NFC Overview: Week 6

Week 5 brought us upsets, blowouts, and nail biters.  There are now only two undefeated teams, four winless teams and 10 teams in the league with a record of 3-2. The NFC became even more uncertain in some divisions, but it seems that we may have found the team to beat in the conference.   Find out below where each team is trending, and if they will be competing on wildcard weekend.  

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers (4-1)

Aaron Rodgers owns Dallas.  He was 4-0 when playing the Cowboys on the road coming into Sunday, and this one was never really close.  The Packers sprinted out to a 31-3 lead before coasting in the second half.  Although the score indicates a closer game, you never felt that the Cowboys had a chance.  The Packers proved that they are a top 3 team in the conference.  Next week is a big divisional matchup on Monday Night Football as they host the Lions

2. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)

The Lions moved into second place during their bye week thanks to the Bears’ loss.  This Lions’ team has looked competitive in every game, and some people are considering them legitimate contenders for the division title.  Right now it looks like the NFC North will go through Green Bay, but a Lions’ win on Monday night would change everything.

3. Chicago Bears (3-2)

Sunday was a tough loss for the Bears in London.  They came out flat and the Raiders took advantage, putting up 17 points in the first half, exposing the Bears’ defense along the way.  The third quarter belonged to the Bears who scored three touchdowns and took the lead.  In the end, the Raiders put together a 93-yard drive for the winning score late in the fourth.  The Bears head into the bye week with many injuries and are hoping to get back Mitchell Trubisky for a big game against the Saints in two weeks

4. Minnesota Vikings (3-2)

The Vikings responded well to the criticism they received during last week.  They threw the ball well and took care of the Giants to remain just a game back of the Packers. Next up is a tough game at home against the Eagles who seem to have found their identity in the past few games.  A win at home could loom large for wild card tiebreakers later in the season.  Although the passing game looked corrected, Stefon Diggs still might not be sure if he wants to be in Minnesota.  Check out his reaction to being asked: “Do you want to be in Minnesota?”source

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers (4-0)

The 49ers look for real.  They beat up on the Browns on Monday night forcing four turnovers and rushing for over 200 yards.  Although the Browns certainly have their own issues, the 49ers embarrassed a team that put up 40 points last week in Baltimore.  Now, the 49ers have a target on their back and will get everyone’s best shot.  Week 6 takes the ‘Niners to L.A. for a big divisional game against a Rams team looking for a bounce-back win after back to back losses.

2. Seattle Seahawks (4-1)

The Seahawks and Rams put on the best Thursday night game of the season.  Russel Wilson looked unstoppable and the Seattle defense came up with a big interception to seal the game late in the fourth. This game also contained an early “play of the year” candidate in Russel Wilson’s Touchdown throw to Tyler Lockett during the second quarter (see below).  At 4-1, the Seahawks look like an elite contender in the NFC.  This week the Seahawks travel to play the Browns who haven’t lived up to their preseason hype just yet.

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3. Los Angeles Rams (3-2)

The Rams have lost two in a row and are not looking like last year’s 13-3 division winners.  Jared Goff is having a terrible start and Todd Gurley doesn’t seem like he will ever reach the level he did last year.  The defense looks uncertain on every drive and they have now given up 85 points in the last two games.  With the NFC West looking this good, the Rams need to straighten things out to remain in wild-card contention.  A win against the 49ers this Sunday would put them right back into the mix for the division crown, but that’s easier said than done against this ‘Niners’ team.

4. Arizona Cardinals (1-3-1)

Winless no more! The Cardinals won the battle of the worsts with the Bengals and secured their first victory of the season 26-23.  Kyler Murray rushed for a touchdown and the defense did just enough to hold off Cincinnati.  Now the Cardinals come home to host the abysmal Falcons for a chance to start a nice win streak.

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (3-2)

The Cowboys got dominated by the Packers.  Sure they showed some life in the second half, but they never had a chance.  Dak Prescott had another forgettable performance when facing a good team, and just like that the Cowboys and the Eagles have drawn even.  After a trip to New York to face the Jets, the Cowboys will host the Eagles in two weeks on Sunday Night Football.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

The Eagles quietly took care of the Jets and improved to 3-2.  The Eagles look to have found themselves and are gaining a lot of momentum before their first showdown with the Cowboys in two weeks.  Standing in between that is a tricky road game in Minnesota where the Vikings are 2-0 this year. 

3. New York Giants (2-3)

Although this Giants’ loss proves that they aren’t quite playoff competitive yet, they still show great signs of growth.  Week 5 will be a forgettable one, but with Saquon Barkley’s return on the horizon, the Giants could definitely upset some teams who are overlooking them down the road.  That first chance for a huge upset will come this week on Thursday Night Football against the undefeated Patriots in Foxborough.

 4. Washington Redskins (0-5)

The deed is done! Gruden is gone!  The only problem is the Redskins are still winless and now without a head coach.  Whatever they do, they need to find someone interested in developing Dwayne Haskins while the team continues to lose.  It’s looking like the Redskins and Dolphins are leading the charge for next year’s number one pick…and how convenient that they play each other this week.  Don’t miss the tank bowl!!

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (4-1)

Teddy Bridgewater is 3-0 as the Saints’ starter and as it stands right now, they look like one of the top teams in the conference, even without Drew Brees.  This week the Saints head to Jacksonville to take on Gardener Minshew and the Jaguars. The Saints are the team to beat in the conference, and considering the lack of competition in this division, it looks like the Saints could have the South clinched by December.

2. Carolina Panthers (3-2)

 The Panthers put together a nice win against the Jaguars last week and are back above .500. Cam Newton continues to remain on the sideline and has already been ruled out for Week 6. With a win this week, the Panthers would remain just one game back of the Saints, while virtually erasing any chance the Bucs had of winning the division crown.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)

The Bucs put up a good fight in New Orleans last Sunday but ultimately fell short against the Saints.  This is a tough game to swallow as the Bucs are now two games behind for the division lead.  This week, the Bucs head to London for another big divisional matchup with the Panthers whom they have already beaten this season.  A win would draw them even with the Panthers, and keep them within shouting distance of the Saints. A loss might derail any slim playoff hopes the Bucs still have.

5. Atlanta Falcons (1-4)

The Falcons continue to lose. The offense put up 32 points, but giving up 53 points will never win a game in the NFL.  Clearly, the Falcons are the biggest disappointment of the season thus far.  Many thought they could compete with the Saints, but even with the weapons the Falcons have, they remain in the basement of the NFC.  Week 6 takes the Falcons out to Arizona where they should have a good chance to get back in the win column.  With each week, their win against the Eagles in Week 2 looks even more surprising.

NFC POWER RANKINGS (Week 4 Ranking)

  1. New Orleans Saints (1)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (6)
  3. Green Bay Packers(3)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (8)
  5. Detroit Lions (7)
  6. Los Angeles Rams (2)
  7. Chicago Bears (4)
  8. Dallas Cowboys (5)
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (9)
  10. Minnesota Vikings (12)
  11. Carolina Panthers (13)
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11)
  13. New York Giants (10)
  14. Atlanta Falcons (14)
  15. Arizona Cardinals (15)
  16. Washington Redskins (16)
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NFC Overview: Week 4

After three weeks of football, I think it is finally appropriate to analyze each team’s progress and future path with three performances to critique.  The NFC is shaking out to be a very competitive conference with many teams sitting at 2-1 or better.  Read below to find out how I see each division playing out, as well as a preview for Week 4. Finally, in the end, I will provide a power ranking for each team in the conference.

NFC NORTH

I think it is only fitting, to begin with the NFC North because of its combined record of 9-2-1.  Every team looks like it could make a run for the playoffs.  Although some teams may have executed and performed better in some games, I think we can get a true sense of each team’s identity heading into Week 4.

1. Green Bay Packers (3-0)

Heading into the season, Green Bay was holding its breath as new coach Matt LaFleur was beginning his tenure as the leader of one of the NFL’s most coveted franchises.  Of course, there has been some drama regarding Aaron Rodgers in the past few seasons on his coachability, but thus far that doesn’t seem to be an issue. After three games, the Packers are undefeated and their defense is leading the way.  The offense has had some forgettable moments (The ugly win in Week 1 at Chicago) but it seems to be trending in the right direction.  Being 2-0 in the division is certainly an added bonus to this unbeaten start, and they will look to improve to 4-0 on Thursday Night Football as the Packers will host the Eagles who have gotten off to a rocky start themselves.  I predict the Packers to win against a beat-up Eagles squad who is having difficulty on the defensive side of the ball.  Look for the Packers to get an early lead and coast.

2. Detroit Lions (2-0-1)

WOW! What a start for the Lions.  Coming into the year I don’t think many people expected much from this team, but they have proven everyone wrong. At times, they have looked sloppy (4th Quarter against the Cardinals Week 1, and Most of the game against the Chargers) but at the end of the day, they have beaten two playoff teams from a year ago, and have been able to withstand late-game pressures. Matthew Stafford looks solid again this year, and the team is playing well in the early parts of the game, which was often a problem in recent seasons.  This week the Lions host the Chiefs.  Although it seems like a daunting task, I think the Lions are a pesky team that could hang around for a little in this game.  In the end, I expect the Chiefs to remain undefeated and the Lions to fall to 2-1-1, which is by no means a failure considering their early-season opponents.

3. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

The Vikings look like a playoff team. They have dominated the Falcons and Raiders at home, but in between, they fell to the Packers at Lambeau.  Although they need to improve their ability to play on the road, the Vikings defense is once again looking dangerous, and Dalvin Cook has returned to his rookie form.  Kirk Cousins, however, still leaves questions about his ability to be a reliable quarterback each week in the NFL. Upcoming, the Vikings travel to Chicago where a very important road divisional game awaits.  As good as the Vikings may seem, if they fail to win road games, especially in the division, they could be a team that misses out on a playoff spot with a seemingly worthy record.  All that said, I don’t think the Vikings will be able to pull out a victory against the Bears this week.  The game being at 3:25 pm will only add more pressure to Kirk Cousins who can simply look overwhelmed when he faces pressure, and I expect the Bears to be very hungry to win at home after their Week 1 letdown.

4. Chicago Bears (2-1)

The Bears came into this season with Super Bowl aspirations. After adding pieces to an already stellar defense (HaHa Clinton-Dix) the Bears seemed like they might be on their way to just that.  Although being 2-1 isn’t bad, the Bears have certainly left room for improvement on the offensive side of the ball.  Third-year quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky showed some signs of development and growth last season but hasn’t been able to put together a complete performance.  His play on Monday Night Football against the Redskins was the best it has been, but he still threw a poor interception in the endzone and missed some rather simple throws.  I like the Bears to win this week against the Vikings, but the only way for them to accomplish that is with a good performance from Trubisky. 

NFC WEST

The NFC West is another strong division with a combined record of 8-3-1.  The Rams look like they are definitely capable of returning to the Super bowl. The Seahawks and 49ers have good records but haven’t beaten any team with a winning record yet. Although the Cardinals have a poor record, they have shown positive signs with a rookie quarterback.

1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

The Rams are coming off a solid win in Cleveland on Sunday night.  The most promising part of the Ram’s performances up to this point is the fact that Todd Gurley hasn’t gotten going.  He still has much more to offer in this fire-powered offense, which is benefitting immensely from the return of Cooper Kupp.  The defense looks solid yet again, and I expect them to handle the Buccaneers rather easily this Sunday before a tough Thursday Night Football matchup with the Seahawks in Seattle. A return to the Super Bowl certainly seems possible if things continue this way.

2. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)

The 49ers look like the team everyone expected last season before Jimmy Garoppolo got injured. The offense is producing very well even with injuries and uncertainty in who the top receiver is. The biggest concern at this point is the quality of the opponents they have faced. Combined, the Buccaneers, Bengals, and Steelers are 1-8. This Monday the 49ers host the Browns who are still trying to find themselves as well. Nonetheless, a Monday night win at home to improve to 4-0 will surely boost their stock and put them into serious playoff talks.

3. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

The Seahawks hosted the New Orleans Saints last Sunday who were without Drew Brees. Even so, the Saints dominated that game. Although the final score was 33-27, the game was over halfway through the third quarter. With their two wins coming against winless opponents, (By slim margins) I still cannot tell if the seahawks will be true playoff contenders. They have a divisional game at Arizona this Sunday which they most likely will win, but I think the Seahawks’ true colors will show next Thursday against the Rams.

4. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)

The Cardinals will not make the playoffs this year. The focus is all on developing Kyler Murray and preparing him for important games in November and December for seasons to come. Coach Kliff Kingsbury was criticized for not exploring enough with Murray in the first few weeks. In week three Murray looked overwhelmed at times in the second half against the Panthers, and turnovers killed any chance of pulling out the victory at home. As disappointing as it may be for a Cardinals fan, every young quarterback needs games where they perform poorly because it motivates them for weeks to come. I am excited for this team’s future with Murray at the helm.

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (3-0)

The Cowboys look unbeatable right now. Dak Prescott has shown up this season. The move for Amari Cooper gets better with each game he plays, and Zeke is…being Zeke. The defense is strong, and the Cowboys have cruised to every win easily. The strong start is nice, but this Sunday night they will travel to play the Saints in New Orleans. This is the most intriguing matchup this week, but I am leaning slightly towards the Saints at home. Even still, the Cowboys look to be on their way to winning the NFC East again.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

The Eagles are in a tough spot. after three games they are 1-2 and have a difficult road game in Green Bay on Thursday. Starting out 1-3 was not on the agenda for anyone in Philadelphia, but maybe this game could turn everything around. They haven’t looked particularly sharp in any game. The offense is banged up and the defense can’t keep teams out of the endzone. If a 1-3 start is the case, the panic meter will be tapped out.

3. New York Giants (1-2)

The Giants have entered the Daniel Jones era. Week 3 marked Jones’s first start in a Giants uniform and boy did he show up. Although a missed field goal from the Bucs ultimately decided the game, it would be hard to imagine the Giants in that position with Eli Manning under center. No disrespect to Eli, I believe he will be in the hall of fame someday. For now, he should either find a team who needs another quarterback or just retire. This week I think they will easily handle the redskins and be 2-2. As for the Giants season, I don’t expect them to make the playoffs but they should be much more fun to watch and be competitive each week.

4. Washington Redskins (0-3)

Jay Gruden should be sweating after Monday night. The Redksins did not show up at all, Case Keenum turned the ball over 5 times, and the “boos” were out early and often. Dwayne Haskins should be ready at any moment because at this point they have nothing to lose. The lone bright spot has been rookie receiver Terry McLaurin. He has made an instant impact and scored a touchdown in each game. Things only get worse as the ‘Skins travel to New York to face Daniel Jones in his first home game.

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (2-1)

The Saints got robbed last year in the NFC Championship. With most of the team returning, reaching the Super Bowl is almost the expectation in New Orleans. Everything was on course until Drew Brees broke his thumb and needed surgery which sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. The game against the Rams wasn’t pretty and losing Brees just added insult to injury. The bounceback against the Seahawks was impressive, but another tough test against the Cowboys awaits this Sunday. Although Brees is crucial to the Saints’ success, I think they will stay afloat and then capture the division after his return.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

The Bucs do look improved under Bruce Aryans. Jameis Winston looks more like himself and although they had a tough loss to the Giants Sunday, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won 7 or 8 games this season. The winning, however, might have to wait a few weeks as road games against the Rams and Saints are up next.

3. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

The Falcons are a tough team to figure out. After a poor performance week 1 against the Vikings, they responded with a hard-fought, dramatic victory against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Week 3 however, they could not secure a road victory against the Colts on the road and are now at 1-2. This week they travel to Houston to play a tough Texans’ defense and Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins. I truly think the Falcons are better than their record, but that doesn’t mean much in this league. Each week is a crapshoot and you have to execute to earn victories.

4. Carolina Panthers (1-2)

I have lost all faith in Cam Newton. Even before his injury in week 2 he looked awful. Kyle Allen, on the other hand, seized his opportunity, and after an impressive win in Arizona, some people are saying there could be a quarterback competition in Carolina. I know it seems impossible that a former MVP could have his job at stake, but this is an unforgiving league and winning is the most important. If that isn’t being done, then changes will be made. Carolina hosts the Jaguars this Sunday and has a good chance to get back to .500.

NFC POWER RANKINGS

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. New Orleans Saints
  5. Minnesota Vikings
  6. Detroit Lions
  7. Seattle Seahawks
  8. San Francisco 49ers
  9. Chicago Bears
  10. Atlanta Falcons
  11. Philadelphia Eagles
  12. New York Giants
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  14. Carolina Panthers
  15. Arizona Cardinals
  16. Washington Redskins

 

The 9th Inning Column: The London Series, Race for NL MVP, and Brendan McKay’s fantastic debut

Welcome back to the 9th Inning. This is the third edition of this in the 2019 MLB season. This is a monthly column on Pro Sports Fandom in which I roundup the month’s biggest happenings in the baseball realm. I’ll discuss what teams are hot and what teams are not. I will also give my personal thoughts on a few notable baseball-related events as well as giving out monthly awards for team of the month, players of the month, and rookies of the month. It’s basically a baseball podcast squeezed into an article that happens near the end of every month. This is the second article of this season and I hope for some immense success with this column. If you’d like, be sure to share with your friends, social media, and family! I’d love my column to reach as big a global outreach as possible.

I’m going to start the 9th Inning Column for June with a few rounded-up thoughts in recap of the biggest stories recently, both on the field and off.

The London Series

What a wild two game series it was in London this weekend between the Red Sox and the Yankees. The two teams combined for 50 runs, a two-game record between the two clubs. It was an offensive showdown on both days, as neither starting pitcher made it out of the first inning in Game 1, and the bullpen for both teams proved to be shaky at times. The Yankees had three innings in the series in which they scored six or more runs, and the Red Sox had two of these innings. When the MLB returns to London next season, hopefully they can give the fans a pitcher’s duel to remember.

The race for NL MVP

Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger are in a tight race for the National League MVP award at the moment. Both of these young outfielders are having fabulous seasons and Yelich is looking to win his second MVP in a row. Both are All-Star starters, so how do we separate them? Bellinger has a better batting average, RBIs, and WAR, while Yelich has more home runs and stolen bases. It’s extremely close at the moment, but Bellinger would be my pick if I had to choose between these two.

McKay’s fantastic debut

The Tampa Bay Rays had an exciting weekend by taking a series with the Texas Rangers, but also with the debut of highly touted prospect Brendan McKay, who came up as a pitcher who still has two-way potential. He was ranked as the 23rd best prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline and he was the second best prospect in the Rays system. He retired the first 16 batters of his MLB career and finished a terrific outing by pitching six innings of one-hit shutout baseball with only one walks and three strikeouts. This is a sign of things to come for McKay, who has an extremely bright future in the big leagues.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

The New York Yankees have been on the hot section of this list for all three columns thus far in 2019, and it seems to be with good reason. Since losing two in a row to the White Sox on June 13th and 14th, the Yankees rattled off eight consecutive victories and have gone 13-1 overall, with series wins over the Rays, Astros, and Red Sox. Chad Green has found success as an opener as he pitched to a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings during the month. The offense was ruthless throughout the month, led by D.J. LeMahieu’s clutch hitting, Gleyber Torres balanced approach, Gary Sánchez’s pop, and the returning Aaron Judge. They are undoubtedly the best team in baseball right now, and they’ve shown no signs of slowing down.

The Oakland Athletics have once again gotten extremely hot near the end of the month, similar to how the month of May concluded. They’ve gone 7-3 in their past 10 games, climbing within a half game of the second AL Wildcard spot. Matt Olson was a big contributor for the A’s, hitting 9 homers and notching 20 RBIs. Ramon Laureano also showed significant increases in his power hitting abilities, hitting 7 home runs in the month. It certainly hurts to lose Frankie Montas to a PED suspension, but the Athletics are still hungry to make the postseason for the second straight season.

The Washington Nationals were struggling to win not too long ago, but recently they’ve found something that’s clicked. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games and still find themselves in the thick of the hunt for the NL Wildcard spots. Anthony Rendon continued to prove why he’s going to get paid this fall, as he batted .311 with 9 homers and 24 RBIs in the month. Max Scherzer was also phenomenal in June, but we’ll discuss that later. All this stretch did was prove that the Nats won’t sell and why would they?

The New York Mets were expected to contend in the NL East in 2019, but instead they looked like they’ve built an utter disaster. They just ended a seven game losing streak and have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games. The roster was built to win but it simply has not done that, as they now sit 12 games back of the first place Braves. Barring a massive hot stretch, it doesn’t look like Queens will be able to see their hometown Mets play in October this season.

The Boston Red Sox have simply not looked like a great baseball team this season. The defending champs have serious issues with the bullpen and getting run support for Chris Sale. The London Series was pretty embarrassing to be quite frank with you, as Rick Porcello and the bullpen got slaughtered. They’ve fallen 11 games back of the Yankees in the AL East standings amid a three game losing streak and a 4-6 stretch in their last 10 games.

The Monthly Awards:

Team of the Month is…

The Atlanta Braves (20-8)

Despite losing to the Mets on Sunday Night Baseball in difficult fashion, the Braves had a phenomenal month in June, going 20-8 and building a 5.5 game lead in the NL East Standings over the Philadelphia Phillies. They joined the 50 win club yesterday, becoming the fifth team to do so thus far in 2019. Freddie Freeman is unbelievable, Ronald Acuña Jr. is one of the game’s brightest young stars, and Mike Soroka has been unbelievable in his rookie season. Even if they don’t win the World Series this year, the Braves can rest assured that they have one of the brightest futures of any team in the MLB.

Hitter of the Month is…

New York Yankees 2B D.J. LeMahieu

LeMahieu was an absolute superstar for the unstoppable Yankees offense in June, and he is climbing his way up the AL MVP contenders list because of it. LeMahieu batted .395 in the month with six homers and 29 RBIs with a 1.092 OPS. He continues to be one of the most (if not, the most) valuable signings from the offseason. In fact, he’s been rewarded for his outstanding play by being named as the AL Starter at Second Base in the 2019 All-Star Game. He undoubtedly deserves the hitter of the month award for his performance in June.

Starter of the Month is…

Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer

Frequently being talked about as a long shot trade deadline target for a few clubs, Max Scherzer’s dominant month of June has been a huge reason why the Nationals are right back in the NL Wildcard hunt. He broke his nose and pitched a gem against the Phillies the next day. Not to mention, he made 6 starts in the month, getting the victory in all 6, and pitching 45 innings with a 1.00 ERA. He only gave up 25 hits, 5 runs, and had 68 strikeouts against only 5 walks in the month. Opponents were hitting just .156 against him and he had a 0.67 WHIP as a result.

Reliever of the Month is…

Oakland Athletics RHP Liam Hendriks

Used as an opener near the end of the 2018 campaign, Liam Hendriks has reestablished himself as one of the better relief pitchers on the Oakland Athletics roster. He pitched 15 innings of one run baseball in June, good for a 0.60 earned run average. He gave up only 10 hits, struck out 22, and walked four batters. Opposing hitters batted just .192 against him in the month and struggled against him all month long.

Rookie Hitter of the Month is…

New York Mets 1B Pete Alonso

Despite being apart of a struggling Mets ball club, first baseman Pete Alonso coasted his way to his second Rookie Hitter of the Month award for my column. In June, the newly announced NL All-Star batted .309 with 9 home runs, 19 RBIs, and a 1.097 OPS. He also had an impressive on-base percentage of .437, as he walked 17 times compared to striking out 22 times. If he continues to hit like this, he’ll be the unquestioned NL Rookie of the Year.

Rookie Pitcher of the Month is…

Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly

You might be questioning how a 30 year old can be a successful rookie, but Merrill Kelly fits the bill. An eighth round draft pick of the Rays in the 2010 draft, Kelly pitched in the minors until 2015, when he went to the KBO to play baseball. After three years there, Kelly has made his MLB debut in 2019. He was phenomenal in June, making six starts and pitching 39.1 innings with a 2.75 earned run average. He only walked five batters all month and opponents were hitting .212 with a .238 on-base percentage against him in the month.

Thanks for reading the June edition of the 9th Inning column! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to share with your friends, family, and on social media! Feel free to contact me on my Twitter @TBeckmann24 if you have any questions! I’ll be back next month! Peace!

2019 NCAA Tournament Breakdown: Scouting Reports for Each Sweet 16 Team

It was a very fun-filled weekend of college basketball in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A few upsets happened, big storylines emerged, and most of the favorites were actually able to conquer like they were expected to. Duke barely survived UCF in a down to the wire finish due to a possible controversial no-call. Oregon continued their cinderella story by beating UC Irvine. Tennessee almost blew a 20-point lead to Iowa. But in all seriousness, it was a chalky weekend, and that means we will see some extremely exciting matchups this week.

Now after the fun weekend, basketball fans will have to live without the NCAA tournament for a few days. Bummer. But if you’re missing basketball that much, at least try watching the NIT or something. But now we know the teams that will be in the Sweet 16 and I’m here to give you a scouting report for each team. The scouting report includes their best player, biggest x-factor, strengths, and weaknesses. If you feel like I missed anything drastic or messed up on something, feel free to let me know on my Twitter @TBeckmann24! I also will be releasing my Sweet 16 picks on twitter on Thursday morning, so be sure to check those out! Without further ado, let’s get into these scouting reports. I hope you enjoy!

Table of Contents:

Page 2: East Region Scouting Reports

Page 3: West Region Scouting Reports

Page 4: South Region Scouting Reports

Page 5: Midwest Region Scouting Reports

Complete 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket Breakdown

So let me guess, since the NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket was just unveiled yesterday, you’re here because you want to make sure of each and every single one of your picks for your $5 bracket group. Or maybe you’re just here to look at some college basketball analysis for fun. No matter what you are looking for, my analysis can help you expand your knowledge about the sleepers, cinderellas, high seeds who are most vulnerable, players to know, and potential upsets in each and every region.

All of this is besides the point and I’m going to help you as best I can. I’ve watched college basketball a lot during the regular season and I know a lot of information that could put your bracket into the winner’s circle. I’m here to give you a full breakdown of the entire bracket. Out with the weekly Bracketology updates and in with the bracket preview, this is March and its the most exciting time of year! Let’s get into it!

Before you start reading, here is the official bracket.

Table of Contents:

Page 1: Introduction

Page 2: East Region

Page 3: West Region

Page 4: South Region

Page 5: Midwest Region

Page 6: Final Four Predictions

PSF’s College Basketball Bracketology (3/11/2019)

Welcome back to the seventh edition of my College Basketball Bracketology, where I project the NCAA Tournament field and matchups as we lead up to next week’s Selection Sunday. We are counting down the last week of games to the biggest day of the college basketball season. Teams are rising, conference tournaments are in full swing, and the bracket is shaping up as well! It’s time to run through the procedures and get into my seventh bracket of the season with help from MyTopSportsBooks and their value picks for march madness. 

In this edition, per usual, I’ve projected seeding and matchups for all tournament teams. College basketball fans and experts abroad have all gained a decent understanding of the contenders and pretenders in each college basketball conference, and I’m as big of a college hoops fan as you’ll find. Some teams are continuing to distance themselves from the bubble, some teams continue to remain clustered around it, and some teams are watching as their bubble hopes vanish by the minute.

During the weekend, the bubble became a lot less crowded as some teams won their way off of it, and some had their bubble pop. Temple sealed a huge resume-building win at home over a hot UCF team. Georgetown and Seton Hall both made vases as they knocked off the top two squads in the Big East, respectively. It was a really fun weekend of college hoops and it looks to be just a small taste of what’s to come this week and beyond in March this year!

My process of bracketing is pretty simple actually. Firstly, I’ve compiled a list of college basketball teams who realistically still have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament. Secondly, I’ve used the brand new NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) Rankings as a seeding criteria for all teams, which will also be heavily used by the actual selection committee. Lastly, I’ve looked at every team’s current record, strength of schedule, and used the NCAA’s Quadrant Wins System to analyze the quality of their respective wins and losses.

After I have made a judgment on all teams, I begin to seed the 68 chosen teams from 1 to 68. Ranking them this way allows me to separate them into seed lines (#1 to #16). Finally, I place the teams into regions based on their respective seeds, conferences, and game location (for the top 16 seeds). I tried my best to keep conference opponents from playing until at least the Sweet 16, but there may have been situations where this wasn’t realistically possible.

There are three rules that I assure are being followed. Firstly, I tried to make the top four seeds in each region add up to similar overall region numbers, to make the regions competitive and balanced. With this in mind, there was a two-number differential between all four regions. I also made sure I never put teams from the same conferences on the same top four seed line. And lastly, I assured that the number one overall seed Virginia would not have the best two seed in their bracket.

All in all, the process I go through definitely isn’t easy, but it’s fun to look at the possibilities. I’ve tried my best to simulate what the actual selection committee would be doing if the tournament had to be seeded today. So before we start a crazy conference tournament week in college hoops, let’s check into my seventh Bracketology projection!

East Region (Washington, D.C.):

Columbia, South Carolina

#1 Virginia vs. #16 Norfolk State/#16 St. Francis (PA)

#8 Ole Miss vs. #9 Washington

San Jose, California

#4 Kansas State vs. #13 New Mexico State

#5 Maryland vs. #12 Liberty

Des Moines, Iowa

#3 LSU vs. #14 Harvard

#6 Cincinnati vs. #11 TCU

Columbus, Ohio

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Wright State

#7 Auburn vs. #10 Seton Hall

Midwest Region (Kansas City, MO):

Columbia, South Carolina

#1 North Carolina vs. #16 Omaha

#8 Iowa vs. #9 Baylor

San Jose, California

#4 Kansas vs. #13 Hofstra

#5 Nevada vs. #12 NC State/#12 Ohio State

Hartford, Connecticut

#3 Purdue vs. #14 Old Dominion

#6 Buffalo vs. #11 St. John’s

Jacksonville, Florida

#2 Tennessee vs. #15 Colgate

#7 Wofford vs. #10 Temple

West Region (Anaheim, CA):

Salt Lake City, Utah

#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Prairie-View/#16 Iona

#8 UCF vs. #9 Utah State

Hartford, Connecticut

#4 Florida State vs. #13 Vermont

#5 Marquette vs. #12 Murray State

Des Moines, Iowa

#3 Michigan vs. #14 Montana

#6 Mississippi State vs. #11 Clemson

Tulsa, Oklahoma

#2 Texas Tech vs. #15 Bradley

#7 Louisville vs. #10 Minnesota

South Region (Louisville, KY):

Columbus, Ohio

#1 Kentucky vs. #16 Gardner-Webb

#8 Iowa State vs. #9 Syracuse

Salt Lake City, Utah

#4 Wisconsin vs. #13 UC Irvine

#5 Virginia Tech vs. #12 Florida/#12 Indiana

Tulsa, Oklahoma

#3 Houston vs. #14 Georgia State

#6 Villanova vs. #11 Arizona State

Jacksonville, Florida

#2 Duke vs. #15 Sam Houston State

#7 VCU vs. #10 Oklahoma

The Bubble:

Last Four In:

Indiana (17-14, 8-12 Big Ten, 55th NET, 6-9 Quadrant 1, 2-5 Quadrant 2, 9-0 Quadrants 3/4, 47th SOS, 183rd Non-Conference SOS)

Ohio State (18-13, 8-12 Big Ten, 52nd NET, 4-9 Quadrant 1, 4-3 Quadrant 2, 10-1 Quadrants 3/4, 52nd SOS, 154th Non-Conference SOS)

NC State (21-10, 9-9 ACC, 32nd NET, 2-8 Quadrant 1, 6-0 Quadrant 2, 13-2 Quadrants 3/4, 147th SOS, 352nd Non-Conference SOS)

Florida (17-14, 9-9 SEC, 33rd NET, 3-11 Quadrant 1, 3-1 Quadrant 2, 11-2 Quadrants 3/4, 27th SOS, 93rd Non-Conference SOS)

First Four Out:

Creighton (18-13, 9-9 Big East, 54th NET, 3-10 Quadrant 1, 6-3 Quadrant 2, 9-0 Quadrants 3/4, 15th SOS, 25th Non-Conference SOS)

UNC-Greensboro (28-5, 15-3 Southern, 57th NET, 2-5 Quadrant 1, 2-0 Quadrant 2, 22 Quadrants 3/4, 123rd SOS, 137th Non-Conference SOS)

Alabama (17-14, 8-10 SEC, 58th NET, 2-9 Quadrant 1, 7-3 Quadrant 2, 8-2 Quadrants 3/4, 22nd SOS, 33rd Non-Conference SOS)

Belmont (26-5, 16-2 OVC, 45th NET, 2-2 Quadrant 1, 3-1 Quadrant 2, 20-2 Quadrants 3/4, 198th SOS, 72nd Non-Conference SOS)

Next Four Out:

Texas (16-15, 8-10 Big 12, 39th NET, 5-9 Quadrant 1, 4-5 Quadrant 2, 7-1 Quadrants 3/4, 61st SOS, 14th Non-Conference SOS)

Lipscomb (25-7, 14-2 Atlantic Sun, 42nd NET, 2-3 Quadrant 1, 1-3 Quadrant 2, 20-1 Quadrants 3/4, 205th SOS, 47th Non-Conference SOS)

Georgetown (19-12, 9-9 Big East, 76th NET, 5-6 Quadrant 1, 6-4 Quadrant 2, 8-2 Quadrants 3/4, 76th SOS, 248th Non-Conference SOS)

St. Mary’s (20-11, 11-5 West Coast, 37th NET, 1-6 Quadrant 1, 2-3 Quadrant 2, 17-2 Quadrants 3/4, 53rd SOS, 38th Non-Conference SOS)

Conference Count-Ups:

American Athletic Conference (4 Teams): #10 Houston, #24 Cincinnati, #31 UCF, #38 Temple.

Atlantic Coast Conference (9 Teams): #1 Virginia, #4 North Carolina, #5 Duke, #13 Florida State, #18 Virginia Tech, #26 Louisville, #35 Syracuse, #41 Clemson, #48 NC State.

Big 12 (7 Teams): #8 Texas Tech, #15 Kansas, #16 Kansas State, #30 Iowa State, #36 Baylor, #37 Oklahoma, #42 TCU.

Big East (4 Teams): #20 Marquette, #23 Villanova, #40 Seton Hall, #43 St. John’s.

Big Ten (9 Teams): #7 Michigan State, #9 Michigan, #12 Purdue, #14 Wisconsin, #17 Maryland, #29 Iowa, #39 Minnesota, #47 Indiana, #48 Ohio State.

Mountain West (2 Teams): #19 Nevada, #34 Utah State.

PAC-12 (2 Teams): #33 Washington, #44 Arizona State.

SEC (7 Teams): #3 Kentucky, #6 Tennessee, #11 LSU, #22 Mississippi State, #25 Auburn, #32 Ole Miss, #50 Florida.

Singular Bid League Teams (24 Teams): #2 Gonzaga, #21 Buffalo, #27 Wofford, #28 VCU, #45 Murray State, #46 Liberty, #51 New Mexico State, #52 Hofstra, #53 UC Irvine, #54 Vermont, #55 Old Dominion, #56 Georgia State, #57 Harvard, #58 Montana, #59 Bradley, #60 Colgate, #61 Wright State, #62 Sam Houston State, #63 Omaha, #64 Gardner-Webb, #65 Prairie-View, #66 Iona, #67 St. Francis (PA), #68 Norfolk State.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed. If you have any insight, opinions, or questions about my Bracketology projection, feel free to contact me on Twitter @TBeckmann24. Have a great rest of your day and peace!

 

Tristan Beckmann’s 2019 Post-Combine NFL Mock Draft 5.0 (Four Rounds)

The time for NFL Mock Drafts is in full swing as we have wrapped up the NFL Draft Scouting Combine and are getting ready to go into the prospects pro days. After reading this article, you’ll have a glimpse of hope for the future and perhaps you’ll be extremely excited for the NFL Draft. All 32 teams have gained a sense of identity into which they will ride by in the upcoming offseason. The final draft positioning has been sorted out, and compensatory picks have been awarded.

Welcome back to my NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0, in which I’m going to project four rounds in the draft for the third time ever on this website. I’ve been scouting a ton of collegiate prospects over the last few months or so and I’ve got a pretty good feel on who I like transitioning to the NFL more so than who I don’t like in that aspect. I’ll even provide brief analysis on the first round prospects.

I watched most of the NFL Draft Combine and have re-evaluated plenty of prospects on my board based on their performance. For me, the biggest winner out of combine week was Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who took over the top receiver spot on my board. Metcalf, a 6’3 monster, dominated in Indy, running a 4.33 second 40 yard dash, going for 27 reps on the bench press, and having a 40+ inch vertical leap. He did struggle with his footwork in the three cone drill and 20 yard shuttle, and reports surfaced that Metcalf has 1.6% body fat. While I think his body fat is probably low, 1.6% isn’t realistic or healthy and it cannot possibly be that low.

The biggest loser of combine week is definitely Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite, who I had as a first round pick in Mock Draft 4.0. Polite, who was a force in the SEC on the Gators defensive line, struggled during the drills that he participated in before he pulled out because of an injury that NFL teams believe he made up. Polite also said he didn’t enjoy the interviews with teams, as most of them were spent bashing his game. This was definitely something that pushes Polite down to a Day 2 selection at best.

This year’s draft class is loaded with interior defensive lineman as eight of them have first round grades from me, yet they all don’t even go off the board in round 1 or even round 2. All of this and more remains to be played out as we inch closer towards the 2019 NFL Draft in late April, but enough talk, let’s get into the fifth version of this year’s mock draft.

1ST ROUND:

1. Arizona Cardinals:

Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa

Bosa was an absolute beast on the edge at Ohio State, and we would’ve gotten more of a glimpse of him if he hadn’t suffered a season ending injury earlier in the season. Bosa has the size, speed, and physical technique that should allow his game to translate quickly into the NFL stage and let him make an impact on whoever drafts him.

2. San Francisco 49ers:

Alabama DL Quinnen Williams

Williams is a guy who has jumped up everybody’s board with a tremendous breakout season for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He’s been the leader of their defense and he can truly wreak havoc inside the line. He’s an impactful interior lineman with a bright future if the right team drafts him.

3. New York Jets:

Michigan EDGE Rashan Gary

Gary can play everywhere on the defensive line and the team that drafts him will get a big versatile player. He will make an impact in stopping the run game while also putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Despite some injury concerns, the former Michigan star is a surefire early first round selection as of now.

4. Oakland Raiders:

Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen

Allen took home plenty of hardware in terms of the College Football Awards this past season, but let’s not act like it’s undeserved. Allen was a force on the Kentucky defense and was arguably the best defensive player in all of college football in 2018. He will be able to play as both an edge rusher or an outside linebacker if the team that drafts him needs it.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

LSU CB Greedy Williams

Williams’ combination of great size at 6’3 with solid speed and high football IQ help him become the consensus top cornerback in the draft class. He’s smart in coverage and has consistently shown an ability to absolutely clamp down on opposing receivers. He’s a superstar shutdown corner in the making.

6. New York Giants:

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray

The story of this year’s draft class, Murray ended up choosing football over baseball. The Heisman Trophy winner dominated in the past year as a starter for the Sooners and led them to the College Football Playoff. He’s got a tremendous baseball like arm (similar to Patrick Mahomes arm), and he’s still improving as a consistent accurate thrower of the football. Plus, you can’t say enough about Murray’s abilities to stretch plays outside of the pocket with his quick feet and electric mobility. He could be a Week 1 starter next season in the league!

7. Jacksonville Jaguars:

Alabama OT Jonah Williams

Williams is a disciplined offensive tackle with a lot of experience at Alabama while protecting Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. He shows great technique for a tackle in this day and age of the league, and he is the strong, smart, and quick twitch tackle that an NFL team will love to have protecting the edge.

8. Detroit Lions:

Mississippi State EDGE Montez Sweat

In a class full of dominant defensive line players, Sweat was near the early second round ranks for me before he absolutely tore it up in Indy. He ran a ridiculous 4.41 forty yard dash and looked solid in drills. Those are great numbers for a guy who dominated his whole career at Mississippi State as a 6’6, 260 pound edge rusher. Sweat has certainly grabbed everyone’s attention now.

9. Buffalo Bills:

Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf

Metcalf is as close as Calvin Johnson as they come, and I haven’t seen a player like him in years. He’s got the lovable combination of size and speed as he’s 6’3 and 230 pounds. He’s a true outside receiver who has a tremendous nose for the football. He can go up and get it when his QB really needs him to, and hearing that’ll be something coaches will love the sound of. Despite his tremendous combine, teams will be wary of his injury history, so be on the look out for that.

10. Denver Broncos:

LSU LB Devin White

White is a Deion Jones type linebacker. He is the fastest linebacker in the draft class and shows some of the quickest instincts I’ve seen in quite a while from a linebacker. He is strong, powerful, and has improved every aspect of his game in the 2018 season. He’s a do it all linebacker who will immediately improve the defense of the team who drafts him.

11. Cincinnati Bengals:

Florida OT Jawaan Taylor

Jawaan Taylor was unable to participate in most of the drills at the Scouting Combine, but he’s risen quickly in a draft class that’s become surprisingly strong at offensive tackle. The Florida product slots in as a right tackle in the pros and he is a good pass protector and developing run blocker. He’s got strong hands and his frame (6’5 and 328 pounds) is excellent for his position. Taylor may climb into the top ten of the draft when it’s all said and done.

12. Green Bay Packers:

Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell

Ferrell is always the guy that everyone tends to forget about on that historic Clemson championship defensive line. He’s experienced and has been a leader for the Tigers throughout his career. He’s got the length at 6’5 to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL and he also displays outstanding power to move around the offensive line.

13. Miami Dolphins:

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.

Haskins is in a battle with Kyler Murray for the title of best player in this draft at the quarterback position right now. As Haskins is way more talented in terms of his arm strength and accuracy than anyone else in the draft. Haskins has a great shot to be the first QB taken in the draft too, but we will have to watch the pre-draft process. He’s a legitimate quarterback with the tools to develop into a Patrick Mahomes type thrower of the football. Yeah, I said it.

14. Atlanta Falcons:

Houston DL Ed Oliver

Oliver was a lot of people’s preseason number one pick, but he’s fallen a bit due to a sudden struggle to make an impact when rushing passers. Oliver makes his impact against the run and most NFL teams would drool at the Houston product as a guy to plug up the middle of the defensive line and shut down opposing running backs.

15. Washington Redskins:

Missouri QB Drew Lock

Drew Lock probably is the most further developed along out of the quarterbacks in the draft class, but his potential just doesn’t compare to theirs. He’s got pocket passer type size at 6’4 and 225 pounds, and he’s got an incredible arm with strength and accuracy always on display. He’s not afraid to hurl one deep and he’s certainly what NFL teams would call an aggressive deep ball thrower.

16. Carolina Panthers:

Florida State EDGE Brian Burns

Brian Burns was a disruptive edge defender at Florida State and a lot of that has to do with his outstanding 6’5 frame. He’s not a thick bodied edge defender like most, as he only sits at 235, but he more than makes up for it with his generational athletic abilities as an impact player off the edge. He should do well rushing the passer in the NFL.

17. Cleveland Browns:

Clemson DL Christian Wilkins

I saw my fair share of Wilkins in his career at Clemson when they played my Louisville Cardinals. He’s a big inside guy who plays tough against the run, and is quickly developing into being an every down pass rusher. He has an excellent combination of size at 6’4 and 315 pounds with some incredible game-wrecking power. He still needs to work on his moves to generate pressure as well, but he’s a great bet to develop into a Pro Bowl defensive lineman.

18. Minnesota Vikings:

Oklahoma OG Cody Ford

For a 6’4, 330 pound lineman, Ford displays tremendous agility and balance, two rare traits these days for guys that size. He played right tackle at Oklahoma but will probably be better off inside as a guard in the NFL. He’ll need to work on his footwork but he’s got tremendous strength that will sell to the scouts.

19. Tennessee Titans:

Washington CB Byron Murphy

Murphy was also a breakout player in 2018 who a lot of people did not have ranked highly on their draft boards. After watching his tape, I can see why he’s now so highly touted. Murphy is going to play more slot than outside due to his small frame at 5’11 and 182 pounds, but he’s not to be messed with. He makes plays and can shutdown opposing wideouts if asked to do so. He’s got great fundamental cornerback techniques that should help him ease into a starting role in Week 1.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Michigan LB Devin Bush Jr.

Bush is a physical, fast linebacker who manned the middle of the strong Michigan Wolverines defense in his tenure there. He’s a guy that can help lead a defense and help out a team at any linebacker spot. He can drop back in coverage but he’s not bad at rushing the passer either, making him an easy first round projection here.

21. Seattle Seahawks:

Washington State OT Andre Dillard

Andre Dillard has certainly climbed up my board since I first made it. He has now entered first round NFL starter caliber territory for me. He’s 6’5 and weighs in at 315 pounds which is a good size for his position, and he ran an amazing 4.96 forty yard dash, which is good for a player his weight. He looked very good in drills at the combine, adding to his film at Washington State where he was a four year starter who dominated with power, athleticism, and blocking abilities.

22. Baltimore Ravens:

Ole Miss WR AJ Brown

Brown is the type of deep threat and playmaker that NFL teams are looking for nowadays. He’s got a solid frame at 6’1 and 230 pounds but doesn’t lack in the speed department. He’ll be a redzone threat immediately in the NFL on any team with his tough hands and outstanding route-running ability. He can fight through traffic as well, which is why he comes off the board here at number 22.

23. Houston Texans:

Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson has emerged as the best tight end in this class over his own teammate Noah Fant, in part due to his blocking skills being far more advanced at this point. Fant is more athletic but Hockenson is not a slouch in terms of his athleticism. Combine this with above-average hands and tremendous football IQ, and this kid could climb up draft boards in an instant!

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago):

Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry

Harry is a playmaking freak of nature, and he is easily one of the best WRs in this draft class. Harry has unreal size at 6’4, and it seems like he can jump up and go get the ball from anywhere. He’s no slouch running either, as he’s displayed solid speed at Arizona State that should allow him to separate from some of the league’s best cover corners.

25. Philadelphia Eagles:

Alabama RB Josh Jacobs

I didn’t even have this kid on my draft board two months ago. But now, he’s a top five talent and a future star running back in the NFL. Jacobs checks every box that NFL teams look for in a running back, combining a gift of elusiveness, a big frame, power running ability, and strong football IQ. At Bama, Jacobs showed his hard-working ability as a player who played at maximum effort on any play he was on the football field. This dude is an all-around stud!

26. Indianapolis Colts:

Georgia CB DeAndre Baker

DeAndre Baker is a physical man coverage cornerback who can compete with the best of the best. He’s an agile 5’11 guy with good tackling abilities as well as the instincts to match up with a lot of guys in the league. He should probably be drafted higher than he will be, but that’s due to this draft being insanely stacked with defensive talent.

27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas):

Alabama LB Mack Wilson

Yet another Alabama player goes off the board as linebacker Mack Wilson is selected. Wilson is fast, strong, and agile enough to cover nearly any tight end in the NFL. He’s a great player against the run, but Wilson can also step back into coverage and make plays in the passing defense as well. He will immediately slot into a significant role for the team that selects him.

28. Los Angeles Chargers:

Mississippi State DL Jeffery Simmons

Simmons had some off the field concerns that NFL teams may not like, and now he’s dealing with a knee injury that could keep him out for a good portion of his first NFL season. Despite this, he’s one of the most talented players in this defensive line heavy draft class. He’s a great impact pass rusher from the interior of the defensive line and he could develop into a future All-Pro if drafted by the right team.

29. Kansas City Chiefs:

Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin

When I first saw this guy’s name, I laughed because it’s just an odd name, and he was a fourth rounder at that point. Now, after watching his tape and combine performances, I love Rock Ya-Sin as a late first round pick. The Temple product is six feet tall and weighs 192 pounds, which is solid size for a corner in today’s NFL. He excelled in combine drills and showed why he’s one of the best all-around cornerbacks in this draft class. He’s definitely going to need to work on his press coverage and overall techniques, but this is good value.

30. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans):

Alabama S Deionte Thompson

Thompson is one of the best all around players in this draft class. He’s been the center fielder for the Crimson Tide defense for a few seasons now and he’s ready to make the jump to the NFL. He has an unruly combination of speed, range, length, and instincts that should allow him to dominate on the back end of any defense in the pros.

31. Los Angeles Rams:

Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom

A former three star recruit, Lindstrom was one of the best offensive linemen in the ACC in 2018, which is reflected by the success of the Boston College rushing attack. He played in the Golden Eagles run-heavy offense, but displayed great potential and power when put into pass blocking situations. He’s an agile guy as well, showing great movement all across the field.

32. New England Patriots:

Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler

Hakeem Butler is the biggest receiver in this draft class, but has been slept on thus far in the pre draft process. At 6’5 and 227 pounds, Butler impressed scouts by running a 4.48 forty. He did well in other drills and certainly helped his stock by excelling in interviews. He’s a matchup problem waiting to break out in the NFL with his size and abilities as a wide receiver. Butler would be a steal in the late first round or early second round.

2ND ROUND:

33. Arizona Cardinals

Kansas State OL Dalton Risner

34. Indianapolis Colts (via New York):

NC State WR Kelvin Harmon

35. Oakland Raiders:

Clemson CB Trayvon Mullen

36. San Francisco 49ers:

Virginia S Juan Thornhill

37. New York Giants:

Ole Miss OT Greg Little

38. Jacksonville Jaguars:

Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Washington S Taylor Rapp

40. Buffalo Bills:

Ohio State DL Dre’Mont Jones

41. Denver Broncos:

Iowa TE Noah Fant

42. Cincinnati Bengals:

Duke QB Daniel Jones

43. Detroit Lions:

Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye

44. Green Bay Packers:

South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

45. Atlanta Falcons:

Florida EDGE Jachai Polite

46. Washington Redskins:

Ohio State WR Parris Campbell

47. Carolina Panthers:

NC State C Garrett Bradbury

48. Miami Dolphins:

Clemson DL Dexter Lawrence

49. Cleveland Browns:

West Virginia OT Yodny Cajuste

50. Minnesota Vikings:

NC State LB Germaine Pratt

51. Tennessee Titans:

Old Dominion EDGE Oshane Ximines

52. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Notre Dame CB Julian Love

53. Philadelphia Eagles (via Baltimore):

Central Michigan CB Sean Bunting

54. Houston Texans (via Seattle):

Alabama State OT Tytus Howard

55. Houston Texans:

Mississippi State C Elgton Jenkins

56. New England Patriots (via Chicago):

Louisiana Tech EDGE Jaylon Ferguson

57. Philadelphia Eagles:

Wisconsin OG Michael Deiter

58. Dallas Cowboys:

Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr.

59. Indianapolis Colts:

Delaware S Nasir Adderley

60. Los Angeles Chargers:

Texas LB Gary Johnson

61. Kansas City Chiefs:

Notre Dame DL Jerry Tillery

62. New Orleans Saints:

Georgia WR Mecole Hardman

63. Kansas City Chiefs (via Los Angeles):

Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram

64. New England Patriots:

Miami (FL) DL Gerald Willis

3RD ROUND:

65. Arizona Cardinals:

Georgia WR Riley Ridley

66. Oakland Raiders:

Florida S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

67. San Francisco 49ers:

Penn State OG Connor McGovern

68. New York Jets:

Wisconsin OT David Edwards

69. Jacksonville Jaguars:

Alabama EDGE Christian Miller

70. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Notre Dame LB Te’Von Coney

71. New York Giants:

*SELECTION FORFEITED*

72. Denver Broncos:

Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

73. Cincinnati Bengals:

Florida LB Vosean Joseph

74. New England Patriots (via Detroit):

Stanford TE Kaden Smith

75. Buffalo Bills:

Ohio State OT Isaiah Prince

76. Green Bay Packers:

Ohio State OG Michael Jordan

77. Washington Redskins:

Texas A&M C Erik McCoy

78. Carolina Panthers:

Buffalo LB Khalil Hodge

79. Miami Dolphins:

Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin

80. Atlanta Falcons:

Michigan CB David Long

81. Cleveland Browns:

Michigan State CB Justin Layne

82. Minnesota Vikings:

Clemson OT Mitch Hyatt

83. Tennessee Titans:

Arizona State DT Renell Wren

84. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Michigan EDGE Chase Winovich

85. Seattle Seahawks:

TCU EDGE LJ Collier

86. Baltimore Ravens:

Oklahoma OG Ben Powers

87. Houston Texans:

Iowa State RB David Montgomery

88. Chicago Bears:

Iowa S Amani Hooker

89. Detroit Lions (via Philadelphia):

Notre Dame WR Miles Boykin

90. Indianapolis Colts:

Kansas DL Daniel Wise

91. Dallas Cowboys:

Miami (FL) DE Joe Jackson

92. Los Angeles Chargers:

Oklahoma OT Bobby Evans

93. Kansas City Chiefs:

Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven

94. New York Jets (via New Orleans):

Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

95. Los Angeles Rams:

USC S Marvell Tell III

96. Cleveland Browns (via New England):

Buffalo WR Anthony Johnson

97. Washington Redskins:

Boston College EDGE Zach Allen

98. New England Patriots:

Clemson LB Tre Lamar

99. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles):

West Virginia QB Will Grier

100. Los Angeles Rams:

Texas Tech LB Dakota Allen

101. Carolina Panthers:

Northern Illinois OT Max Scharping

102. New England Patriots:

Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham

103. Baltimore Ravens:

Alabama C Ross Pierschbacher

4TH ROUND:

104. Arizona Cardinals:

Vanderbilt CB JoeJuan Williams

105. San Francisco 49ers:

NC State WR Jakobi Meyers

106. New York Jets:

Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill

107. Oakland Raiders:

UCLA TE Caleb Wilson

108. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Miami S JaQuan Johnson

109. New York Giants:

Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield

110. Jacksonville Jaguars:

Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger

111. Cincinnati Bengals:

LSU TE Foster Moreau

112. Detroit Lions:

Kentucky S Mike Edwards

113. Buffalo Bills:

TCU EDGE Ben Banogu

114. Baltimore Ravens (via Denver):

Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards

115. Green Bay Packers:

Georgia LB D’Andre Walker

116. Carolina Panthers:

Ole Miss WR DaMarkus Lodge

117. Miami Dolphins:

Texas CB Kris Boyd

118. Atlanta Falcons:

New Mexico State LB Terrill Hanks

119. Green Bay Packers (via Washington):

Stanford OG Nate Herbig

120. Cleveland Browns:

LSU OG Garrett Brumfield

121. Minnesota Vikings:

Missouri DL Terry Beckner Jr.

122. Tennessee Titans:

Colorado State WR Preston Williams

123. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Washington OT Kaleb McGary

124. Baltimore Ravens:

Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr.

125. Seattle Seahawks:

Miami CB Michael Jackson

126. Denver Broncos (via Houston):

Wisconsin OG Beau Benzschawel

127. Chicago Bears:

Auburn CB Jamel Dean

128. Philadelphia Eagles:

South Carolina OT Dennis Daley

129. Dallas Cowboys:

Cincinnati DL Marquise Copeland

130. Indianapolis Colts:

Oregon EDGE Jalen Jelks

131. Los Angeles Chargers:

Mississippi State OG Darryl Williams

132. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City):

Alabama DL Isaiah Buggs

133. New York Giants (via New Orleans):

Maryland S Darnell Savage Jr.

134. Los Angeles Rams:

West Virginia LB David Long Jr.

135. New England Patriots:

James Madison CB Jimmy Moreland

136. Indianapolis Colts:

BYU LB Sione Takitaki

137. Dallas Cowboys:

Alabama OG Lester Cotton

138. Atlanta Falcons:

Jacksonville State OG B.J. Autry

139. Philadelphia Eagles:

San Diego State OT Tyler Roemer

Tristan Beckmann’s College Basketball Bracketology (3/4/2019)

Welcome back to the sixth edition of my College Basketball Bracketology, where I project the NCAA Tournament field and matchups as we lead up to Selection Sunday. We are counting down the last few days to the biggest week of the college basketball season. Teams are rising, conference tournament seeding is starting to become clear, and the bracket is as well! It’s time to run through the procedures and get into my sixth bracket of the season!

In this edition, per usual, I’ve projected seeding and matchups for all tournament teams. College basketball fans and experts abroad have all gained a decent understanding of the contenders and pretenders in each college basketball conference, and I’m as big of a college hoops fan as you’ll find. Some teams are continuing to distance themselves from the bubble, some teams continue to remain clustered around it, and some teams are watching as their bubble hopes vanish by the minute.

During the weekend, the bubble became a lot less crowded as some teams won their way off of it, and some had their bubble pop. UCF sealed a signature win on the road against Houston, while Georgetown outlasted Seton Hall in a Big East two overtime bubble battle. Indiana upset Michigan State to get itself back on the radar, for now, and Tennessee got its revenge on Kentucky by absolutely showing them up in Knoxville. It was a really fun weekend of college hoops and it looks to be just a small taste of what’s to come here in March this year!

My process of bracketing is pretty simple actually. Firstly, I’ve compiled a list of college basketball teams who realistically still have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament. Secondly, I’ve used the brand new NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) Rankings as a seeding criteria for all teams, which will also be heavily used by the actual selection committee. Lastly, I’ve looked at every team’s current record, strength of schedule, and used the NCAA’s Quadrant Wins System to analyze the quality of their respective wins and losses.

After I have made a judgment on all teams, I begin to seed the 68 chosen teams from 1 to 68. Ranking them this way allows me to separate them into seed lines (#1 to #16). Finally, I place the teams into regions based on their respective seeds, conferences, and game location (for the top 16 seeds). I tried my best to keep conference opponents from playing until at least the Sweet 16, but there may have been situations where this wasn’t realistically possible.

There are three rules that I assure are being followed. Firstly, I tried to make the top four seeds in each region add up to similar overall region numbers, to make the regions competitive and balanced. With this in mind, there was a two-number differential between all four regions. I also made sure I never put teams from the same conferences on the same top four seed line. And lastly, I assured that the number one overall seed Virginia would not have the best two seed in their bracket.

All in all, the process I went through definitely isn’t easy, but it’s fun to look at the possibilities already. I’ve tried my best to simulate what the actual selection committee would be doing if the tournament had to be seeded today. So before we start a crazy final week in regular season hoops, let’s check into my sixth and final regular season Bracketology projection!

East Region (Washington, D.C.:

Columbia, South Carolina

#1 Virginia vs. #16 Prairie-View/#16 Norfolk State

#8 Auburn vs. #9 Oklahoma

Salt Lake City, Utah

#4 Wisconsin vs. #13 Old Dominion

#5 Nevada vs. #12 Belmont

Des Moines, Iowa

#3 Texas Tech vs. #14 South Dakota State

#6 Cincinnati vs. #11 NC State

Tulsa, Oklahoma

#2 LSU vs. #15 Georgia Southern

#7 Louisville vs. #10 Ohio State

Midwest Region (Kansas City, MO):

Jacksonville, Florida

#1 Tennessee vs. #16 Campbell

#8 Baylor vs. #9 UCF

Hartford, Connecticut

#4 Florida State vs. #13 Vermont

#5 Maryland vs. #12 Clemson/#12 Georgetown

Tulsa, Oklahoma

#3 Houston vs. #14 UC Irvine

#6 Villanova vs. #11 Texas

Columbus, Ohio

#2 Michigan vs. #15 Colgate

#7 Wofford vs. #10 Utah State

West Region (Anaheim, CA):

Salt Lake City, Utah

#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Iona/#16 Fairleigh Dickinson

#8 Syracuse vs. #9 Washington

San Jose, California

#4 Kansas vs. #13 Hofstra

#5 Virginia Tech vs. #12 Lipscomb

Hartford, Connecticut

#3 Michigan State vs. #14 Yale

#6 Mississippi State vs. #11 TCU

Jacksonville, Florida

#2 North Carolina vs. #15 Loyola-Chicago

#7 Iowa vs. #10 St. John’s

South Region (Louisville, KY):

Columbia, South Carolina

#1 Duke vs. #16 Sam Houston State

#8 VCU vs. #9 Ole Miss

San Jose, California

#4 Marquette vs. #13 New Mexico State

#5 Kansas State vs. #12 Minnesota

Des Moines, Iowa

#3 Purdue vs. #14 Montana

#6 Buffalo vs. #11 Florida

Columbus, Ohio

#2 Kentucky vs. #15 Northern Kentucky

#7 Iowa State vs. #10 Temple

The Bubble:

Last Four In:

Arizona State (20-9, 11-6 Pac 12, 69th NET, 3-3 Quadrant 1, 74th SOS, 27th Non-Conference SOS)

Minnesota (18-11, 8-10 Big Ten, 56th NET, 2-8 Quadrant 1, 49th SOS, 147th Non-Conference SOS)

Clemson (17-12, 7-9 ACC, 40th NET, 1-9 Quadrant 1, 37th SOS, 125th Non-Conference SOS)

Georgetown (18-11, 8-8 Big East, 72nd NET, 3-6 Quadrant 1, 83rd SOS, 246th Non-Conference SOS)

First Four Out:

Furman (24-6, 13-5 Southern, 44th NET, 1-5 Quadrant 1, 192nd SOS, 271st Non-Conference SOS)

Alabama (17-13, 8-9 SEC, 53rd NET, 2-7 Quadrant 1, 24th SOS, 42nd Non-Conference SOS)

Indiana (15-14, 6-12 Big Ten, 54th NET, 6-9 Quadrant 1, 28th SOS, 188th Non-Conference SOS)

Seton Hall (16-12, 7-9 Big East, 63rd NET, 4-7 Quadrant 1, 46th SOS, 84th Non-Conference SOS)

Next Four Out:

Murray State (25-4, 16-2 OVC, 50th NET, 0-2 Quadrant 1, 273rd SOS, 191st Non-Conference SOS)

St. Mary’s (20-11, 11-5 West Coast, 38th NET, 1-6 Quadrant 1, 50th SOS, 39th Non-Conference SOS)

Butler (15-14, 6-10 Big East, 60th NET, 2-9 Quadrant 1, 19th SOS, 70th Non-Conference SOS)

UNC Greensboro (26-5, 15-3 Southern, 59th NET, 1-5 Quadrant 1, 141st SOS, 154th Non-Conference SOS)

Conference Count-Ups:

American Athletic Conference (4 Teams): #12 Houston, #24 Cincinnati, #33 UCF, #40 Temple.

Atlantic Coast Conference (9 Teams): #1 Virginia, #3 Duke, #6 North Carolina, #14 Florida State, #17 Virginia Tech, #27 Louisville, #32 Syracuse, #41 NC State, #49 Clemson.

Big 12 (8 Teams): #9 Texas Tech, #13 Kansas, #18 Kansas State, #25 Iowa State, #29 Baylor, #36 Oklahoma, #42 Texas, #44 TCU.

Big East (4 Teams): #16 Marquette, #21 Villanova, #38 St. John’s, #50 Georgetown.

Big Ten (8 Teams): #5 Michigan, #10 Purdue, #11 Michigan State, #15 Wisconsin, #19 Maryland, #26 Iowa, #39 Ohio State, #48 Minnesota.

Mountain West (2 Teams): #20 Nevada, #37 Utah State.

PAC-12 (2 Teams): #34 Washington, #47 Arizona State.

SEC (7 Teams): #4 Tennessee, #7 Kentucky, #8 LSU, #22 Mississippi State, #35 Ole Miss, #30 Auburn, #43 Florida.

Singular Bid League Teams (24 Teams): #2 Gonzaga, #23 Buffalo, #28 Wofford, #31 VCU, #45 Belmont, #46 Lipscomb, #51 New Mexico State, #52 Old Dominion, #53 Vermont, #54 Hofstra, #55 UC Irvine, #56 Yale, #57 Montana, #58 South Dakota State, #59 Georgia Southern, #60 Northern Kentucky, #61 Loyola Chicago, #62 Colgate, #63 Campbell, #64 Sam Houston State, #65 Iona, #66 Fairleigh Dickinson, #67 Prairie-View, #68 Norfolk State.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed. If you have any insight, opinions, or questions about my Bracketology projection, feel free to contact me on Twitter @TBeckmann24. Have a great rest of your day and peace!

Tristan Beckmann’s 2019 Pre-Combine NFL Mock Draft 4.0 (Four Rounds)

The time for NFL Mock Drafts is in full swing as we have wrapped up the Super Bowl and head into the week of the NFL Draft Scouting Combine. After reading this article, you’ll have a glimpse of hope for the future and perhaps you’ll be extremely excited for the NFL Draft. All 32 teams have gained a sense of identity into which they will ride by in the upcoming offseason. The final draft positioning has been sorted out, and compensatory picks have been awarded.

Welcome back to my NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0, in which I’m going to project four rounds in the draft for the second time ever on this website. I can finally have compensatory picks in my draft so there will be more picks in end of the third and fourth rounds. I’ve been scouting a ton of collegiate prospects over the last few months or so and I’ve got a pretty good feel on who I like transitioning to the NFL more so than who I don’t like in that aspect. I’ll even provide brief analysis on the first round prospects.

This year’s draft class is loaded with interior defensive lineman as ten of them have first round grades from me, yet they all don’t even go off the board in round 1 or even round 2. All of this and more remains to be played out as we inch closer towards the 2019 NFL Draft in late April, but enough talk, let’s get into the fourth version of this year’s mock draft.

Round 1:

1. Arizona Cardinals:

Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa

Bosa was an absolute beast on the edge at Ohio State, and we would’ve gotten more of a glimpse of him if he hadn’t suffered a season ending injury earlier in the season. Bosa has the size, speed, and physical technique that should allow his game to translate quickly into the NFL stage and let him make an impact on whoever drafts him.

2. San Francisco 49ers:

Alabama DL Quinnen Williams

Williams is a guy who has jumped up everybody’s board with a tremendous breakout season for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He’s been the leader of their defense and he can truly wreak havoc inside the line. He’s an impactful interior lineman with a bright future if the right team drafts him.

3. New York Jets:

Michigan EDGE Rashan Gary

Gary can play everywhere on the defensive line and the team that drafts him will get a big versatile player. He will make an impact in stopping the run game while also putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Despite some injury concerns, the former Michigan star is a surefire early first round selection as of now.

4. Oakland Raiders:

Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen

Allen took home plenty of hardware in terms of the College Football Awards this past season, but let’s not act like it’s undeserved. Allen was a force on the Kentucky defense and was arguably the best defensive player in all of college football in 2018. He will be able to play as both an edge rusher or an outside linebacker if the team that drafts him needs it.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Alabama RB Josh Jacobs

I didn’t even have this kid on my draft board two months ago. But now, he’s a top five talent and a future star running back in the NFL. Jacobs checks every box that NFL teams look for in a running back, combining a gift of elusiveness, a big frame, power running ability, and strong football IQ. At Bama, Jacobs showed his hard-working ability as a player who played at maximum effort on any play he was on the football field. This dude is an all-around stud!

6. New York Giants:

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins

Haskins is the clear cut best player in this draft at the quarterback position right now. As Haskins is way more talented in terms of his arm strength and accuracy than anyone else in the draft. Haskins has a great shot to be the first QB taken in the draft too, but we will have to watch the pre-draft process. He’s a legitimate quarterback with the tools to develop into a Patrick Mahomes type thrower of the football. Yeah, I said it.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars:

Alabama OT Jonah Williams

Williams is a disciplined offensive tackle with a lot of experience at Alabama while protecting Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. He shows great technique for a tackle in this day and age of the league, and he is the strong, smart, and quick twitch tackle that an NFL team will love to have protecting the edge.

8. Detroit Lions:

Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell

Ferrell is always the guy that everyone tends to forget about on that historic Clemson championship defensive line. He’s experienced and has been a leader for the Tigers throughout his career. He’s got the length at 6’5 to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL and he also displays outstanding power to move around the offensive line.

9. Buffalo Bills:

Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry

Harry is a playmaking freak of nature, and he is easily the best WR in this draft class. Harry has unreal size at 6’4, and it seems like he can jump up and go get the ball from anywhere. He’s no slouch running either, as he’s displayed solid speed at Arizona State that should allow him to separate from some of the league’s best cover corners.

10. Denver Broncos:

Houston DL Ed Oliver

Oliver was a lot of people’s preseason number one pick, but he’s fallen a bit due to a sudden struggle to make an impact when rushing passers. Oliver makes his impact against the run and most NFL teams would drool at the Houston product as a guy to plug up the middle of the defensive line and shut down opposing running backs.

11. Cincinnati Bengals:

LSU LB Devin White

White is a Deion Jones type linebacker. He is the fastest linebacker in the draft class and shows some of the quickest instincts I’ve seen in quite a while from a linebacker. He is strong, powerful, and has improved every aspect of his game in the 2018 season. He’s a do it all linebacker who will immediately improve the defense of the team who drafts him.

12. Green Bay Packers:

Florida State EDGE Brian Burns

Brian Burns was a disruptive edge defender at Florida State and a lot of that has to do with his outstanding 6’5 frame. He’s not a thick bodied edge defender like most, as he only sits at 235, but he more than makes up for it with his generational athletic abilities as an impact player off the edge. He should do well rushing the passer in the NFL.

13. Miami Dolphins:

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray

The story of this year’s draft class, Murray ended up choosing football over baseball. The Heisman Trophy winner dominated in the past year as a starter for the Sooners and led them to the College Football Playoff. He’s got a tremendous baseball like arm (similar to Patrick Mahomes arm), and he’s still improving as a consistent accurate thrower of the football. Plus, you can’t say enough about Murray’s abilities to stretch plays outside of the pocket with his quick feet and electric mobility. He could be a Week 1 starter next season in the league!

14. Atlanta Falcons:

LSU CB Greedy Williams

Williams’ combination of great size at 6’3 with solid speed and high football IQ help him become the consensus top cornerback in the draft class. He’s smart in coverage and has consistently shown an ability to absolutely clamp down on opposing receivers. He’s a superstar shutdown corner in the making.

15. Washington Redskins:

Missouri QB Drew Lock

Drew Lock probably is the most further developed along out of the quarterbacks in the draft class, but his potential just doesn’t compare to theirs. He’s got pocket passer type size at 6’4 and 225 pounds, and he’s got an incredible arm with strength and accuracy always on display. He’s not afraid to hurl one deep and he’s certainly what NFL teams would call an aggressive deep ball thrower.

16. Carolina Panthers:

Florida OT Jawaan Taylor

Jawaan Taylor won’t be able to participate in most of the drills at this week’s Scouting Combine, but he’s risen quickly in a draft class that’s become surprisingly strong at offensive tackle. The Florida product slots in as a right tackle in the pros and he is a good pass protector and developing run blocker. He’s got strong hands and his frame (6’5 and 328 pounds) is excellent for his position. Taylor may climb into the top ten of the draft when it’s all said and done.

17. Cleveland Browns:

Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf

Metcalf is as close as N’Keal Harry as they come, yet he’s coming off the board 14 picks later. He’s got the lovable combination of size and speed as he’s 6’4 and 230 pounds. He’s a true outside receiver who has a tremendous nose for the football. He can go up and get it when his QB really needs him to, and hearing that’ll be something coaches will love the sound of. But teams will be wary of his injury history, so be on the look out for that.

18. Minnesota Vikings:

Oklahoma OG Cody Ford

For a 6’4, 330 pound lineman, Ford displays tremendous agility and balance, two rare traits these days for guys that size. He played right tackle at Oklahoma but will probably be better off inside as a guard in the NFL. He’ll need to work on his footwork but he’s got tremendous strength that will sell to the scouts.

19. Tennessee Titans:

Washington CB Byron Murphy

Murphy was also a breakout player in 2018 who a lot of people did not have ranked highly on their draft boards. After watching his tape, I can see why he’s now so highly touted. Murphy is going to play more slot than outside due to his small frame at 5’11 and 182 pounds, but he’s not to be messed with. He makes plays and can shutdown opposing wideouts if asked to do so. He’s got great fundamental cornerback techniques that should help him ease into a starting role in Week 1.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Alabama LB Mack Wilson

Yet another Alabama player goes off the board as linebacker Mack Wilson is selected. Wilson is fast, strong, and agile enough to cover nearly any tight end in the NFL. He’s a great player against the run, but Wilson can also step back into coverage and make plays in the passing defense as well. He will immediately slot into a significant role for the team that selects him.

21. Seattle Seahawks:

Florida EDGE Jachai Polite

Jachai Polite may be undersized compared to other edge defenders in this draft class, but he’s one of the best and quickest of them all. He’s got a great technique and uses his hands to make a great advantage when rushing the passer. A lot of scouts have said that Polite reminds them of Titans legendary edge rusher Jevon Kearse, who was a first round pick and great player in his own right.

22. Baltimore Ravens:

Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown

Marquise Brown is a well-known commodity in college football perhaps due to his dominance at the WR position but also to his nickname Hollywood. He’s probably the fastest wideout in the draft, and he’s earned the Hollywood tag. He will be a popular pick in the new age NFL and he will undoubtedly be a day 1 deep threat in the league. He’s the closest thing to Tyreek Hill in this draft and a lot of teams would love that type of player on their team.

23. Houston Texans:

Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson has emerged as the best tight end in this class over his own teammate Noah Fant, in part due to his blocking skills being far more advanced at this point. Fant is more athletic but Hockenson is not a slouch in terms of his athleticism. Combine this with above-average hands and tremendous football IQ, and this kid could climb up draft boards in an instant!

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago):

Georgia CB DeAndre Baker

DeAndre Baker is a physical man coverage cornerback who can compete with the best of the best. He’s an agile 5’11 guy with good tackling abilities as well as the instincts to match up with a lot of guys in the league. He should probably be drafted higher than he will be, but that’s due to this draft being insanely stacked with defensive talent.

25. Philadelphia Eagles:

Clemson CB Trayvon Mullen

Trayvon Mullen is a poor man’s Greedy Williams. He’s got solid size at 6’1 and shows great quickness on the field in tape. He could easily be off the board in the first ten picks or still be on the board during the last ten picks, but I think Mullen is definitely not falling out of the first round, barring a disappointing NFL combine showing.

26. Indianapolis Colts:

NC State WR Kelvin Harmon

Harmon is a strong, physical receiver who’s shown some limitations with his speed and elusiveness. Yet, he’s been a consistent playmaker at NC State. He’s got great ball skills and hands, while being able to run routes with the best of them in this draft class. Oh and did I mention Harmon is an absolutely dominant run blocker and a guy who will get it done on the perimeter.

27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas):

Alabama S Deionte Thompson

Thompson is one of the best all around players in this draft class. He’s been the center fielder for the Crimson Tide defense for a few seasons now and he’s ready to make the jump to the NFL. He has an unruly combination of speed, range, length, and instincts that should allow him to dominate on the back end of any defense in the pros.

28. Los Angeles Chargers:

Mississippi State DL Jeffery Simmons

Simmons had some off the field concerns that NFL teams may not like, and now he’s dealing with a knee injury that could keep him out for a good portion of his first NFL season. Despite this, he’s one of the most talented players in this defensive line heavy draft class. He’s a great impact pass rusher from the interior of the defensive line and he could develop into a future All-Pro if drafted by the right team.

29. Kansas City Chiefs:

Clemson DL Christian Wilkins

I saw my fair share of Wilkins in his career at Clemson when they played my Louisville Cardinals. He’s a big inside guy who plays tough against the run, and is quickly developing into being an every down pass rusher. He has an excellent combination of size at 6’4 and 315 pounds with some incredible game-wrecking power. He still needs to work on his moves to generate pressure as well, but he’s a great bet to develop into a Pro Bowl defensive lineman.

30. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans):

Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom

A former three star recruit, Lindstrom was one of the best offensive linemen in the ACC in 2018, which is reflected by the success of the Boston College rushing attack. He played in the Golden Eagles run-heavy offense, but displayed great potential and power when put into pass blocking situations. He’s an agile guy as well, showing great movement all across the field.

31. Los Angeles Rams:

Michigan OLB Devin Bush

Bush is a physical, fast linebacker who manned the middle of the strong Michigan Wolverines defense in his tenure there. He’s a guy that can help lead a defense and help out a team at any linebacker spot. He can drop back in coverage but he’s not bad at rushing the passer either, making him an easy first round projection here.

32. New England Patriots:

Iowa TE Noah Fant

Fant is a modern NFL tight end, with the ability to take the field on all three downs as a blocker and pass catcher. He is still developing into being an effective blocker at his position, but he’s miles ahead of any other tight end in the class. He shows flashes of great speed and looks like a complete red zone threat on the tapes he has at Iowa. Fant will be an easy choice for a team looking for a tight end on Day 1.

2ND ROUND:

33. Arizona Cardinals:

Ole Miss OT Greg Little

34. Indianapolis Colts (via New York):

Notre Dame CB Julian Love

35. Oakland Raiders:

South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

36. San Francisco 49ers:

Washington S Taylor Rapp

37. New York Giants:

Kansas State OL Dalton Risner

38. Jacksonville Jaguars:

Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Delaware S Nasir Adderley

40. Buffalo Bills:

Ohio State DL Dre’Mont Jones

41. Denver Broncos:

Duke QB Daniel Jones

42. Cincinnati Bengals:

West Virginia OT Yodny Cajuste

43. Detroit Lions:

Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin

44. Green Bay Packers:

Ole Miss WR AJ Brown

45. Atlanta Falcons:

Mississippi State EDGE Montez Sweat

46. Washington Redskins:

Old Dominion EDGE Oshane Ximines

47. Carolina Panthers:

Mississippi State C Elgton Jenkins

48. Miami Dolphins:

Notre Dame DL Jerry Tillery

49. Cleveland Browns:

Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye

50. Minnesota Vikings:

Wisconsin OT David Edwards

51. Tennessee Titans:

Louisiana Tech EDGE Jaylon Ferguson

52. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Ohio State OL Michael Jordan

53. Philadelphia Eagles (via Baltimore):

Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards

54. Houston Texans (via Seattle):

Penn State OG Connor McGovern

55. Houston Texans:

Texas A&M C Erik McCoy

56. New England Patriots (via Chicago):

Boston College EDGE Zach Allen

57. Philadelphia Eagles:

Iowa State RB David Montgomery

58. Dallas Cowboys:

Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr.

59. Indianapolis Colts:

Clemson DL Dexter Lawrence

60. Los Angeles Chargers:

Washington OT Kaleb McGary

61. Kansas City Chiefs:

Buffalo LB Khalil Hodge

62. New Orleans Saints:

Ohio State WR Parris Campbell

63. Kansas City Chiefs (via Los Angeles):

Miami (FL) S JaQuan Johnson

64. New England Patriots:

Georgia WR Mecole Hardman

3RD ROUND:

65. Arizona Cardinals:

Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

66. Oakland Raiders:

NC State LB Germaine Pratt

67. San Francisco 49ers:

Texas CB Kris Boyd

68. New York Jets:

Ohio State OT Isaiah Prince

69. Jacksonville Jaguars:

West Virginia QB Will Grier

70. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Notre Dame LB Te’Von Coney

71. New York Giants:

*SELECTION FORFEITED*

72. Denver Broncos:

Wisconsin OG Michael Deiter

73. Cincinnati Bengals:

Stanford TE Kaden Smith

74. New England Patriots (via Detroit):

Miami (FL) DL Gerald Willis

75. Buffalo Bills:

FAU RB Devin Singletary

76. Green Bay Packers:

Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram

77. Washington Redskins:

Georgia WR Riley Ridley

78. Carolina Panthers:

Michigan EDGE Chase Winovich

79. Miami Dolphins:

Mississippi State OG Darryl Williams

80. Atlanta Falcons:

Florida State DL DeMarcus Christmas

81. Cleveland Browns:

Arizona State DL Renell Wren

82. Minnesota Vikings:

Florida LB Vosean Joseph

83. Tennessee Titans:

Buffalo WR Anthony Johnson

84. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Vanderbilt CB Joejuan Williams

85. Seattle Seahawks:

Clemson LB Tre Lamar

86. Baltimore Ravens:

Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr.

87. Houston Texans:

Alabama RB Damien Harris

88. Chicago Bears:

Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield

89. Detroit Lions (via Philadelphia):

Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

90. Indianapolis Colts:

Florida S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

91. Dallas Cowboys:

NC State C Garrett Bradbury

92. Los Angeles Chargers:

Texas Tech LB Dakota Allen

93. Kansas City Chiefs:

Texas EDGE Charles Omenihu

94. New York Jets (via New Orleans):

Alabama State OT Tytus Howard

95. Los Angeles Rams:

Texas LB Gary Johnson

96. Cleveland Browns (via New England):

Clemson OT Mitch Hyatt

97. Washington Redskins:

Alabama C Ross Pierschbacher

98. New England Patriots:

Kansas DL Daniel Wise

99. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles):

Miami (FL) EDGE Joe Jackson

100. Los Angeles Rams:

Virginia S Juan Thornhill

101. Carolina Panthers:

Georgia LB D’Andre Walker

102. New England Patriots:

Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham

103. Baltimore Ravens:

Wisconsin OG Beau Benzschawel

4TH ROUND:

104. Arizona Cardinals:

Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin

105. San Francisco 49ers:

Stanford OG Nate Herbig

106. New York Jets:

NC State WR Jakobi Meyers

107. Oakland Raiders:

Stanford RB Bryce Love

108. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Northern Illinois OT Max Scharping

109. New York Giants:

Miami (FL) CB Michael Jackson

110. Jacksonville Jaguars:

UCLA TE Caleb Wilson

111. Cincinnati Bengals:

Oklahoma OG Ben Powers

112. Detroit Lions:

Iowa S Amani Hooker

113. Buffalo Bills:

South Carolina OT Dennis Daley

114. Baltimore Ravens (via Denver):

New Mexico State LB Terrill Hanks

115. Green Bay Packers:

LSU OG Garrett Brumfield

116. Carolina Panthers:

Boston College S Lukas Denis

117. Miami Dolphins:

Texas WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey

118. Atlanta Falcons:

Missouri DL Terry Beckner Jr.

119. Green Bay Packers (via Washington):

West Virginia WR David Sills V

120. Cleveland Browns:

Oregon S Ugo Amadi

121. Minnesota Vikings:

Alabama DL Isaiah Buggs

122. Tennessee Titans:

Cincinnati DL Marquise Copeland

123. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Clemson EDGE Austin Bryant

124. Baltimore Ravens:

Georgia C Lamont Gaillard

125. Seattle Seahawks:

Arkansas OT Colton Jackson

126. Denver Broncos (via Houston):

Michigan CB David Long

127. Chicago Bears:

USC S Marvell Tell III

128. Philadelphia Eagles:

Oregon WR Dillon Mitchell

129. Dallas Cowboys:

Iowa EDGE Anthony Nelson

130. Indianapolis Colts:

Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven

131. Los Angeles Chargers:

Florida OG Martez Ivey

132. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City):

Alabama OLB Anfernee Jennings

133. New York Giants (via New Orleans):

Alabama OG Lester Cotton

134. Los Angeles Rams:

Jacksonville State OG B.J. Autry

135. New England Patriots:

James Madison CB Jimmy Moreland

136. Indianapolis Colts:

TCU EDGE Ben Banogu

137. Dallas Cowboys:

Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson

138. Atlanta Falcons:

Penn State RB Miles Sanders

139. Philadelphia Eagles:

Missouri OT Paul Adams

Tristan Beckmann’s College Basketball Bracketology (2/25/2019)

Welcome back to the fifth edition of my College Basketball Bracketology, where I project the NCAA Tournament field and matchups as we lead up to Selection Sunday. We are counting down the last few days to the biggest month of the college basketball season. Teams are rising, conference tournament seeding is starting to become clear, and the bracket is as well! It’s time to run through the procedures and get into my fifth bracket of the season!

In this edition, per usual, I’ve projected seeding and matchups for all tournament teams. College basketball fans and experts abroad have started to gain a decent understanding of the contenders and pretenders in each college basketball conference, and I’m as big of a college hoops fan as you’ll find. Some teams are distancing themselves from the bubble, some teams continue to remain clustered around it, and some teams are watching as their bubble hopes vanish by the minute.

My process is pretty simple actually. Firstly, I’ve compiled a list of college basketball teams who realistically still have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament. Secondly, I’ve used the brand new NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) Rankings as a seeding criteria for all teams, which will also be heavily used by the actual selection committee. Lastly, I’ve looked at every team’s current record, strength of schedule, and used the NCAA’s Quadrant Wins System to analyze the quality of their respective wins and losses.

After I have made a judgment on all teams, I begin to seed the 68 chosen teams from 1 to 68. Ranking them this way allows me to separate them into seed lines (#1 to #16). Finally, I place the teams into regions based on their respective seeds, conferences, and game location (for the top 16 seeds). I tried my best to keep conference opponents from playing until at least the Sweet 16, but there may have been situations where this wasn’t realistically possible.

There are three rules that I assure are being followed. Firstly, I tried to make the top four seeds in each region add up to similar overall region numbers, to make the regions competitive and balanced. With this in mind, there was a two-number differential between all four regions. I also made sure I never put teams from the same conferences on the same top four seed line. And lastly, I assured that the number one overall seed Duke would not have the best two seed in their bracket.

All in all, the process I went through definitely isn’t easy, but it’s fun to look at the possibilities already. I’ve tried my best to simulate what the actual selection committee would be doing if the tournament had to be seeded today. So after a crazy start to the week in the college hoops world, let’s check into my fifth Bracketology projection!

East Region (Washington, D.C.):

Columbia, South Carolina

#1 Duke vs. #16 Norfolk State/#16 St. Francis (PA)

#8 Ole Miss vs. #9 Wofford

San Jose, California

#4 Kansas vs. #13 New Mexico State

#5 Maryland vs. #12 Belmont

Tulsa, Oklahoma

#3 Houston vs. #14 Montana

#6 Washington vs. #11 NC State

Des Moines, Iowa

#2 Michigan vs. #15 Radford

#7 Mississippi State vs. #10 Oklahoma

Midwest Region (Kansas City, MO):

Columbus, Ohio

#1 Kentucky vs. #16 Bucknell

#8 St. John’s vs. #9 VCU

Hartford, Connecticut

#4 Florida State vs. #13 Yale

#5 Iowa vs. #12 Alabama/#12 Clemson

Salt Lake City, Utah

#3 Texas Tech vs. #14 Vermont

#6 Virginia Tech vs. #11 Temple

Columbus, Ohio

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Wright State

#7 Louisville vs. #10 Florida

South Region (Louisville, KY):

Columbia, South Carolina

#1 Virginia vs. #16 Rider/#16 Prairie-View

#8 Baylor vs. #9 Auburn

San Jose, California

#4 Wisconsin vs. #13 Old Dominion

#5 Nevada vs. #12 Lipscomb

Des Moines, Iowa

#3 Marquette vs. #14 UC Irvine

#6 Iowa State vs. #11 Arizona State

Jacksonville, Florida

#2 Tennessee vs. #15 Texas State

#7 Buffalo vs. #10 Ohio State

West Region (Anaheim, CA):

Salt Lake City, Utah

#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Sam Houston State

#8 Syracuse vs. #9 TCU

Hartford, Connecticut

#4 Purdue vs. #13 Minnesota

#5 Kansas State vs. #12 Utah State/#12 Minnesota

Tulsa, Oklahoma

#3 LSU vs. #14 South Dakota State

#6 Villanova vs. #11 UCF

Jacksonville, Florida

#2 North Carolina vs. #15 Loyola-Chicago

#7 Cincinnati vs. #10 Texas

The Bubble:

Last Four In:

Utah State (22-6, 12-3 MWC, 36th NET, 1-2 Quadrant 1, 126th SOS, 27th Non-Conference SOS)

Alabama (16-11, 7-7 SEC, 55th NET, 2-7 Quadrant 1, 31st SOS, 52nd Non-Conference SOS)

Clemson (16-11, 6-8 ACC, 43rd NET, 1-8 Quadrant 1, 36th SOS, 117th Non-Conference SOS)

Minnesota (17-11, 7-10 BIG 10, 54th NET, 3-8 Quadrant 1, 38th SOS, 137th Non-Conference SOS)

First Four Out:

Seton Hall (16-11, 7-8 Big East, 63rd NET, 3-6 Quadrant 1, 41st SOS, 75th Non-Conference SOS)

Butler (15-12, 6-8 Big East, 49th NET, 2-7 Quadrant 1, 21st, 45th Non-Conference SOS)

Furman (22-6, 11-5 Southern, 48th NET, 1-5 Quadrant 1, 193rd SOS, 303rd Non-Conference SOS)

Davidson (19-6, 10-2 A10, 68th NET, 0-2 Quadrant 1, 108th SOS, 88th Non-Conference SOS)

Conference Count-Ups:

American Athletic Conference (4 Teams): #9 Houston, #28 Cincinnati, #42 UCF, #43 Temple.

Atlantic Coast Conference (9 Teams): #1 Duke, #2 Virginia, #6 North Carolina, #14 Florida State, #22 Virginia Tech, #27 Louisville, #29 Syracuse, #41 NC State, #49 Clemson.

Big 12 (8 Teams): #12 Texas Tech, #16 Kansas, #18 Kansas State, #21 Iowa State, #31 Baylor, #36 TCU, #38 Oklahoma, #39 Texas.

Big East (3 Teams): #11 Marquette, #24 Villanova, #30 St. John’s.

Big Ten (8 Teams): #5 Michigan State, #8 Michigan, #13 Purdue, #15 Wisconsin, #19 Maryland, #20 Iowa, #40 Ohio State, #50 Minnesota.

Mountain West (2 Teams): #17 Nevada, #47 Utah State.

PAC-12 (2 Teams): #23 Washington, #44 Arizona State.

SEC (8 Teams): #4 Kentucky, #7 Tennessee, #10 LSU, #25 Mississippi State, #32 Ole Miss, #35 Auburn, #37 Florida, #48 Alabama.

Singular Bid League Teams (24 Teams): #3 Gonzaga, #26 Buffalo, #33 Wofford, #34 VCU, #45 Lipscomb, #46 Belmont, #51 New Mexico State, #52 Old Dominion, #53 Yale, #54 Hofstra, #55 Vermont, #56 UC Irvine, #57 South Dakota State, #58 Montana, #59 Radford, #60 Texas State, #61 Loyola Chicago, #62 Wright State, #63 Bucknell, #64 Sam Houston State, #65 Rider, #66 Prairie-View A&M, #67 Norfolk State, #68 St. Francis (PA).

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed. If you have any insight, opinions, or questions about my Bracketology projection, feel free to contact me on Twitter @TBeckmann24. Have a great rest of your day and peace!