only reason they are even playing right now is James. The only reason Game 1 went to overtime is because of James. The only reason Cleveland has any chance whatsoever to even win a game in this series is James.

 

With the only other meaningful player on the active roster, Kyrie Irving, in serious doubt for the rest of the series, James will have to work minor miracles to win a championship. Just getting this series past Game 5 might prove he deserves the MVP every year.

 

Curry was average but effective, scoring 26 points on 20 shots in 43 minutes, and the Warriors still won the game. The Cavs can’t have an off game from James.

 

Michael Jordan didn’t win every MVP because voters just felt like they needed to acknowledge other great players but he was the real MVP. That’s not a knock on Charles Barkley or Karl Malone, Jordan was just that good.

 

This isn’t a knock on Curry, James is just that good and is clearly more valuable to his team than anyone else in the league.

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Game 1 Proves LeBron James Deserves the NBA MVP Every Year
Post date: Friday, June 5, 2015 - 11:34
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When putting together and  each year, a huge part of the process is scheduling. Non-conference games, crossovers, home-road splits and timing all play a role in determining order of finish.

 

And don’t forget that the College Football Playoff Committee made it very clear in its first season that it values scheduling.

 

So who has the toughest schedule in the ? Who has the easiest path?

 

1.

Not many teams favored to win a division have to deal with the toughest schedule in the conference but that is what Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets must do this fall. Tech will have to face the best two teams from the Atlantic Division in Clemson (road) and Florida State (home), as well as two potential top-10 teams in the non-conference in Notre Dame (road) and Georgia (home). Georgia Tech’s only comfort is that key swing games in the division (which is all of them, really) against North Carolina, Pitt and Virginia Tech do come at home.

 

2.

Along with Georgia Tech, Miami must face both Florida State (road) and Clemson in crossover play — giving the Canes and Jackets the toughest interdivisional schedules in the ACC. Add to it road trips within the Coastal to Pitt, North Carolina and Duke and Al Golden must deal with one of the toughest ACC slates in the league. Top it off with non-conference games against Nebraska and at Cincinnati.

 

3.

With Georgia Tech and Miami in crossover as well as Notre Dame and South Carolina in non-conference, the Tigers face one of the hardest schedules in the ACC. Florida State has to come to Death Valley but road trips to Louisville, NC State, rival South Carolina and the Hurricanes offer plenty of speed bumps for Dabo Swinney. The only comfort for Clemson is that the three biggest games of the year (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Florida State) come at home.

 

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4.

No team in the ACC will play a tougher non-conference schedule than Virginia. Home dates with Notre Dame and Boise State as well as a long road trip to UCLA give the Wahoos three ranked foes before even reaching ACC play. Toss in a road trip to Louisville in crossover play and the toughest Coastal Divisional schedule (since there’s no Virginia) and there are few guaranteed wins for Mike London. Virginia will be favored in two games — William & Mary and Syracuse at home.

 

5.

Dave Clawson doesn’t get to face Wake Forest, so by definition, the Demon Deacons have one of the toughest schedules in the Atlantic Division. The only real winnable game in divisional play comes on the road at Syracuse. Facing Notre Dame, Army and Indiana in the non-conference isn’t crazy for Florida State but could be devastating for Wake Forest. The Deacs also get in-state rivals North Carolina and Duke from the Coastal Division.

 

6.

Wake and Cuse play similar schedules but Syracuse’s big non-conference game comes at home (LSU) and crossover play could be slightly easier with Virginia and Pitt. Road trips in the division to Florida State, Louisville and NC State are impossible so Wake Forest and Boston College at home might be the best chances for wins for the Orange. Even road trips to South Florida and Virginia will be tough.

 

7.

Steve Addazio has three wins in the non-conference schedule and then Notre Dame. Crossover with Virginia Tech and Duke isn’t as tough as it could be but isn’t easy. Home games with Wake Forest and NC State provide chances for wins while getting Florida State at home is big for the turnstiles. However, road trips to Clemson and Louisville make competing in the division extremely difficult.

 

8.

The Cardinals must face two SEC foes in Auburn (Week 1, Atlanta) and Kentucky (road) and a split would be considered a success. Crossover with Virginia is great but a road trip to Pitt will be tough. Within the division, getting Clemson, Boston College and Syracuse at home provides opportunity while road games with Florida State and NC State will be exceptionally tough.

 

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9.

By definition, the Noles get one of the easier Atlantic Division schedules because they don’t have to play themselves. However, road trips to Clemson, Georgia Tech and Florida could keep Florida State from making the College Football Playoff. Other key swing games with Miami, Louisville and NC State will come at Doak Campbell Stadium.

 

10.

The non-conference slate is tough (Ohio State) but also provides chances for solid wins (East Carolina, Purdue). Crossover play will feature two tough but winnable games in the form of a road trip to Boston College and a home game with NC State. Getting Coastal Division contenders Pitt, North Carolina and Duke at home helps as well. However, the biggest game of the year could be the road trip to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech. There is no Florida State, Clemson or Louisville on the schedule this season.

 

11.

The non-conference slate is comically easy for Dave Doeren and NC State: Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama. Crossover (at Virginia Tech, home vs. North Carolina) won't be easy, but a split is very reasonable. Key swing games with Louisville and Clemson come in Raleigh while winnable road games with Wake Forest and Boston College give the Wolfpack a shot at winning their division. The road trip to Florida State, however, likely keeps NC State from claiming the Atlantic.

 

12.

Facing Notre Dame and Iowa in the non-conference isn’t easy but the rest of the schedule sets up nicely for Pitt. There is no Florida State, Clemson or NC State on the schedule and road trips include visits to Syracuse and Duke. Two huge games in the division with Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech will come on the road but the schedule overall sets up for Pat Narduzzi’s first romp through a wide-open ACC.

 

13.

South Carolina is the toughest opponent in the non-conference but that game will come in Charlotte. Crossover play with the Atlantic involves Wake Forest and at NC State — avoiding all three of the best teams in the division. Winnable games within the division with Miami, Virginia and Duke all come at home. Road trips to Georgia Tech, Pitt and Virginia Tech are the toughest games on the slate for Larry Fedora.

 

14.

Northwestern at home is the toughest non-conference game on the schedule for the Blue Devils. Crossover with Boston College (home) and Wake Forest (road) is the easiest of any team in the ACC. And key division games with Georgia Tech, Miami and Pitt all come at home. A road trip to Virginia Tech might be the toughest game of the year for Duke.

 

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2015
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When putting together and  each year, a huge part of the process is scheduling. Non-conference games, crossovers, home-road splits and timing all play a role in determining order of finish.

 

And don’t forget that the College Football Playoff Committee made it very clear in its first season that it values scheduling.

 

So who has the toughest schedule in the ? Who has the easiest path?

 

1.

The toughest non-conference game in the Big 12 this season is Texas' Week 1 trip to face Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Add a rapidly improving Cal team and the Longhorns get the toughest non-conference slate of any team. The road schedule also includes Baylor, TCU and West Virginia (and Iowa State) as well as Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. The saving grace for Charlie Strong is that swing games with Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech come at home.

 

2.

The Mountaineers boast the toughest road schedule in the Big 12 of any team in the league. West Virginia has to face the top three (Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma) on the road as well as always-tough Kansas State. It gets just four Big 12 home games and also has to play a quality Big Ten team in Maryland and a tricky mid-major in Georgia Southern.

 

3. Kansas

Memphis at home and Rutgers on the road are tough non-conference games for a first-year regime. Add to that road trips to TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas and there just aren’t many winnable games on this schedule. Iowa State on the road might be KU’s best shot at a Big 12 win. The home slate offers Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State. This should be good to ticket sales, but not for wins.

 

4.

One of the toughest non-conference games in the Big 12 this fall is Oklahoma’s trip to Tennessee. The Sooners' league road slate is a mixed bag. The TCU and West Virginia games will come at home but huge showdowns with Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas (neutral) will come away from Norman. 

 

5.

For most teams, a non-conference slate of Northern Iowa, Iowa and Toledo isn’t overly daunting. For Iowa State, it could be concerning. Mix in five road games in the Big 12 to some serious outposts (Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech) and the only chances for conference wins this fall likely come at home (Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU).

 

5.

Getting TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State at home is huge but the road games are brutal for Tech. Visiting Austin, Norman, Morgantown and Arkansas is downright nasty. Sam Houston State and UTEP are guaranteed wins (along with Kansas and Iowa State) and playing Baylor in Arlington offers some semblance of comfort. 

 

7.

A road trip to Minnesota on opening weekend could be tricky, but the Gophers aren’t as good as last year’s team that got smoked in Fort Worth. Home games with Baylor, West Virginia and Texas are huge for the Frogs while five road games in the Big 12 create come upset chances. Trips to both Oklahoma schools, Manhattan, Kan., and Lubbock, Texas, could all be tricky. This isn’t one of the tougher slates but it’s not as easy as the three other contenders.

 

8.

The non-conference schedule should provide three wins for Bill Snyder’s rebuilt Wildcats. Getting Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and West Virginia at home makes pulling an upset very likely at some point during the year. Otherwise, the road schedule’s worst two trips come against a pair of teams (Texas, Oklahoma State) that went 6-6 in the regular season in 2014.

 

9.

The Bears should once again be concerned about a meaningless non-conference schedule — unless Chad Morris works some miracle at SMU. Road trips to TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State should be points of focus but the rest of the key games (Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia) come at home while Texas Tech happens in JerryWorld.

 

10.

The easiest road slate in the Big 12 includes Iowa State, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Texas — all teams picked in the bottom half of the Big 12. The home schedule offers some huge chances at upsets with TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Kansas coming to Stillwater. And the three non-conference games are all walks in the park.

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Ranking the Big 12's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2015
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:00
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Nick Saban wants to focus more on the bowls.

 

His biggest fear is that the College Football Playoff is taking too much attention away from prestigious and historically significant games like the Poulan/Weed Eater Bowl.

 

With TV ratings soaring for bowl games and new games pushing the total number of bowls to 41, .

 

However, Hancock’s beloved bowl system — one that was grandfathered into the Playoff structure via cronyism — should have absolutely nothing to do with the .

 

Ignore the fact that 80 teams will be playing in bowls this year and that the “sanctity of the bowl system” is stronger than it’s ever been before. Start with the main reason college football is the .

 

The pageantry that exists on campuses across the country on fall Saturdays is what separates the college game from the NFL. Other than the Green Bay Packers, who are publicly owned, where in pro sports are the fans and organization an interwoven community like in college football? The nostalgia of alumni returning to campus for games is a treasured ritual in American culture.

 

Why would the College Football Playoff want to remove one of the most critical aspects of the game from the postseason? It should want to showcase the amazing locations and historic venues while awarding the higher seeds with home-field advantage in the process.

 

Alabama and Ohio State in The Horseshoe? Yes, please. USC and LSU in Death Valley? Are you kidding? Texas and Florida in The Swamp? Hell yeah.

 

It sounds a lot better than Oklahoma and Michigan in Sun Life Stadium.

 

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And what happens when the tourney expands to eight?

 

Can the Playoff honestly ask fans to travel to neutral-site games three weeks in a row immediately after returning home from a conference title game?

 

Just wait until a Playoff game features Stanford and Virginia Tech in Dallas and there are 20,000 empty seats in JerryWorld. Lane Stadium wouldn’t have that problem.

 

The gameday atmosphere would be better. Ticket sales are a known commodity and local economies would benefit (instead of bowl organizers). Friends and family of players and coaches would potentially be able to attend in greater numbers and it wouldn't cost them as much money either. The better team gains a legitimate advantage after earning it in the regular season.

 

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Even kickoff dates and times are being manipulated because the bowl system is involved.

 

The Rose Bowl has forced the majority of the Playoff games to New Year’s Eve because it refuses to budge off its hallowed New Year’s kickoff time slot.

 

If The Granddaddy of Them All wasn’t involved in the process, it wouldn’t be able to strong-arm the entire structure into doing what it wants. On the contrary, if the Rose Bowl were in danger of missing out on viewers, there is no doubt it would move its start time to guarantee ratings.

 

The powers that be want to protect the bowl system. They want to ensure that students get a celebratory trip to a “postseason” game, that fans get a farewell send-off to each season, that smaller schools get the national spotlight to themselves for one night and that TV partners are loaded down with meaningful inventory during the holiday season.

 

All of this is true and not one bit of it would change if the bowls were removed from the Playoff.

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Bowl Games have no place in the College Football Playoff
Post date: Friday, May 29, 2015 - 09:00
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Michael Vick was first. Then Vince Young.

 

Then it was Tebow, RG3, Johnny Football and Super Mariota.

 

The super quarterback is a relatively new phenomenon in college football that changed the way game is played forever.

 

With new rules and new offensive innovation, the quarterback has become even more important — and it was already the most important position on the field.

 

Despite some major names leaving for the NFL, the 2015 season is loaded with elite QB matchups that could decide championships. Here are the best quarterback matchups to look forward to in ’15:

 

Note: This is based on pure athletic talent, raw entertainment value and potential gravity of the situation.

 

1. Connor Cook at Cardale Jones

Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 21)

 

Two potential first-round NFL draft picks will likely go head-to-head for the division, conference and potential national championship in the penultimate weekend of the year. Jones hasn’t taken a snap against a Spartans defense while Cook has topped 300 yards in two meetings with the Buckeyes.

 

2. Dak Prescott at Jeremy Johnson

Mississippi State at Auburn (Sept. 26)

 

Prescott is a Heisman candidate whose resume speaks for itself. Johnson is poised to explode onto the national scene in Gus Malzahn’s offense. With these two meeting in September, both should be unbeaten and ranked in the top 15. Both defenses will be better later, so this early-season matchup should provide plenty of chances for both signal-callers to make plays.

 

3. Christian Hackenberg at Connor Cook

Penn State at Michigan State (Nov. 28)

 

Hackenberg could be the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft or at least the first quarterback taken. He doesn’t have the support of the rest of the names on this list but his talent speaks for itself. Cook is a star in his own right who will spend his final season at MSU proving his first-round grade is accurate.

 

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4. Cody Kessler at Mike Bercovici

USC at Arizona State (Sept. 26)

 

The de facto Pac-12 South championship game should feature the best two quarterbacks in the division and possibly the conference. This game was a scorcher last year that featured a successful Hail Mary, 510 yards and five touchdowns from the big-armed Bercovici. Kessler is a preseason All-American and has elite weaponry around him this fall. Buckle up, folks.

 

5. Cody Kessler at Jared Goff

USC at Cal (Oct. 31)

 

The first- and second-team All-Pac-12 quarterbacks meet on Halloween in the Bay Area this fall. While Cal isn’t going to contend, the aerial shootout between these two should be plenty entertaining. These are the top two most efficient returning passers in the Pac-12 after a combined 74 passing touchdowns and only 12 interceptions a year ago.

 

6. Brad Kaaya at Deshaun Watson

Miami at Clemson (Oct. 24)

 

These are two really special talents. Watson and Kaaya proved as freshmen last year that they belong among the nation’s best. Kaaya posted 3,198 and 26 touchdowns while Watson delivered 19 total touchdowns and two interceptions in just eight games. These two sophomores could take the ACC to a different level at the position.

 

7. Christian Hackenberg at Cardale Jones

Penn State at Ohio State (Oct. 17)

 

Both Jones and Hackenberg could be first-round picks and no one at either school will forget the epic battle between these two programs a year ago. Ohio State’s toughest test all year outside of Virginia Tech was Penn State. That said, the Bucks will be a heavy favorite at home.

 

8. Seth Russell at Trevone Boykin

Baylor at TCU (Nov. 27)

 

Russell is a first-time starter but there is no reason to think he won’t be electric in Art Briles’ system. He threw for 801 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception in backup duty last fall. In what could be the biggest game of the year in any league — one that featured 119 points and over 1,200 yards of offense last season — these two should put on a show.

 

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9. Dak Prescott at Kyle Allen

Mississippi State at Texas A&M (Oct. 3)

 

Allen proved in the second half of the 2014 season that his five-star recruiting hype was warranted. He is now the clear starter in an offense loaded with elite playmakers and great schemes. Both defenses should allow for plenty of space for both to operate early in October.

 

10. Jeremy Johnson at Kyle Allen

Texas A&M at Auburn (Nov. 7)

 

These two guys are more projections than others on this list but few rivalries have been more entertaining over the last three seasons. Both Johnson and Allen are dripping with elite upside and both play in elite offensive systems. There is no reason TAMU-Auburn IV won’t be another high-scoring affair.

 

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11. Mike Bercovici at Jared Goff

Arizona State at Cal (Nov. 28)

 

USC's Cody Kessler gets the nod as the first-team All-Pac-12 signal-caller but Bercovici and Goff are hot on his tracks. Goff has blossomed into a potential superstar and Bercovici posted over 1,200 yards in three starts last fall. If the game held more importance, it would be higher on this list.

 

12. Cody Kessler at Vernon Adams

USC at Oregon (Nov. 21)

 

Oregon isn’t bringing in Adams from Eastern Washington to sit on the bench. So the question isn’t if he’ll start but it will be how good is he? He threw for over 10,000 yards, rushed for over 1,200, and accounted for 121 total touchdowns in three seasons on the FCS level. If he comes close to that, both his big-time matchups will outperform this ranking. This is a Pac-12 title game preview.

 

13. Trevone Boykin at Mason Rudolph

TCU at Oklahoma State (Nov. 7)

 

The first- and second-team All-Big 12 preseason quarterbacks will battle in Stillwater to begin November. Rudolph has the makings of a star and Boykin is already one. TCU won’t have many hurdles to clear this fall but a road trip to Oklahoma State might be one of the biggest of the year for Gary Patterson’s bunch.

 

Related:

 

14. Vernon Adams at Connor Cook

Oregon at Michigan State (Sept. 12)

 

As explained earlier, projecting Adams is difficult but he has the keys to a Rolls Royce offense and should be the guy taking snaps. Going into East Lansing and winning is much more difficult a task. Cook put on a show in a loss in Eugene last year and should be extra motivated in Week 2 at home.

 

15. Gunner Kiel at Taysom Hill

Cincinnati at BYU (Oct. 17)

 

It doesn’t feature a Power 5 team and it isn’t a conference game, but the fireworks will be on full display when the Bearcats visit the Cougars. Hill was scorching the earth before being lost for the season with a broken leg early in the year last fall. Kiel has blossomed into the five-star prospect he was supposed to become after 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns as a sophomore.

 

 Road QBTeamHome QBTeamDate
16.Anu SolomonCody KesslerNov. 7
17.Justin ThomasDeshaun WatsonOct. 10
18.Mike BercoviciKyle AllenSept. 5
19.Justin ThomasBrad KaayaNov. 21
20.Taysom HillChuckie KeetonNov. 28
21.Seth RussellMason RudolphNov. 21
22.Everett GolsonDeshaun WatsonNov. 7
23.Anu SolomonMike BercoviciNov. 21
24.Dak PrescottMaty MaukNov. 5
25.Brad KaayaEverett GolsonOct. 10
26.Cody KesslerMalik ZaireOct. 17
27.Deshaun WatsonJacoby BrissettOct. 31
28.Vernon AdamsMike BercoviciOct. 29
29.Malik ZaireDeshaun WatsonOct. 3
30.Jared GoffVernon AdamsNov. 7
31.Joshua DobbsMaty MaukNov. 21
32.Keenan ReynoldsMalik ZaireOct. 10
33.Taysom HillMaty MaukNov. 14
34.Brandon DoughtyDriphus JacksonOct. 3
35.Everett GolsonJustin ThomasOct. 24

 

Teaser:
Top 15 College Football Quarterback Matchups to Watch in 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-toughest-college-football-schedules-2015
Body:

When putting together and  each year, a huge part of the process is scheduling. Non-conference games, crossovers, home-road splits and timing all play a role in determining order of finish.

 

And don’t forget that the College Football Playoff Committee made it very clear in its first season that it values scheduling.

 

So who has the toughest schedule in the Big Ten this fall? Who has the easiest path?

 

1. Rutgers

Rutgers must face five (possibly six) potential bowl teams from the East Division and gets the top two teams from the West (Nebraska, Wisconsin). It also faces two Power 5 teams in non-conference play (albeit Washington State and Kansas). It seems highly unlikely the Knights will return to the postseason.

 

2. Minnesota

Minnesota could face two potential Playoff teams with TCU in the non-conference and Ohio State in crossover. The Gophers also must face Michigan from the East. Add to that slate divisional dates with Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa and Jerry Kill is looking at an uphill battle in the West.

 

3.

The Spartans will earn their way into the Big Ten title game or Playoff this year. Oregon and Penn State have to come to East Lansing but a trio of brutal road trips will likely decide the Spartans' fate: at Michigan (Oct. 17), Nebraska (Nov. 7) and Ohio State (Nov. 21).

 

4. Maryland

Crossover didn’t play out well for the Terps with Wisconsin and at Iowa on the slate for 2015. That goes along with facing the big four from the East: at Ohio State, at Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan. Even the non-conference has some tricky games with USF and at West Virginia.

 

5. Illinois

The home slate for Tim Beckman is brutal, featuring Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and a semi-neutral field tilt with Northwestern. The road trips aren’t much better as the Illini must visit Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina in the non-conference. There isn’t a lot to like on this schedule other than a road trip to Purdue and three semi-easy non-conference home games.

 

Related:

 

6.

The non-conference slate for Jim Harbaugh is no joke with a road trip to Utah and home games with BYU and Oregon State. The divisional slate will be tough enough with road trips to Penn State and Maryland as well as home games against Michigan State and Ohio State.

 

7. Indiana

There is no Missouri in non-con play this year so that is comforting. However, road trips to Penn State, Michigan State and Maryland will be tough along with home games with Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan.

 

8.

Non-conference games with BYU (home) and Miami (road) are really juicy and not easy (but winnable). Crossover features a huge test with Michigan State but that one comes at home. Additionally, huge games with Wisconsin and Iowa come at home. The road trips in the B1G for the Huskers are Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue and Rutgers.

 

9. Northwestern

Games against Stanford and Duke in the smart kids non-conference round-robin will be tough to win. As will crossover games with Michigan and Penn State and divisional road tilts with Wisconsin and Nebraska. Key swing games with Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois (Chicago) and Purdue, however, come at home.

 

10. Purdue

The non-conference schedule wouldn’t be daunting for most teams but watch out for teams like Bowling Green, Marshall and, of course, Virginia Tech. Crossover with Michigan State on the road is brutal as are road trips to Wisconsin and Iowa. However, home games with Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana offer some chances for an upset.

 

11.

The road trip to Virginia Tech will be testy but full of revenge for Ohio State. After that, the toughest road trip for the Buckeyes will be visiting Ann Arbor in the season finale. Otherwise, Michigan State, Penn State and Minnesota come to Columbus. There isn't a lot of meat here for Urban Meyer to add to his pizza.

 

12. Penn State

Penn State has four easy, winnable, non-conference games and gets really lucky in crossover play with Northwestern and Illinois. Yes, PSU must face Michigan State and Ohio State on the road. But, otherwise, the rest of the schedule is manageable in a very difficult division.

 

13.

Alabama in Week 1 is a flashing warning signal but the rest of this schedule is extremely manageable. There is no Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan or Penn State. Road trips to Nebraska (Oct. 10), Maryland (Nov. 7) and Minnesota (Nov. 28) is as tough as it gets for the Badgers.

 

14. Iowa

Wisconsin and Nebraska have tougher non-conference and crossover schedules. This gives the nod to Iowa as the easiest slate in the division despite having to face both Big Red foes on the road. The Hawkeyes could be favorites to win all four of their non-conference games and all four home Big Ten games.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/big-12-could-easily-get-two-teams-college-football-playoff-2015
Body:

The is out and not one, but two conference champions were left out the College Football Playoff.

 

Florida State  as the ACC champs with a projected record of 11-2. and is picked to the win the Pac-12 over .

 

Meaning, both the ACC and Pac-12 are picked to miss the 2015 College Football Playoff.

 

According to the preseason rankings, the SEC will be the evil villain once again, knocking a second conference from the postseason tournament. But that could just as easily be the Big Ten or the Big 12.

 

That’s right, Bob Bowlsby, the league that was left out in the cold last winter could be in a great position to get two teams into the postseason this year.

 

In fact, it could happen much easier than expected.

 

Baylor and TCU appear to be the class of the Big 12 once again after barely missing out on a Playoff bid a year ago. Both were deserving of being in the conversation, of course, but someone had to be left out and no one can legitimately argue that the four teams that got in didn’t deserve it.

 

Related:

 

Both look like nationally elite teams this fall and expect that motivation to work in favor of the Big 12 this fall.

 

The Bears, , have 17 starters back and arguably the best combined line of scrimmage in football. Art Briles is stacked at the skill positions and his quarterback freight train will continue to roll with Seth Russell manning the controls.

 

Despite another weak non-conference schedule, an undefeated Baylor squad would easily make it into the College Football Playoff and a one-loss Big 12 champion Bears team would probably make the tournament as well.

 

TCU returns 15 starters, including 10 on offense — one of which is All-American quarterback Trevone Boykin. The defense has major holes to fill and those voids are the biggest reason the Horned Frogs are picked second in the Big 12 behind Baylor despite the game moving to Fort Worth this fall.

 

However, and the first team left out of the Playoff according to Athlon's preseason Top 25. If Gary Patterson’s bunch loses only one game in close fashion to the Big 12 champion Baylor Bears — exactly like it did last year — then TCU has as good a shot at snatching a Playoff bid as any team in the land.

 

A one-loss TCU with wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and a road victory over Minnesota could easily give the Big 12 two Playoff representatives.

 

The same story could be written if the roles are reversed.

 

Related:

 

If TCU goes 12-0 and Baylor’s only defeat is a narrow road loss against an unbeaten Horned Frogs team, both programs could easily slip into the postseason tournament.

 

Even if one of the two doesn’t go unbeaten and the pair ties atop the Big 12 standings again (each with only one loss), both would still be in excellent shape to make the Playoff.

 

Much of that hinges on how the other leagues fare. But with two Power 5 leagues — the ACC and Pac-12 — potentially lacking a clear-cut elite team, this fall is as good a year as any for one conference to steal two Playoff bids.

 

Not only is the Big 12 likely to get its champion into the Playoff, but it also may have the best shot at getting a second team in the final four. It’s really not far-fetched at all.

 

The irony of the entire situation is that if the Big 12 had a championship game this season, none of the above would be possible.

Teaser:
Big 12 could easily get two teams into the College Football Playoff
Post date: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/dont-listen-nick-saban-bowl-system-just-fine
Body:

Don’t buy it.

 

Don’t buy what Bill Hancock is selling. Don’t buy what the conference commissioners are selling.

 

Certainly, don’t buy what Nick Saban is selling.

 

The Alabama Crimson Tide head coach has built up more than enough equity during his amazing career to have intelligent and respected opinions about his game.

 

But his latest comments about the College Football Playoff ruining the bowl system —  — couldn’t be further from reality.

 

What he “fears the most?” Really?

 

Not Gus Malzahn, not Ezekiel Elliott, not spread offenses, not his glaring weakness at quarterback.

 

But the BBVA Compass Bowl?

 

According to Saban, attention being removed from the Taxslayer Bowl is what keeps him up at night.

 

First, that’s more than difficult to believe. Second, it’s blatantly false.

 

Related:

 

Arkansas athletic director and chairman of the College Football Playoff Jeff Long couldn’t agree more.

 

"Well, I think sometimes coaches, particularly those at the highest level, I'm not sure how aware they are of what's really going on out there in the real world,” Long .

 

The “real world” Long is referring to is television ratings and bowl expansion.

 

More people are watching bowl games than ever before. Remove the record-smashing playoff bowls from the equation — which lured roughly 90 million combined viewers for three games — and the average viewership for the remaining 36 bowls sits at over four million viewers per game ().

 

The lowest viewership in the 2013-14 bowl season — the last of the BCS Era — was the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which drew a paltry 332,000 viewers for the UNLV-North Texas showdown.

 

The lowest rated bowl game during the first Playoff season was the Camellia Bowl between South Alabama and Bowling Green, which drew more than three times the number of viewers at 1,110,000 sets of eyeballs.

 

Related:

 

Needless to say, fans are flocking to their televisions to watch the bowls like never before.

 

And how could the health of the bowl system be in question when the number of games continues to rise?

 

There were a record 39 bowls last year and not only is the system not suffering, but there is a chance that three more games will be added this fall.

 

That means 82 teams will play in a postseason game this season. It sounds like the bowl system is healthier than it’s ever been. Hell, bowl games are even being played outside of the country now.

 

Additionally, the College Football Playoff has increased the entire college football pie. With surging interest in the regular season and subsequent postseason tournament, the Playoff is elevating the entire sport to a new level of interest. Money is pouring into the sport from every angle at unprecedented rates.

 

Which, in turn, elevates interest and support for all 10 conferences, all 128 teams and all 42 bowl games.

 

Attendance numbers at bowl games are a concern but that isn’t anything that the entire sports world isn’t dealing with as well. and attendance at sporting events as a whole are reaching concerning benchmarks.

 

The in-home experience is more enjoyable and significantly more affordable than taking a family of four to the game — much less flying them to El Paso for a neutral field exhibition game.

 

That isn’t a bowl game problem, that’s a sports industry problem.

 

Generally speaking, head football coaches say things for a reason. What was Saban’s motivation behind these patently untrue and unfounded comments?

 

Maybe he’s just upset the entire world destroyed his team for losing to Ohio State on the biggest stage and no one cared nearly as much that Auburn lost to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

 

Teaser:
Don't listen to Nick Saban, the Bowl System is just fine
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/sec-acc-have-no-right-hate-big-ten-satellite-camps
Body:

The SEC has only itself to blame. You too, ACC.

 

Coaches (and fans) from both leagues have some serious diaper rash when it comes to "satellite camps."

 

But the SEC and ACC power brokers are directing their anger in the wrong direction. They have no right to get angry at the Big Ten or Urban Meyer or James Franklin.

 

Penn State's Franklin immediately began the Big Ten's hottest new recruiting philosophy as soon as he arrived in Happy Valley and it's totally legal. In the Big Ten, at least.

 

It has quickly caught on in the population-challenged Big Ten footprint as a way to get their brands in front of the best players from the South.

 

It's perfectly within the rules to "host" a football camp for elite prospects at small colleges throughout the rich fertile recruiting territory that is the Southeast for teams from the B1G. Just because the SEC doesn't allow it or, more importantly, doesn't need it has nothing to do with Franklin.

 

The SEC won't ever have the desire to run a satellite camp in Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota or Indiana. It doesn't need those players to survive. The Big Ten needs Southern talent to survive.

 

Related:

 

The NCAA currently has no issue with the innovative recruiting practice and it shouldn't ever change the rule — especially not for the Big Ten. The SEC and ACC have voted on their own not to allow such practices. If your coaches don't like it, take it up with Mike Slive (or Greg Sankey after July 31) and John Swofford.

 

Because if there is one league that needs , it's the Big Ten.

 

Four- and five-star like they used to and, frankly, there are many natural disadvantages the Big Ten must overcome in order to compete with the Southern leagues.

 

For example, the SEC and ACC will never vote to allow official visits in the summer months because that would allow the Big Ten to showcase the gorgeous campuses that reside in places like Madison, Ann Arbor, Happy Valley or Columbus during the best time of the year.

 

No, the powers that be down South will always vote against moving official visits because visiting Gainesville in December is much more pleasant than visiting Minneapolis. But in July or August, I'd rather be in Madison.

 

Related:

 

What's hilarious about the SEC/ACC outrage over satellite camps is the hypocrisy. The SEC has been bending recruiting rules for decades in an effort to win big — and it's worked — more than any other conference. The Big Ten or Pac-12 have rarely resorted to the ruthless tactics of the deep South.

 

That all changed with Meyer and Franklin, two former SEC coaching alums, who came home to roost in the Midwest. Be it recruiting committed athletes (which is commonplace in the SEC but ruffled Big Ten feathers at the time) or satellite camps, the duo has forced the rest of the Big Ten to elevate itself to a certain level on the recruiting trail. 

 

The result will be better athletes creating more competitive football teams for the entire conference.

 

Hate satellite camps all you want, Southern Man, but the fact of the matter is the SEC and ACC voted against their own best interests when each conference decided not to allow them. Not the Big Ten. Not the NCAA. Not Urban Meyer.

 

Don't blame James Franklin for simply doing what's in the best interests of his program.

Teaser:
SEC, ACC have no right to hate Big Ten for Satellite Camps
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/whats-ryan-tannehill-done-deserve-96-million-contract-miami
Body:

The only guy who likes the Ryan Tannehill contract extension more than Tannehill should be Andrew Luck. 

 

The Miami Dolphins locked up their starting quarterback with a massive $96 million deal that runs through 2020 — with $45 million guaranteed.

 

Tannehill had his best season a year ago under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, throwing for 4,045 yards and 27 touchdowns. The former Texas A&M wide receiver has started all 48 games under center since being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft.

 

He's a great athlete, a quality member of the locker room and hasn't had a ton of support in South Florida by way of talent. A first-guy-in, last-guy-out player is exactly what any team wants under center. So he's clearly a good player. 

 

But is he the fifth-best quarterback in the world like his new contract indicates?

 

It's a lot of money for a guy with a losing record and two more years of team control left on the table. Only Drew Brees ($20.0), Peyton Manning ($19.2), Aaron Rodgers ($18.7) and Tony Romo ($17.1) are averaging more money per year than Tannehill now ($16.0).

 

The Dolphins' quarterback is just 23-25 overall in his three-year career and has 42 interceptions and 28 fumbles in those 48 games. His long-term value is still mostly unknown compared to the future of a guy like Luck.

 

Luck has already seen his option picked up by the Colts (duh!), keeping the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft under contract for two more full seasons.

 

Indianapolis would have to be the dumbest franchise in the history of sports to allow Mr. Luck to walk, so an extension is all but assured for No. 12 in blue and white.

 

The same goes for Seattle's Russell Wilson, but it's Luck who appears to be the surefire Hall of Famer. If Tannehill is worth $96 million, how much is Luck going to cost? $120 million? $150?

 

And he'd be worth every penny. Is Tannehill worth the fifth-largest contract for an NFL quarterback?

 

The answer today is no chance.

 

How many franchises would trade their starter for Tannehill right now? Half a dozen? Buffalo, Cleveland, St. Louis and the Jets for sure and probably Chicago and Houston. But who else? Would the Vikings give up Teddy Bridgewater? Would Jacksonville swap Blake Bortles? Oakland and Derek Carr? 

 

Colin Kaepernick? Sam Bradford? Robert Griffin? Alex Smith?

 

No, Tannehill is a solid quarterback but has much left to prove. He simply hasn't done anything to prove he belongs in the same conversation as Brees, Manning and Rodgers.

Teaser:
What's Ryan Tannehill done to deserve a $96 million contract from Miami?
Post date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 13:15
Path: /college-football/top-25-quarterback-head-coach-combinations-2015
Body:

The two most important pieces of any college football program is the head coach and the quarterback.

 

Elite leadership on the field and elite leadership on the sideline can carry a team to a division or conference championship. Not too many teams have won national championships without high-level talent at both positions.

 

Here are the best 25 quarterback-head coach combinations in college football in 2015:

 

1. Ohio State: Urban Meyer-Cardale Jones

and no quarterback is hotter than Jones — be it on social media, in the playoffs or . The defending national champs are a default No. 1 until someone knocks them off. This is the best coach and quarterback in the Big Ten entering the season.

 

2. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen-Dak Prescott

in Starkville, reaching unprecedented heights at Mississippi State. Prescott is a second-team All-American and . He may also be a first-round pick like only a few others on this list.

 

3. Michigan State: Mark Dantonio-Connor Cook

Few players and coaches mesh better from a personality and schematic fit. Cook embodies all that is Spartans football, is a natural leader and one of the top NFL prospects at his position. Big numbers and an upset of the Buckeyes could cement his legacy in Michigan State lore. and No. 2-ranked this fall.

 

4. TCU: Gary Patterson-Trevone Boykin

, Patterson reinvented himself last year by shaking up the offense and the result was a near Playoff berth and . Boykin accounted for 4,608 yards of total offense, good for fourth nationally last year and the top returning number in college football.

 

5. Penn State: James Franklin-Christian Hackenberg

The numbers and production won’t match this lofty ranking. However, Hackenberg and Franklin achieved things at Vanderbilt that no coach in school history had ever accomplished. If the O-line and running game come around, these two could soar through the Big Ten this year.

 

6. USC: Steve Sarkisian-Cody Kessler

Coach Sark is ranked as just the but that is mostly due to the tremendous depth of talent this league has on its sidelines. Kessler is the most underrated player in the nation and . Should this duo win the Pac-12 or land in the Playoff, Sarkisian will move up the Pac-12 rankings.

 

7. Auburn: Gus Malzahn-Jeremy Johnson

Malzahn is a genius and right now. Johnson, meanwhile, is poised for a huge season in an offense that churns out points and yards. In fact, entering the fall.

 

8. Arizona State: Todd Graham-Mike Bercovici

Graham was by a narrow margin. Bercovici proved last season in mop-up duty that he is more than capable running the Sun Devils' offense and is a big-time playmaker of his own. His NFL stock should soar this year because of his cannon right arm and potential run at a Pac-12 title.

 

9. Clemson: Dabo Swinney-Deshaun Watson

If this was a Chad Morris-Deshaun Watson combination, it might be the best in the nation. Watson is that good when healthy and . Swinney was voted as and needs to prove he can do it again without Morris. Swinney is a great motivator and recruiter but how much game-planning and play-calling is he doing on Saturdays?

 

10. Arizona: Rich Rodriguez-Anu Solomon

RichRod has proven to be one of the game’s best minds and is a perfect fit in Arizona. He and his quarterbacks — be it Pat White or Denard Robinson or Solomon — have produced some special seasons and Solomon’s first in Tucson last year was no exception. Look for a slight regression this fall while the offense rebuilds, but huge things from this duo in two years.

 

Related:

 

11. Cal: Sonny Dykes-Jared Goff

This one is sneaky good since Dykes ranked just 11th in the Pac-12 coaches rankings (again, mostly due to the incredible depth of talent out West). But Goff is getting NFL looks and will post monster numbers in his third year under center.

 

12. BYU: Bronco Mendenhall-Taysom Hill

If healthy, few players in the nation are as talented and productive as Hill. And Mendenhall has proven his worth over the long haul in Provo. He’s never had a losing season.

 

13. Baylor: Art Briles-Seth Russell

The churns out great QBs and Russell is just the next great one in a long line of elite Bears quarterbacks. Russell is already considered the third-best signal-caller in the league.

 

14. Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson-Justin Thomas

Johnson has won a ton of games and handful of division titles in Atlanta with his triple option offense. Thomas proved quickly last year that this team had just been missing a QB and that he might be the best one Johnson's had at Tech.

 

15. Navy: Ken Niumatalolo-Keenan Reynolds

Niumatalolo has posted just one losing season at Navy and has never lost to Army. Reynolds is already holds the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns (64) by a quarterback and is just 13 behind Montee Ball for the all-time record.

 

16. Tennessee: Butch Jones-Joshua Dobbs

Jones has yet to win big but all signs are pointing to legit title contention in the very near future. His recruiting and CEO-manship alone make him a rising star. Dobbs, who has very little starting experience, is poised to become one of the SEC’s best in 2015.

 

17. Missouri: Gary Pinkel-Maty Mauk

Pinkel has the edge over Jones, his SEC East peer, winning both meetings and holding a 3-0 overall record against Tennessee. Pinkel also is one of the most respected minds in the game. Mauk, despite 3,021 yards of total offense and 27 total touchdowns, is still only scratching the surface of his ability.

 

18. Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin-Kyle Allen

Allen is a future pro and has elite-level upside and a bunch of talented wideouts to throw to this fall. His growth could be extraordinary this fall. Sumlin has made the Big 12 to SEC transition with ease, but isn't the hot commodity he was a few years ago (but still really good).

 

19. Miami: Al Golden-Brad Kaaya

Many are down on Golden but he got no favors when he took over the scandal-ridden Hurricanes program. Now, he has one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in and the pressure is on to win.

 

20. Cincinnati: Tommy Tuberville-Gunner Kiel

This QB-coach combo is the frontrunner to win the American Athletic Conference. Kiel threw for 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns in his first full season and is starting to deliver on his massive recruiting hype.

 

21. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly-Malik Zaire

22. Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy-Mason Rudolph

23. Utah State: Matt Wells-Chuckie Keeton

24. Stanford: David Shaw-Kevin Hogan

25. NC State: Dave Doeren-Jacoby Brissett

Teaser:
Top 20 Quarterback Head Coach Combinations in 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, News
Path: /college-football/top-25-acc-2016-nfl-draft-prospects-watch
Body:

The is over and more than 400 players have begun the next chapter of their football careers.

 

So what better time than now to look ahead to next spring and the 2016 NFL Draft. Here are the top 25 ACC and Notre Dame prospects to watch in 2015:

 

1. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (5-11, 195)

The Hokies' star coverman might actually be as good as Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III. The five-star recruit has started every game of his two-year career and is going to be an All-American entering '15

 
2. Ronnie Stanley, OL, Notre Dame (6-5, 315)

He's got the size and talent to be an elite blocker on the next level and has held his own very well against elite defensive talent (Leonard Williams, Stanford, LSU).

 

3. Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State (6-1, 204)

How many five-star recruits start all 13 games as a true freshman for a team that goes 14-0 and wins a national title? Ramsey is now an upperclassman, the veteran star of the Noles' defense.

 

4. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame (6-2, 235)

He can play inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end in a 3-4 or just about anywhere else on the field. He's a freakish athlete who will vault himself into the first round.

 

5. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt (6-2, 190)

He regressed as a sophomore but his freshman season was no fluke. He has excellent athletic ability and can run all of the routes in the stem. Look for a huge bounce-back season from the Panthers wideout.

 

6. Nate Andrews, S, Florida State (5-11, 210)

The less-heralded of the two star FSU safeties isn't any less talented. He's got great size and could be just as highly regarded as Ramsey come draft time.

 

7. James Conner, RB, Pitt (6-2, 240)

He’s a beast of tailback who is impossible to tackle with one defender. He rolled up 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns a year ago, showing he’s a true workhorse back.

 

8. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson (5-10, 190)

He’s just a redshirt sophomore but he showed why he was so highly touted coming out of high school. The star cornerback started all 13 games in his first season, earning freshman All-American honors along the way.

 

9. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (6-3, 270)

He posted 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a backup last year. He will be asked to step into a massive role after the Tigers' D-Line lost so much this offseason. Look for Lawson to become a household name this fall.

 

10. Sheldon Day, DE, Notre Dame (6-2, 285)

One of the quickest of the Irish defensive linemen heading into ’15, Day posted 40 tackles, 7.5 for a loss and nine quarterback hurries last fall. He could be an undersized tackle or traditional defensive end depending on where he lands.

 

Related:

 

11. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (6-4, 210)

Williams blossomed a year ago into a star deep threat and is the next in a long line of elite pass catchers from Death Valley. He has great size and posted 1,030 yards as a sophomore.

 

12. Landon Turner, OG, North Carolina (6-4, 325)

The preseason first-team All-ACC lineman is one of the best interior blockers in the nation. According to UNC, Turner posted five games with at 10 knockdown blocks and is poised for a big senior season in Chapel Hill.

 

13. Devonte Fields, DE, Louisville (6-4, 240)

The former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year has dealt with major off-the-field issues but has gotten his second chance at Louisville. If he’s focused and committed to football, Fields could be a monster coming off of the edge for Bobby Petrino.

 

14. Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame (6-5, 301)

Martin moves back to center this fall and will be the pivot for the Irish O-Line. He could be the top center prospect in the country in next year’s draft class.

 

15. Dadi Nicolas, DE, Virginia Tech (6-4, 236)

Where he plays on the next level may impact his draft stock. He’s undersized for a true defensive end but would excel off of the edge as an outside backer in a 3-4.

 

Related:

 

16. Deon Bush, S, Miami (6-1, 205)

He’s got great size and is the best defensive player in a Hurricanes uniform. He led the ACC with five forced fumbles and finished with 53 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions.

 

17. Terrance Smith, LB, Florida State (6-1, 231)

He battled injuries all season last fall and missed a bunch of time in the offseason nursing a turf toe issue. But Smith was a huge part of each of the last three ACC titles. He posted 86 tackles last fall.

 

18. James Burgess, LB, Louisville (6-0, 230)

When it comes to athletic ability, Burgess has rare talent. He flies around the field like a safety but is right at home attacking the running game. He’s not overly big but he plays bigger than his frame, collecting 71 tackles and 10.0 for a loss.

 

19. KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame (5-11, 190)

Academic issues sidelined Russell all of last season but he was getting preseason All-American love prior to the suspension.

 

20. Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson (6-3, 210)

The nephew of Jevon Kearse, Jayron’s athletic ability will be intriguing to the NFL. He made tons of plays last year, posting 60 tackles and two interceptions as a lanky sophomore.

 

Related:

 

21. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke (6-2, 205)

He’s got great size and is incredibly well-coached. The All-American was the only defensive back in the nation to register at least 100 tackles (111), 10.0 tackles for a loss (10.5) and five sacks (5.5).

 

22. Jarron Jones, DT, Notre Dame (6-6, 315)

If he’s 100 percent healthy and focused, Jones has elite upside. He posted 40 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss, but is returning from a severe foot injury. He also needs to be more consistent.

 

23. Max Redfield, S, Notre Dame (6-1, 198)

The prized recruit blossomed last season as a leader in the Irish secondary. He finished second on the team with 68 tackles and has the speed-size combination the NFL is looking for.

 

24. Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech (6-2, 190)

He missed nine games last year with a shin injury and broke his leg in December. If he returns to form, the redshirt sophomore could be poised to return to his freshman All-American status.

 

25. Reggie Northrup, LB, Florida State (6-1, 226)

This is all projection, as Northrup is returning from a torn ACL in the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon. However, he was the leading tackler with 122 stops last year and has the talent to play on Sundays.

 

Best of the Rest:

26. Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina

27. Corey Robinson, WR, Notre Dame

28. Jabari Hunt-Days, DT, Georgia Tech

29. Tracy Howard, CB, Miami

30. Adam Gotsis, DT, Georgia Tech

31. Stacy Coley, WR, Miami

32. Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pitt

33. Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

34. Taquan Mizzell, RB, Virginia

35. Jamal Golden, S, Georgia Tech

36. Jon Heck, OT, North Carolina

37. Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State

Teaser:
Top 25 ACC 2016 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
Post date: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/10-biggest-wild-card-college-football-teams-2015
Body:

The Athlon Sports starts on Wednesday.

 

Predicting college football is an inexact science that’s more difficult to pinpoint than any other sport due to roster turnover, as well as the volatility when it comes to developing personnel and new coaches.

 

We use depth charts, recruiting rankings, stats, schedules, history, coaching and gut instincts to predict each conference to the best of our abilities. .

 

But that doesn’t mean that certain teams are darn near impossible to figure out. Here are the 10 biggest wildcard teams in college football entering our Top 25 countdown.

 

Clemson

The Tigers are going to be one of the best teams in the ACC but how good could they be nationally? There is a lot to like about this team with and overall depth that’s as talented as any team in the league. But this team only returns two starters on defense and four on offense. Lastly, offensive mastermind Chad Morris is now coaching at SMU. This team could be an ACC champion and Playoff contender — or 8-4.

 

Florida

A new coach alone makes a team tough to pinpoint in the preseason. But one without a starting quarterback and a lopsided depth chart makes it even tougher. There are loads of talent on defense but few proven players along the offensive line or under center. Most believe in this coaching staff and the SEC East is fairly wide open, but it’s tough to gauge how good the Gators will be in 2015.

 

Florida State

This is the most-talented team in the ACC and one of the top two or three rosters in the nation. But the offensive line is totally reworked, Sean Maguire is taking over at quarterback and only three starters are back on offense. The defense will be salty with seven starters back and a schedule that sets up for another ACC title run. But is this a Playoff team again or just a really good ACC team?

 

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LSU

There are 13 starters back for LSU as Les Miles once again boasts one of the top 10 collections of players in the nation. However, (for now) and he has to replace John Chavis as his defensive leader. The offense should run through uber-talented running back Leonard Fournette and the defense should be fine, but this team is trending in the wrong direction, faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation and has major QB concerns. This team could finish in any of the seven slots in the SEC West and it wouldn’t surprise anyone.

 

Nebraska

The Big Ten's West Division appears to be wide open and Nebraska has as good a shot of winning it as anyone else in the league. Six starters are back on both sides of the ball, including star power up front in the all-important trenches. Does new head coach Mike Riley have a quarterback that fits his system on the roster and can the Huskers overcome scheduling imbalance to win the West? Definitely. Could the Big Red lose to BYU, Miami, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan State? Also yes.

 

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Oklahoma

Bob Stoops is coming off one of his worst seasons in Norman and, traditionally, his teams perform better when entering a season without expectations. This team won’t be picked by anyone ahead of Baylor or TCU but is the top challenger to the top two squads in the Big 12. If Baker Mayfield flourishes in Lincoln Riley’s system and six returning defensive starters improve, watch out for the Sooners.

 

Oregon

Much of the Ducks' success in ’15 hinges on graduate transfer quarterback Vernon Adams and his ability to pick up the offense quickly in summer camp. The offense is downright sick, loaded with elite playmakers at nearly every position. The defense, in particular the secondary, has some major holes to plug. And Stanford is gaining significant ground in the Pac-12 North race this summer. Oregon’s ceiling is high, but are the Ducks a Playoff team or a Holiday Bowl team?

 

Tennessee

The and so is the team. But the defensive line is still very thin and the Vols play some of the best running teams in the nation. Dual-threat quaterback Joshua Dobbs should have better support up front along the line and at the skill spots but he has just a handful of starts under his belt. Can this team overcome a brutal schedule, exorcise some demons against Florida, Alabama or Missouri and contend in the SEC East? Or is this a five-loss team? The Big Orange’s youth makes this an interesting team to keep an eye on heading into the summer.

 

Texas

What do we know about Texas? Charlie Strong is an excellent coach who has a proven track record. His defense will be salty, physical and disciplined. And that the Longhorns have little to no offense. This team plays differently than anyone else in the league, making them interesting. But than playmaker. With 11 starters back, this team is a total wildcard in the Big 12 this fall.

 

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USC

There are seven starters back on defense and seven back on offense, including the best quarterback in the Pac-12 in Cody Kessler. The roster has more recruiting star power on it than any other team in the league, and by a wide margin. But the schedule is nasty — especially, within the division, the Pac-12 South — and questions about the overall depth still remain. Can the coaching staff get the most out of the Trojans? If so, this team could make the Playoff. If not, USC could finish fourth in the division.

Teaser:
10 Biggest Wildcard College Football Teams in 2015
Post date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/5-things-wed-change-about-college-football-playoff
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The first year of the was a resounding success.

 

Television pulled huge ratings. Athletic departments are richer and conference coffers are overflowing. The bowl games were showcased. The regular season was amplified.

 

And the fans got the postseason tournament they’ve wanted for decades.

 

But that doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Here are five ways to improve the College Football Playoff.

 

Expand to 6 (not 8)

The Playoff’s television contract is in effect for 12 years but no one in any position of power thinks the structure will stick for the full length of the deal. Expansion is coming whether we like it or not, it should just be six teams and not eight. Eight teams allow for three-loss teams to join the conversation and exclusivity is a good thing. Six teams fixes the “conference championship” argument and then some. The top two seeds get byes just like half of the NFL Playoff bracket. It's perfect and the Big 12 can't complain.

 

Use home sites

Get rid of the stupid bowl games. They mean absolutely nothing and have been grandfathered into a position of extreme power and wealth. The best part of college football isn’t a three-quarters full Superdome, it’s the pageantry of being on campus in the largest venues in American sports. It’s the Horseshoe. It’s the Big House. It’s Between the Hedges and in The Swamp. It’s Death Valley, the Capstone and the 40 Acres. Let’s showcase this part of the sport and award home-field advantage to the better teams while we're at it. Don’t listen to Bill Hancock, there are still 36 other bowl games that keep the sanctity of the bowl system intact. And can you really expect to ask fans to travel to three consecutive neutral site games?

 

Related:

 

Make the title game truly national

Home sites shouldn't be used for the final tilt, however. This is a national championship game not a regional championship or a Southern championship. The Super Bowl is rotated throughout the country and is played in every region for a reason. This national championship belongs to everyone and should be played all over the place. Indianapolis, Detroit, New York, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area (Santa Clara to be exact) have all proven they can host massive sporting events. Every region of the country deserves to host this great spectacle.

 

Limit rankings release to three weeks

One of the only major complaints in the first year of the Playoff was the rankings release. It’s completely fabricated by ESPN to drive ratings and create discussion on Tuesdays. It was genius business but isn’t in the best interest of the sport. The rankings need three releases. One at the end of November, one the week before Championship Saturday and a final release on Sunday following.

 

Related:

 

Semifinals on New Year’s Day

It’s not an issue yet because both semifinals in Year One fell on New Year’s Day. But the ’15 playoff will feature two games on New Year’s Eve. The Rose Bowl’s exclusive spot on New Year’s Day has forced other games to be moved to a far less viewable slot the night before. College football should own New Year’s Day every year like it did last season. Here is yet another reason to remove the bowls from the equation.

Teaser:
5 Things We'd Change About the College Football Playoff
Post date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/10-teams-guaranteed-not-make-college-football-playoff-2015
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The Athlon Sports 2015 preseason college football top 25 countdown begins this Wednesday and hearts are already breaking across the nation.

 

Every season, the about where teams’ expectations lay heading into camp.

 

Preseason Top 25 polls miss on teams — both good and bad. But one thing is true, your favorite team needs to be in the preseason top 25 to win a national championship.

 

No team since Georgia Tech in 1990 has won a national championship after beginning the season unranked. In fact, only two teams since 1990 have even played in a national championship game entering the season unranked: Notre Dame in 2012 and Auburn in 2013 — which needed more than one miraculous finish to get there.

 

The beauty of the College Football Playoff is that it has cast a wider national title net, but only four teams get in. Below are that are guaranteed NOT to be in the College Football Playoff and where they rank in the preseason:

 

Kansas (No. 103)

The Jayhawks lost 16 of their 22 starters from a year ago and are under new leadership. David Beatty was hired for his ability to recruit and the trail might be the only place Kansas will win in 2015. A winless Big 12 campaign is likely for the lowest-ranked Power 5 team.

 

Syracuse (No. 85)

Only seven total starters return for the Orange this summer. Scott Shafer’s squad is the lowest-ranked ACC team in the preseason polls and a repeat of last year’s 1-7 ACC record is likely. With LSU and USF in the non-conference, anything more than three wins might be considered a small victory.

 

Purdue (No. 84)

The Boilermakers showed slight signs of improvement last year in Darrell Hazell’s second season. But his record is 4-20 for a reason and this team lost six straight games to end the season. There are 16 starters back but only a few winnable games on the schedule.

 

Wake Forest (No. 82)

With 13 starters back and a second-year coach in Dave Clawson, there should be more optimism in Winston-Salem than other towns on this list. That said, Wake Forest wasn’t very competitive a year ago and anything over four wins in ’15 would be a success.

 

Vanderbilt (No. 79)

The Dores are the most talented team on this list but a nasty schedule and terrible offense make it nearly impossible for Vandy to compete in the SEC. There are 17 starters back so this team should be improved even if it doesn’t translate to wins. Keep in mind, Derek Mason was crushed by Temple and nearly lost to UMass and Old Dominion last year.

 

Related:

 

Iowa State (No. 74)

Paul Rhoads may never get a fair shake because Iowa State is really tough place to win. With just four starters back on defense, stopping Big 12 offenses will be hard to do this fall. A win over Kansas might be the high-water mark for ISU in league play this fall.

 

Oregon State (No. 73)

The Beavers have a new coach (who is well respected) and just two starters back on defense and lost the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer. The schedule is downright ridiculous, both in the league and out, and more than one Pac-12 win could be considered a positive.

 

Colorado (No. 67)

This team is getting better under Mike McIntyre ever so slightly but not enough to take big strides in 2015. Playing 13 games may give this team an outside shot a bowl game but that is still extremely unexpected.

 

Washington State (No. 66)

Mike Leach’s team took a step back last year and now replaces Connor Halliday under center. The Cougars return 13 starters and their only saving grace is getting to face two other teams (Oregon State, Rutgers) on this list.

 

Rutgers (No. 65)

Only Virginia (No. 61) is a higher-ranked, “last-place” team in the preseason projections. After a bounce back to a bowl game last season, Kyle Flood’s squad returns just eight starters and faces the toughest schedule in the B1G.

Teaser:
10 Teams Guaranteed NOT to Make the College Football Playoff
Post date: Monday, May 11, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/top-25-big-ten-2016-nfl-draft-prospects-watch
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The is over and more than 400 players have begun the next chapter of their football careers.

 

So what better time than now to look ahead to next spring and the 2016 NFL Draft. Here are the top 25 prospects that could be drafted from the Big Ten:

 

1. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (6-4, 230)

He got no support from his running game or offensive line last fall, but Hackenberg has all the NFL tools to be the best QB prospect in the draft next year. He's a more athletic version of Eli Manning. It's hard to keep elite QBs from being the top pick.

 

2. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (6-4, 265)

The best pure pass rusher in this class, Bosa has already proven himself as one of the best in college football. He is likely to be avoided by most offenses in '15 so the numbers may not improve, but his stock won't go anywhere. He's one of the best players in the nation period.

 

3. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (6-2, 235)

The freakish redshirt sophomore had a coming-out party in the College Football Playoff, earning MVP honors of the Sugar Bowl. He could blossom into the best linebacker in the nation due to elite speed, instincts and physicality.

 

4. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (6-3, 218)

He's got the size, the arm and is an above-average athlete. He wins games and takes care of the football as well. He's a pure leader who could be on the only team capable of knocking off Ohio State.

 

5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (6-0, 225)

The top Heisman Trophy candidate entering the season was an absolute monster in the Playoffs. He carried his team to a national championship and should be the top back taken if he can stay healthy.

 

Related:

 

6. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State (6-4, 255)

There is a good chance he's the starter for Ohio State when the season opens, and his overall arm talent is what makes him the best QB prospect on the OSU roster. And a second national title could cement his first-round status.

 

7. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State (6-5, 255)

Calhoun could have left school early last fall but elected to return. His stock can't change much but as long as he continues to deliver on his tremendous ability on a championship-level defense, he will be a first-rounder.

 

8. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (6-6, 317)

He struggled some with Shawn Oakman (a potential first-round pick from Baylor) in the Cotton Bowl but has been Cook’s blindside anchor. He’s solid against both the run and the pass and will have a chance to lead MSU to a Big Ten title.

 

9. Joshua Perry, OLB, Ohio State (6-4, 254)

The tackling machine isn’t the flashiest or most explosive player on the Buckeyes' defense but he’s one of the most consistent. He led the national champs in tackles last year with 124 and added 8.5 for a loss and 3.0 sacks. There are few players at his position with his size.

 

10. Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska (6-2, 300)

Randy Gregory got all of the headlines but Collins developed into a star in his own right last fall as just a sophomore. The disruptive tackle posted 45 tackles, 10.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks — arguably a better season than Gregory. The sky is the limit for Collins.

 

11. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (6-7, 315)

He’s a massive guy with a long frame who has excelled against some of the best in the business. This offensive line dominated in the national title game and against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

 

12. Adolphus Washington, DL, Ohio State (6-4, 290)

With Michael Bennett and Steve Miller gone, more of the D-line onus will fall to this former big-time recruit. He’s got great size and length and makes more plays than the average tackle. He needs to prove he can be the focal point after 48 tackles, 10.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks.

 

13. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State (5-11, 205)

The former five-star recruit finished second on the team in tackles last year (92) and has proven himself a playmaker in short order. He doesn’t have great size but has the elite athleticism that NFL pass defenses are looking for and he elevated his game in the Playoffs.

 

14. Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State (6-4, 278)

Getting Zettel back this season was a big win for defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and company. The big fellas clogged the middle for one of the best defenses in the league last fall, posting 42 tackles, 17.0 tackles for a loss and 8.0 sacks.

 

15. Kyle Carter, TE, Penn State (6-3, 240)

A trio of talented wide receivers and the departed Jesse James took the spotlight from Carter last fall. But make no mistake, he’s got NFL ability. He only caught 16 passes last season but fans in Happy Valley (as well as Mr. Hackenberg) are expecting a big leap forward in ’15.

 

16. Tyler Marz, OT, Wisconsin (6-5, 321)

The next in a long line of UW blockers with NFL upside. Guards and centers from Madison have had better careers in the NFL but Marz will lead what is once again one of the best running games in the nation.

 

17. Theiren Cockran, DE, Minnesota (6-6, 257)

He’s rangy and versatile. He can play outside backer in a 3-4 but has excelled as a true end for Jerry Kill. Should the Florida native blossom into an All-Big Ten player, his stock could soar come draft day.

 

18. Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin (5-11, 210)

Wisconsin knows how to run the ball and the next guy in line is Clement. He’s not as gifted as Melvin Gordon but could be just as productive. He’s rushed for 1,496 yards and 16 touchdowns on 7.0 yards per carry as a backup over the last two years behind Gordon.

 

19. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (6-2, 225)

Scouts aren’t sure what to make of Barrett. He’s a solid athlete with a solid arm and has great size but does he do anything at an elite, NFL level? There is no doubting his leadership and production, however, after 45 touchdowns in 12 games as a redshirt freshman starter last fall.

 

20. Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin (6-3, 311)

The highly-touted center prospect enters his redshirt junior year as a Rimington Trophy watch list member. The former freshman All-American missed the second half of the season last year and if he can prove he’s fully healthy, he will move up this list quickly.

 

Related:

 

21. Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota (6-0, 196)

Murray is an incredibly productive cornerback for the Gophers. He totaled 69 tackles last fall for a team one half of football away from winning its division. All Minnesota players are well-coached and he could be the best player on the team in ’15.

 

22. Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (6-1, 200)

He’s smart, savvy, hard-working and very athletic. He’s long and rangy as well. Apple proved to be a big playmaker from the corner position. He registered 5.5 tackles for a loss, 10 pass breakups, three interceptions and 53 tackles.

 

23. Darius Hamilton, DL, Rutgers (6-4, 255)

He can play in multiple schemes but likely projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. Hamilton was one of the top recruits in school history and he delivered with 45 tackles, 11.5 for a loss and 6.0 sacks last fall. A step forward in ’15 could push him into the top three rounds.

 

24. Wayne Lyons, DB, Michigan (6-1, 193)

Folks in Ann Arbor will learn his name quickly after transferring in from Stanford. Lyons played in 41 games with the Cardinal, posting 126 tackles and three interceptions before coming to Michigan. He instantly makes this defense better and he is a potential All-Big Ten selection.

 

25. Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 212)

If Miller wants to put together a year of tape for NFL scouts, he will likely have to play wide receiver. He might be able to play QB for another college program, but he’s not an NFL signal-caller. But should he prove he can make the transition, his stock could rise quickly.

 

Best of the Rest:

26. Jordan Lucas, CB, Penn State (6-0, 198)

27. Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers (6-1, 205)

28. James Ross, LB, Michigan (6-1, 225)

29. Kyle Kalis, OL, Michigan (6-5, 292)

30. Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (6-3, 210)

31. Blake Countess, CB, Michigan (5-10, 185)

32. Jack Allen, C, Michigan State (6-2, 295)

33. Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (6-6, 300)

34. Michael Caputo, S, Wisconsin (6-1, 212)

35. Nick VanHoose, CB, Northwestern (6-0, 190)

36. Chris Carter, DT, Ohio State (6-4, 342)

37. Vincent Valentine, DT, Nebraska (6-3, 320)

38. Nyeem Wartman, OLB, Penn State (6-1, 236)

39. Sojourn Shelton, CB, Wisconsin (5-9, 180)

40. Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska (6-6, 290)

Teaser:
Top 25 Big Ten 2016 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
Post date: Friday, May 8, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/everett-golson-braxton-miller-trevor-knight-quarterbacks-transfer-college-teams
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Everett Golson with one season of eligibility left.

 

Golson isn’t the only talented quarterback who could decide to leave school in the coming weeks knowing that he isn’t likely to start.

 

And there are plenty of big-time teams with conference championship aspirations that need starting signal-callers to put them over the top.

 

So it got me thinking. Who are the best quarterbacks in the nation who won’t be starting this fall, what are the best teams in the nation in need of a QB and which ones fit the best?

 

Here are nine quarterbacks and teams that need to get together:

 

Everett Golson, Notre Dame: Florida

Jim McElwain needs a guy who can run his system quickly and efficiently. That’s Golson. He’s got a great arm, great wheels and was the best player on the field for the Irish in the BCS title game drubbing against Alabama. This makes Florida the top challenger to Georgia in the East.

 

Related:

 

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: Texas

The Wichita Falls, Texas, native likely isn’t going to beat out Cardale Jones and should return home to the Lone Star State. The Horns could be a Big 12 contender along with Baylor and TCU if they could just get quality QB play. Barrett gives them that and more. Try 45 touchdowns in 12 games as a freshman last season.

 

Trevor Knight, Oklahoma: Alabama

Oh, the irony. Jake Coker clearly isn’t taking control of the job like he was supposed to — this year or last. But with elite talent and a coordinator who loves to chuck it around, Knight could return to prominence at Alabama. He isn’t likely to beat out Baker Mayfield and he's very accustomed to Crimson and Cream color schemes.

 

Braxton Miller, Ohio State: Ole Miss

Hugh Freeze might be one player away from winning an SEC title and Miller could be the guy. He fits the spread offense Freeze wants to run and might be relegated to third string in Columbus. This would be a blast to watch.

 

Max Browne, USC: Louisville

Bobby Petrino has been churning out NFL Draft picks but is a big-armed quarterback away from contending in the ACC this fall. The tall, pocket passer from USC isn’t going to start and would be a perfect fit in Louisville’s system.

 

Kyler Murray, Texas A&M: LSU

Talk about fun to watch. Murray is just a freshman but isn’t likely to beat out future pro Kyle Allen anytime soon. Why not ship him next door to LSU and give the Tigers an instant playmaker at a position they been lacking for nearly a decade?

 

Drew Barker, Kentucky: Nebraska

It’s no secret that Mike Riley wants a pro-style, pocket passer running his offense. But he doesn’t have that on his roster right now. The highly-touted and rocket-armed Barker won’t beat out incumbent Patrick Towles and has all the tools to excel in Lincoln.

 

Davis Webb, Texas Tech: Michigan

Webb looks to be the odd man out in Lubbock but knows how to chuck it around in a big way. The lanky pocket passer would fit well into Jim Harbaugh’s system and gives him a better option than Jake Rudock entering the year. Michigan is good quarterback play away from being a very dangerous team in the B1G.

 

Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina: Georgia

Possibly the best backup quarterback in the ACC, Trubisky has been beaten out by Marquise Williams multiple times. Georgia needs a tall, strong-armed, pro-style passer. This marriage could result in Mark Richt’s first SEC title in a decade.

Teaser:
9 Quarterbacks Who Need to Transfer and 9 Teams That Need Them
Post date: Friday, May 8, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/top-25-SEC-2016-NFL-Draft-Prospects-Watch
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The is over and more than 400 players have begun the next chapter of their football careers.

 

For the ninth straight year, the SEC had the most players drafted (54) of any league in college football. With a host of stacked rosters and elite talents taking the field in 2015, that trend should continue once again in 2016. Here are the top 25 NFL Draft prospects to watch in the SEC this fall:

 

1. Laremy Tunsil, OL, Ole Miss (6-5, 305)

He could easily be the top pick as the best offensive tackle in the draft. He has the size, the athleticism and is significantly better than any offensive lineman in the 2015 NFL Draft.

 

2. A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6-4, 320)

He won't stuff the stat sheet but tackles rarely do. Yet, Robinson is a beast in the middle who must be accounted for on every play — more often than not by more than one blocker. He's big and extremely physical.

 

3. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss (6-4, 280)

From a size and strength standpoint, few players in the country can match Nkemdiche's ability. He played end early in his career and has shifted inside and dominated in both spots. Look for him to take the next step in 2015.

 

4. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn (6-2, 255)

The knee injury may scare some scouts away, but Lawson can clear away all the doubt with a huge '15 campaign. He was essentially the best player on the Auburn defense two years ago as just a freshman and will become a household name in short order this fall.

 

5. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (6-2, 230)

A broken leg isn't nearly as concerning as knees or hips so once Treadwell steps back onto a field, it won't take long for his elite talent to show that he's the top receiver in the '16 class.

 

Related:

 

6. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida (5-11, 195)

An elite freshman All-American, teams were already staying away from VH3 last season. So he might be avoided completely this fall. That won't have much impact on his overall stock — which is the best cover corner in the nation.

 

7. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (6-6, 240)

The best all-around tight end prospect in the nation unfortunately has been extremely underused by the Crimson Tide offense. He is an elite blocker and an elite pass catcher as well.

 

8. Leonard Floyd, DE/LB, Georgia (6-4, 238)

The dynamic, hybrid edge player flourished in Jeremy Pruitt's system last fall and should produce another huge season for what could be the best defense in the SEC. He's rangy, athletic and productive.

 

9. Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee (6-0, 190)

He may not have the flashy speed and quickness of other cornerbacks ahead of him in the draft, but few players in the nation are as instinctual and make as many plays as the Vols' star defensive back.

 

10. Vadal Alexander, OL, LSU (6-6, 340)

He's a massive road-grader and will produce big numbers in the running game. There is more than one solid LSU O-line prospect in this unit, but Alexander is the best of the bunch.

 

11. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (6-3, 240)

He's an absolute beast. Cut from the Larry Johnson/Steven Jackson mold, few players have ever had the size-athleticism combo that Henry possesses. Now, if Lane Kiffin could just give him the ball a few hundred times.

 

12. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (6-2, 230)

He may not have the arm talent of the pure pocket passers in the NFL but few have his heart, toughness, physicality and leadership. He's a great athlete who is a better thrower of the ball than scouts think.

 

13. Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss (6-0, 217)

The fourth member of the highly-touted 2013 Rebels' signing class could find himself in the first round alongside Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche. Conner flies around the field and makes big plays consistently.

 

14. Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State (6-5, 308)

He didn’t blossom into the star last year many expected but his stock hasn’t slipped too far. He’s a monster in the middle and could develop into an All-American this fall after just 26 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and 3.0 sacks in ’14.

 

15. Duke Williams, WR, Auburn (6-2, 224)

From a talent standpoint, Williams could be one of the first SEC players taken in the draft. But he needs to refine his game, be more consistent with his hands and learn how to run routes on the next level to become an NFL star.

 

16. Eddie Jackson, CB, Alabama (6-0, 195)

The former big-time recruit has slowly developed into one of the best athletes in the Bama secondary. He posted 41 tackles a year ago and will be the leader of the Tide defensive backfield this fall.

 

17. Marquez North, WR, Tennessee (6-4, 220)

North could be the best wideout in the league if he stays healthy and Joshua Dobbs develops. He has elite hands, great ball skills, a huge frame and excellent athleticism. He could easily be a first-round pick.

 

18. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn (6-5, 230)

If Auburn’s offense churns out yards and points like many expect, Johnson could fly up draft boards. He has a huge frame and a big arm with better than average athletic ability. The pocket passer could make this Tigers offense nearly unstoppable.

 

19. Josh Augusta, DT, Missouri (6-4, 335)

The man-mountain in the middle will continue Mizzou’s recent run of elite NFL defensive line prospects. He didn’t play full-time last year but is poised for a breakout season.

 

20. John Theus, OT, Georgia (6-6, 313)

Theus has been in the starting lineup from the beginning and has seen his game develop nicely over his career in Athens. He has gone from weak link as a freshman to an All-SEC performer. The former five-star recruit has all the right NFL tools.

 

21. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama (6-2, 250)

The leading returning tackler for the Tide (93) will be one of the top true linebacker prospects in the draft next year. The NFL doesn’t normally take too many LBs in the first round but that doesn’t hurt his stock within his position rank.

 

22. Travin Dural, WR, LSU (6-2, 192)

Similarly to Robinson, Dural must get good QB play to shine this fall. That said, he’s more polished but slightly smaller than Robinson. He’s a big play waiting to happen after averaging 20.5 yards per catch last fall.

 

23. Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida (6-2, 200)

The physical tools have been there all along but it has taken some time for him to develop. He has an elite size and speed combination and could vault into the first round should he refine his game (and get good QB play).

 

24. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas (5-11, 224)

There isn’t much difference between one Arkansas back and the other, so fans in Fayetteville could expect both to be drafted fairly quickly next fall. He’s posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons entering his third year.

 

25. Kendall Beckwith, LB, LSU (6-2, 245)

The rising junior blossomed midway through his freshman season and only continued to make plays last fall (77 tackles). He has a chance to rise quickly in the national conversation as one of the best tacklers in the SEC. How will he fit into Kevin Steele’s new scheme?

 

Best of the Rest:

26. Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia (6-3, 252)

27. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU (5-11, 191)

28. Jalen Mills, S, LSU (6-0, 194)

29. Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama (6-4, 313)

30. Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas (6-0, 224)

31. Denver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas (6-5, 343)

32. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (6-3, 227)

33. Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU (6-6, 309)

34. Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M (6-5, 325)

35. Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida (6-3, 277)

36. Curt Maggitt, LB, Tennessee (6-3, 251)

37. Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn

38. Taveze Calhoun, CB, Mississippi State (6-1, 185)

39. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama (6-3, 282)

40. Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia (5-11, 215)

Teaser:
Top 25 SEC 2016 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
Post date: Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-tom-brady-cheated-deflategate
Body:

I don’t care about Tom Brady’s balls.

 

But apparently the rest of the world is obsessed with the New England Patriots. So much so that attorney Ted Wells’ investigation into “Deflategate” about slightly underinflated footballs.

 

The general thesis appears to be that two team employees, Jim McNally and John Jastremski, doctored footballs and that Tom Brady “was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”

 

It also found that the Patriots and Bill Belichick had nothing to do with it.

 

Brady broke the rules (and lied about it). They intentionally deflated his footballs. Roger Goodell should and will punish him with appropriate force.

 

My concern is how the general public — or Goodell, for that matter — defines "appropriate force." The commissioner hasn't exactly been consistent in his punishments (SEE: Sean Payton and Ray Rice).

 

I said it , and I’ll say it again now. Should we be quick to criticize an organization with a questionable track record when it comes to the rules? Certainly, but did the Patriots defeat the Colts by more than five touchdowns because the balls were slightly softer? Have the Patriots been the best team in the AFC for more than a decade because of slightly less air in their footballs?

 

No, because it’s ludicrous.

 

Did this “scandal” have any impact whatsoever on the outcome of the Super Bowl?

 

No. Take back the Super Bowl ring? Make him ineligible for the Hall of Fame? Forfeit all 2016 draft picks? 

 

Just stop, Internet.

 

For decades, quarterbacks have been scuffing, inflating, deflating, spitting on, greasing up and using every other imaginable trick in the book to get a football exactly how they want it. Sometimes, they go too far. Sometimes, they break the rules.

 

Sometimes, they get caught and should be punished.

 

Brady should be punished. Suspend him for a game or two — which would cost him roughly $500,000 per weekend — or fine him or take a late-round pick from the team. Or all three.

 

But let’s not for one second suggest that pigskin PSI had anything to do with the absolute beat down the Pats administered to the Colts in the AFC Championship game. That with 16-percent more air in their balls, the Patriots wouldn’t have won the AFC East or made it to the Super Bowl.

 

This is a multi-billion dollar industry that routinely pushes the envelope of sportsmanship across the board. When people break the rules, they get punished. Jumping offside is cheating, and it’s a 5-yard penalty.

 

Brady deserves to get punished, but it better fit the crime.

 

After that, I don’t want to hear another word about his balls.

Teaser:
Brady, Patriots Cheated: Punishment Should Fit Crime
Post date: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 16:34
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, News
Path: /college-football/early-2016-nfl-draft-prospect-rankings
Body:

The is over and more than 400 players have begun the next chapter of their football careers.

 

So what better time than now to look ahead to next spring and the 2016 NFL Draft. Here are the top 32 prospects that could be drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft:

 

1. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (6-4, 230)

He got no support from his running game or offensive line last fall, but Hackenberg has all the NFL tools to be the best QB prospect in the draft next year. He's a more athletic version of Eli Manning. It's hard to keep elite QBs from being the top pick.

 

2. Laremy Tunsil, OL, Ole Miss (6-5, 305)

He could easily be the top pick as the best offensive tackle in the draft. He has the size, the athleticism and is significantly better than any offensive lineman in the 2015 NFL Draft.

 

3. A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6-4, 320)

He won't stuff the stat sheet but tackles rarely do. Yet, Robinson is a beast in the middle who must be accounted for on every play — more often than not by more than one blocker. He's big and extremely physical.

 

4. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss (6-4, 280)

From a size and strength standpoint, few players in the country can match Nkemdiche's ability. He played end early in his career and has shifted inside and dominated in both spots. Look for him to take the next step in 2015.

 

5. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (6-4, 265)

The best pure pass rusher in this class, Bosa has already proven himself as one of the best in college football. He is likely to be avoided by most offenses in '15 so the numbers may not improve, but his stock won't go anywhere. He's one of the best players in the nation period.

 

6. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (6-2, 235)

The freakish redshirt sophomore had a coming-out party in the College Football Playoff, earning MVP honors of the Sugar Bowl. He could blossom into the best linebacker in the nation due to elite speed, instincts and physicality.

 

7. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn (6-2, 255)

The knee injury may scare some scouts away, but Lawson can clear away all the doubt with a huge '15 campaign. He was essentially the best player on the Auburn defense two years ago as just a freshman and will become a household name in short order this fall.

 

8. Ronnie Stanley, OL, Notre Dame (6-5, 315)

He's got the size and talent to be an elite blocker on the next level and has held his own very well against elite defensive talent (Leonard Williams, Stanford, LSU).

 

9. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (6-2, 230)

A broken leg isn't nearly as concerning as knees or hips so once Treadwell steps back onto a field, it won't take long for his elite talents to show that he's the top receiver in the '16 class.

 

10. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida (5-11, 195)

An elite freshman All-American, teams were already staying away from VH3 last season. So he might be avoided completely this fall. That won't have much impact on his overall stock — which is the best cover corner in the nation.

 

11. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (6-1, 235)

Jack matches Lee from a talent standpoint and has produced on both sides of the ball a la Shaq Thompson. His numbers are huge and he's poised for another monster season as the star of the UCLA defense.

 

12. Su'a Cravens, S, USC (6-1, 225)

He has elite-level athleticism, size, range and has been making big-time plays the second he stepped onto the field. The former five-star prospect has completely lived up to the hype and is poised for a massive junior year.

 

13. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor (6-8, 275)

"Scary athlete" doesn't begin to explain what Oakman is along the defensive line. He's intimidating, massive and could be leading Baylor to a third consecutive Big 12 title.

 

14. Scooby Wright, OLB, Arizona (6-1, 240)

He may not have a true position in certain NFL defensive schemes but he's a guy who simply makes plays wherever he is slotted. Case in point: 163 tackles, 29.0 for a loss, 14.0 sacks and six forced fumbles don't happen on accident.

 

15. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (5-11, 195)

The Hokies' star coverman might actually be as good as Hargreaves. The five-star recruit has started every game of his two-year career and is going to be an All-American entering '15.

 

16. Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State (6-1, 204)

How many five-star recruits start all 13 games as a true freshman for a team that goes 14-0 and wins a national title? Ramsey is now an upperclassman, the veteran star of the Noles' defense.

 

17. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (6-3, 218)

He's got the size, the arm and is an above-average athlete. He wins games and takes care of the football as well. He's a pure leader who could be on the only team capable of knocking off Ohio State.

 

18. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (6-0, 225)

The top Heisman Trophy candidate entering the season was an absolute monster in the Playoffs. He carried his team to a national championship and should be the top back taken if he can stay healthy.

 

19. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State (6-4, 255)

There is a good chance he's the starter for Ohio State when the season opens, and his overall arm talent is what makes him the best QB prospect on the OSU roster. And a second national title could cement his first-round status.

 

20. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame (6-2, 235)

He can play inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end in a 3-4 or just about anywhere else on the field. He's a freakish athlete who will vault himself into the first round.

 

21. Spencer Drango, OL, Baylor (6-6, 310)

He's a beast who anchored the Bears' two Big 12 titles the last two years. He could have easily entered the draft and been one of the top picks in the '15 Draft but could work his way into the top 10 with another stellar season in Waco.

 

22. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt (6-2, 190)

He regressed as a sophomore but his freshman season was no fluke. He has excellent athletic ability and can run all of the routes in the stem. Look for a huge bounce-back season from the Panthers wideout.

 

23. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (6-6, 240)

The best all-around tight end prospect in the nation unfortunately has been extremely underused by the Crimson Tide offense. He is an elite blocker and an elite pass catcher as well.

 

24. Leonard Floyd, DE/LB, Georgia (6-4, 238)

The dynamic, hybrid edge player flourished in Jeremy Pruitt's system last fall and should produce another huge season for what could be the best defense in the SEC. He's rangy, athletic and productive.

 

25. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State (6-5, 255)

Calhoun could have left school early last fall but elected to return. His stock can't change much but as long as he continues to deliver on his tremendous ability on a championship-level defense, he will be a first-rounder.

 

26. Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA (6-4, 310)

When it comes to upside, Vanderdoes has as much as anyone in the nation. The big-time prep star has delivered quickly on his potential and should blossom into a superstar this fall.

 

27. Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee (6-0, 190)

He may not have the flashy speed and quickness of other cornerbacks ahead of him in the draft, but few players in the nation are as instinctual and make as many plays as the Vols' star defensive back.

 

28. Vadal Alexander, OL, LSU (6-6, 340)

He's a massive road-grader and will produce big numbers in the running game. There is more than one solid LSU O-Line prospect in this unit, but Alexander is the best of the bunch.

 

29. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (6-3, 240)

He's an absolute beast. Cut from the Larry Johnson/Steven Jackson mold, few players have ever had the size-athleticism combo that Henry possesses. Now, if Lane Kiffin could just give him the ball a few hundred times.

 

30. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (6-2, 230)

He may not have the arm talent of the pure pocket passers in the NFL but few have his heart, toughness, physicality and leadership. He's a great athlete who is a better thrower of the ball than scouts think.

 

31. Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss (6-0, 217)

The fourth member of the highly-touted 2013 Rebels' signing class could find himself in the first round alongside Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche. Conner flies around the field and makes big plays consistently.

 

32. Nate Andrews, S, Florida State (5-11, 210)

The less-heralded of the two star FSU safeties isn't any less talented. He's got great size and could be just as highly regarded as Ramsey come draft time.

 

Next Best: Eddie Jackson, CB, Alabama; Jared Goff, QB, Cal; DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon; Travin Dural, WR, LSU; Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida; Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State; Duke Williams, WR, Auburn; Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama; Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma; James Conner, RB, Pitt; 

Teaser:
Early 2016 NFL Mock Draft Prospect Rankings
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/2015-nfl-draft-day-twos-best-available-prospects
Body:

The is in the books.

 

Tampa Bay and Tennessee pulled the trigger on its future leader by taking Marcus Mariota with the No. 2 pick.

 

But there are on day two of the NFL Draft. The second, third and fourth rounds of the draft are loaded with great talents every year and ’15 won’t be any different.

 

Joel Bitonio, Derek Carr, Lamarcus Joyner, Jordan Matthews and Jeremy Hill were all second-rounders last season. Here are our favorite players left on the board entering the second round:

 

Landon Collins, S, Alabama

The fact that the Crimson Tide playmaker fell out of the first round is astonishing, and he is clearly the best player on the board entering Day 2. He's lightning-quick and explosive and is one of the best tacklers in the class. Coverage skills aren't elite and that's likely what has dropped him on boards.

 

Randy Gregory, OLB/DE, Nebraska

He’s got elite-level athleticism but many have questioned his desire to be great in the NFL. Be it the marijuana issue or his weight fluctuations. He also doesn’t fit naturally into either the 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

 

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

He’s got the size. He’s got the numbers. He’s got the wins. He’s got the athleticism. Once he refines his deep ball, he could be a big-time playmaker under center. He won’t last long in the second round. He's  left in this draft.

 

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri/Oklahoma

As gifted as Calvin Johnson and as troubled as Jameis Winston. His off-the-field issues are a major question mark despite never actually being charged with anything. On the field, there is no doubting his ability. He’s a superstar from a talent perspective.

 

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

There really isn’t much difference between first-round selections Kevin White or DeVante Parker and Strong. He’s got a huge frame and produced big numbers on a winning team. He’s raw but has massive upside.

 

Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

The younger brother of Eagles standout, Mychal, Eric was equally as decorated in college. Kendricks won both the Butkus and Lott Trophies his final season and was the defensive leader for the only UCLA team to win at least nine games in three straight seasons. He’s a plug-and-play prospect.

 

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska

The 5-foot-8, 205-pound running back was electric with the ball in his hands — both as a receiver and runner. When Nebraska needed a big play, he delivered. He rarely gets tackled cleanly and he is a hard-working football nerd.

 

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt

The big blocker has only played offensive line for two years after playing along the D-line for the Panthers. He's a bit of a project but has elite-level upside and raw talent. He won't last long.

 

Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma

He’s just a redshirt sophomore but he’s got tons of upside. Phillips has a massive frame at 6-foot-5 and 329 pounds with plenty of quickness and burst. If he can sustain consistency, he could be a dominant player in the NFL.

 

Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

Few covermen bring the size NFL teams are craving right now on the outside like Collins does at 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds. He got great coaching at LSU and was one of the few Tigers who played up to their potential.

 

Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State

He’s not overly big (6-2, 290) but he has every intangible possible. He’s a great leader, he’s as smart as any prospect in the draft and he’s been a winner his entire career. A Jurrell Casey comparison is apt for this mid-rounder.

 

Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

McKinney has the body of a defensive end but the instincts, quicks and overall game of an inside backer. As the game has evolved, getting bigger and faster, McKinney could be the next breed of middle linebacker.

 

Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami

The second round is where the NFL finds linebackers and 2015 won’t be any different. Perryman is a fantastic inside tackler with great instincts. He got very little help from his fellow defenders and still posted big numbers. Perryman is one of a handful of great LBs still left on the board.

 

Jake Fisher, OL, Oregon

Just pop in the tape of the Ducks with Fisher in the lineup and without. Oregon was a totally different squad when the anchor at left tackle was in the game. He has great athleticism and the size needed to excel at the tackle position. Center Hroniss Grasu also fits into this mold as one of the best players in this draft at his position.

 

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami

He’s small and got hurt a bunch at Miami but this guy can flat out pick up yards. His Combine stats don’t tell the story of his outright playing speed. Johnson is a big play waiting to happen and is a perfect complementary back in the modern NFL offense.

 

Paul Dawson, LB, TCU

Don’t worry about his Combine stats, just watch the tape. He was all over the field for the Big 12 co-champs a year ago, posting 136 tackles, 20.0 for a loss, 6.0 sacks and four interceptions. He made huge plays in huge spots and will do the same in the NFL.

 

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama

Looking for a guy who plays bigger, faster, stronger and more consistently than his measurables? Yeldon is your guy. He consistently got tough yards against the best defenses in the nation and rarely got knocked backwards. He’s a lock to produce on the next level.

 

Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

He under-produced at times but has every tool needed to be an excellent NFL D-lineman. He’s big, fast, athletic, agile, flexible and coordinated. Once focused, he could be an every-down starter. A number of other Seminoles could fall on this list as well: Mario Edwards, Nick O'Leary, P.J. Williams, Rashad Greene and Tre Jackson to name a few.

 

Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State

Slot receivers are the new norm and few players bring as much to the position as Lockett does. He’s small (5-9, 185) but has blazing speed and produced in a huge way for KSU. He also excels on trick plays and on special teams.

Teaser:
2015 NFL Draft: Day Two's Best Available Prospects
Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/grading-first-round-2015-nfl-draft
Body:

Until the new crop of NFL first-rounders hits the field, grading the first round of the NFL Draft is just educated guesswork.

 

Having said that, fans in Tampa Bay and Tennessee should be brimming with excitement as they welcome new starting quarterbacks. Others are left scratching their heads.

 

Below are four different grades for the 32 first-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft:

 

A: Franchise-changing selection. A great value at key position of need.

 

B: An instant starter who contributes right away.

 

C: Solid pick but has a question of value, upside, risk or position of need.

 

F: A questionable selection with poor value and heavy risk.

 

Grade: A

 

NameTeamPickPos.NCAA
Jameis WinstonNo. 1QBFlorida State
The best QB prospect since Andrew Luck is a complete package at the position... on the field.
Amari CooperNo. 4WRAlabama
Complete professional at the position. Elite hands, speed and polish. Immediate starter and outside star for Derek Carr.
Leonard WilliamsNo. 6DLUSC
Arguably the best player in the draft at No. 6? Lined up next to Sheldon Richardson? Are you kidding?
Andrus PeatNo. 13OTStanford
The best offensive tackle prospect in the draft is a perfect value and need for the Saints.
Shaq ThompsonNo. 25OLBWashington
One of the best pure athletes in the draft who can play multiple positions on multiple sides of the ball. Take him and find a spot for him later.

 

Grade: B

 

NameTeamPickPos.NCAA
Marcus MariotaNo. 2QBOregon
Game-changer at most important position makes this franchise instantly interesting and watchable again.
Dante Fowler Jr.No. 3OLBFlorida
Lack of consistency keeps him from being an "A," but is a star in the making otherwise.
Kevin WhiteNo. 7WRWest Virginia
Loads of upside and talent but has plenty of work left to his game. Was this the most pressing need for the Bears?
Vic BeasleyNo. 8OLBClemson
Awesome player who might be best "B" on the list. Productive big-play machine who was a leader for a winning program.
Todd GurleyNo. 10RBGeorgia
Elite talent, potentially the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson... if he's fully healthy. Injury history keeps him off the "A" line.
DeVante ParkerNo. 14WRLouisville
Got their guy and provided Ryan Tannehill with a playmaker. Big, physical, talent but needs to stay on the field.
Melvin GordonNo. 15RBWisconsin
Only slightly less talented than Gurley. Extremely intelligent and hard-working player with plenty of burst.
Cam ErvingNo. 19OLFlorida State
Versatile prospect who excelled at both center and tackle. Immediately helps everyone on the offense.
Nelson AgholorNo. 20WRUSC
Smaller version of Cooper. Extremely polished pro's pro at the position. Will need no preparation to play and will help special teams too.
Bud DupreeNo. 22OLBKentucky
Productive and dependable player who fits a need and defensive scheme perfectly. A great value as well.
Shane RayNo. 23OLBMissouri
Extremely talented player whose character isn't nearly as big a question mark as late slide indicated. Excellent value.
Laken TomlinsonNo. 28OGDuke
What's not to like? A terrifyingly strong road-grader to protect Matthew Stafford who wants to be a neurosurgeon.
Malcom BrownNo. 32DTTexas
One of the best values in the first round. Elite defensive space-eater will flourish in Pats system.

 

Grade: C

 

NameTeamPickPos.NCAA
Brandon ScherffNo. 5OGIowa
Really solid potential guard but won't play tackle and may never be a star. A huge reach passing on Cat Williams.
Ereck FlowersNo. 9OTMiami
Big-time upside but a project who lacked consistency against only moderate competition. Needs development and could have been a reach. 
Trae WaynesNo. 11CBMichigan State
Thin draft class pushed Waynes higher on the boards. Fills a need but questions about his upside remain.
Danny SheltonNo. 12DTWashington
Giant space-eater improves physicality but may lack overall quickness, explosiveness to be a star.
Kevin JohnsonNo. 16CBWake Forest
Solid but not elite player taken early in the round at a position that may not have been the top need.
Marcus PetersNo. 18CBWashington
Could be best pure coverman in the draft but drops to a "C" due to discipline question marks.
Cedric OgbuehiNo. 21OTTexas A&M
Very athletic and lean but large prospect. Major knee injury in January and some underachievement last fall drop him to "C."
D.J. HumphriesNo. 24OTFlorida
Talented upside but lacks overall size and polish to contribute right away. Has also had major injury issues in the past.
Damarious RandallNo. 30SArizona State
Will likely play cornerback. Has major size for that position but questions about his transition. Would inside linebacker been a better option?

 

Grade: F

 

NameTeamPickPos.NCAA
Arik ArmsteadNo. 17DTOregon
A+ for snagging extra picks but few players did less with more than Armstead while in college. Huge risk selection. 
Breshad PerrimanNo. 26WRUCF
More talented, more productive options all over the board and it feels like a luxury pick in the first round. 
Byron JonesNo. 27CBUConn
Combine creation who never excelled in a lower-tiered league. Was never even all-league in the American Athletic Conference.
Phillip DorsettNo. 29WRMiami
Speedy player but a one-trick pony who isn't much better than other small, slot receivers. Other positions were a greater need.
Stephone AnthonyNo. 31ILBClemson
Solid player at a position of need... if this was the end of the second round. Never was an elite player despite elite physical tools.

 

Teaser:
Grading the First Round of the 2015 NFL Draft
Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/11-crazy-predictions-2015-nfl-draft
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There , but the first round of any NFL Draft is never boring.

 

Throw , Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell, Adrian Peterson, the Browns, Rex Ryan and 32 million of their closest friends (and wanna-be analysts) into a brand-spanking new blender in Chicago and fireworks are bound to ensue. And entertain.

 

Part of what makes the one of the biggest sporting events of the year is its unpredictable nature.

 

Players drop, owners reach, trade offers are flying and some teams (looking at you Minnesota) have even passed on drafting anyone at all.

 

So what craziness should fans be looking for this weekend?


Brett Hundley is a first-round pick

Hundley is a poor man’s version of Mariota with a big frame, a winning track record, huge production and well above-average athleticism. Don’t be surprised if Hundley is a first-round draft pick Thursday night. How awesome would it be if Kelly and the Eagles don’t trade with anyone and simply draft Hundley at No. 20?

 

Trading up for Marcus Mariota

The most obvious and talked about trade for any team in the league is the move up to the second pick to presumably take Mariota. Tennessee doesn’t want to pick No. 2 and many teams — San Diego, Cleveland, Philadelphia — have shown interest. However, don’t be surprised if a surprise team ends up making the move to get the second pick and draft the Heisman winner. Like, say, the Cardinals? Either way, someone is trading up to draft Mariota.

 

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Browns will ruin their future

With Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel last year, the Browns might have set their franchise back years. Should they screw up two more first-round picks again this year, this team is all but guaranteed another decade of losing. Offering a Redskins-esque package to trade up to draft Mariota or taking risks on players like wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, defensive lineman Arik Armstead or defensive back Byron Jones would ruin any chance of making the playoffs in Cleveland.

 

New WR record

In 2004, Larry Fitzgerald led a deep wide receiver class that still owns the first-round record for the most taken (7). Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, Perriman, Dorsett and Devin Smith have all seen their stock fly as high as the first round. I'm saying eight get picked tonight, setting a new record.

 

Dorial Green-Beckham is a top 10 pick

DGB has legitimate off-the-field issues that he will need to answer, but his on-the-field talent may be second-to-none at his position. He is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds with elite-level athleticism. Should he mature and behave, he could be the best player in the entire draft.

 

The Raiders will do something intelligent

Odds are either Leonard Williams or Cooper will be available for the Raiders with the fourth pick — and they could be the best two prospects in the draft. And, yes, Oakland will do the right/intelligent/smart thing and draft either Williams or Cooper.

 

Chip Kelly will blow our minds

This could be trading for Peterson. This could be shipping Sam Bradford to Cleveland. This could be trading up to get Mariota. This could be naming Tim Tebow his starting quarterback four months before Week 1. I have no idea what it will be but you can bet Kelly will do something totally off the wall. And it will be totally calculated. 

 

Jerry Jones will get more airtime than his pick

Jones took offensive guard Zack Martin with the 16th pick in the draft last season. The year before he traded up to take center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick. Both selections elicited a collective “Who?” from fans in Big D. Both players have been studs for the Cowboys in two years and we should expect much of the same this season. Don’t say who this time when Jones selects Kevin Johnson, Jordan Phillips, Damarious Randall or Jalen Collins. Just trust in the newer, savvier Jones.

 

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Not one but two RBs go in the first round

A running back hasn’t been selected in the first round since 2012 and that involved a total bust (Trent Richardson), a guy who’s already retired (David Wilson) and Doug Martin. However, not only will one running back get drafted in this year’s first round but expect to see two players from this position called on Thursday night. Look for Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon to both land in the first round.

 

Adrian Peterson won’t be traded

The biggest name to be traded during the first round of the NFL Draft could be Peterson. He doesn’t want to be a Viking any longer but it doesn’t make a ton of sense for Jones to mortgage the Cowboys' future to get him. Arizona, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Jacksonville also make sense but will the price be right? No, Peterson will be a Viking after the NFL Draft and that means he will be in the Minnesota backfield in Week 1.

 

The first-round trade record will be broken

The rookie wage scale has changed the way the league views first-round picks. They are less valuable and therefore more likely to be traded. The 2012 set the record with 16 of the 32 picks traded. The 2013 draft saw 14 different picks traded and last April featured nine picks traded in the first round. Look for the tonight's wheeling and dealing to break the 2012 record.

Teaser:
11 Crazy Predictions for the 2015 NFL Draft
Post date: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 09:00

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