|33||Dalvin Cook||RB||Florida St.||5’10”||210|
|35||Forrest Lamp||OG||Western Kentucky||6’4″||305|
|36||Malik McDowell||DT||Michigan St.||6’6″||295|
|39||DeShone Kizer||QB||Notre Dame||6’4″||233|
|44||Zay Jones||WR||East Carolina||6’2″||201|
|50||Curtis Samuel||RB||Ohio St.||5’11”||196|
|52||Raekwon McMillan||ILB||Ohio St.||6’2″||240|
|53||Chris Godwin||WR||Penn St.||6’1″||209|
|54||Josh Jones||S||North Carolina St.||6’1″||220|
|57||Taylor Moton||OT||Western Michigan||6’5″||319|
|64||Jordan Willis||DE||Kansas St.||6’4″||255|
|1||Myles Garrett||DE||Texas A&M||6’5″||272|
|5||Marshon Lattimore||CB||Ohio St.||6’1″||190|
|7||Malik Hooker||S||Ohio St.||6’1″||206|
|12||Mitch Trubisky||QB||North Carolina||6’2″||222|
|13||Pat Mahomes||QB||Texas Tech||6’2″||225|
|18||Corey Davis||WR||Western Michigan||6’2″||209|
|19||Dalvin Cook||RB||Florida St.||5’10”||210|
|22||Forrest Lamp||OG||Western Kentucky||6’4″||305|
|26||Malik McDowell||DT||Michigan St.||6’6″||295|
|35||Evan Engram||TE||Ole Miss||6’3″||236|
|41||Zay Jones||WR||East Carolina||6’2″||201|
|42||DeShone Kizer||QB||Notre Dame||6’4″||233|
|45||Gareon Conley||CB||Ohio St.||6’0″||195|
|49||Raekwon McMillan||ILB||Ohio St.||6’2″||240|
|54||Josh Jones||S||North Carolina St.||6’1″||220|
|56||Chris Godwin||WR||Penn St.||6’1″||209|
|62||Jordan Willis||DE||Kansas St.||6’4″||255|
On his own 32-yard line, surrounded by a noise level AT&T Stadium has never heard before, Aaron Rodgers made possibly the greatest pass in the history of the NFL playoffs. The throw, and the following kick, ended the Cowboys Super Bowl hopes and started a national conversation on whether Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady was a better quarterback right now. I am here to not only put Rodgers above Brady right now, but to start a conversation on Aaron Rodgers eventually REPLACING Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback to ever play… Yes, you read that right.
The conversation of Rodgers vs. Brady has ended since Brady made it to the Super Bowl and the Falcons sent the Packers packing. Writers and analysts across the nation went with the reaction of “See! I told you Brady is still better than Rodgers!” The only thing I learned from Sunday’s game was Green Bay’s secondary would be considered average in the Canadian Football League. Brady played great, Ryan played great, and Rodgers played great. There is only so much you can do trying to carry a bad defense to a Super Bowl.
Buckle up, because you are going to think of Aaron Rodgers differently by the end of this. Never have we seen a 9 year run like the one Rodgers is on. He should be regarded as the best now and if he stays near this pace, he should be regarded as the best of ALL-TIME. For all you angry Bostonians out there, this is not a knock on Brady. I like Brady. I respect Brady. I rank him as a top 3 quarterback of all-time for goodness sake; so you can put down the Sam Adams bottle instead of throwing it at your own computer. I have my criteria on how I think quarterbacks should be ranked and guess what…Super Bowls should not be a major factor. Regular Season play, Playoff play, overall consistency, and the College Football Playoff eye test all are considered valid arguments. So here it goes; Rodgers over Brady now, and Rodgers over Brady in the future.
BUT 4 SUPER BOWLS!!
Time to roll up the sleeves and debunk this Super Bowl wins as a QB stat myth. Studying the past Super Bowl winners, the recipe for a championship is pretty simple: Good quarterback play and a solid defense.
Very rarely can a quarterback win a Super Bowl without a good defense. It actually has not happened over the past 16 seasons in this study. If the defense was average over the season they stepped up in the playoffs. Don’t believe me? Here are the stats with each team’s ranking based on points per game:
The only teams not in the top ten (2006 Colts, 2007 Giants, 2010 Saints, 2011 Giants, 2012 Ravens) all stepped up their defense in the playoffs. Out of those teams, only the 2012 Ravens gave up more than 20 points per game during the playoffs. The same saying is true today, “Defense wins Championships.”
As for the quarterbacks on Super Bowl winners, they are all pretty good, but it is true, you don’t have to be elite to win a Super Bowl. I don’t believe anyone is taking guys like Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson over Dan Marino, Tony Romo, or Dan Fouts. There are certainly a few average QB’s on the list, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, and 2001 Tom Brady. WHAT DID I JUST SAY??
2001 Tom Brady: Average
Quick question: Who had the most passing touchdowns for the New England Patriots during the 2001 Super Bowl run?
Answer: Tie. Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe each had a total of 1 touchdown pass.
Tom Brady was a second year player who was tasked with taking over for Drew Bledsoe. Brady did a great job staying calm and having a nice season for a young quarterback. In the playoffs, there was the famous tuck rule play that could’ve ended the Patriots season. He threw for a lot of yards but it did not translate to a lot of points as the Patriots won 16-13.
The young quarterback’s first AFC Championship game? He was knocked out right before the end of the half, up 7-3, thanks to a Troy Brown punt return touchdown. Drew Bledsoe finished the game and helped the Patriots move on.
TOM BRADY WAS THE SUPER BOWL MVP THOUGH??
Does anyone remember what Tom Brady’s final stat line was in that Super Bowl?
16/27 141 Yards 1 TD
The least amount of yards by a Super Bowl MVP since Super Bowl VI, when they were still figuring out what the forward pass was. Bart Starr in Super Bowl II had more yards than Brady. Actually going into the final drive of the game Tom Brady stats were 11/19 88 Yards 1 TD.
88 YARDS! GOING INTO THE FINAL DRIVE!!
Yes, he did a nice job going down the field on a Rams defense playing prevent defense. Have you seen the final miraculous Brady drive in a while? 4 dump-offs and 1 pass down the middle to a wide open Troy Brown that put them in position for a Vinatieri field goal. If you forgot what the drive looked like you can view it here (Pretty funny how Madden kept on saying to knee it and go to overtime).
Tom Brady did a great job staying poised and being a game manager. Just how does it make sense for people to say he is the best because of four super bowls, when those were not even his best seasons?
There are two stat lines below with each quarterback’s average season, which quarterback would you take?
Super Bowl Winning Seasons
If you picked Quarterback A (No Idea why you did that) you picked Tom Brady from 2001-2006
If you picked Quarterback B you picked Tom Brady from 2007-2016.
The stats show Tom Brady’s play was on at a different level from 2007-2016 compared to his 2001-2006 seasons, but he won just one Super Bowl. Are you starting to see the problem with making Super Bowls a quarterback stat?
The first Super Bowl was won by the Patriots defense, forcing 3 turnovers and Tom Brady managing not turning the ball over (Ty Law should have been the MVP, by the way, with his pick-6). The Rams were honestly the better team, out-gaining the Patriots 427-267 yards, but the best team does not always win. Brady did much more leading those teams in the next Super Bowls, but Brady was given an unbelievable opportunity with those defenses and wouldn’t have won the first three without them.
Brady with Belichick’s Defenses
There is a pretty simple fact the talking heads of ESPN and that terrible show with Skip Bayless on FS1 are not talking about. Tom Brady has consistently played with a pretty good defense, Aaron Rodgers has not. Here are the defensive ranks for defenses based on points against during the Tom Brady Patriot years and the Aaron Rodgers Packer years:
(Highlighted= Super Bowl Wins)
To say Tom Brady has played with great defenses would be an understatement. 14 out of his 16 years as the Patriots’ starter, he has played with a top ten defense. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, has played with a top ten defense just twice. He won the Super Bowl one of those years and lost in a wild card game where the Packers gave up 51 points in a 51-45 OT loss to the Cardinals. The fact that Aaron Rodgers has led these Packer defenses to the playoffs is an accomplishment in itself.
You’ll notice the highlighted years are where the team won the Super Bowl. The Patriots defenses during Super Bowl years were ranked 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 8th. Rodgers won a Super Bowl with the 2nd rated defense. In conclusion, neither quarterback has won a Super Bowl without a top ten defense.
Rodgers Never had a Chance
You may be thinking, “Ok, Rodgers hasn’t had great defenses, but I’m sure they stepped up in the playoffs!” In actuality…. no, not at all…they’ve played even worse. The Packers have actually scored at least 20 points in every playoff game Rodgers has started. 17 out of 17 Games! The Patriots on the other hand? In games where Tom Brady has started in the playoffs, the Patriots have failed to score at least 20 points 9 out of 33 games. Meaning that Brady’s offense scores at least 20 points in playoffs just 73% of the time compared to Rodger’s offense scoring at least 20 points 100% of the time.
Back to the defenses. Brady has had much more support than Rodgers in the playoffs. Below is New England and Green Bay defenses stats in the playoffs including points allowed per game, points allowed in losses and their offenses points per game in the playoffs:
PA Per Game
|PA Per Game in Losses||
There is no getting around these statistics, the New England Patriots defenses have been good in the playoffs and the Green Bay Packers defense have stunk like spoiled cheese curds. Particularly in games that knocked Rodgers and the Packers out of the playoffs, Green Bay has given up an average of over 36 points in those games. About ten points more than New England’s defense that knock Brady out of the playoffs. Rodgers offense averages more points per game than Brady’s offenses. In all playoff games the Patriots defense gives up 6 less points per game.
How is that fair to compare Brady’s postseason record with Rodgers’? Aaron Rodgers has never had a chance to win multiple Super Bowls with the defenses he has had. In conclusion, Brady has had the defensive help he needed to win playoff games.
Aaron Rodgers Statistically Superior
Aaron Rodgers has been the Packers starter for 9 years now, Tom Brady has been the starter for 16 years. Both players have put up hall of fame numbers, but what happens when you compare the two? Aaron Rodgers has the advantage in just about every stat on a per game basis. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. These are average stats per started game:
Regular Season Average Started Game Stats
Both are great average stats, Rodgers just has the edge on Brady for all of them including his ridiculous 4.125 Touchdown to Interception Ratio. To put this in perspective Tom Brady is second all-time in TD to INT ratio. For Aaron Rodgers to drop to a 3 TD to INT ratio he would have to throw 27 Interceptions without a touchdown. Tom Brady is an all-time great, but Rodgers numbers are just ridiculous.
Think it is different in the playoffs?
You’d be wrong….
Playoffs Average Started Game Stats
Something that is very rarely talked about is the hike in interceptions Tom Brady throws from the regular season to the postseason. He is the all-time leader in playoff interceptions with 30. In order for Rodgers to break that interceptions record based on his playoff interception average, Rodgers would have to play 34 more playoff games in his career. Rodgers has a big increase in average yards per game and still has a very impressive 3.6 TD/INT Ratio.
“But Tom Brady is a more decorated player, look at his awards!”
Seasons as Starter
1st Team All-Pro
I’ll actually take it one step further with amount of seasons with 4,000 yards, 30 Touchdowns, Single Digit Interceptions and a completion percentage of 65%
Seasons as Starter
|4000 Yard Seasons||30 TD Seasons||Single Digit INT Seasons||
65% Comp. Percentage
Even with playing seven less seasons, Rodgers has as many MVPs, 1st Team All-Pro Selections, 30 TD seasons, single digit interception seasons and seasons with at least a 65% Completion Percentage. Yet, some people still don’t think Aaron Rodgers belongs in the all-time greats talk.
So what am I missing here? If Rodgers stays at the pace he is on, he will equal the longevity of Brady and would have outperformed Tom Brady in the regular season and the playoffs. You know what it must be the rushing yards where Brady is better than Rodgers…
Rushing Per Started Game Stats
This is a tale of two different ways to play the quarterback position. Tom Brady sits in the pocket and cuts through a defense with surgical precision. He drops back quickly and his timing with his wide receivers is impeccable. Tom Brady takes care of the football, but is still not afraid to throw the deep ball.
Aaron Rodgers is the gunslinger. He can throw to a wide receiver on time with accuracy and velocity. When things break down, it isn’t over for Rodgers, it is just the beginning. He circles out of the pocket, looks down the field, and slings it almost always off-balance. He also can take off and run if you give him too much space. Rodgers is a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare as he will catch you with a late substitution and get a free play out of it. Give me the quarterback that can beat you every single way imaginable.
This is a decision of which flavor you prefer. For me, watching Rodgers keeps me on the edge of my seat, because you never know what sort of magic he is going to pull off. Tom Brady may bring you that type of joy too. It is a choice of Snickers and Reese’s, Coke and Pepsi, Crown and Jack. There is no right answer, we can just sit back and admire the play of both.
Aaron Rodgers Historically
Aaron Rodgers 2017 season will be the 10th season as a starter for the Green Bay Packers and it is time to move him into the all-time talks. In just 9 seasons he is ranked 11th all time in touchdowns, 23rd in passing yards, and is the only player in NFL history with a career Quarterback rating above 100 (104.1). Rodgers had a late start sitting behind Favre, but at 33 he could still have a chance to catch Peyton Manning’s touchdowns and passing yardage records. On his pace he would need to play seven seasons to break the touchdown record and nine seasons to break the passing yardage record. Just for fun… he would need to play 32 seasons to break Brett Favre’s interceptions record
Rodgers still has some great years ahead of him and if he can play as well as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady did late in their careers, he should be considered the greatest of all-time.
Obviously one cannot put Rodgers over Brady long-term just yet. Tom Brady has had a long, great, decorated career and is ranked among the top quarterbacks in every single category. However, for those quoting Tom Brady’s four super bowls is lazy analysis. Aaron Rodgers has been the overall better postseason player, however due to a lack of defense Rodgers only has one ring on his finger. Tom Brady and the Patriots are an example of great team success and the run they are on is a historic one. However, when ranking the top quarterbacks of all time why do so many people use Super Bowl rings? It isn’t basketball, where there are 5 people on the court, there are 22 different starting positions. Yes, the quarterback is an important part, but a good defense is an equally important part. So don’t scoff at people saying Rodgers over Brady now, just like no-one should criticize if you prefer Tom Brady over Aaron Rodgers.
Give me Rodgers now as he makes throws no one in the game can make. Give me Aaron Rodgers when it is all said and done as the greatest ever. Aaron Rodgers with the highest TD/INT Ratio, highest touchdowns per game, lowest interception per game, highest career passer rating, 28 points per game in the playoffs, and the guy that can run and make every throw in the book. That is my choice as a quarterback now and forever.
Returning Starters: 6
Key Departures: QB Jake Coker (Cardinals), Derrick Henry (Titans), Kenyan Drake (Dolphins), Richard Mullaney (Texans), Ryan Kelly (Colts), Dominick Jackson (Lions)
For the third year in a row, Alabama has not announced their starting Quarterback going into the season. It has been an intense competition between Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett, David Cornwell, and Jalen Hurts. The favorite going into the year has to be Cooper Bateman, last year’s backup. Nick Saban favors quarterbacks that do not turn the ball over and normally tends to go with the experienced quarterback.
If you base the decision on this trend, Bateman is the guy. This is Bateman’s best chance to win the starting job as a redshirt junior. He would have plenty of help around him as the lead guy to manage the Crimson Tide offense.
Barnett is an extremely talented guy with a good arm as well as mobility. He came to Alabama as a 5 star quarterback from California and was part of the competition last year. As a redshirt Freshman Barnett has to limit his turnovers if he wants to take the starting job. Barnett is the most likely to unseat Bateman as the starting quarterback.
The third returning player is David Cornwell. Cornwell has a very strong arm and was a highly touted recruit for Oklahoma. He is often forgotten about as a redshirt sophomore that has experienced falling in the depth chart. The talent is there it is just a question whether Cornwell will ever put it together at Alabama or if he will have to transfer somewhere else to see the field. Cornwell fell out of the competition after an injury in fall camp.
Newcomer: Jalen Hurts (Channelview, Texas) – Going into spring ball it looked as if Hurts was just a candidate for a redshirt year with no chance of playing. While a redshirt might be the case, Hurts made major strides in the spring and was one of the most impressive quarterbacks at A-Day.He is the most athletic of the quarterbacks and has a good arm as well. He even played scout team as Deshaun Watson before the National Championship game. Jalen Hurts has the look of a future starter and is a legit contender in this competition.
It is going to be Saban’s decision on whether he goes with the most experienced guy in Bateman, or takes a chance on starting talented Barnett or Hurts as freshman. Don’t right off Hurts, he has a legitimate shot at the starting job.
Most teams would struggle to replace a Heisman trophy winner, but Alabama has plenty of talented players to fill the void. This year Alabama should split the carries more than just relying on one workhorse running back. It starts with Bo Scarbrough, a talented redshirt sophomore from Tuscaloosa.
He is just as big of a running back as Derrick Henry at 6’2 240 pounds and has very good hands too. Scarbrough will get most of the carries in Alabama’s offense.
The second running back that will get carries in the offense is Damien Harris, the top running back recruit of 2015. He was the third running back last year behind Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake and ran well. With the extra year Harris should be a more experienced running back and be more productive. Another running back that could receive some carries is junior running back Derrick Gore. Gore is a walk on running back that has been a pleasant surprise during his time at Alabama.
Newcomers: B.J. Emmons (Morganton, NC) and Joshua Jacobs (Tulsa, OK) add quality depth right away. Jacobs was a late bloomer in high school and may not have a redshirt year due to the lack of running back depth. Emmons on the other hand was the top running back prospect in the 2016 class and will make a major impact right away.
Wide receiver is Alabama’s deepest and most talented position this year. It all starts with Calvin Ridley, the true sophomore and leading receiver for the Tide last year. Ridley will try to avoid a sophomore slump after his 1000 yard freshman season.
Look for him to be the top target for whoever steps in at quarterback.
The most forgotten player in the Tide’s receiving core is junior Robert Foster. He started last year as the number one wide receiver until his season was cut short due to injury. A bounce back season could be in the works for Foster and I predict he will finish the year as Alabama’s second leading receiver. The second leading receiver last year was ArDarius Stewart and he will continue to try to have success in the offense. Stewart had a slower start last season, however his breakout Tennessee game with a career high 88 yards lead to a strong finish. He will be a reliable target this year.
Cam Sims, Raheem Falkins, and Derek Kief are three huge targets that will be rotational players for the Tide’s offense. All three of these players are at least 6’4 and have received limited playing time in the past. Look for Cam Sims to possibly be a breakout candidate this year. Xavian Marks is a small, shifty running back/wide receiver that Lane Kiffin will move all over the field.
Newcomers: The newcomer that will contribute the most this year is graduate transfer from Bowling Green, Gehrig Dieter. Dieter had a huge season last season with 94 catches, 10 touchdowns and over 1000 yards receiving.
He led Bowling Green in receptions and was second in TDs and receiving yards to current New York Giant Roger Lewis. Dieter should have a role in this year’s offense, however it is yet to be seen how big of a role that will be with so many talented receivers. T.J. Simmons (Pinson, AL) will probably have a redshirt year. Trevon Diggs, brother of Minnesota Vikings Stefon Diggs, is being worked at both receiver and safety. Alabama may keep him at safety because it will be the best chance for Diggs to see the field.
This unit is obviously led by the top receiver in the National Championship, O.J. Howard. Howard has a rare combination of size and speed that has been underutilized by Alabama in the past.
Howard’s goal for his senior season will to have more of a consistent impact on the offense and not just a few great games. After Howard in the depth chart is sophomore Hale Hentges. Hentges saw the field as a freshman and has the making of Alabama’s future starting tight end. He is not only a reliable receiver, but a good blocker as well. The two other senior tight ends, Dakota Ball and Brandon Greene, will be mainly blocking tight ends for Alabama’s goal line and multiple tight end packages.
Newcomers: Miller Forristall (Cartersville, GA) enrolled early in January and performed nicely in the A-Day game. Due to the tight end receiving depth, Forristall may not have a redshirt year. Irvin Smith (New Orleans, LA) is another tight end that probably needs a redshirt year to develop so he is ready to contribute when Howard goes to the NFL.
Cam Robinson leads the group as a top NFL prospect for the 2016 season. Robinson will hold down the left tackle spot for the third straight year for the Crimson Tide.
At left guard it looks as though sophomore Lester Cotton will step in to a starting role for the first time this year. Cotton was a four-star recruit out of Tuscaloosa and is a rising star on the line. At center, the Tide will look to replace first round pick Ryan Kelly on the offensive line. Ross Pierschbacher started last year as a redshirt freshman at left guard and now is moving over to center. Pierschbacher was solid as freshman and will try to translate that success to the center position. Right guard is Alphonse Taylor’s job to lose after being in Nick Saban’s dog house because of a DUI. It is yet to be seen if he will be starting or if it will be Bradley Bozeman at the right guard position when the season opens in Dallas.
Newcomers: Jonah Williams (Folsom, CA) has been impressive since enrolling early in January and it looks like he will start the year at the right tackle position. Williams will most likely kick over to left tackle next year when Cam Robinson most likely bolts for the NFL. Chris Owens (Arlington, TX) and Deonte Brown (Decatur, AL) are both interior lineman that will most likely redshirt this year.
Returning Starters: 6
Key Departures: Jarran Reed (Seahawks), A’Shawn Robinson (Lions), D.J. Pettway (Saints), Darren Lake (49ers), Dillon Lee (Saints), Denzel Devall, Reggie Ragland (Bills), Cyrus Jones (Patriots), Geno Matias-Smith (Redskins), Jabriel Washington (Rams)
After being a strength of the 2015 National Championship team, the defensive line is still a talented bunch in 2016. The Crimson Tide will not have the depth they had with last year’s team, but the starters Jonathan Allen, Da’Shawn Hand, Darron Payne and Dalvin Tomlinson are a solid unit.
Jonathan Allen is a hybrid DE/DT that can win against offensive lineman in a variety of ways. The senior leads the line and will be a high draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. At the other defensive end spot is Da’Shawn Hand who was one of the top recruits of the 2014 class. Hand last year played in mostly just pass rush situations and finished the year with 3 sacks. This year Hand will look to be more of an every down type of player.
At defensive tackle Darron Payne will take on the torch passed down by Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson. He is athletically gifted and was named as one of Bruce Feldman’s top 20 freaks in college football. He was timed in the 40 at a 4.93 at 6’2 320 pounds. He also bench presses 500 pound.
This incredible combination of size and strength will show on the football field this fall for his sophomore season. Another talented defensive lineman is senior Dalvin Tomlinson. He led the defensive line last year with 6 pass breakups and added tremendous depth. This year look for him to take advantage of more of a consistent starting role in the defense. Junior Joshua Frazier and sophomore O.J. Smith will look to add quality depth along the defensive line.
Newcomers: Raekwon Davis (Meridian, MS) is an absolute monster at 6’7 318 pounds. Davis could be an instant impact player on the defensive line and will add depth for the Tide. Jamar King is a JUCO player out of California that will add depth to the defensive line. The last defensive tackle from junior college that Alabama got was Jarran Reed.
Tim Williams leads the outside linebacker unit and could end up being the most disruptive player on the Alabama defense. He finished last year strong with 7 sacks in his last 6 games as just a pass rush specialist.
This year, Williams will be more of an every down player as an Outside Linebacker/Defensive End combination. Ryan Anderson was a solid rotational player with 6 sacks last year and now will have a more prominent role with the defense. The senior will start as an outside linebacker.
The inside linebacker spot is loaded with talent with senior Reuben Foster and junior Shaun Dion Hamilton starting in the 3-4 defense.
Reuben Foster is more athletic than departed Reggie Ragland and could be a higher draft pick. He has dropped down to 225 pounds to be more explosive in Alabama’s defense. Hamilton had a few starts last year and will now try to be a main stay in the starting lineup.
Alabama has the most depth in the country when it comes to the linebacker position. Rashaan Evans can play both inside and outside linebacker. Last year he worked mainly as a pass rusher, but this offseason he has been working mainly with the inside linebackers. Look for him to be worked around on the linebacker core. Baseball/Football player Keith Holcombe will also look for more playing time in the 2016 season. He is a sophomore and should mainly contribute on special teams.
Newcomers: It all starts with Ben Davis (Gordo, AL) and Mack Wilson (Montgomery, AL), the two five star inside linebacker recruits for Alabama. Both could be early contributors on the defense and are future stars. The talent and depth at inside linebacker means they probably won’t start this year, but could be solid rotational players and special team contributors. Terrell Hall (Washington, D.C.) is an outside rush linebacker who has great size. He may not contribute right away, but at 6’5 247 pounds he could be a future potential edge rusher. Shawn Jennings (Dadeville, AL) is brothers with current Tide linebacker Anfernee Jennings. Shawn Jennings is a converted safety and is a probable redshirt candidate.
The Crimson Tide lost a great cornerback in Cyrus Jones, but Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick were two young breakout players as freshman. Now as sophomores, Humphrey and Fitzpatrick look to lead the cornerback unit that is very young. Humphrey is slotted as an outside cornerback and could have a decision on whether to go pro or not as a redshirt sophomore.
Fitzpatrick could be moved around on the defense, playing both the outside corner spot and the nickel “Star” position in Alabama’s defense. He is a versatile player that will be the key to the secondary. The two other returning corners that will compete for playing time is junior Anthony Averett and redshirt freshman Kendall Sheffield. Averett has a shot to beat out the newcomers for solid playing time this year. Kendall Sheffield is a former five star recruit that has all the athletic ability to be an eventual starter. However, he is still trying to become more natural at the position so he can use that athletic ability. He is probably still another year or two from being a starting corner.
Newcomers: It was a huge cornerback recruiting class as they had four commitments in the 2016 class. Shy Carter (Kentwood, LA) is the most likely to see early playing time as he has been a stand out performer in fall camp. Carter could take over as a starter this year and could be a future star. After Shy Carter is Jared Mayden (Sachse, TX), Aaron Robinson (Deerfield, FL), and Nigel Knott (Madison, MS). Mayden and Robinson have been mostly practicing with the second and third team defense and could see some playing time this year. Nigel Knott is recovering from an off season surgery and is a likely redshirt candidate.
Eddie Jackson leads the secondary after a 6 interception junior year season. He decided to come back for his senior season, turning down being a high round draft pick. Another great season would vault Jackson into being a first round pick. The question then turns to who will start opposite of Jackson.
Junior Tony Brown is making the transition to safety, but could have to sit out the first few games due to a NCAA suspension. After Tony Brown the battle looks to be down to sophomore Ronnie Harrison and junior Hootie Jones. Both are bigger safeties at 6’2 220 pounds. Ronnie Harrison saw action his freshman year and finished the season with 2 interceptions and started one game against Texas A&M. He was also a key contributor on special teams and should continue this role. Hootie Jones was a highly ranked recruit that has not got as much playing time over the past few years as his ranking would indicate. He will look to change that this year after only seeing the field last year in blowouts. Hootie will probably have to wait until his senior year for the starting safety spot. Deionte Thompson redshirted last year as a freshman and will probably be a special teams contributor.
Newcomer: The Crimson Tide did not have a safety commit in 2016. They do however have receiver/safety Trevon Diggs that will probably play safety this year due to the Crimson Tide’s depth at wide receiver.
Special Team Starters
Kicker: Adam Griffith, Senior
Punter: JK Scott, Junior
Long Snapper: Cole Mazza, Senior
Bottom Line: The Crimson Tide again go into the season with questions at the quarterback position. The running back and wide receiver position are extremely talented to help the transition for Bateman, Barnett or Hurts. The quarterbacks key role will be to not turn the ball over and let the defense and skill position guys lead the football team. Interior offensive line is a bit of a concern with Ryan Kelly gone, but Alabama has been recruiting highly ranked offensive lineman for the past few years to help fill the void. The defense is very talented again going into the season at all levels. Secondary and Linebacker have great depth and talent, but the defensive line has some depth concerns. Regardless, this defense should be one of the top ranked in the nation.
It will need the talent to compete with the tough completion of USC, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M and LSU. Alabama making it through the tough SEC schedule without a loss is going to be hard and they most likely slip up with one of those games. The most likely loss will come against away opponents Tennessee or LSU. The Tide has the talent however to still be SEC and National Championship contenders.
Prediction: 11-1 (1st SEC)
RB Bo Scarbrough*, WR Robert Foster*, WR Gehrig Dieter, TE O.J. Howard, OT Cam Robinson*, OG Alphonse Taylor, DE Jonathan Allen, DE Da’Shawn Hand*, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, OLB Tim Williams, OLB Ryan Anderson, ILB Reuben Foster, CB Marlon Humphrey*, S Eddie Jackson, LS Cole Mazza
|THe Rams traded all the way from the 15th pick to the top of the draft board. The only way you make that trade is for someone you think is a franchise quarterback. From most sources it seems they did it for Jared Goff. Goff’s upside is a solid starting quarterback and have success much like Matt Ryan. Look for Los Angeles to make Goff their franchise quarterback.|
|2||CARSON WENTZ||QB||North Dakota St.||6’5″||233|
|After the season the eagles were all the way back with the 13th pick. Now come draft day, they will have the 2nd overall pick. Did they trade all the way up to the second pick for a quarterback when they signed Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel this off season? I believe they did, as Bradford and Daniel are only signed for the short term. Carson Wentz has the potential to be a very good quarterback in this league. With this pick the eagles get their quarterback of the future.|
|3||LAREMY TUNSIL||OT||Ole Miss||6’5″||310|
|THE CHARGERS WOULD BE IN A GREAT POSITION WITH THIS PICK AS THEY HAVE A PLAYER AT A POSITION OF NEED IN JALEN RAMSEY AND ONE OF THE TOP PLAYERS AVAILABLE WITH Tunsil. RAMSEY WOULD PROVIDE IMMEDIATE HELP FOR A DEPLETED SECONDARY. AT SAFETY ERIC WEDDLE LOOKS TO BE MOVING ON AND THEY DO NOT HAVE A QUALITY NUMBER TWO CORNERBACK OPPOSITE OF JASON VERRETT. RAMSEY WOULD FIT THAT NEED, BUT Laremy Tunsil WOULD IMMENSELY HELP the offensive line. I believe the Chargers either trade down or take Tunsil who can be their starting left tackle for the next ten years. DeForest Buckner would also fit in the Chargers defense, but at the third pick it is a little too rich.|
|4||JALEN RAMSEY||CB||FLORIDA ST.||6’1″||209|
|YES, THERE IS A BIG WAVE OF MEDIA SAYING THAT NOW IS THE TIME TO INVEST IN THE FUTURE AT THE QUARTERBACK POSITION. HOWEVER, JERRY IS IN WIN NOW MODE. IT IS HARD FOR ME TO SEE HIM PICK A QUARTERBACK THAT WON’T HELP THE TEAM FOR THREE YEARS DOWN THE LINE INSTEAD OF TAKING A PLAYER THAT CAN HELP THEM NOW. RAMSEY WOULD BE GREAT FOR THE COWBOYS AS THE FUTURES OF BOTH MORRIS CLAIBORNE AND BRANDON CARR ARE IN QUESTION. RAMSEY CAN PLAY BOTH CORNER AND SAFETY AS A GREAT ADDITION TO THE COWBOYS SECONDARY. As for the defensive line, the cowboys can get a quality one in the top of the second round.|
|THE JAGUARS IN THIS SITUATION I BELIEVE WOULD GO FOR MYLES JACK over Joey Bosa. THIS JAGUARS DEFENSE WOULD BE FUN TO WATCH HAVING BOTH TELVIN SMITH AND MYLES JACK ROAMING THE FIELD. JACK CAN HELP FROM THE PASS RUSH TO COVERAGE AS HE HAS A RARE COMBINATION OF SIZE AND SPEED. This is all contingent on whether Jacksonville’s doctors give his knee the thumbs up.|
|6||JOEY BOSA||DE||Ohio St.||6’5″||269|
|SECONDARY IS AN OBVIOUS NEED FOR THE RAVENS, but there is not a player of that position worthy of the number six selection. Instead the ravens go with the top player on the board for their defense. Bosa would strengthen the defensive line. RONNIE STANLEY cOULD also BE A GREAT ADDITION HERE.|
|The Niners need another pass rusher opposite of Aaron Lynch as They finished 29th in the NFL in sacks last season. SHaq Lawson will help add edge pressure for San FRANCISCO. Lawson would fit perfectly as a 3-4 Outside linebacker in their defense. The combination of Lynch and Lawson could be a dynamic duo for the 49ers.|
|8||EZEKIEL ELLIOTT||RB||Ohio St.||6’0″||225|
|THIS IS JUST A SITUATION WHERE there is too much TALENT to pass up. The browns haven’t had a productive player like Elliott in their offense for awhile. The Browns need a total talent upgrade as they continue to try to rebuild. Ezekiel Elliott and The additional picks should be a good start in Cleveland.|
|THE BUCCANEERS LAST YEAR FOUND THEIR FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK, THIS YEARS GOAL WILL BE TO CONTINUE TO UPGRADE THE TALENT LEVEL. Buckner WOULD BE A GREAT ADDITION TO THE BUCCANEERS DEFENSE AS A HYBRID DEFENSIVE END/TACKLE. I KNOW THE BUCCANEERS ALREADY HAVE GERALD MCCOY AND AKEEM SPENCE, BUT Buckner improves the depth and TALENT along the defensive front.|
|10||DARRON LEE||oLB||Ohio St.||6’1″||236|
|The Giants have a major need at linebacker after they upgraded the secondary and defensive line in free agency. The Giants are notorious for not taking linebackers in the first round, but Darron Lee could be the exception. Lee is an upgrade to the linebacker corp as a rare athlete. Look for the Giants to take Lee as a weakside linebacker in the 4-3 defense.|
|11||RONNIE Stanley||OT||NOTRE DAME||6’6″||312|
|THIS WOULD BE A DREAM SCENARIO AS THE BEARS NEED TO FIND A LONG TERM SOLUTION AT THE LEFT TACKLE POSITION. STANLEY IS A TOP TEN TALENT AND IN THIS SITUATION FALLS RIGHT IN THE BEARS LAP. CHARLES LENO PLAYED DECENTLY, BUT STANLEY IS A MUCH BETTER LONG TERM SOLUTION. REGGIE RAGLAND WOULD ALSO BE AN OPTION HERE FOR THE BEARS.|
|The Saints Defense was one of the worst in the nfl last year and will need instant upgrades on the defense. They struggled putting pressure on the quarterback which is one of Rankins strengths. This should be a heavy defensive draft and Rankins is a good start.|
|Sure the Dolphins ACQUIRED Byron Maxwell, but there is still a major need at cornerback. The talent at the top of the depth chart is severely lacking so look for them to target a cornerback with this pick. Many consider the second best secondary player in this draft. Look for the possibility of Hargreaves to stay in Florida on draft day.|
|This is rare for the Oakland Raiders as they do not have as many needs as in years past. They solidified the offensive line with the signing of Kelechi Osemele and defensively signed OLB Bruce Irvin and Cornerback Sean Smith. The depth in the secondary is still a concern as D.J. Hayden has not performed up to his first round status. The raiders should not be concerned with taking another Houston cornerback as Jackson is a much better prospect than Hayden was coming out. It is hard to turn down Jackson as an athletic, hard hitting corner.|
|15||LAQUON TREADWELL||WR||Ole Miss||6’2″||221|
|THE Titans traded back and have quite a few picks to upgrade the roster. The Titans could start with a talented receiver in round one for Marcus Mariota. Their leading receiver last year was tight end Delanie Walker and did not have a wide receiver go over 550 yards. Either Treadwell or Doctson should go over that yardage in their rookie season. Both are very talented, and I prefer Doctson, but it seems like most of the nfl has Treadwell over doctson.|
|16||JACK CONKLIN||OT||Michigan St.||6’6″||308|
|OFFENSIVE LINE IS THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR THE LIONS THIS OFFSEASON AS THEY WERE JUST DREADFUL DURING THE YEAR. Conklin CAN COME IN RIGHT AWAY FOR THE LIONS AND START AT THE RIGHT TACKLE SPOT. IT WILL BE A BIG HELP FOR A TEAM THAT ALLOWED 44 SACKS LAST SEASON. Conklin is a mauler in the run game and solid as a pass protector.|
|THE FALCONS DEFENSE WAS TERRIBLE LAST YEAR GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK AS THEY WERE LAST IN THE NFL IN SACKS. J.J. WATT ACTUALLY ALMOST HAD AS MANY SACKS AS THE ENTIRE FALCONS TEAM COMBINED. WITH Leonard Floyd, THEY GET AN ATHLETIC LINEBACKER WHO HAS VERY GOOD PASS RUSH CAPABILITIES. I know they took another pass rusher, Vic Beasley, in the first round last year. However, Courtney Upshaw and Beasley are the only prolific pass rushers on the roster. Floyd ADDs TO THE FALCONS DEFENSE as they get another pass rusher to increase their ability to get to the quarterback.|
|THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR THE COLTS THIS YEAR WILL BE TO KEEP ANDREW LUCK UPRIGHT AND MORE TIME TO THROW THE FOOTBALL. RUN BLOCKING WAS ALSO AN ISSUE FOR THE COLTS AS FRANK GORE WAS HELD UNDER 1000 YARDS THIS YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FIVE YEARS. THE COLTS SHOULD TAKE THE BEST AVAILABLE OFFENSIVE LINEMAN WITH THIS PICK, WHICH IN THIS CASE WOULD BE Jason Spriggs. HE WILL ADD TO WHAT IS ONE OF THE WORST OFFENSIVE LINES IN FOOTBALl as a future starting left tackle.|
|Defensive line has gone from a strength to a weakness after the release of Mario Williams. Jarran Reed IS A PERFECT REPLACEMENT FOR WILLIAMS in rex Ryan’s defense. Reed does a great job stopping the run and can play Defensive End in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 Defense. Reed is athletic for his size and does a great job taking on blockers along the defensive line.|
|THIS WOULD BE A PERFECT MATCH FOR THE JETS AS DAVID HARRIS IS 32 YEARS OLD AT THE START OF NEXT SEASON. LAST YEAR THE JETS PICKED LEONARD WILLIAMS WHICH MADE FOR ONE OF THE BETTER DEFENSIVE LINES IN THE NFL. RAGLAND WILL TAKE THE JETS DEFENSE TO THAT NEXT STEP AS A HARD-HITTING, RUN STUFFING LINEBACKER.|
|21||ROBERT NKEMDICHE||DT||Ole Miss||6’4″||294|
|THE REDSKINS DEFENSIVE LINE IS AGING AS JASON HATCHER recently retired. THEY WERE ALSO THE SECOND WORST DEFENSES AGAINST THE RUN AS THEY GAVE UP 4.8 YARDS A CARRY. Nkemdiche is the ultimate boom or bust prospect, and the Redskins are known for taking chances with players. Nkemdiche is a very talented player and if he stays out of trouble, he SHOULD be AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT PLAYER. The acquisitions of Josh Norman and Robert Nkemdiche in the past week drastically helps out their defense.|
|A goal for the Texans has been to improve the offense. THEy got their quarterback in Brock Osweiler this off-season as well as a young running back with Lamar Miller. It is now time for the Texans to improve their receiving corp. The Texans have a top five receiver with Deandre Hopkins, but there is not really another impact wide receiver on the roster. Doctson would have a great role opposite of Hopkins in the offense and give Osweiler another weapon to use.|
|23||TAYLOR DECKER||OT||Ohio St.||6’7″||310|
|Matt Kalil is entering a contract year at left tackle and it is yet to be seen whether the Vikings have a future left tackle on their roster. The Vikings did sign Andre Smith this off season to a one year deal, but THAT IS MORE FOR THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LINE TO COMPETE WITH pHIL lOADHOLT. t.j. cLEMMINGS STRUGGLED IN HIS ROOKIE YEAR AND I BELIEVE HIS ULTIMATE POSITION WILL BE AT RIGHT TACKLE AS WELL. tAYLOR dECKER GIVES THE vIKINGS A POSSIBLE FUTURE STARTING LEFT TACKLE.|
|CINCINNATI IS A TEAM THAT COULD DECIDE TO GO FOR A CORNERBACK, BUT COREY COLEMAN IS HARD TO PASS UP. WITH MOHAMMAD SANU AND MARVIN JONES LEAVING IN FREE AGENCY. tHE bENGALS NEED TO REBUILD THEIR RECEIVING CORP AND cOREY coleman can be a versatile receiver for them. COLEMAN CAN work the slot as well as the outside receiver position to COMPLEMENT AJ GREEN.|
|The STEELERS ARE IN DESPERATE HELP OF CORNERBACK HELP AS THEY ARE VERY THIN AT THE POSITION. Alexander had a great year last year blanketing top wide receivers and not giving up a touchdown all year. A concern for Alexander has been a lack of interceptions while at Clemson. DUE TO PITTSBURGH’S DEPTH, ALEXANDER WOULD MOST LIKELY HAVE A ROLE RIGHT AWAY WITH THE STEELERS. ALEXANDER WOULD GIVE PITTSBURGH A FUTURE POSSIBLE NUMBER ONE CORNER.|
|The Seattle defense does have experienced edge rushers and is a strength, however the Seahawks need to improve the interior of their defensive line. Look no further than Andrew Billings who is a very young powerful defensive tackle. Billings best playing days are ahead of him as a very strong player who could possible play the nose tackle role. Billings could enter the starting lineup right away for the Seahawks.|
|GREEN BAY IS IN A TOUGH POSITION WITH THIS PICK. THEIR MOST PRESSING NEED IS INSIDE LINEBACKER, BUT RAGLAND WILL BE GONE BY THE TIME THEY PICK. GREEN BAY MAY TARGET HIM BY TRADING UP, BUT IF THEY STAY WHERE THEY ARE LOOK FOR THEM TO GO WITH THE BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE. Robinson WOULD FIT PERFECTLY INTO GREEN BAY’S DEFENSE AS A MAJOR RUN DEFENDER. THE PACKERS STRUGGLED LAST YEAR STOPPING THE RUN, BUT Robinson WOULD ENTIRE THE DEFENSIVE LINE ROTATION FOR THE PACKERS AND IMPROVE THEIR RUN DEFENSE. The Packers usually go with more agile defensive lineman, but a need has to be to stop the run. If the Packers go with more of their trend of picking athletic defensive lineman, look for them to pick Chris Jones or Kenny Clark.|
|pASS RUSHER HAS BECOME A NEED FOR THE CHIEFS WITH THE NEWS OF jUSTIN hOUSTON’S acl INJURY. tAMBA hALI IS ALSO 32 YEARS OLD SO A YOUNG PASS RUSHER HAS TO BE A PRIORITY. kEVIN dODD WAS KIND OF A ONE YEAR WONDER FOR THE cLEMSON tIGERS GOING FROM not having a sack to recording 12.5 sacks in his junior year. Dodd can come in and compete with Dee ford for early playing time on the chiefs defense.|
|Bruce Arians is a master with developing quarterbacks and Lynch gives Arians this chance. Lynch has the strongest arm in the draft and can make a lot of wow throws. However, accuracy and placement is a concern. He will need sometime to develop, but Lynch could be Palmer’s successor as Palmer enters the season at 36 years old.|
|30||NOAH SPENCE||DE||Eastern Kentucky||6’3″||254|
|CAROLINA ALREADY HAS A GREAT DEFENSIVE LINE, BUT IS LACKING DEPTH AFTER THE RETIREMENT OF JARED ALLEN. KONY EALY SHOULD MOVE INTO AN EVERY DOWN ROLE WITH THE PANTHERS. Noah Spence CAN FIT RIGHT INTO EALY’S ROLE AS A ROTATIONAL DEFENSIVE END AND PASS RUSHER. Spence WILL HELP THE PANTHERS STAY ON TOP AS ONE OF THE PREMIER DEFENSES IN THE NFL. WIDE RECEIVER IS A MORE PRESSING NEED, BUT THE WIDE RECEIVER CLASS THIS YEAR IS PRETTY DEEP. ADDING ANOTHER PASS RUSHER WOULD HAVE A LOT MORE VALUE AT THIS SPOT FOR THE PANTHERS.|
|DENVER’S DEFENSE LED THE TEAM ALL THE WAY TO A SUPERBOWL VICTORY. THE OFFENSE HOWEVER HAS SOME IMPROVING TO DO AS THEIR RUSHING ATTACK WAS MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. NOTHING LIKE ADDING A 6’3 247 POUND RUNNING BACK TO HELP OUT. HENRY WOULD FIT DENVER’S RUSHING SCHEME PERFECTLY AS A ONE CUT RUNNING BACK WITH GREAT SPEED. HENRY CAN TAKE SOME OF THE PRESSURE OFF THE NEW STARTING QUARTERBACK. HENRY CAN BE AN OUTSTANDING GAME CHANGER FOR THE BRONCOS OFFENSE AND ALSO HELP AS A FOURTH QUARTER CLOSER TO WRAP UP GAMES. Henry helps upgrade the offense to another level.|
|32||Will Fuller||WR||Notre Dame||6’0″||186|
|33||Karl Joseph||S||West Virginia||5’10”||205|
|34||Emmanuel Ogbah||DE||Oklahoma St.||6’4″||273|
|35||Chris Jones||DT||Mississippi St.||6’6″||310|
|36||Eli Apple||CB||Ohio St.||6’1″||199|
|37||Connor Cook||QB||Michigan St.||6’4″||217|
|39||Vonn Bell||S||Ohio St.||5’11”||203|
|40||Cody Whitehair||OG||Kansas St.||6’4″||301|
|43||Germain Ifedi||OT||Texas A&M||6’6″||324|
|44||C.J. Prosise||RB||Notre Dame||6’1″||220|
|45||Vernon Butler||DT||Louisiana Tech||6’4″||323|
|46||Michael Thomas||WR||Ohio St.||6’3″||212|
|47||Braxton Miller||WR||Ohio St.||6’1″||204|
|48||Kamalei Correa||OLB||Boise St.||6’3″||243|
|52||Nick Martin||C||Notre Dame||6’4″||299|
|57||Joshua Perry||ILB||Ohio St.||6’4″||255|
|58||Austin Johnson||DT||Penn St.||6’4″||314|
|59||Darian Thompson||S||Boise St.||6’2″||208|
|60||Shilique Calhoun||DE||Michigan St.||6’4″||251|
|62||Kendall Fuller||CB||Virginia Tech||6’0″||187|
|63||Cardale Jones||QB||Ohio St.||6’5″||253|