Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Preview:Memphis Tigers



Memphis Tigers
Memphis had an up and down debut season under Mike Norvell as head coach, as they finished just 3-3 on the year to wrap up with an 8-5 overall record the culminated with a 20 point loss to Western Kentucky in the lower tiered Boca Raton Bowl. There were some positives (Riley Ferguson, beating Houston, beating Temple), but there were some down times as well (44 point loss to SMU, 29 point loss to Tulsa). What the Tigers need to find in 2017 is some solid consistency and the ability to show that the needle will continue to point up in the Norvell ear, much as it had under Justin Fuente before him.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
There were not many people outside of Memphis that believed that Paxton Lynch could leave, and the Tiger passing game would not miss out all that much. Riley Ferguson came in as a transfer from Coffeyville CC, and he took the reins immediately, passing for 3698 yards and 32 TDs to just ten picks on the season. Memphis still managed to score 38.8 points per game last season, and they could very well do that again, and they may have to. David Moore moves up from third to second string behind Ferguson, but two incoming freshmen could give him a push.
Doroland Dorceus failed to hit 1000 yards last fall, but still managed to rush for 810 yards, and scored nine times, all while averaging 6.14 yards per carry. He is back, as is second leading rusher, sophomore Patrick Taylor, who rushed for 546 yards on the season. They should provide a solid combo punch to keep defenses honest this season. Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard also both return as key reserves in the rushing attack for the Tigers.
Anthony Miller was one of the most explosive receivers in the nation last season, as he posted a line of 95-1434-14, and averaged 15.09 yards per catch. He also averaged 110.3 yards receiving per game, and will return as potentially the top ranked receiver in the AAC returning in 2017. Phil Mayhue, who caught 42 passes of his own, also will return. In all, five of the top six receivers on the season ending two deep roster return, giving Ferguson one heck of a stable to throw the ball to this fall.
The line is set up to return four starters from last fall. LT Trevon Tate, LG Dustin Woodward, C Drew Kyser, and RG Gabe Kuhn are all set to return. Every reserve on the two deep is set to return as well, with junior Jace Neville looking to step in and start at RT.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
There really is not much to be concerned about at this point. The Tigers are one of the deepest offensive units in the nation right now, so the entire focus should be on play calling and getting everything ready for the season.
Only Daniel Hurd is gone at receiver, but there are several candidates left to take his place and move on, while the only other real hole heading into fall camp is at RT, where Neville should get first crack at starting after being the understudy there last fall.
The big loss will be replacing 21 made FGs by Jake Elliott, who has graduated. Evan Michael, his backup from last season, will get the first shot at the job as a senior who has never really worked as the PK in a game before as a Tiger. Elliott was a four year starter.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
If the Tigers are going to have one major issue that blocks them from winning the AAC West this fall, it's the defense. This unit allowed 28.8 points per game last fall, and forced their offense into shootouts too many times. In each of the five losses in 2017, the team gave up 42 or more points.
Ernest Settles and Jonathon Cooper both return up front, where they combined for 11.5 TFLs last fall. More will be expected of them if the Tigers are to improve.
Curtis Akins and Genard Avery will both return at LB. They combined for 155 tackles last fall, and much of what happens in the middle of the defense will be conducted through them. They should be a solid anchor for the defense in the 2017 season.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
There are issues almost everywhere that need to be addressed for the Tigers to have complete success in 2017.
Donald Pennington is gone at NT, and they will need a force to gum up the works up the middle. Emmanuel Cooper is the next guy in line, and will be a junior this fall.
DeMarco Montgomery (KAT) and Ty Northern (STAR) are also gone this fall. They combined for 80 tackles last fall. Bryce Huff and Anthony Young are expected to try and step up to fill those jobs.
Three new starters need to be found in the secondary this fall. Chauncey Lanier and Arthur Maulet are both gone at CB, while Chris Morley is also gone at SS. Dontrell Nelson, the only key reserve CB they had last fall, is gone as well. Shaun Rupert could be a fill in at SS, while Jonathon Cook is back at FS.
Nick Jacobs worked as the punter for seven games last fall, but averaged just 38.42 yards per punt, and that will not get it done with this defense behind him.
2017 Schedule: 8/31 UL-Monroe, 9/9 at UCF, 9/16 UCLA, 9/23 Southern Illinois, 9/30 at Georgia State, 10/6 at U Conn, 11/14 Navy, 10/19 at Houston, 10/27 Tulane, 11/3 at Tulsa, 11/18 SMU, 11/25 East Carolina
Final Overview
The Memphis Tigers may have the best returning offense in the entire AAC West, but what will be a stumbling block towards winning the conference title will be their defense. The offense can win most days in offensive shootouts, but that will not always work, and it failed on more than a couple of occasions last season. If the Tigers are to hold off Houston and Navy and any possible dark horse candidates in the division, they have to fix that defense. They are a top three team in the division now, but could dominate with improvements. They are close.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Houston Cougars



Houston Cougars
2016 had to go down as the ultimate in disappointing seasons for the Cougars, as what was considered to be a season that would see them making an outsider push towards the national title ended in a four loss season. A year in which it looked like an absolute in that Houston would be invited to the big table as a member of the Big 12 all went for naught. Tom Herman, their coach who was the hottest prospect for poaching in the nation, was poached, and the school not getting invited to the Big 12 and Power Five was a major reason for that happening, and it seemed at times like has was already half out the door.
Major Applewhite will finally get his chance to be a head football coach, after most of us had known that this day would come for much of the last several years. Now he gets to prove if the faith placed in him was correct, or if he was just another career assistant that was over hyped. The clock starts now.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
It's time for Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen to shine for the Cougars. He has come in with some big fanfare, and there is no reason to believe that he can stand up to it. He passed for 16 TDs as a freshman for the Aggies before transferring out, and with Applewhite working directly with him, he should flourish in the Houston system. Kyle Postma and D'Eriq King also return, but the job is Allen's to lose at this point.
The Cougars rushing attack was not great last fall, averaging just over 140 yards per game rushing, and Duke Catalon, a Texas transfer, never seemed to be entirely healthy. Every scholarship RB that was on the roster last season, however, returns, and if they can get lucky on the health issue, this unit could break loose. With Allen being more of a pure passer than Greg Ward was, the run game should look a bit more traditional this time around.
Steven Dunbar and Linell Bonner will both return this fall at receiver, giving Allen one of the more experienced duos in college football at the WR position. They have a combined 38 career starts, and have played in 62 total combined football games during their Houston careers. A solid group of sophomores who all saw extended playing time late last season will also be on hand to lead the way in the passing game.
The line was plenty raw by the end of last season, with seven freshmen or sophomores on the two deep for the bowl game. The good news in 2017 is that the entire two deep roster for the offensive line from that game all return.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
This is going to seem like nitpicking at this point, but that's really all there is to do right now on the offensive side of the football.
Allen has to be the guy they think he can be at QB. If he fails, if he does not play up to expectations, the Cougars only have Postma and King to turn to, and neither guy is a stand up passer who can really be a focal point of the offense, and everything changes dynamically for the worst. I don't think that this will be an issue, but there is that concern.
The offensive line was very young last season, and they have to do a better job in the run blocking area of the game. As a team, the Cougars were held to just 3.41 yards per carry last fall, and that is not going to get it done. The inability to consistently run the football last season was a huge reason why the defense got mauled in games that the Cougars lost (specifically the Memphis game). Houston must work on better clock management, and better ball control in 2017, and the line will be key here.
The Cougars also lose PK Ty Cummings, who hit 16/20 FGs last season. Joel Scarbrough, a sophomore, is in line to take the job, but has attempted just one FG in his career, and missed it.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The Cougars were a fired up unit most weeks last season on defense, and it all starts and ends up front with all world DE Ed Oliver. Oliver, a sophomore in 2017, finished last season by recording 22.5 TFLs, five sacks, and 66 total tackles. He is a beast up front, and will be one of the most exciting defensive players in the nation to watch. Nick Thurmon also returns up front after finishing with 22 tackles last season.
Matthew Adams finished 2016 as the leading tackler with 82, and he returns in 2017 at ILB. D'Juan Hines finished with 44 tackles at OLB, and also returns. Both will be seniors this fall.
Garret Davis and Khalil Williams both return at their Safety spots. Davis finished with 65 tackles last season, and broke up five passes, while Williams finished with 69 tackles, and broke up three passes.
Punter Dane Roy is back after a solid freshman effort saw him average 40.63 yards per punt on 4.5 punts per game last fall. He looks like a possible breakout talent in 2017 for the Cougars.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
With success, comes losses, and the Cougars have some losses on the defensive side of the football in 2017 to deal with.
Cameron Malveaux is gone on the line after recording eight TFLs last fall. He was dangerous enough to distract teams from spending all of their resources on Oliver, because teams had to keep an eye on him as well. Zach Vaughn, a junior, gets first shot at replacing him, and it is a huge job.
Tyus Bowser and Seven Adams, two of the more successful LBs in Houston history, are both gone, leaving an enormous hole in two spots in the LB corps. Junior Emele Egbule will look to replace Bowser at the OLB spot, while Nomluis Fruge will take a swing at replacing Adams inside.
Both corners need to be replaced after Howard Wilson left early for the NFL, and ended up with the Browns as his reward. Brandon Wilson departs as well. Javian Smith will have a chance to replace Brandon Wilson, but will be just a sophomore in 2017. Jeremy Winchester, a junior, is next up to replace Howard Wilson.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 at UTSA, 9/9 at Arizona, 9/16 Rice, 9/23 Texas Tech, 9/30 at Temple, 10/7 SMU, 10/14 at Tulsa, 10/19 Memphis, 10/28 East Carolina, 11/4 at USF, 11/18 at Tulane, 11/24 Navy
Final Overview
The Cougars may be a bit on the overlooked side for 2017, and only because of the coaching change and a few minor areas of uncertainty. Looking at their schedule, the Cougars could possibly be in for a ten win season. If Allen can seamlessly transition in at QB, if the line can improve on the run block situation, and become more mature overall on the field, then the offense should be just fine. There were some major losses in the back of the defense, but with Oliver returning, the unit still has a massive superstar talent who could one day be a number one overall pick in the NFL draft. If the new starters at CB and LB can gel quickly, and there is another answer found up fron to replace Malveaux, this team could challenge USF for the AAC crown. Getting by Navy and Memphis will be key in the West, but the Cougars could have an edge here.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Today's Appearance On ESPN 105.9

If you were not able to listen in live to my appearance on the "Out of Bounds" show on ESPN 105.9 in Jackson, MS this morning, you can listen to the show here:

http://www.thezone1059.com/audio-vault/

Thanks again to Jake Wimberly for having me on the show today, as we talked about the PAC-12, Notre Dame, and USF football!


Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Navy Midshipmen



Navy Midshipmen
Navy finished 9-5 last season, but won the Western Division of the AAC with a 7-1 conference mark, and they find themselves in what I consider to be a three team race for the division title in 2017. The question that I do have about Navy is will the team that started the season 9-2 prevail in 2017, or will the team that ended the season on a three game losing streak, including a loss at Army, come in to play?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
When Navy lost Will Worth to injury last fall, they had to turn to a youngster in Zach Abey to lead the way. Abey, however, was not the passer that Worth was, and the team struggled around him. Abey is someone I am betting on to have learned lessons from being thrown to the fire last fall, and I am looking for a breakthrough from him. There are some talented, yet inexperienced trigger men behind him in Malcolm Perry and Garrett Lewis to step up if Abey cannot retain the job he held at the end of last season.
Chris High was the second leading rusher on the team in 2016 at FB, and is slated to return for the Middies. He only managed to rush for 546 yards, but did score seven times, and averaged 6.42 yards per carry, so he can show some explosion up the gut.
Bennet Mohring did not get a ton of work at the PK spot last fall, but did hit 8/10 FG attempts, and will return.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Although Navy seems to find bodies to replace departed players every year with relative ease, there are concerns to be noted for certain this fall.
The line is missing three starters from last fall, and that is concerning, as they need a new center, and need to replace the entire left side of the line as well. Jake Hawk (LT), Laurent Njiki (LG), and Maurice Morris (C) were all primary backups at those positions last season, and all return. RG Evan Marlin and RT Andrew Wood both return to the fray.
The QB situation may not be as stable as it seems. Abey did not exactly blow the roof off for anyone when he was given the chance after the injury to Worth. He did manage to rush for 76 yards per contest, but his passing skills were not apparent, as he tossed just one scoring pass against five picks, and completed just 57% of his passes.
Even with High returning at FB, there is no depth behind him, and he was listed as the backup on the two deep for the bowl game. Losing both Dishan Romine and Calvin Cass, Jr at the SB position will not be helpful either. Four of the top five rushers are gone from last season, and that is serious production that needs replacing, especially when Worth was worth more than double that they got from anyone else at QB.
Jamir Tillman, the team's leading receiver with 40 receptions, is gone. Not one other receiver had more tan ten receptions last fall. That is a big problem to deal with.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
Navy had enough weapons laying about to be able to allow 31 points per game last season, but I do not think the same is true this fall.
The strength up front will be in the LB corps in 2017, as three of four starters return in DJ Palmore, Taylor Heflin, and Micah Thomas. Hudson Sullivan was in direct competition at the end of the season with Heflin, so having him back is a plus as well. Eight total LBs from the season ending three deep all are set to return, giving Navy one of the deepest groups of LBs in the AAC.
All four starting members of the secondary return as well for Navy in 2017. Tyris Wootenand Jarid Ryan both return at CB, and Alohi Goodman and Sean Williams both return to start at Safety. Seven reserves from the season ending three deep all return as well, again, giving Navy considerable depth.
Alex Barta, who averaged well over 42 yards per punt is gone, but there may not be need to worry, as Erik Harris returns as a junior, and averaged 45 yards per punt in six games.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The only issue I see here is on the defensive line. LE Jarvis Polu is the lone returning starter up front in the 3-4 set. The loss of Amos Mason (8.5 TFLs in 2016) will be hard to replace, and NG Patrick Forrestal is gone as well. Sophomore Jackson Pittman and senior Dylan Fischer will compete at NG, while Anthony Villalobos will attempt to jump from third to first string to replace Mason at RE. Tyler Sayles and Josh Webbcould jump into the competition at RE, as both were backups at LE last year.
2017 Schedule: 9/1 FAU, 9/9 Tulane, 9/23 Cincinnati, 9/30 at Tulsa, 10/7 Air Force, 10/14 at Memphis, 10/21 UCF, 11/2 at Temple, 11/11 SMU, 11/18 at Notre Dame, 11/24 at Houston, 12/9 Army (at Philadelphia)
Final Overview
I believe in Ken Niumatololo, and that is why  am giving Navy a fighting chance in the West of the AAC in 2017. The offensive questions alone may make me look crazy, but Navy seems to always find answers where questions exist, and I have faith that they will once again. The main block that concerns me more than the talent issues, is the schedule has them going on the road to play both Houston and Memphis, the two teams I have them in a race with. The good news is that a hot start to the season could be in line, as Navy does not travel away from home until 9/30, and gets Air Force at home. There is an opportunity to win the division for the second straight season, or they could finish third, or worse. It's all up in the air.

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: East Carolina Pirates



East Carolina Pirates
The Pirate administration fired Ruffin McNeill after the 2015 season. I very much thought this to be a major mistake, and am still not convinced that the firing, followed by the hiring of former Duke OC Scottie Montgomery, was not a major error in judgement. The Pirates finished 3-9 in the first season under Montgomery, and were not nearly competitive most of the time. All but one of those losses came by double digits, and the final four losses were all by 20 points or more. Getting the Pirates back to legitimate will be a huge task.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Although I am cautiously optimistic about the QB position, Gardner Minshew could be a solid starter for the Pirates in 2017. He played in seven games last season, and passed for 1347 yards and eight TDs to just four picks, as the coaching staff kept a tight leash on him at times. He averaged just 192 yards passing per game, and I am certain that this number will increase a good deal this fall.
Quay Johnson should be his first target, as he caught 58 passes last fall for 563 yards. He is the most senior and most productive starting receiver coming back, but there were huge losses at the position. Johnson should be in line for a breakout season.
The offensive line has got to be better just based on experience from last season alone. Four starters return in LT Messiah Price, LG Garrett McGhin, RG Christian Matau, and RT Brandon Smith. Four listed reserves from the end of last fall all return to provide depth.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
With Minshew the most likely to start at QB, there is no depth behind him at all, and that could be a problem if the injury bug continues to bite at the position as it did last season with Phillip Nelson. If Minshew cannot stand up and win this job in fall camp, the position is a total enigma.
The Pirates had to conver WR James Summers to RB to start there last fall, and he is now gone. Anthony Scott returns as a senior, and may get first crack at being the starter, but finished with just 384 yards last fall. Shawn Furlow, the prime backup candidate, carried the ball just five times last season.
The los of Zay Jones, the all-time NCAA leading receiver, is a massive loss. It could take multiple receivers to make up for his production, but who will they be? Jimmy Williams and Brandon Bishop are both gone as well. Terrell Green, the top option and backup to Jones last season caught just seven passes. and Deondre Farrier is the only other reserve returning.
The kicking game needs to be rebuilt as well at PK. Davis Plowman hit 17/23 FG attempts last season, but is gone. Jake Verity, a sophomore, hit 1/2 attempts last season, and is in line to start, bvut has very limited experience.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
This was a defensive unit in crisis in 2016. The Pirates gave up 36 points per game on the year, and answers need to be found.
The good news up front is that both DEs return in Demage Bailey and Justin Brown. Brown was not a full time starter, but has enough experience, and that is what the Pirates need. That said, both of these guys really need to step up production levels in a major way.
Some good news comes at LB, where three starters are back in the 3-4 set. Kiante Anderson is back at SAM, while Yiannis Bowden returns at the RUSH spot. Bowden has experience at both spots. Jordan Williams will return inside at the WILL spot. Williams led the team with 77 tackles last fall, while Bowden finished with 42.
Three returning starters are to be found in the secondary as well. Both CBs return in the form of Colby Gore, who started as a freshman, and Bobby Fulp, who will be a senior. Fulp shared his position with Chris Love, who is also back as a senior. Travon Simmons will be back to start at FS. In all, four key reserves all will return to add depth.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The answer here is almost everything, while so many players return, not may provided any kind of real punch on the defensive side of the football in 2017, and it may be hard pressed to believe that a major shift could happen inside of one off-season.
Demetri McGill and Fred Presley are both gone at NG, which provides a major hole in the middle of a defense that allowed an average of 5.42 yards per carry last fall. Cam White and Dayon Pratt contributed a combined 123 tackles, and both are gone from the LB corps. Deshaun Amos, who had 51 tackles at SS, is also gone. That is a ton of productivity missing as we head into fall camp.
The punting game is in reset mode as well, after Worth Gregory moved on. He is another huge blow, as he averaged well over 42 yards per punt as a senior. Jake Verity, who may be the starting PK, may have to pull double duty unless someone is found in fall camp.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 James Madison, 9/9 at West Virginia, 9/16 at Virginia Tech, 9/30 USF, 10/7 Temple, 10/14 at UCF, 10/21 at BYU, 10/28 at Houston, 11/4 at U Conn, 11/11 Tulane, 11/18 Cincinnati, 11/25 at Memphis
Final Overview
I cannot find one single game where I would call the Pirates an out and out favorite in 2017, and that includes the home opener against FCS member James Madison, where I have called the Dukes an early 1.5 point favorite. Any win will be hard fought, and will be a bonus based on the talent that the Pirates have on hand. This team was a mess in 2016, and it seemed that with the firing of McNeill, everything fell apart. I am not saying that the Pirates were a conference contender with him, but the firing seemed strangely political to me. That said, I would be greatly shocked to see East Carolina finish anywhere above the AAC East cellar in 2017.

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: U Conn Huskies



U Conn Huskies
After a 3-3 start in Randy Edsell's first year back as head coach of the Huskies, the wheels came off of the wagon, and U Conn lost their final six games of the season to finish 3-9. Edsell does not currently enjoy the sae talent level that he had during his first run as coach of the Huskies, and getting the program back up to par may be more difficult the second time around, based on possibly how Edsell left the school the first time around. Nobody possibly expects the high school kids to know about that, but the opposing recruiters still do, and will use it. It will also be a tough go because of the lacking recruiting talent in the area that the school is located in, and the lagging fan support of college football in the region, which all schools in the New England region suffer from to a point.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
The Huskies have succeeded when they were able to run the ball well in the past, and the good news there is that three starters return on the line in LT Matt Peart, C Ryan Crozier, and RG Brendan Vechery. This will provide a building block of sorts, as the foundation of rebuilding any offense starts up front.
With some decent help up front, Arkeel Newsome may have a shot to jump out at RB this fall. He finished with 715 yards and five scores last fall, but improvement is expected.
Bryant Sherrifs returns at QB, but must play a full slate to find any success for the Huskies. He averaged 223 yards per game las fall in nine games.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Those two open holes on the line could be a problem if not filled early and consistently. Steve Hashemi will get first shot at LG, and is a senior, while Trey Rutherford, another senior, gets first crack at RT.
Sherrifs needs to stay healthy at QB, because backup QB Donovan Williams was thoroughly unimpressive in three games as a freshman, and there is no other real option as far as depth is concerned. Williams tossed just one TD in three games, and threw five picks.
Finding someone to pass to is also a difficult thing to do with this roster. Noel Thomas caught 100 passes last fall for 1189 yards and is gone. Herby Mayala, the primary second starter last fall, finished with just 23 receptions, and never saw the end zone. Depth after Mayala is just depressing.
Bobby Puyol is gone at PK, but he hit just 13/18 FG attempts last season, so a change may be good there, but it remains to be seen who will win the job. Michael Tarbutt will get first look, is a senior, and has not attempted a FG for the Huskies.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The Husky defense, even in bad years, often is the strongest part of the team and has always allowed U Conn to hang around. Last season, they just wore out behind an offense that scored just 14.8 points per game.
The good news is that the possibility of a turnaround, in parts, does exist. Again, on the line, the Huskies will return three of four starters in DE Cole Ornsby (eight TFLs), Luke Carrezola, who also played LB, and DT Foley Fatukasi. Carrezola led the team in TFLs with 11. Depth should not be an issue, as three of the top four top reserves on the final two deep will also return.
The Huskies should be in solid shape on the edge, as both OLBs return from last fall in Vontae Diggs and Junior Joseph. They combined for 165 tackles on the season in 2016, and will be a center piece to the edge defense.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The Husky defense allowed just 3.91 yards per carry last fall, but that number is at risk, as there are two key components that need replacing, DT and MLB. Mikal Myers is gone at DT, while Matt Walsh departs as well at MLB. Kevin Murphy, just a RS Sophomore, will get first look at DT, while EJ Levenberry is the candidate currently at MLB. Levenberry did manage 37 tackles as a key reserve last fall in 11 games.
The best player on defense last season was Obi Melifonwu, their key starting safety, but he is gone to the NFL now. He finished with 118 tackles last fall, and led the team with four picks. Also leaving is CB Jhavon Williams, who finished with 57 tackles, seven PBUs, a pair of forced fumbles, and a pick. John Robinson IV is in line to possibly compete to take the open CB spot, but is just a sophomore this season, while Marsh Terry, another sophomore of the red shirt variety, will get a shot at Safety. Jamar Summers, who broke up seven passes and forced two fumbles, becomes the new leader in the secondary, while Anthony Watkins returns at starting safety.
Justin Wain is also gone at punter, and that is a bit of a blow after he averaged over 41 yards per punt in 2016.Brett Graham, a sophomore, is in front of the competition there.
2017 Schedule: 8/31 Holy Cross, 9/9 USF, 9/16 at Virginia, 9/30 at SMU, 10/6 Memphis, 10/14 at Temple, 10/21 Tulsa, 10/28 Missouri, 11/4 East Carolina, 11/11 at UCF, 11/18 at Boston College (Fenway Park), 11/25 at Cincinnati
Final Overview
I just see absolutely now way that U Conn will be better in 2017 than they were last fall, and in fact could be a bit worse, and the schedule, and of course, their overall lack of talent on the entirety of the roster, will be the driving force. The Huskies do not have enough offense, not nearly enough, to push through, and they play a three out of four game road stint in the middle of the season, followed by three consecutive games away from East Hartford to close out the season. That is a solid recipe for disaster with this football team. I see only two real chances at wins this season in games against Holy Cross and East Carolina, and anything else is a bonus.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Preview: Georgia Bulldogs



Georgia Bulldogs
Year one of the Kirby Smart era was largely an up and down affair that ended with a birth in the Liberty Bowl against TCU. Year two could be a far more successful run, specifically based on returning talent on offense, where eight starters return, and the running game should be amped up with both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returning. Look for the Bulldogs to make a major push for a birth in the SEC title game in the second year of the Smart era.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
The run game should be at full strength with the return of both Chubb and Michel. They combined for just under 2000 yards rushing last season and 12 TDs. The duo could easily break those numbers in 2017, especially if sophomore QB Jacob Eason progresses as expected.
Eason had a decent freshman campaign, but it was not free of bumps in the road. He finished with 2430 yards passing and 16 TDs to just eight picks. He has to become more accurate in his sophomore campaign, and that is expected. He does not need to be a superstar with his RB corps, but he does need to be at least be an accurate game manager.
Isaiah McKenzie is gone at WR, and was the leading receiver for the Bulldogs with 44 receptions last fall, but that should not be a huge concern with the return of both Terry Godwin and Michael Chigbu returning. Both will be coming into their junior campaigns, and both are expected to step into major roles in the offense. Chigbu only caught nine passes last fall, and is a bit of an enigma.
The TE group may be the deepest on the team, and Isaac Nauta and Jeb Blazevich should see a bulk of the playing time.
Rodrigo Blankenship hit 14/18 FGs as a freshman last season, and will return as the starting PK.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The offensive line could be an issue, as both tackles and the center position must be filled in fall camp. Isaiah Wynn and Lamont Gaillard both return at Guard, but replacing 60% of the line could take time, and those who win the jobs will need time to gel. Dyshon Sims figures into one open spot, while Wynn could shift to tackle, with Gaillard shifting to Center. There are several bodies who will not be available until fall camp, so the look could be jumbled in comparison to what we know right now.
There is also some concern about the receiver position. Chigbu could be the answer, but his limited production at this point leaves him a mystery. Overall, the position will need someone to stand up and be the man, or else the development of Eason may be in doubt. Look for Javon Wims and Riley Ridley to get plenty of time on the field as well.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The Bulldogs lost 12 lettermen on defense, but none of those were on the defensive line, and nine total linemen return to action in 2017. Trenton Thompson is one of the most impressive members of that unit at DT after leading the team with 9.5 TFLs last season while lining up at tackle. John Atkins also has the most experience of any of the returning linemen, and will line up at NT. The Bulldogs should be all set up the middle. DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle and Tyler Clark will also rotate in at the tackle and Nose positions.
Lorenzo Carter and David Bellamy both could have bolted for the NFL after last season, but chose instead to stay, giving the Bulldogs one of the best duos at OLB in the nation. They combined for 15 TFLs last fall, and will give the Bulldogs some presence in the edge rush department. There is also plentiful depth, but lacking experience, behind them.
Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick will both return at ILB after finishing first and second in tackles last fall. They combined for 154 total tackles on the season, and will give a solid backing to the already solid middle of the defense.
The Bulldogs also have solid experience coming back in the secondary, especiallt at CB, where both Malkom Parrish and DeAndre Barker return. Parrish finished with nine PBUs last season.
Aaron Davis and Dominick Sanders will also both return to their starting Safety spots in 2017.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
While there is solid experience coming back at the DE spots, production was rather spotty there in 2017. Jonathon Ledbetter and David Marshall both return, but both need some kind of breakout season to help the production of the other edge players.
While the starting experience is deep at LB, the backup group boasts mostly special teams experience, and the unit is rather thin on the reserve level.
The secondary was not exactly massively prolific last fall, and with all four starters returning, much is expected out of a group that will be important in the march to an Eastern Division crown.
The Punting game is also of concer, as Marshall Young only averaged 38.71 yards per punt last season.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Appalachian State, 9/9 at Notre Dame, 9/16 Samford, 9/23 Mississippi State, 9/30 at Tennessee, 10/7 at Vanderbilt, 10/14 Missouri, 10/28 at Florida (Jacksonville), 11/4 South Carolina, 11/11 at Auburn, 11/18 Kentucky, 11/25 at Georgia Tech
Final Overview
The schedule is daunting in some spots, including in the middle chunk of the season where Georgia plays three games away from Athens in four weeks. Georgia will play four of their final seven on the road or on a neutral field, and hosts just six games on the season.
The offense needs some pep after averaging just over 24 points per game last season, and once again, the run game will be massively important to increase output, but the line may present an issue there if answers cannot be found early with three open holes. The development of Eason could mean everything.
The defense is always solid, but last season lacked any real power, and the Bulldogs, not just on defense, seemed to sputter at times. With a ton of returning experience, one should expect that to be a thing of the past.
When you look at Georgia on paper, all of the pieces seem to fit that would send the Bulldogs on to the SEC title game, but that is on paper only right now, and the Eastern Division is still considerably weak. If the Bulldogs can put it together, they should have enough talent on hand to deal with that weakened East, and move on.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Cincinnati Bearcats



Cincinnati Bearcats
With very little fanfare, the Tommy Tuberville era has ended with the Bearcats, and the program stayed in state to hire their new head man, former Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell. I am not certain how this will play out, as Fickell was just 6-6 in his lone season as interim head coach, and he inherits a roster that is essentially bare of any real talent. He does, however, get the benefit in coaching what should be a very watered down AAC East in 2017.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
One has to be excited about the prospect of having a healthy Hayden Moore back at QB in 2017, as he was limited to just seven games in 2016. If Moore can get it together and stay on the field, he could be due for a terrific fall, but if the health issues continue, all of the excitement goes down the drain, and the Bearcats fall from fourth in the East, which is where I have projected them, to last.
Khalil Lewis and Devin Gray both return at WR this fall after combining for 106 receptions and 1465 yards last fall. They should give Moore instant impact in the passing game, and that is a good thing for a team trying to erase the disaster that was 2016.
Three starters also return on the line in LT Ryan Stout, RG Will Steur, and RT Korey Cunningham, and all eight of the reserves from the three deep return to give the Bearcats a massive amount of depth up front.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The Bearcats failed to score 20 points per contest in 2017, and much of that had to do with injuries or poor play at QB. Moore has got to remain healthy in 2017 for UC to get back to where they can be, an offensive juggernaut. Ross Trail is the only QB coming back behind Moore, and he was mostly terrible last fall.
Tion Greenis gone at RB, and even he was not great last fall. UC rushed for just eight total TDs last season, and that was a huge reason why they finished 1-7 in AAC play. I have got to think that rectifying a bad run game will be a huge top of the order issue with the new staff. As a team, UC finshed with just 118 yards rushing per game, good for just 117th in the nation.
Josh Pasley returns as the starting PK, but hit just 11/17 FG attempts in 2016.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
UC allowed 26.9 points per game last season, which is something that must be rectified as well. The good news is that three out of the front four return with a year of experience behind them. This unit was composed of all freshmen and sophomores a year ago, so one would expect improvement. Kevin Mouhan and Caleb Ashworth should both be starting at DE, while Cortez Broughton returns at DT. Five others return who saw reserve duty as well last fall, giving the Bearcats a luxury up front.
Three of the four members of the secondary also return. Grant Coleman and Alex Thomas will both be back at CB, while Tyrell Gilbert is back at Safety.Every major reserve returns in the secondary as well, including Carter Jacobs, who should get first shot at the open Safety spot.
Sam Geraci returns as well at Punter, where he averaged a shade over 40 yards per punt last fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
UC allowed 2275 yards rushing last fall, and the entire LB corps must be replaced as far as starters are concerned. Antonio Kinard, Eric Wilson, and Mike Tyson all are gone, and that could be a very bad thing. The good news is that every major backup at LB returns, and they will all have to step into starting roles. Perry Young, Jaylylin Minor, and Chris Murphy should all get first shot at the starting jobs. With Alex Pace gone at DT, Marquise Copeland will get first shot at replacing him.
2017 Schedule: 8/31 Austin Peay, 9/9 at Michigan, 9/16 at Miami (Ohio), 9/23 at Navy, 9/30 Marshall, 10/7 UCF, 10/21 SMU, 10/28 USF, 11/4 at Tulane, 11/10 Temple, 11/18 at East Carolina, 11/25 U Conn
Final Overview
The schedule does not set up well for a successful first season for Luke Fickell and staff, and the roster needs some help as well. Tommy Tuberville really screwed this place up during his tenure, and so we are looking at a complete reset.
The schedule is fairly brutal for the most part, including three straight road trips in the first half of the season. I would place the over/under for wins at around four, but I would bet on the lower end of that for 2017.

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Temple Owls



Temple Owls

Temple Owls
Temple may very well be one of the more difficult teams to project in the AAC for 2017. Gone is Matt Ruhle, who was the architect of the success of the last few seasons in Philadelphia, and in comes defensive guru Geoff Collins, who was DC at both Florida and Mississippi State. How he transitions to being a full fledged head coach, and not just a defensive mind, will go a long way in determining if any of the recent success can continue.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Jahad Thomas may be gone at RB, but not all is lost. Ryquell Armstead returns after a season in which he rushed for 919 yards and a tea leading 14 TDs on the season. Armstead has massive burst and should be a focal point of the offense in 2017.
Receiver should be a major strength for the new Temple QB in 2017, as the top six producing WRs return, including bowl game starters Ventell Bryant, Keith Kirkwood, and Brodrick Yancy. Bryant posted a line of 54-895-4 last fall, and Kirkwood caught 42 passes as well. There should be no shortage of targets to throw the football to.
Three starters return on the line, but Dion Dawkins has moved on, which could hurt. LG John Fair, RG Adrian Sullivan, and RT Leon Johnson all are set to return, and the top reserves at every position on the line will return as well, giving the Owls some solid depth there.
Aaron Boumerhi will return as the starting PK after hitting 15/17 FG attempts last fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Logan Marchi and Frank Nutile will take their QB battle into the spring, and there could be other candidates in the mix as well. With Phillip Walker out of the picture, this position is suddenly very unsettled. They attempted a combined eight passes last fall.
Dion Dawkins will be a load to replace at the all important LT spot. Junior Cole Boozer was his primary backup last fall, and is first in line to take over.
There will need to be a find at TE as well, as both Colin Thompson and Romond Deloatch have departed.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The interior defensive line should be rock solid in 2017, as both DT Michael Dogbe and NT Averee Robinson return. They combined for 12.5 TFLs last fall from up the middle, and should be able to apply plenty of pressure up front.
Other than losing Nate Hairston at CB to the draft, three other starters return for the Owls in the secondary in 2017. Ariel Foster returns at one CB spot, while Sean Chandler and Delvin Randall are back at the Safety spots. Sophomore Linwodd Crump gets first crack at replacing Hairston.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
Haason Reddick is gone to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL, and Praise Martin-Oguike is gone at the other DE spot. That's 32.5 TFLs of productivity gone on one season, and that is going to take some work to replace. Avaery Ellis was Martin-Oguike's backup last season, and he is gone as well. Jacob Martin gets first shot at Reddick's spot.
All three starting LB spots must be replaced in fall camp, as Avery Williams, Jarred Alwan, and Stephaun Marshall all move on. William Kwenkeu and Jeremiah Atoki get first shot at filling in the starting jobs outside, but both are merely sophomores this fall. Junior Jared Folks is next in line at the MLB position.
The Punting game was a bit of a mess last season, as Alex Starzyk averaged just 38.96 yards per punt last fall. He is returning, but either they need more from him, or a replacement must be identified. Boumerhi can punt if needed.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Notre Dame, 9/9 Villanova, 9/15 U Mass, 9/21 at USF, 9/30 Houston, 10/7 at East Carolina, 10/14 U Conn, 10/21 at Army, 11/2 Navy, 11/10 at Cincinnati, 11/18 UCF, 11/25 at Tulsa
Final Overview:
It's going to be an interesting go in year one of the Geoff Collins era for the Owls. First thing he will have to do is find a new QB to replace Phillip Walker, and that will not be easy. He also has to replace Dion Dawkins on the line, making matters more difficult.
The defense may have some issues on the edge and in the middle, as both DEs and all three LBs need to be replaced, and losing Hairston at CB is another major hole to fill.
The schedule is not kind late, but it is not impossible, so the win/loss total should be set right around six for the Owls in 2017.

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: UCF Knights



UCF Knights
UCF showed significant levels of improvement in year one of the Scott Frost era, and I would find it safe to assume to bet on the fact that you should see more of that improvement in year two. The overall outlook in the Eastern Division of the AAC in 2017 shows that several members will be stepping back a bit in 2017, so this is a major opportunity for this program to step up and assert themselves, and I believe that they have the ability to do so.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
McKenzie Milton was showing some flashes by the end of the season for the Knights, and returns as the starter at QB for his sophomore campaign. With Justin Holman gone, the position is all his heading into the fall, and nobody is looking over his shoulder.
Milton will have his top target back in 2017 in Tre'quan Smith, who led the team with 853 yards receiving and five scores last fall, and sophomore Dredrick Nelson was a high school All-American, and will likely replace the departed Taylor Oldham.
Four starters return on the offensive line in LT Aaron Evans, LG Tate Hernley, RG Jordan Johnson, and RT Wyatt Miller. Do not be surprised to see Hernley kick into Center, as he has experience starting there.
PK Matthew Wright connected on 17/22 FG attempts in 2016, and returns as the starter for 2017.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The run game needs to develop some kind of star to help further the development of Milton at QB. Last season, not one back rushed for as much as 500 yards, and that will not cut it again. Jawon Hamilton, Adrian Killins, and Taj McGowan are all battling for carries as we head into the summer.
Behind Smith, there was not much in the way of production among the receivers in 2017, and that is another area of concern for the coaching staff.
Offensive line depth will also be an area of concern as well, as the staff has tried to find a clear cut order of rotation behind the starters that they did not have in 2016.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The defense, which was solid last season, got hit hard by departures after 2016, and will have to rebuild in several areas. Where they are still solid is on the defensive line, where the entire two deep from the bowl game returns. Trysten Hill and Joey Connors will still likely rotate at RDE, and Brendan Hayes is in the mix for playing time there as well. Jamiyus Pittman is a beast at NG, and has 8.5 career sacks. Tony Guerad was a monster off of the edge last season, and returns at DE as well. AJ Wooten is back to backup at NG, while Seyvon Lowry will back up Guerad.
Shaquem Griffin is the lone member of the LB corps to return in 2017, but he is a good one, as he recorded 20 TFLs last season.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The entire back seven, save Griffin at LB, needs to be rebuilt this fall. Star CB Shaquille Griffin is gone, and so is much of the rest of the secondary, as not one starter from the bowl game returns. Rashard Causey is the main leader to replace Griffin at CB, but played in just six games last fall. Nevelle Clark is in the lead to start at CB opposite Causey, but played in a reserve/nickel role last season. Tre Neal and Kyle Gibson are the leading candidates for the Safety jobs, but Gibson played corner most of last season.
Chequan Burkett, Pat Jasinski, and Titus Davis are all in line for the open LB jobs, but were all reserves last season. Burkett and Jasinski got solid playing time, but Davis played in just six games.
A new punter will need to be identified as well, as Caleb Houston moves on. Mac Loudermilk is a rugby styled punter, but averaged just 35 yards per punt. He is the leading candidate for the job as of now.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 FIU, 9/9 Memphis, 9/16 Georgia Tech, 9/23 at Maryland, 9/30 Maine, 10/7 at Cincinnati, 10/14 East Carolina, 10/21 at Navy, 11/4 at SMU, 11/11 U Conn, 11/18 at Temple, 11/24 USF
Final Overview
The Knights have enough on offense to carry this team if a running game can be found, and some decent receivers present themselves out of this crop. The line should be more than good enough to get the work done in the trenches, and they have a solid kicker as well.
The real issue here will be on defense, where the entire back seven must be rebuilt, save Griffin. If that project cannot get off the ground in the early part of camp and the season, my projections could all be moot. Defense and the run game will be the most major areas of concern here, as is the schedule from 10/7 through 11/14, where the Knights play three road games in four weeks.

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: USF Bulls


   


USF Bulls 2017 Preview


2017 could be the year of the Bull in Tampa and in the AAC. Charlie Strong was bum rushed out of Texas, but the reality is that the chips were always stacked against his success there. Strong can still flat out coach, and he may have the best roster USF has ever had in their relatively short football history. In short, it would not shock me to see the Bulls playing in an NY6 bowl this December.
What to Be Excited About: Offense
One of the best QBs in the nation will be returning in Quinton Flowers, who sizes up as Lamar Jackson without the overall exposure. Flowers should be the absolute favorite in the preseason for AAC offensive MVP. He passed for 2812 yards last season with 24 TDs to just seven INTs, while rushing for 1530 yards and 18 scores. As he goes in 2017, so go the Bulls.
The offensive line returns three starters who started at least nine games last season in C Cameron Ruff, LG Jeremi Hall, and RT Marcus Norman. Sophomore LT Billy Atterbury started four games last season before a broken leg ended his season against Florida State. The only concern here is how this unit gels under their fifth O line coach in five seasons.
PK Emilio Nadlman will be the lone PK this fall after hitting all seven of his FG attempts last season.
What to Be Concerned About: Offense
There are two key areas of the offense that are cause for concern early, and that revolves around the loss of Marlon Mack at RB and Rodney Adams at WR. D'Ernest Johnson will get a full crack at taking over as the starting RB after rushing for 543 yards and eight scores a year ago, but he does not possess the same kind of explosiveness that Mack had, as he averaged just 4.89 yards per carry last fall. Darius Tice returns as a RS Senior as the primary backup.
As far as the receiving game goes, the Bulls lose 95 total receptions with Adams and Mack being gone, and nobody else caught as many as 30 balls last fall. Tyre McCants lines up as the Z receiver and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will line up as the X, but they combined for just 47 receptions last season, and will have to step up in a huge way in 2017.
What to be Excited About: Defense
Auggie Sanchez returns at MLB this fall after leading the team with 117 tackles last season. He also led the team with six sacks and eight TFLs. D Line leader Deadrin Senat returns at DT as well, and will help anchor down the middle of the defense. Kirk Livingstone showed pomise as a freshman last season, and will head into camp starting at DE. Bruce Hecotr returns at the other DT spot, and Mike Love moves into the starting DE spot that was open after a 27 tackle performance as a junior in 2016.
There is also decent depth on the D line behind the starters in terms of experience.
The secondary is positively loaded, with six DBs back who contributed a great deal last season in Safeties Tajee Fullwood, Jaymon Thomas, Devin Abraham, Khalid McGee, Deatrick Nichols, and Ronnie Hoggins.
Punter Jonathon Hernandez averaged 41.22 yards per punt last season as a sophomore, and he also returns.
What to Be Concerned About: Defense
This could be one of the most loaded defenses in the history of USF football in terms of talent, so there is not much to worry about. The only position that is really open as we head into fall camp would be at WLB, where sophomore Nico Swatell is staking his flag. There was no backup at the WLB position listed heading into spring, so depth at the LB position will be something that needs some focus as we head into the fall.
Schedule: 8/26 San Jose State, 9/2 Stony Brook, 9/9 at U Conn, 9/15 Illinois, 9/21 Temple, 9/30 at East Carolina, 10/14 U Mass, 10/21 at Tulane, 10/28 Cincinnati, 11/4 Houston, 11/16 Tulsa, 11/24 at UCF
Final Overview
USF, in my eyes, is in the best position of any G5 school in 2017 to break into the NY6 bowl lineup. The talent level is loaded, and USF is the absolute favorite to win the AAC. Of course, Houston was in a similar position last fall, and failed, but the Bulls are not dealing with a coach who may or may not be leaving any minute as they begin the Charlie Strong era. The hiring of Strong to replace Willie Taggart was a major move for the Bulls, and the needle is pointing straight up. USF looks like an easy 10 or 11 game winner this fall, and could be favored in all 12 games on the schedule.

   


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Baylor May Not Be Punished By NCAA, But Will Be Left Behind Eventually

     A Title IX lawsuit was filed in Texas this morning by a former Baylor volleyball player who claims that she was gang raped by upwards of eight Baylor football players, and she also claims that there existed a culture at Baylor that was heavily dependent on Baylor football players drugging women for the purpose of sexual assault. The most disturbing part of these charges are that they seem like just another day at Baylor University these days. This is the school that saw one basketball player murder another in recent history, after all. The question does remain, however, why has the NCAA not openly investigated and punished Baylor as they have in other cases, most notably at Penn State?
     That question is valid in every sense of the word, and I find it repulsive that the NCAA has not taken action even to open a formal investigation into the dealings of the Baylor athletic department over the last decade. Baylor should be fully attacked with every weapon the NCAA has at their disposal, and should be shut down before any other disasters occur. What I propose, in the case that the NCAA does not have the teeth to go after Baylor, which they do not, is that it may not matter when all of the dust settles from the next round of conference realignment. Baylor will most likely be left out of the power structure that will be built, and will be left behind like the relic they should be.
     I wrote a piece last week on this blog that Oklahoma could leave the Big 12 right now without worrying about the Grant of Rights deal that would have them pay millions to bail out. I wrote that Oklahoma would leave and would most likely take Oklahoma State with them. I also wrote how Texas, TCU, Kansas, and most likely Texas Tech would all get invites to the current PAC-12, which would then leave Iowa State, West Virginia, Kansas State, and Baylor out in the cold with no power conference invite awaiting them.
     This is important, as a new power 64 alignment would have seats in high demand. Any school left out of this arrangement would fall to the wayside as a forgotten member of an old structure that no longer holds power, and that is, at the very least, where Baylor belongs. With a loss of having a seat at the power broker table, Baylor would stand to lose millions of dollars almost immediately, and would then have to adjust to life as an also ran, with no better positioning than a member of Conference USA, Sun Belt, or Big Sky Conferences. Imagine the humiliation that this would bring. It would be a bit of poetic justice in the end, with the only better option being complete shut down.
     This is not a time and place to be under constant scrutiny, as Baylor has been, as it only facilitates a more negative image at a time when selling oneself is at a premium. It has always been a tough go for faith based universities getting access to power conferences. Just ask BYU, and to a point, Notre Dame. The Irish were denied entry to the Big 10 in the 1920's, and they still have not gotten over it. BYU should be in the PAC-12, but was jilted for Colorado. Because of this history, I still do not buy TCU as getting an invite to the PAC-12, but hey, that was not my story. That said, they are a far better option than Baylor these days.
     All in all, I see no way that Baylor gets carries over into a proposed Power 64 structure that we could see as soon as 2021. I do know that we will not have to wait until 2025, which is when the current TV structured deal ends with ESPN, because ESPN may have to mortgage their way out of that deal as they continue to hemorrhage cash. Either way, Baylor will be on the outside looking in in all likelihood, and that may have to do.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Picks and Lines: Week One

Here are my postings for what remains of week one of the 2017 college football season. Included are my personal lines and picks, and again, I am not taking wagers, as this is for entertainment purposes only. I will be announcing a free pick tournament fairly shortly, where you, the readers, can make picks against my lines, and I will keep standings week to week. There will be no money involved, and the only prize will be bragging rights, but it should be fun for the upcoming season. Here are my lines for what remains of week one, as all of my Thursday and Friday picks were posted in previous posts.

Saturday, September 2nd
UCF 14.5 FIU
Iowa 3.5 Wyoming
James Madison 1.5 East Carolina
Fresno State 20 Incarnate Word
Missouri 38.5 Missouri State
Illinois 14.5 Ball State
USC 17 Western Michigan
Northwestern 10.5 Nevada
Kansas State 35 Central Arkansas
North Texas 9 Lamar
Texas Tech 6.5 Eastern Washington
Western Kentucky 31 Eastern Kentucky
South Carolina 1.5 NC State
Marshall 2.5 Miami (Ohio)
Virginia 7.5 William & Mary
LSU 5.5 BYU
TCU 48 Jackson State
Air Force 37.5 VMI
Hawaii 21.5 Western Carolina
Penn State 24.5 Akron
Auburn 18 Georgia Southern
San Jose State 3 Cal Poly
UNLV 36 Howard
Oklahoma State 13 Tulsa
Clemson 28.5 Kent State
Kansas 17 SE Missouri State
North Carolina 9.5 California
Mississippi State 25 Charleston Southern
Tulane 17.5 Grambling
Texas State 17 Houston Baptist
UAB 10 Alabama A&M
New Mexico 27 Abilene Christian
Georgia 8.5 Appalachian State
Arizona 10.5 Northern Arizona
Oklahoma 28 UTEP
Oregon 48.5 Southern Utah
Ohio 24.5 Hampton
Pittsburgh 15.5 Youngstown State
Louisiana Tech 27.5 Northwestern State
Miami 45.5 Bethune Cookman
Baylor 41 Liberty
UL-Lafayette 14.5 SE Louisiana
USF 38 Stony Brook
Kentucky 2.5 Southern Mississippi
San Diego State 27.5 UC Davis
Houston 18 UTSA
Michigan State 10.5 Bowling Green
Texas 4.5 Maryland
Oregon State 21 Portland State
SMU 26 Stephen F Austin
Coastal Carolina 7.5 U Mass
Boise State 6.5 Troy
Iowa State 7.5 Northern Iowa
Washington State 22 Montana State
Nebraska 12.5 Arkansas State
Duke 45 North Carolina Central
Alabama 2.5 Florida State
Michigan 3.5 Florida
Louisville 17.5 Purdue
Ole Miss 8.5 South Alabama
Notre Dame 6 Temple
Vanderbilt 1.5 Middle Tennessee

Sunday, September 3
Texas A&M 3 UCLA
West Virginia 10.5 Virginia Tech

Monday September 4th
Tennessee 2.5 Georgia Tech

I will also be posting my personal lines for all FCS games in the coming days!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bilo's College Football Week One Picks and Lines: September 1, 2017

Here are my picks for games being played on September 1, 2017, with my personal lines and picks. Again, this is for entertainment purposes only, and I am not taking wagers on these lines.

September 1st, 2017
Eastern Michigan 4.5 Charlotte
Wisconsin 21 Utah State
Syracuse 42 Central Connecticut State
Army 11.5 Fordham
Washington 31 Rutgers
Boston College 3 Northern Illinois
Colorado 7.5 Colorado State
Navy 17 FAU

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bilo's College Football Picks and Spreads: Games on 8/31/17

This spring and summer, I am releasing my early picks with my own generated point spreads for week by week college football games for the 2017 season. I have already posted my picks for games played on 8/26, and here are my picks for 8/31. Remember, this is for entertainment purposes only, and I am not taking wagers on these picks. Here are my next round of picks for games on 8/31:

August 31st, 2017
Idaho -14.5 Sacramento State
U Conn -24 Holy Cross
Utah -38.5 North Dakota
Central Michigan -44 Rhode Island
Minnesota -22 Buffalo
Toledo -28.5 Elon
Arkansas -45 Florida A&M
Arizona State -27 New Mexico State
Memphis -26.5 UL Monroe
Cincinnati -42 Austin Peay
Ohio State -17 Indiana
Wake Forest -21.5 Presbyterian
Georgia State -17.5 Tennessee State

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How Oklahoma Can Leave Big 12 Now, Despite Grant of Rights

Paul Finebaum, college football's resident SEC expert and no nothing about just about anything else, has stirred the Big 12 destruction pot once again in the last week by claiming that Oklahoma is searching desperately for a way out of the Big 12, with all signs indicating interest in joining the SEC. I don't always agree with Finebaum, and many don't, but in this case, I absolutely agree that nothing has changed from the last several months, and that the Big 12 is absolutely heading for complete destruction, and that destruction will hurtle towards a fiery demise with the immediate departure of the Sooners.
There has been some unstable peace in the Big 12, but let's be serious, nothing has really changed in the fortunes of the conference other than they have added a title game with a ten team structure. By the way, this was a title game that many in the league never wanted in the first place, and Bob Stoops has been very clear about that mindset for a long while now. There is no movement in the expansion market, and Texas still has their own sweetheart deal outside of the conference structure with the Longhorn network.
Oklahoma may very well want out sooner than later, and that part sounds true when you ask around and read between lines. The issue that many people are bringing about is one of the Big 12 Grant of Rights deal that prevents any team from leaving the conference without paying exorbitant fees to do so. That may not be so much of a problem if events unfold as many have seen them doing. The current Grant of Rights deal runs through 2021, meaning that if OU wanted to leave without a fee, in practice, they would have to wait five years to do so. The Sooners will likely not have to do this at all, even if they left tonight.
The way this works is that there is a clause in the Grant of Rights deal that strictly states that should a majority of members leave within a prescribed period of time of each other, that time frame being loosely 12 months, the Grant of Rights deal dies with the league. Not one member that leaves the league, if a majority of members follow suit, would owe the remaining members not one cent.
Will this happen? You can bet your sensible stetson it would. If Oklahoma leaves the Big 12 for the SEC, or PAC-12, or Big 10, as has been rumored in every mentioned conference listed, The Sooners would be required to take a partner with them in all cases. That partner would naturally be Oklahoma State, as the state legislature, and more importantly T. Boone Pickens, would never sit still for the Sooners leaving OSU behind. Now the Big 12 is down to eight members. The latest round of rumors states that Kansas, TCU, Texas Tech, and Texas, would all  receive an automatic invite from either the Big 10 or the PAC-12, if OU and OSU go to the SEC. That leaves the league with just four members, and there you have your majority, and the GRant of Rights fees are dead in the water. Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virgnia are on the outside looking in, but we all know that West Virginia would likely take an invite with the ACC over night.
How realistic is this scenario? Eventually, very much so, and I would say that in five years, it is a certainty that this scenario plays out, but does it play out sooner? Well, that is all up to OU, OSU, and who offers the best deal. The reality is that this is coming like a freight train at some point of time, and the leftover programs had better start looking out for themselves in a hurry.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

Here are my final 2017 NFL Draft grades for teams in the AFC South:

Houston Texans
1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (B)
2. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt (A)
3. D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas (B)
4. Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (A)
4. Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson (A)
5. Treston Decoud, S, Oregon State (D)
7. Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor (A)
Final Grade: 3.28 (B)
There were four verifiable home runs based on prospect rankings for the Texans in this draft. Cunningham may be the most underrated LB in this class, and I would have been very much OK with him being picked in the last half of the first round. Davenport was one of the most high profile small school picks, and may end up as a starter by the end of the season. Watkins gives the front seven rotational depth on the interior, and he can be very productive in that role. Fuller had a fourth round stamp on him, and by falling to the seventh, he gives the Texans a cheap player who could work his way into a job.
Watson is not nearly as much a home run or a sure thing as the others. He has never played under center on a regular basis, and needs a ton of work, and is also a turnover machine. I have heard some say that he could be the Dak Prescott of 2017, but Prescott never had expectations, and nobody saw him coming. This is much different. Foreman has some serious skill at RB, and could have instant impact, but he has only had a major impact as a runner for one full season, and his off-field focus could be a concern.
I cannot see Decoud cracking this 53 man roster and he may be limited to special teams if he does. He was a complete throw away pick.

Indianapolis Colts
1. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State (B)
2. Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (A)
3. Tarrell Basham, DE, Ohio (A)
4. Zach Banner, OT, USC (B)
4. Marlon Mack, RB, USF (A)
4. Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (C)
5. Nate Hairston, CB, Temple (D)
5. Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern (B)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
The Colts did an overall decent job of drafting in 2017, as they attained three A grade picks on the weekend. Quincy Wilson gives the Colts a potential stable presence at CB, which was much needed. Marlon Mack may eventually give the Colts an every down back that they have not had in a long while, and Terrell Basham may be one of the more underrated edge guys in the draft.
Hooker is a solid player, but only produced for one full season. He was a complete ball hawk in that one season, but was that real, or just a glitch? Banner will give the Clts depth at either tackle or guard, and Walker's stock was soaring heading into draft weekend, yet still fell to the Colts in the fifth round.
Stewart was a bit of a reach in the fourth round, and could have been had later, and Hairston gained just a 7th round grade, so he was a massive reach in the fifth.

Jacksonville Jaguars
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (A)
2. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (A)
3. Duwuane Smoot, DE, Illinois (C)
4. DeDe Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (B)
5. Blair Brown, LB, Ohio (B)
7. Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota (B)
7. Marquez Williams, FB, Miami (C)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
The Jags addressed major needs early on by picking Fournette and Robinson, who should both be starters from day one. The Jags had made it known in the days leading up to the draft that of Fournette had not gone to Chicago, he was their guy, and it worked out.
Westbrook was one of the more dynamic receivers coming in this class, but off field potential issues developed, leaving him in a cloud of character murkiness that most teams wanted to avoid. He is a solid player, but character concerns and the lack of need at the position dropped this pick a point for me.
Brown has no issues, and has value where he was selected, but again, LB was not a pressing need coming into the draft, and they had other issues to address here. The same can be said for Myrick and Williams.
Smoot did fill a major need for the Jaguars, but they reached on him by two rounds, and he may not pan out.

Tennessee Titans
1. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (A)
1. Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC (A)
3. Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky (A)
3. Jonnu Smith, TE, FIU (C)
5. Jayon Brown, LB, UCLA (A)
6. Corey Levin, OL, Chattanooga (C)
7. Josh Carroway, OLB, TCU (D)
7. Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova (B)
7. Khalifi Muhammed, RB, California (F)
Final Grade: 2.67 (B-)
The Titans were crushing this draft early, but it took some bad turns late.
Davis and Taylor will give the Titans some major impact at receiver, where they could use some punch in 2017 for Marcus Mariota. Jackson was one of my favorite players in the draft, and I completely disagree with the assessment by Mike Mayock that he is merely a developmental corner. He will be a starter from day one, will return kicks and punts, and could be used as a secret weapon on offense as well. Jayon Brown is one of the more productive yet underrated LBs in this class.
Seaton will give the Titans some developmental depth, and was probably a better pick than Levin, who was a reach even in the sixth round.
Smith is a solid TE/H-Back type who can run and catch the football, and is a decent blocker, but he was not really a need for where they took him.
Carroway and Muhammed may find it difficult to crack the 53 man roster.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

I will be finishing my draft grades for the 2017 NFL Draft this week, and we begin the final run down of the AFC teams tonight with the AFC West. Here are my final grades for these four teams:

Denver Broncos
1. Garret Bolles, OT, Utah (A)
2. DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State (C)
3. Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech (B)
3. Branden Langley, CB, Lamar (D)
5. Jake Butt, Michigan, TE (B)
5. Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia (B)
6. DeAngelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina (A)
7. Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss (D)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
The Broncos nailed a couple of picks, with their best efforts going into Bolles and Henderson. Bolles is an immediate starter at OT, while Henderson provided good value for where he was taken, and can potentially add solid depth to the RB corps. Henderson will be an instant impact player as well, and Butt will more than likely over play his draft spot one he is healthy again. McKenzie was good value for where he was picked, and provides depth. Walker was a reach for the Broncos, as he earned a 4th round grade from most services. Langley was also a major reach, as he received a late round draft grade, and Kelly was just a throw away pick late.

Kansas City Chiefs
1. Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech (C)
2. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova (C)
3. Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo (B)
4. Jehu Chesson, WR, Michigan (F)
5. Ukeme Eligwe, LB, Georgia Southern (F)
6. Leon McQuay, S, USC (F)
Final Grade: 1.17 (D-)
This class was a mess for the Chiefs, who looked like they had no plan at all coming except to reach and whiff. Mahomes is strictly a developmental guy who is a technological mess that will need to be stripped down and rebuilt. Kpassagnon is a nice player, but he was a reach in the 2nd round. Hunt was the lone viable player with good pick value that may contribute heavily in year one, and could be a starter when the season ends. Kpassagnon could be that guy as well, but his draft value was not as good where the Chiefs took him. The picks of Chesson, Eligwe, and McQuay were all completely bonkers.

Los Angeles Chargers
1. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (A)
2. Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky (A)
3. Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana (A)
4. Reyshawn Jenkins, S, Miami (B)
5. Desmond King, S, Iowa (A)
6. Sam Tevi, OT, Utah (A)
7. Isaac Rochelle, DT, Notre Dame (D)
Final Grade: 3.43 (B+)
The Chargers had a strong draft weekend from start to almost finish. Williams gives Phillip Rivers a dramatic upgrade at receiver in his final years, and Lamp could join Feeney as starters on the line in front of Rivers in short order. Jenkins would have gotten an A grade as well had he gone a round later, but he was a bit of a reach where they got him, and King fell into their laps long after he was graded to go. King and Jenkins give the Chargers a shot to aid their ailing back end of their defense. Tevi will add solid depth on the line. Rochelle was a late round throw away, and will be hard pressed to make the final 53 man roster.

Oakland Raiders
1. Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State (F)
2. Obi Melifonwu, S, U Conn (A)
3. Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA (B)
4. David Sharpe, OT, Florida (A)
5. Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forest (A)
7. Shalom Luani, S, Washington State (F)
7. Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama State (F)
7. Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina (F)
7. Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo (B)
Final Grade: 2.0 (C)
This was not a great go for the Raiders, but they did pick up a few solid pieces. Melifonwu is rock solid at Safety, and will be a huge impact player right away. Sharpe was solid at rookie mini camp, as was Lee, and both players could be diamond in the rough types right away. Hester had late round value where they got him, and if he makes it, he could see time in a rotation role early. Vanderdoes was not a terrible pick, but was a bit of a reach, especially when you consider his considerable injury history. The pick of Conley was a massive risk being given that he was fresh off of a sexual assault accusation that still has not been cleaned up, and it's not like there were other cleaner, talented players available at the position in that spot. Luani, Ware, and Hood will likely not be on the final 53 man roster, and those are a lot of picks to just throw away.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bilo's College Football Lines and Picks: August 26th, 2017

In the coming next few weeks, I will be releasing all of my early picks for the 2017 college football season, with my own lines that I will be generating personally. These lines are not in conjunction with any casino or sports book lines, and are for entertainment purposes only, meaning, I will not be taking wagers on these lines. I begin with the early games on August 26th. Here are my opening picks and lines for that week:

Colorado State -2.5 Oregon State
BYU -28 Portland State
Stanford -22.5 Rice
Hawaii -5.5 U Mass
USF -24.5 San Jose State

Look for adjustments as the games approach. I will also still be making my picks against actual Las Vegas lines as those begin to post later this summer, and will still be making my weekly picks straight up of every game in FBS and FCS football in 2017. Stay tuned in the coming days for my picks for each consecutive week of the season!

2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

I am moving on with my NFL Draft Grades for 2017 with the NFC North, which will close out my NFC Draft grades. Here is how I scored out the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings:

Chicago Bears
1(2) QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina (F)
2(45) TE Adam Shaheen, Ashland (B)
4(112) S Eddie Jackson, Alabama (B)
4(119) RB Tarik Cohen, North Carolina A&T (F)
5(147) OG Jordan Morgan, Kutztown (D)
Final Score (1.4, D-)
This was not a great run for GM Ryan Pace, and it could be the draft that gets him fired. Trubisky, ranked, at best, and average score of being taken in the mid first round, despite a ton of smoke about him going at number six to a myriad of teams. That was not likely to happen. The Bears gave up a ton of resources to move up one spot, and they likely still would have gotten him at number three. It was, by far, the dumbest play at the draft. Shaheen was a mover from the D2 ranks, but likely would have been around a round later if the Bears wanted to move into the third. Good player, but a bit of a reach. Jackson will give the Bears some depth at safety, but he is no shoe in to be a good pick, and I was a bit liberal with my score on him. Cohen, and FCS prospect, and Morgan, another D2 guy, could have both been had as free agents.

Detroit Lions
1(21) LB Jarrad Davis, Florida (B)
2(53) CB Teez Tabor, Florida (B)
3(96) WR Kenny Golloday, Northern Illinois (D)
4(124) LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee (C)
4(127) TE Michael Roberts, Toledo (A)
5(165) Jamal Agnew, San Diego (F)
6(205) DT Jeremiah Ledbetter, Arkansas (F)
6(215) QB Brad Kaaya, Miami (B)
7(250) DE Pat O'Connor, Eastern Michigan (F)
Final Grade: 1.78 (D+)
Yet again, I felt there was another team in the Lions who just had a minimal plan heading into this draft. Davis was a second round talent who they reached for in the first when a better prospect in Zach Cunningham was available. Tabor was a decent value pick in the second round, but he has an arrogance issue, and he may have bust written all over him. Golloday was a guy who could have been had much later on, while Reeves-Maybin may never be more than a special teams guy. Roberts was an excellent pick, their best of the draft, and they got great value on him where he was picked. The same could be said for Kaaya, who could be developed as the top backup to Matt Stafford, and with any luck, could be an eventual replacement. The picks of Agnew, Ledbetter, and O'Connor were complete whiffs.

Green Bay Packers
2(33) CB Kevin King, Washington (A)
2(61) S Josh Jones, NC State (B)
3(93) DT Montravious Adams, Auburn (A)
4(108) LB Vince Biegel, Wisconsin (B)
4(134) Jamaal Adams, BYU (B)
5(175) WR DeAngelo Yancey, Purdue (F)
5(182) RB Aaron Jones, UTEP (B)
6(212) C/G Kofi Amichia, USF (F)
7(238) RB Devante Mays, Utah State (C)
7(247) WR Malachi Dupre, LSU (B)
Final Grade: 2.5 (C)
The overall score does not reflect how well the Packers drafted early in the draft, as they scored very well in the first two days of drafting. King, Jones, and Adams could all have immediate impact on the depth of the Packers defense, and that was an extreme need for this team right now. Jamaal Adams, if he stays healthy, could also have an immediate impact, as the Packers lack star power, and Lacy has gone on to the Seahawks. I would not be surprised if Adams was a starter at some point, and Jones, the all-time leading rusher for UTEP, will add solid depth as well. Dupre graded out as an earlier pick, but his film did not warrant. He will have to make the team, but as far as value goes, it was a solid get in the final round. Mays was yet another RB pick, and he provides less value than Adams and Jones. Yancey and Amichia were whiffs in my book.

Minnesota Vikings
2(41) RB Dalvin Cook (A)
3(70) C Pat Elflein, Ohio State (A)
4(109) DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa (A)
4(120 LB Ben Gedeon, Michigan (C)
5(170) WR Rodney Adams, USF (F)
5(180) OG Danny Isidora, Miami (B)
6(201) TE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech (A)
7(219) WR Stacy Coley Miami (B)
7(220) DT Ifeadi Odenigbo, Northwestern (D)
7(232) LB Elijah Lee, Kansas State (A)
7(245) CB Jack Tocho, NC State (F)
Final Score: 2.64 (B-)
The first three picks here were all home runs. Cook could be a starter right away for the Vikings, if he can keep his head on straight. I feel that he can, and have stated so on my last radio spot, so I hope I am not made to look foolish here. Elflein was a late first round prospect who falls to third, so he gets excellent value here. Johnson is a disruptive tackle who can add depth immediately. Hodges was another excellent value pick for me as a developmental TE, as he is still learning how to play the position. Coley and Lee added solid late round draft for developmental value and special teams play now. Adams was a guy who could have been had much later, and the Vikings seemingly threw picks away on Odenigbo and Tocho. All said, the Vikings still had thee best draft in the NFC North in my opinion.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC East

I move on with my annual draft grades to take a look at the NFC East, which will have a tough time keeping up with the success of the NFC South. Here are my final grades for the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Redskins.

Dallas Cowboys
1(28) DE Taco Charlton, Michigan (A)
2(60) CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado (C)
3(92) CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan (A)
4(133) WR Ryan Switzer, North Carolina (D)
6(191) S Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech (D)
6(216) CB Marquez White, Florida State (A)
7(228) DT Joey Ivie, Florida (F)
7(239) WR Noah Brown, Ohio State (A)
7(246) DT Jordan Carrell, Colorado (F)
Final Grade: 2.22 (C)
This was a weird draft for the Cowboys. The pick of Charlton was a major need at edge rusher, and he is just coming into his own. Lewis was solid value at pick 92, but Awuzie was a reach where they got him. Switzer could have been had in the 6th round, and they over reached for him at pick 133. Woods was someone that they locked in on before the draft, but he wasn't getting a ton of play elsewhere. Brown is a solid late round developmental pick, but Ivie and Carrell were both picks that came from off the reservation.

Philadelphia Eagles
1(14) DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee (A)
2(43) CB Sydney Jones, Washington (D)
3(35) S Rasul Douglas, West Virginia (B)
4(118) WR Mack Hollins, North Carolina (F)
4(132) RB Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State (B)
5(166) WR Shelton Gibson, West Virginia (F)
5(184) S Nate Gerry, Nebraska (B)
6(214) DT Elijah Qualls, Washington (A)
Final Grade: 2.25 (C)
The Eagles missed badly for the most part in this draft, especially early. Of course, the Barnett pick was a massive hit, and I like some things about him better than Myles Garrett. Jones would have gotten a better grade, but he blew his achilles at his pro day. He won't see the field until 2018. Douglas was a two round reach, while Hollins was a reach from Mars that nobody was even considering, as was Gibson. Pumphery, Gerry, and Qualls were all high value picks, but they waited a considerable amount of time to find their sanity.

New York Giants
1(23) TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss (A)
2(23) DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama (C)
3(87) QB Davis Webb, California (C)
4(140) RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson (B)
5(167) DE Avery Moss, Youngstown State (A)
6(200) OT Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh (B)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
Engram was a home run pick late in the first, and is the perfect receiving TE for Eli Manning. The only other major hit was late, with edge rusher Avery Moss of Youngstown State. Tomlinson was a two round reach pick, while Webb will sit behind Manning for as long as Eli is playing in New York. He will have to be rebuilt based on the system of play he played in college. Gallman was highly overrated at Clemson, and likely will not see a ton of time early. Bisnowaty fell hard in the draft based on his history of injury.

Washington Redskins
1(17) DE Jonathon Allen, Alabama (A)
2(49) LB Ryan Anderson, Alabama (A)
3(81) CB Fabian Moreau, UCLA (B)
4(114) RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma (A)
4(123) S Montae Nicholson, Michigan State (F)
5(154) TE Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas (A)
6(199) C Chase Roullier, Wyoming (F)
6(209) WR Robert Davis, Georgia State (C)
7(230) S Josh Harvey-Clemons, Louisville (B)
7(235) DB Josh Holsey, Auburn (F)
Final Grade: 2.4 (C)
Allen and Anderson both filled major needs for the Redskins, and Perine will give the backfield major punch behind Cousins at QB, as he both runs hard and works well as a receiver. Moreau is solid, but tore a pectoral muscle during the UCLA pro day, and may not see much time in 2017. Nicholson was a complete miss in the fourth round, as was Roullier. Sprinkle added solid value in the fifth round, and Harvey-Clemons is a solid developmental pick in the seventh. Davis adds some intrigue as he was a big number receiver in college on a bad team. Holsey added no real value late.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC South

I am grading the NFL draft for 2017 by division, and I now move on to the NFC South. The NFC West grades are already out, and that division did not fair very well overall. Let's hope that things went better for the South in the NFC. Here are the grades:

Atlanta Falcons
1(26) DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA (B)
3(75) LB Duke Riley, LSU (B)
4(136) OG Sean Harlow, Oregon State (F)
5(149) CB Damontae Kazee, San Diego State (A)
5(156) RB Brian Hill, Wyoming (A)
5(174) TE Eric Saubert, Drake (A)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
The Falcons did very well for the entirety of the draft, with only one miss, the drafting of Oregon State OG Sean Harlow. Harlow may very well be decent once he gets into camp, and he will get a chance to play, but he was nowhere on the radar of any draft services, and picking someone like that in the 4th round seems like one of those "too cool for school" moves. McKinley will bring major energy to the defensive front, Riley brings good value for where he was picked, and Kazee was one of my favorite players entering this draft. Hill and Saubert were inexpensive offensive options for development taken late. All in all, I liked this draft for the Falcons a good deal.

Carolina Panthers
1(8) RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (A)
2(40) WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State (A)
2(64) OG Taylor Moten, Western Michigan (B)
3(77) DE Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M (B)
5(152) CB Corn Elder, Miami (B)
6(192) FB Alex Armah, West Georgia (C)
7(233) PK Harrison Butker, Georgia Tech (C)
Final Grade: 3.5 (B)
The Panthers did very well in this draft as well, and they did slightly better than the Falcons did. I gave them a break with the last two picks, as Armah may be the starting FB next season, and Butker missed just two FGs last season for Georgia Tech. He got better each of the last three seasons, and again, will be given a shot to win the PK job in camp. McCaffrey and Samuel will give the offense much needed weapons, and Moten should be able to bolster a line that was not great last fall. Hall is an underrated edge rusher, and Elder has good value for when he was picked. There were no whiffs here.

New Orleans Saints
1(11) CB Marshawn Lattimore, Ohio State (A)
1(32) OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin (A)
2(42) S Marcus Williams, Utah (A)
3(67) RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee (C)
3(76) LB Alex Anzalone, Florida (D)
3(103) DE/OLB Trey Hendrickson, FAU (B)
6(196) DE Al-Quadin Muhammed, Miami (F)
Final Grade: 2.57 (C)
The Saints had some issues during draft weekend. It started off very nicely, but it was not a complete effort. Lattimore, Ramczyk, and Williams were home runs for the Saints, and all fit major needs. Ramczyk rates as my best offensive linemen coming out of college in this class, and Lattimore fits a major need that the Saints shopped for all off season. The only pick after those that I liked was the selection of Hendrickson, who has massive pass rush ability. Kamara and Anzalone got a lot of love from TV experts, but I don't care for either prospect, and Muhammed was a guy that could have been had as a UFDA.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1(19) TE OJ Howard, Alabama (A)
2(50) S Justin Evans, Texas A&M (A)
3(84) WR Chris Godwin, Penn State (A)
3(107) LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU (A)
5(162) RB Jeremy McNichols, Boise State (A)
7(223) NT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, USC (D)
Final Grade: 3.5 (B)
The Bucs were having a stellar draft until the final pick of Tu'ikolovatu. He could fit in as a rotational gap rusher for the D line, but he was not on any radar heading into the draft. Howard and Godwin, along with FA signing DeSean Jackson will all combine to be major boons to the abilities of Jameis Winston. Evans and Bekwith give solid value, and will get solid playing time in camp. McNichols had a much earlier grade, so he was a gift at pick 162. With Doug Martin out the first four games on suspension, fellow Boise State Bronco McNichols could get in some early time.