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.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC West Teams

With the 2017 NFL Draft now in the books, I will break down every team's draft and grade them based on their round by round performance, starting with the teams in the NFC West. Here are my final grades for these four teams:

Arizona Cardinals
1(13) LB Haason Reddick, Temple (B)
2(36) S Budda Baker, Washington (A)
3(98) WR Chad Williams, Grambling (C)
4(115) OG Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh (F)
5(157) OT Will Holden, Vanderbilt (B)
5(179) RB TJ Logan, North Carolina (F)
6(208) S Rudy Ford, Auburn (B)
Final Score: 2.14 (C-)
This was a strange draft for the Cardinals. Several teams had Reddick moving up the draft order in the days leading up to the draft, but what you have is a guy who has never played LB before, and will have to learn as he goes. Baker was the best pick in the draft for the Cardinals, and they got him at a good value spot. Williams is an off-field risk, and they reached by at least two rounds to get him. Johnson was not on any major boards in the days leading up to the draft, which was also the issue with the Logan pick. Holden and Ford were both good value picks, with Ford falling into their laps in the sixth round. Reddick and Baker will likely work out long term, but the rest of this group, overall, looks like a major hit and miss to me. Not a great go.

Los Angeles Rams
2(44) TE Gerald Everett, South Alabama (A)
3(69) WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington (A)
3(91) S John Johnson, Boston College (C)
4(117) WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M (B)
4(125) LB Samson Ebukam, Eastern Washington (F)
6(189) DT Tanzel Smart, Tulane (A)
6(206) FB Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech (F)
7(234) DE Ejuan Price, Pittsburgh (B)
Final Score: 2.5 (C)
The Rams took too many risks in 2017, and sometimes tried to look like the smartest guys in the war rooms over the three day period. Drafting John Johnson in the 3rd was a reach by two rounds, while they could have had both Ebukam and Rogers as UDFAs. Things started out well enough with the picks of Everett, as potential star in the making, and Kupp, who was the greatest receiver in FCS history not named Jerry Rice. Reynolds was solid value in the fourth, and adds another potential offensive weapon, and Smart fit perfectly where he was drafted, and could be a player. Price fit in the later rounds, and could help the line rotation on defense, if he makes the roster. Still, this draft got disjointed at times for the Rams, and lacked an overall flow to it.

San Francisco 49ers
1(3) DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford (A)
1(31) LB Reuben Foster, Alabama (C)
3(66) CB Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado (A)
3(104) QB CJ Beathard, Iowa (F)
4(121) RB Joe Williams, Utah (C)
5(146) TE George Kittle, Iowa (F)
5(177) WR Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech (D)
6(198) DT DJ Jones, Ole Miss (F)
6(202) OLB Pita Taumoepenu, Utah (F)
7 (229) DB Adrian Colbert, Miami (F)
Final Grade: 1.1 (D-)
When the Niners took the Bears to the bank to move down one spot, and still get exactly who they wanted at the top of the first, I was settling in for what I though was going to be a great weekend for John Lynch. What transpired after Saturday was a sloppy mess of missed opportunity and a total lack of understanding as it regards to the process. Ahkello Witherspoon was a good get in the third round, but the Niners zeroed in on Foster despite his many red flags and still took him when not many teams left wanted him. The Beathard pick was a massive head scratcher, as he all but disappeared last season at Iowa, and was likely, at best, a late round pick, if he would have been drafted at all. Williams is a guy who quit on football before Utah begged him to come back. Does he even like this game? Kittles was not on anyone's radar, Taylor could have been a UDFA, and the final three picks of this draft were all guys who could have been had as free agents. There was insanely little to like here.

Seattle Seahawks
2(35) DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State (B)
2(58) C Ethan Poncic, LSU (A)
3(90) CB Shaq Griffin, UCF (C)
3(95) S Delano Hill, Michigan (F)
3(102) DT Nazair Jones, North Carolina (F)
3(106) WR Amara Darboh, Michigan (C)
4(111) S Tedric Thompson, Colorado (B)
6(187) Michael Tyson, Cincinnati (F)
6(210) OT Justin Senior, Mississippi State (B)
7(226) David Moore, East Central (F)
7(249) RB Chris Carson, Oklahoma State (F)
Final Grade: 1.7 (D+)
Starting pretty early on, it was evident that Pete Carroll was playing a game of "pin the tail on the tiger", as he started blindly sticking darts into his board. McDowell is a high risk/reward type who does not have a self motivating part of his personality. Poncic was a score, because the line was horrid last season, and he may step in start right away. Griffin could have been had in the 5th or 6th round of this draft, and Carroll really does not know where he fits just yet. Thompson fits in at safety, and Senior had good value where he was selected, and may be asked to give more than he is ready to at  this point. Hill was not on any major scouting service rankings list in the top seven rounds, as could be said for Tyson, Moore, and Carson. Darboh is just kind of a "meh" receiver.

Final Thoughts: Not one team made a major shift towards making a serious run at a title with this draft. Of course, this is not all that deep a draft to begin with, so keep that in mind. The Rams seemed to do the best job overall in this division, but even then, it was not a great run this weekend. The Niners and Seahawks looked as if they had no plan whatsoever, and the Cardinals only marginally so. Not a great weekend for any of these teams.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 NFL Draft First Round Recap

The first round is now in the bag for the 2017 NFL Draft, and as always, there were hits and misses. Here is my recap, by pick, with analysis:

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Any talk of the Browns dealing this pick was pure bull, and everyone knew it. This pick was likely locked into place as long as two weeks ago according to multiple sources. As I had said a week ago, if the Browns traded this pick away, they should shut down the franchise. There was no other player that should have gone here. Garrett was the top overall rated player across the board.
Grade: A+ (Meets a team top three need at DE)

2. Chicago Bears (via San Francisco): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The Bears gave up a huge bounty to acquire the rights to Trubisky, as they dealt away four total picks between the 2017 and 2018 draft to make this pick to get a guy that they could have had at number three, which is where they started. San Francisco was never going anywhere other than who they picked at three anyway, so this deal made zero sense.
Trubisky now has to be a franchise QB for the Bears, who already invested a ton of money into Mike Glennon. At least with the Glennon deal, the contract shows an out after the 2017 season,but still, this is far from a home run pick, and they gave up a ton to get it. Stupid.
Grade: D (Met a team top three need, but they did not need to take out a mortgage to get him)

3. San Francisco 49ers (via Chicago): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
This was always going to be the guy that the Niners were going after, and I had that mocked out weeks ago. Thomas fits the persona of what John Lynch is looking for, and the Niners needed someone to create havoc up front on defense. They get the guy they wanted, and found a sucker who gave them a haul to move down one spot and get their guy anyway. Lynch hit a homer with his first draft deal as GM.
Grade: A+ (Did not meet top three listed need, but was too good to pass up)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
I had reported this on Twitter last night. The Jags were set on Fournette if the Bears passed on him, which they did. Fournette finally gives the Jags the first solid back they have had since the premier years of Maurice Jones-Drew, and may end up being the best back in team history if he is all in. He certainly has the skill, but he has not played a full season since 2015.
Grade: A (Not a top three need, but they need everything and he was the best available player)

5. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
I talked about Davis on the Mitch and Pritch show last week, and when asked about him, I thought that he was one of the two best receivers available in this draft along with Mike Williams of Clemson. While I thought both would go sometime after 15, this is a bit high for Davis, but I still like the pick. He is coming off of an ankle injury suffered after last season, but will be ready to go at 100% soon. Once he is full speed, he becomes a best friend for Marcus Mariota.
Grade: A (Replaces Kendall Wright, and upgrades the position)

6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
Adams was one of my favorite players in this draft, and he ends up somewhere in the ball park of where I thought he would, but I never thought that the Jets would show restraint and make a solid pick like this. I figured they'd go nuts and over value one of the QBs available, but they let others make that mistake, and they select a guy who could be a staple in their secondary for the next decade. Solid move here.
Grade: A+ (The secondary was a wreck last season. He starts immediately)

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The second of the two best receivers was taken off the board at number seven, and Phillip Rivers has a very solid target to get the football to in the new home of the Chargers. Williams is a dynamic talent who makes all of the acrobatic catches that you can ask for, and this pick makes perfect sense for me. He gives the Chargers a young star on an aging team in a new city.
Grade: A (Keenan Allen cannot stay healthy, so Williams takes pressure off of him)


8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
This was the worst kept secret of the draft in 2017, as almost everyone knew that this is where McCaffrey would end up for about a week now. He gives the offense some dimension, and he can line up in the slot as a receiver as well as return punts and kicks. The Panthers need his enrgy, but will his body hold up in the NFL? That's a question that needs answering.
Grade: A (A huge top three team need, but the Panthers need OL help to make this work)

9. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR, Washington
Ross broke the all-time combine 40 time record at 4.22 seconds this spring. On top of that, he is a credible threat to go deep on any play and burn you. Andy Dalton has to love this pick, and it is a pick that makes perfect sense for the Bengals.
Grade: A (Brandon LaFell is average, and Ross is a huge upgrade)


10. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
With so many other needs on offense, this pick makes little sense to me. Why waste a first round pick on a guy who may be as much as two years away from totally contributing, if he ever does? Mahomes is a mess with his technique, and like Brett Hundley, he will have to be stripped down and rebuilt. This is a senseless move for a team that did not need this player right now.
Grade: F (No way he starts over Smith or Foles, so why make the pick?)

11. New Orleans Saints: Marshawn Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Saints have been shopping for a corner all off-season, with Malcolm Butler of the Patriots being the target. They may not need to shop anymore after landing one of the top corners in this class. Lattimore should get a shot to start from day one, and could give the Saints a lock down corner they so coveted.
Grade: A (Saints were dead last against the pass last season, so this was a top need)


12. Houston Texans (via Cleveland): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
I am not entirely sold on the playerm but I understand the need here. You cannot go into the 2017 NFL season with Tom Savage as your top option at QB. That is nuts to think it. Watson will give the team someone that they feel like they can hang their hat on, even if he is not entirely ready. He has to cut down on turnovers to be effective in this league, as he will not get away with a 17 pick season as a pro. This is a tough one for me, as I would have waited on a QB, but I get it from their perspective.
Grade: B- (This was more a move to tack down a coming revolt with fan base than anything)


13. Arizona Cardinals: Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple
I am not actually certain that I understand the approach here. The Cardinals have needs everywhere, but this player is not who most people would have considered here. He is a developmental prospect with some upside, but I am not certain as to why he flew up so many draft boards, especially because he has never played a down of LB in his life, and he is undersized to boot. Weird pick for me.
Grade: D (With Chandler Jones and Markus Golden entrenched, this makes no sense)
Note: Jones may be franchise tagged.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Here's a secret for you. I actually like Barnett better than Garrett. Hands down. Barnett is one of the most productive Ends to play at Tennessee in years, and reminds me of a young Reggie White. He is aggressive and nasty, and he will fit right in with that Philadelphia grit. I love this pick for so many reasons!
Grade: A+ (Edge rusher was a top three team need, and Barnett fills that need well)

15. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Hooker will be limited to the free side where he can play on the ball, because he sure does not fit on the strong side. A terrible tackler with only one year of experience as a starter and an injury history to boot, Hooker made virtually no sense for me here, as they needed to work on their offensive line woes. With Ryan Ramczyk and Garrett Bolles both available here, it is no wonder that the Colts front office is a train wreck these days.
Grade: D (The need was on the line, CB, and LB, so what's the deal?)

16. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphery, CB, Alabama
Every mock up basically showed the Ravens going receiver here, as those receivers figured to fall to this point,. When that did not happen, the Ravens were forced to switch philosophy here, and went defense with Humphrey. It makes sense with John Ross heading to division rival Cincinnati. The only thing that I cannot figure is how much effort did the Ravens make at trying to move up to get the receiver they coveted?
Grade: C+

17. Washington Redskins: Jonathon Allen, DE, Alabama
Allen was graded in the top five of this draft, yet fell like a rock to 17. I a not certain as to why this actually happened, but the Redskins got a steal here. Allen is a dominant 4-3 end who can also give you work at DT if you need him to. This was a great get and a gift from above for Washington.
Grade: A (This was a primary need position for the Skins, and was a gift this late)

18. Tennessee Titans: Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
I have been saying for about a month now that Jackson would be a deal anywhere from 15 on down, even though most services saw him as a second round pick. He does everything, and he does it better than Michigan's Jabrill Peppers by a long shot. He is a game changer in the return game, can play receiver or CB, and is a guy other teams have to plan for. One of my favorite players here, and a solid character contribution as well.
Grade: A+ (Titans crushed a primary need with this pick, and got a great player)

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
The Alabama players fell, and Howard is a gift to an already solid set of skill players on the Bucs offense. Jameis Winston is going to love having a star TE like Howard who can do it all. This, again, was one of my favorite players in this draft.
Grade: A+ (With DeSean Jackson signed as a FA, Bucs get major upgrade at TE)

20. Denver Broncos: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
Teams questioned a low wunderlich score, but I am not worried about that test. Hell, Jake Plummer damned near failed the thing back in the day. Bolles is a machine at tackle, and the Broncos got one of the two best linemen in the draft.
Grade: A (Okung got settled at LT late in season, but need was big at RT)

21. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
I really believe that the Lions did not need this player here, and I also believe that they reached for him. Detroit had needs, but the LB class was weak enough that they could have grabbed on in the second or third round, and if you needed one here, why not Zach Cunningham?
Grade: D (LB was a primary need, but Cunningham was a better fit for me)

22. Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Harris is a little bit small to play a down DE in a 4-3, and I am not sure that his film holds up on the next level as that player. I had him graded as an early second round selection, so this was a bit of a reach for me here, but the Dolphins wanted him bad enough to do so.
Grade: B- (Unless the plan is to move him to OLB, the pick did not fill a need)

23. New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
Whenever you can grab a TE who plays with wideout skills, you have to go out and get him, and the Giants did so with Engram. He ran a sub 4.42 40 this off season, and he can certainly fly. Eli will love this guy.
Grade: A (Engram is a major upgrade over Will Tye, so this is a home run)

24. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Oh boy. Mark Davis has always shied away from guys who may be tied up with violence against women cases. Conley has not been charged in a rape accusation, but it is a cloud, and the team will have a tough time selling this, especially with other corners available here. This could get ugly if he is eventually charged.
Grade: F (Raiders needed a corner, but there were better options given the circumstances)

25. Cleveland Browns: Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan
Peppers is one of my most overrated players in this draft, and one of my top ten players with bust potential. He had a second round grade, and played his best season as a LB for Michigan. His contribution to the Wolverines is very much oversold. I really thought that the Browns were getting smarter than this.
Grade: D- (Needed help at Safety, but again, there were better options available)

26. Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
One of the few bright spots for the Bruins last season, McKinley is a guy who just hates QBs, and wants to destroy everyone he comes in contact with. Atlanta will ove his energy, and you will be hard pressed to find a more driven player in this draft.
Grade: A (Pairing McKinley with Vic Beasley seems like a dream scenario come true)

27. Buffalo Bills: Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
He is solid, but not fancy. In other words, he fits Buffalo like a glove. Seriously, why did the Raiders not explore this option instead of Conley?
Grade: A (With the loss of Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots, this became a huge opening)

28. Dallas Cowboys: DE Taco Charlton
One of the finest sack masters in college ball last season. Charlton will give the Cowboys a burst off the edge that they were missing last season. Solid player.
Grade: A (This position was slowly becoming a wasteland for Dallas, and they fixed it)

29. Cleveland Browns (via Green Bay): David Njoku, TE, Miami
The Browns came back to their senses. He graded ahead of Engram, and is one of the best receiving TEs in a class of good ones in this draft.
Grade: A (This is a huge upgrade over Gary Barnidge, who scored just twice in 2016)

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: TJ Watt, LB, Wisconsin
In a stronger draft class, he was a third rounder. This was not a strong class for linebackers. Watt may need to be a rotational guy for a bit with the Steelers, but I am not certain where else they could have gone with this pick.
Grade: B- (Watt will get some time to learn before becoming a starter)

31. San Francisco 49ers (via SEA, ATL): Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Diluted sample at the combine...check. Questionable injury issue...check. Questionable character...check. Undersized for the position in the NFL...check. Probably severely overrated and over valued by the Niners front office...check, check, check. Nobody else had the value on this guy like John Lynch did, and he did not have to trade up to get him, at least not this high. Wasting resources kills drafts.
Grade: F (ILB is a team need, but there is no way that Foster holds up at his size there)

32. New Orleans Saints (via New England): Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
By far the best lineman in the draft, the Saints must have had to pinch themselves when he fell to them at 32. Ramczyk is game ready, and could be an anchor on this line for the next decade. I can't believe that he fell this far, so this is a steal pick for New Orleans.
Grade: A+ (OT was a huge need for Saints after Zach Streif departed, and this was a gift)

Rounds two and three take place tomorrow in Philadelphia, with Cleveland having the first pick of the second round. Teams are already contacting the Browns about trading into the 33rd pick, so stay tuned for more movement tomorrow.

Bilo College Football's Buy/Sell Report 2017: Big 10

The Big Ten as a whole has finished a proper spring football season, despite the ridiculous Michigan trip to Italy that is more garnered towards a pathetic cry for attention than anything else. Michigan is Michigan, and should be sold as such. Jim Harbaugh does not need gimicky carnival tricks to sell his program, and that is all that this is.
With everything wrapped up as far as I can see until fall, here is who I am buying in on, and who I am selling in the Big 10 as we head into the summer break:

The Buy List (At least eight wins in 2017)

Michigan: The Wolverines are coming back with a ton of talent under their belt, and that includes QB Wilton Speight, who really had some shining moments last season. If he stays healthy, Michigan has a real shot at pushing the Buckeyes and Penn State in the East in 2017. Focus from week to week will be a priority here, and Michigan lost some when Speight got hurt. Losing Jabrill Peppers on defense is not as big a deal as anyone thinks.

Minnesota: I actually believe that the loss of Tracy Claes was addition by subtraction. Claeys was an adequate coach, but not a dynamic coach, and he was part of a culture problem that the Gopher program has had in both football and basketball for some time. PJ Fleck is the real deal, and brings a dynamic energy to Minnesota that can be built off of. He is a big personality without being over the top, like Herman can be. I love the row the boat mentality, and Minnesota will become a cohesive team that will have to toe the line. Fleck will accept nothing less, and the program will flourish because of it.

Northwestern: Picking the Wildcats as a buy is against my better judgement, because this is one of the most inconsistent programs in the Big 10 over the last decade. Pat Fitzgerald gets more credit than he is due a lot of the time, but for some reason, something in my gut is telling me to buy in on the Wildcats this season. There is a good deal of talent, but getting off to a fast start is a must. Early losses to Western Michigan and Illinois Sate cannot be repeated against the upcoming schedule.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes are losing a ton of talent once again, but at the end of the day, who cares? The Buckeyes just reload under Urban Meyer, and they will once again be pushing for an Eastern Division title and a final four appearance at the end of December. I currently have the Buckeyes a fraction ahead of Oklahoma at fourth in the nation out of spring ball.

Penn State: I love what James Franklin did with a team that looked lost early in the season last fall. Penn State came storming back from a slow start and won the East, pushing Ohio State around to win the division in OT. The core of that team returns in 2017, and for that reason, I am placing my bets that Penn State is going to make another major run this fall.

Wisconsin: I am not the biggest believer in Paul Chryst as head coach of the Badgers, but Wisconsin made a very nice run last fall despite that, and I would be a fool to not believe that they are not the absolute favorites in what should be a very weak West division once again. The Badgers just have more than anyone else in the West, and I don't see them getting back to the conference title game as being a problem.

The Sell List (Seven wins or fewer in 2017)

Illinois: There were stories that Lovie Smith was already becoming bored with this college football thing this off-season, and that has me concerned. The Illini program is a mess, and is not getting any better at this point. I fail to see how a possibly non-committal coach and a lagging program is going to suddenly leap to the hierarchy. Not happening.

Indiana: Kevin Wilson was fired in a whirlwind event surrounding stories of player mistreatment, but one has to wonder if any of that was even remotely true. Not eager to be dealing with another Bobby Knight situation, the administration chose to move on from Wilson and promote Tom Allen, who nobody has even heard of, to the head job. He was the DC last season of a unit that gave up 21 more points than the offense scored, so there's that.

Iowa: This is another major gut feeling event for me. I really feel like Iowa is about to have a collapse in 2017, and it is a very strong feeling. The Hawkeyes massively under produced last season, as the offense was a complete train wreck. They now do not have CJ Beathard to beat around, so a new QB must be found, and some kind of scoring has to be identified. I just feel a huge mess coming up.

Maryland: I really liked the hiring of DJ Durkin last year, and he did manage to bring a new swagger to a very vanilla program that had not had any swagger since the days of Ralph Friedgen. I still fail to see the Terps as a true contender in the Big 10, but better days are ahead. Those better days just may not appear in 2017.

Michigan State: I don't know what is going on in East Lansing in the last 12 months, but I know I do not like it. The mix of off-field issues of a very disturbing kind, and the complete overall collapse last season where star players (looking at you, Malik McDowell) looked like they could have given a crap less about the program and winning was a combination to make me no longer believe in this program for the time being. Something went sideways, and it has to get back on track.

Nebraska: One step forward, two steps back. That seems to be the tale for the Huskers, and making things worse, I believe in coach Mike Riley not one bit. He was all the wrong kind of hire for this program, and I feel like the program is back in the Bill Callahan days. The Husker bounced back last season, but only to the nine wins that Bo Pelini was fired over, and it is not enough. Now, th Huskers are starting over again at QB, and this team looks nothing like the days of old under Tom Osborn.

Purdue: The Boilermakers finally rectified the Darrell Hazell mistake hire, but the hire they made was equally as puzzling to me. The stamp of any successful team in Big 10 history was always defense. Defense wins Big 10 titles at the end of the day, so why would they hire Jeff Brohm, who, while successful enough at Western Kentucky, never really coached a team that played much, if any, defense? He may make Purdue slightly more relevant over time, but not right away, and not by not playing defense.

Rutgers: The conference hierarchy would love to find a way to rectify the mistake of taking Rutgers into the conference in the first place. Rutgers has been, in all areas, a disaster as a member of the conference, and they have done nothing to raise the profile of the league in the New York/New Jersey metro market any higher than it was already. The Scarlet Knights were a big time disaster in the conference in year one under Chris Ash, and the talent is not there to change that issue now. It's going to be another very long go in New Jersey.



Bilo's College Football 2017 Buy/Sell Report: Big 12

The Big 12 Spring season ended last week with Bayor and Kansas State completing their spring practices, so I now have a general idea of what I am expecting to see as we head into fall camp in August for the 2017 season in this conference. Here are the teams that I am buying in on, and who I am selling off:

The Buy List (At least eight wins in 2017)

Kansas State: We are getting close to the end of the Bill Snyder era at Kansas State, as he had a significant health issue this off-season. He will be back coaching the Wildcats in 2017, but is this going to be his final run at K State? That remains to be seen, but as long as he is running the show, you can expect the Wildcats to play above their talent base. Kansas State may be the fourth best team in the league, and will not likely push the leaders, but they are good enough to grab another eight wins in 2017 and head to a decent bowl.

Oklahoma: Despite losing Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, as well as DeDe Westbrook to the NFL, they still have Baker Mayfield fresh off of his off-field shenanigans this spring. If he can get himself back to being focused, Oklahoma can reload from their losses and compete for a national title and a Big 12 championship. If the focus is not there, they could slide, but I believe that OU is the fifth best team in the nation heading into fall camp.

Oklahoma State: The best news ever for Cowboys fans was that both Mason Rudolph and James Washington are returning to form one of the most dynamic pass/catch duos in the nation. This is one of the most talented teams in Stillwater in the last decade, and they have every shot at pushing Oklahoma for a Big 12 title, and if they do that, they could be in for a final four run themselves.

TCU: The Horned Frogs were on the verge of being a sell for me in 2017, but I believe in Gary Patterson and his staff just enough to believe that last season was a blip on the radar in Fort Worth, and I have to believe that they get back to at least eight win territory in 2017. I may be expecting just a bit too much, but I am shooting high on the Frogs.

West Virginia: As much as a I ragged on the Big 12 last season, the top three teams in the league could be as tough as any other top three teams in the Power Five conferences in 2017. West Virginia made a major, and necessary turn last fall, and they get a transfer QB in Will Grier that may light it up for the Mountaineers. This team could push both Oklahoma State and the Sooners for the Big 12 title in 2017, and should they come out on top, it could be them that challenges for a national playoff spot.

The Sell List (Seven wins or less in 2017)

Baylor: I don't have to go on about what a mess this program is, as we all know the stories all too well by now. Matt Rhule was a very strange hire for this program. Not that I don't believe in him, and he has hired a Texas experienced staff, but he has to sell this program as a leader, and he personally has no experience in the state. That will be an issue at the end of the day. The mess in Waco is going to get worse before it gets better.

Iowa State: I saw a lot to like from Matt Campbell's squad in 2016, despite the record. This team played with grit and determination, and fell just short of what would have been some very nice wins. This may be the last year I sell on the Cyclones, as I feel that Campbell is getting very close to making this team into one that will scare the entire league in a year or two.

Kansas: As hyped as I am about the future of Iowa State, there is nothing that has me, or anyone outside of Lawrence, buzzing about this program. I still feel that the David Beaty hire was a mess, and he is now just 1-18 in Big 12 play. This era is no better than the Turner Gill era, or the Charlie Weis era for that matter, and I do not see where the energy is going to come from. Kansas is better than this as a university, and they have the resources to do something about it, but they aren't.

Texas: I will be the first one to say it out loud. I am not overly sold on Tom Herman. I think he is a ton of talk, and a whole lot of hype right now. Maybe Texas needs some energy, but I would have come in a bit more grounded. Houston was a complete disappointment last season in his final season there, and even though there is talent on the roster, I want to know how last season's lack of focus at Houston translates to what will happen in Austin with this program. I need to see a lot less talk and a lot more action before I buy in to the Horns here.

Texas Tech: Why Kliff Kingsbury is still the coach in Lubbock is well beyond my ability to understand. This program has never turned a corner under his guidance, and as a matter of fact, it hit a wall and is reeling backwards. He had Patrick Mahomes III last season and still could not get it done. There is no run game, and they have one of the worst defenses that I have ever seen, and I have been around a long time. There is no way that this program gets it done, and Kingsbury should be shown the door. What he calls coaching football is an insult to the game.