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Our final predictions: Alabama, Georgia or Auburn … SEC Country’s picks for 2018

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As SEC Country shuts it down, we wanted to go out with a final bang.

Not picking Alabama to win the SEC in 2018 would have done the trick.

But that would have been wrong.

In a poll of the SEC Country staff, the Crimson Tide picked up 16 of 20 votes to win the SEC Championship Game. Georgia, which won the SEC title last season by defeating Auburn and lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff title game, received 2 votes, while Auburn and Mississippi State each picked up 1 vote.

SEC COUNTRY SAYS GOODBYE: Walsh | KirschnerBolin | ShadidFerguson | Shute | WolkHickey | Suss | Spiegelman | Mussatto | Tucker | McGranahanGriffith

Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa received the most votes for SEC Player of the Year. The hero of the National Championship Game victory against the Bulldogs last season, Tagovailoa isn’t even a lock to be coach Nick Saban’s starting quarterback in the season opener Sept. 1 against Louisville in Orlando, Fla. But most expect him to beat out Jalen Hurts and do really big things in Tuscaloosa.

SEC Country sees first-year Florida coach Dan Mullen as Coach of the Year front-runner. He received 8 votes, while South Carolina’s Will Muschamp (4) and Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead (3) and Saban (3) followed.

SEC East predictions

Team Votes 1st
1 Georgia 23 18
2 (tie) South Carolina 51 1
2 (tie) Florida 51 1
4 Missouri 85
5 Kentucky 107
6 Tennessee 110
7 Vanderbilt 133

SEC West predictions

Team Votes 1st
1 Alabama 23 17
2 Auburn 43 2
3 Mississippi State 69 1
4 Texas A&M 83
5 LSU 89
6 Ole Miss 123
7 Arkansas 130

SEC Champion

Alabama: 16 votes
Georgia: 2
Auburn: 1
Mississippi State: 1

Player of the Year

Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: 8 votes
Drew Lock, Missouri: 4
D’Andre Swift, Georgia: 3
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn: 2
Jake Fromm, Georgia: 1
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina: 1
Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss: 1

Coach of the Year

Dan Mullen, Florida: 8 votes
Will Muschamp, South Carolina: 4
Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State: 3
Nick Saban, Alabama: 3
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: 1
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: 1

Freshman of the Year

Zamir White, Georgia: 5 (tie)
Patrick Surtain Jr., Alabama: 5 (tie)
Justin Fields, Georgia: 3
Emory Jones, Florida: 3
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU: 1
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama: 1

The post Our final predictions: Alabama, Georgia or Auburn … SEC Country’s picks for 2018 appeared first on SEC Country.

Ken Bradley – SEC Country

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NFL mock draft 2018: First-round predictions, NFL draft order, top players for the 2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft-2018 NFL Mock Draft-NFL draft-2018 NFL Draft-top-players-Baker Mayfield-first round picks

The 2018 NFL Draft is once again expected to be loaded with talented players.Below find a 2018 NFL mock draft, and an up to date NFL draft order. The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is set for April 26. Baker Mayfield is expected to be a high pick in the draft.

This draft figures to be quarterback heavy, with potentially four signal callers,  Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen going among the top-10 picks. Of the non-quarterbacks, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick could be selected in the top 5.

NFL mock draft 2018: First-round projections, top players

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, USC QB: The Browns have to use the pick on a quarterback, and we think they’ll choose Darnold.
  2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA QB: Rosen vs. Darnold will be an interesting debate. The UCLA quarterback might be wired to better succeed in New York than Darnold.
  3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb DE: While Minkah Fitzpatrick is the better prospect, defensive end is the bigger need for the Colts. Offensive line, such as Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, could also be a target.
  4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama DB: The Browns went quarterback with their first pick. Next up, they grab the best defensive prospect in the class. Fitzpatrick is a queen-on-the-chessboard-type of defensive back.
  5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, Wyoming QB: Offensive line could be the pick here. Drafting Allen is a risk, but the Denver quarterback situation might be the worst in the league. Allen did well in the Senior Bowl game, showing why he’s such a tantalizing prospect.
  6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB: The Jets will continue toiling in mediocrity as long as they lack quality quarterback play. If anyone can handle the spotlight and attention that comes with playing for the Jets, it’s the Heisman Trophy winner.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley: With Doug Martin having an up and down career, why not give Jameis Winston one more weapon and see if he really is your franchise quarterback. Defensive end is another area of need.
  8. Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M WR: The Bears almost have to pick a wide receiver. While many will peg Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, I think Kirk is a little bit better. But the Bears couldn’t go wrong with either.
  9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame OG: With Jimmy Garoppolo looking like the quarterback of the future, San Francisco can draft the best player available. As weird as it is to say that is a guard, Nelson is just special.
  10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia LB: A defense with Khalil Mack on it shouldn’t be as bad as Oakland’s was this season. Smith is maybe the best off-ball linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly.
  11. Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, LSU DE/OLB: Nelson could be an option, but instead they’ll take Key. While he might have off-field concerns, the LSU product has the potential to be an elite pass rusher. Marcus Davenport of UTSA could also get a look here after a strong Senior Bowl.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame T: The Bengals have skill players and a number of young and talented defenders. Where they most need help is on the offensive line. McGlinchey, or his teammate, Nelson, could be an option.
  13. Washington Redskins: Derwin James, FSU DB: Washington has it’s quarterback of the future with Alex Smith.  So look for them to take a player such as James, who is 95 percent the player that Fitzpatrick is.
  14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, Iowa CB: Secondary is still a huge area of need for the Packers. It’ll either be Jackson or Denzel Ward as the first cornerback taken in the draft.
  15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, Texas T: Quarterback is Arizona’s biggest need. They could reach for Mason Rudolph, or drastically improve their offensive line with the selection of Williams.
  16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR:  The Ravens might have the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. This makes too much sense.
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT: The Chargers had the second-worst rush defense in the league. Payne will help them improve, especially after how he took over the College Football Playoff.
  18. Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, LSU RB: The Seahawks have had a revolving door of running backs since Marshawn Lynch departed. Guice would make it two years in a row that an LSU running back goes in the first round. Seattle could also look at the secondary, given that the Legion of Boom is getting old.
  19. Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT: Hurst might not be drafted this high simply because of his position. But the Cowboys need defensive tackles who can play, and Hurst is one of the best football players in this draft class.
  20. Detroit Lions: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech LB: Running back could be an option here, but Edmunds fits a similar role to what Anthony Barr does for Minnesota. He could be a big riser come the NFL combine.
  21. Buffalo Bills: James Washington, Oklahoma State WR: While they need to figure out their quarterback situation, the Bills need to improve at the wide receiver position.
  22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City), Vita Vea, Washington DT: The Bills traded Marcell Dareus earlier this season. And they’ll look to Vea to fill his void.
  23. Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA: With Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers getting up their in age, Davenport is the perfect project to step in and eventually take over.
  24. Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma T: Andrew Whitworth was huge for the Rams this season. But he’s also 36 years old. Brown is raw, but he could become the Rams’ left tackle of the future. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn could also help on the interior.
  25. Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB: The Titans selected a cornerback in the first round last year and will look to continue to improve their secondary. The Titans also could target a pass rusher, but with Mike Varbel now in charge, the Ohio State connection makes this too easy.
  26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia OG: Wynn had a great senior season with Georgia and then followed it up with a dominant Senior Bowl. Given the Falcons’ struggles on the interior of the offensive line, he’s a player who makes a lot of sense here.
  27. New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, DE/OLB: Cam Jordan had a fantastic season for the Saints, but the defense still has some holes in the front 7. Adding Landry gives them another dynamic pass rusher.
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, Alabama LB: With the Ryan Shazier injury casting doubt on his NFL future, linebacker becomes a position of need. Evans isn’t the prospect that Shazier was, but he, like many other Alabama linebackers, can be very good.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State QB: Blake Bortles isn’t the answer for Jacksonville. The Jaguars could look at Rudolph or Louisville product Lamar Jackson. Rudolph will need to have a strong NFL combine to solidify this ranking after he missed the Senior Bowl.
  30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, Ohio State G/C: Quarterback could be in play here, but Price, like Pat Elflein did this season for Minnesota, could be a Day 1 starter on the interior.
  31. New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE/OLB: Bill Belichick loves players who have ties to Greg Schiano. Pass rusher is a huge need for New England. And Hubbard’s defensive coordinator is in fact Schiano.
  32. Philadelphia Eagles: Braden Smith, Auburn OG: For a team on the verge of winning the Super Bowl, there aren’t a lot of holes here. Offensive line is one given that a number of key players are starting to get up there in age.

2018 NFL Draft: First-round order

Pick Nos. 1 through 20 are set now that the regular season is finished.

1. Cleveland Browns

2. New York Giants

3. Indianapolis Colts

4. Cleveland Browns

5. Denver Broncos

6. New York Jets

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. Chicago Bears

9. San Francisco 49ers OR Oakland Raiders (coin flip)

11. Miami Dolphins

12. Cincinnati Bengals

13. Washington Redskins

14. Green Bay Packers

15. Arizona Cardinals

16. Baltimore Ravens

17. Los Angeles Chargers

18. Seattle Seahawks

19. Dallas Cowboys

20. Detroit Lions

21. Buffalo Bills

22. Buffalo Bills(Via Kansas City)

23. Carolina Panthers

24. Los Angeles Rams

25. Tennessee Titans

26. Atlanta Falcons

27. New Orleans Saints

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Minnesota Vikings

31. New England Patriots

32. Philadelphia Eagles

The post NFL mock draft 2018: First-round predictions, NFL draft order, top players for the 2018 NFL Draft appeared first on SEC Country.

Connor Riley – SEC Country

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NFL mock draft 2018: First-round predictions, top players, NFL draft order for the 2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft-2018 NFL Mock Draft-NFL draft-2018 NFL Draft-top-players-Baker Mayfield-first round picks

The 2018 NFL Draft is once again expected to be loaded with talented players.Below find a 2018 NFL mock draft, and an up to date NFL draft order. The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is set for April 26. Baker Mayfield is expected to be a high pick in the draft.

This draft figures to be quarterback heavy, with potentially four signal callers,  Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen going among the top-10 picks. Of the non-quarterbacks, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick could be selected in the top 5.

NFL mock draft 2018: First-round projections, top players

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, USC QB: The Browns have to use the pick on a quarterback, and we think they’ll choose Darnold.
  2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA QB: Rosen vs. Darnold will be an interesting debate. The UCLA quarterback might be wired to better succeed in New York than Darnold.
  3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb DE: While Minkah Fitzpatrick is the better prospect, defensive end is the bigger need for the Colts. Offensive line, such as Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, could also be a target.
  4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama DB: The Browns went quarterback with their first pick. Next up, they grab the best defensive prospect in the class. Fitzpatrick is a queen-on-the-chessboard-type of defensive back.
  5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, Wyoming QB: Offensive line could be the pick here. Drafting Allen is a risk, but the Denver quarterback situation might be the worst in the league. Allen did well in the Senior Bowl game, showing why he’s such a tantalizing prospect.
  6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB: The Jets will continue toiling in mediocrity as long as they lack quality quarterback play. If anyone can handle the spotlight and attention that comes with playing for the Jets, it’s the Heisman Trophy winner.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley: With Doug Martin having an up and down career, why not give Jameis Winston one more weapon and see if he really is your franchise quarterback. Defensive end is another area of need.
  8. Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M WR: The Bears almost have to pick a wide receiver. While many will peg Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, I think Kirk is a little bit better. But the Bears couldn’t go wrong with either.
  9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame OG: With Jimmy Garoppolo looking like the quarterback of the future, San Francisco can draft the best player available. As weird as it is to say that is a guard, Nelson is just special.
  10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia LB: A defense with Khalil Mack on it shouldn’t be as bad as Oakland’s was this season. Smith is maybe the best off-ball linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly.
  11. Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, LSU DE/OLB: Nelson could be an option, but instead they’ll take Key. While he might have off-field concerns, the LSU product has the potential to be an elite pass rusher. Marcus Davenport of UTSA could also get a look here after a strong Senior Bowl.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame T: The Bengals have skill players and a number of young and talented defenders. Where they most need help is on the offensive line. McGlinchey, or his teammate, Nelson, could be an option.
  13. Washington Redskins: Derwin James, FSU DB: Washington has it’s quarterback of the future with Alex Smith.  So look for them to take a player such as James, who is 95 percent the player that Fitzpatrick is.
  14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, Iowa CB: Secondary is still a huge area of need for the Packers. It’ll either be Jackson or Denzel Ward as the first cornerback taken in the draft.
  15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, Texas T: Quarterback is Arizona’s biggest need. They could reach for Mason Rudolph, or drastically improve their offensive line with the selection of Williams.
  16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR:  The Ravens might have the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. This makes too much sense.
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT: The Chargers had the second-worst rush defense in the league. Payne will help them improve, especially after how he took over the College Football Playoff.
  18. Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, LSU RB: The Seahawks have had a revolving door of running backs since Marshawn Lynch departed. Guice would make it two years in a row that an LSU running back goes in the first round. Seattle could also look at the secondary, given that the Legion of Boom is getting old.
  19. Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT: Hurst might not be drafted this high simply because of his position. But the Cowboys need defensive tackles who can play, and Hurst is one of the best football players in this draft class.
  20. Detroit Lions: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech LB: Running back could be an option here, but Edmunds fits a similar role to what Anthony Barr does for Minnesota. He could be a big riser come the NFL combine.
  21. Buffalo Bills: James Washington, Oklahoma State WR: While they need to figure out their quarterback situation, the Bills need to improve at the wide receiver position.
  22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City), Vita Vea, Washington DT: The Bills traded Marcell Dareus earlier this season. And they’ll look to Vea to fill his void.
  23. Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA: With Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers getting up their in age, Davenport is the perfect project to step in and eventually take over.
  24. Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma T: Andrew Whitworth was huge for the Rams this season. But he’s also 36 years old. Brown is raw, but he could become the Rams’ left tackle of the future. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn could also help on the interior.
  25. Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB: The Titans selected a cornerback in the first round last year and will look to continue to improve their secondary. The Titans also could target a pass rusher, but with Mike Varbel now in charge, the Ohio State connection makes this too easy.
  26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia OG: Wynn had a great senior season with Georgia and then followed it up with a dominant Senior Bowl. Given the Falcons’ struggles on the interior of the offensive line, he’s a player who makes a lot of sense here.
  27. New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, DE/OLB: Cam Jordan had a fantastic season for the Saints, but the defense still has some holes in the front 7. Adding Landry gives them another dynamic pass rusher.
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, Alabama LB: With the Ryan Shazier injury casting doubt on his NFL future, linebacker becomes a position of need. Evans isn’t the prospect that Shazier was, but he, like many other Alabama linebackers, can be very good.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State QB: Blake Bortles isn’t the answer for Jacksonville. The Jaguars could look at Rudolph or Louisville product Lamar Jackson. Rudolph will need to have a strong NFL combine to solidify this ranking after he missed the Senior Bowl.
  30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, Ohio State G/C: Quarterback could be in play here, but Price, like Pat Elflein did this season for Minnesota, could be a Day 1 starter on the interior.
  31. New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE/OLB: Bill Belichick loves players who have ties to Greg Schiano. Pass rusher is a huge need for New England. And Hubbard’s defensive coordinator is in fact Schiano.
  32. Philadelphia Eagles: Braden Smith, Auburn OG: For a team on the verge of winning the Super Bowl, there aren’t a lot of holes here. Offensive line is one given that a number of key players are starting to get up there in age.

2018 NFL Draft: First-round order

Pick Nos. 1 through 20 are set now that the regular season is finished.

1. Cleveland Browns

2. New York Giants

3. Indianapolis Colts

4. Cleveland Browns

5. Denver Broncos

6. New York Jets

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. Chicago Bears

9. San Francisco 49ers OR Oakland Raiders (coin flip)

11. Miami Dolphins

12. Cincinnati Bengals

13. Washington Redskins

14. Green Bay Packers

15. Arizona Cardinals

16. Baltimore Ravens

17. Los Angeles Chargers

18. Seattle Seahawks

19. Dallas Cowboys

20. Detroit Lions

21. Buffalo Bills

22. Buffalo Bills(Via Kansas City)

23. Carolina Panthers

24. Los Angeles Rams

25. Tennessee Titans

26. Atlanta Falcons

27. New Orleans Saints

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Minnesota Vikings

31. New England Patriots

32. Philadelphia Eagles

The post NFL mock draft 2018: First-round predictions, top players, NFL draft order for the 2018 NFL Draft appeared first on SEC Country.

Connor Riley – SEC Country

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NFL mock draft 2018: First-round predictions, NFL draft order, top players for the 2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft-2018 NFL Mock Draft-NFL draft-2018 NFL Draft-top-playes-Saquon-Barkley

The 2018 NFL Draft is once again expected to be loaded with talented players.Below find a 2018 NFL mock draft, and an up to date NFL draft order. The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is set for April 26. Baker Mayfield is expected to be a high pick in the draft.

This draft figures to be quarterback heavy, with potentially four signal callers,  Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen going among the top-10 picks. Of the non-quarterbacks, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick could be selected in the top 5.

NFL mock draft 2018: First-round projections, top players

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, USC QB: The Browns have to use the pick on a quarterback, and we think they’ll choose Darnold.
  2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA QB: Rosen vs. Darnold will be an interesting debate. The UCLA quarterback might be wired to better succeed in New York than Darnold.
  3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb DE: While Minkah Fitzpatrick is the better prospect, defensive end is the bigger need for the Colts. Offensive line, such as Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, could also be a target.
  4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama DB: The Browns went quarterback with their first pick. Next up, they grab the best defensive prospect in the class. Fitzpatrick is a queen-on-the-chessboard-type of defensive back.
  5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, Wyoming QB: Offensive line could be the pick here. Drafting Allen is a risk, but the Denver quarterback situation might be the worst in the league. Allen did well in the Senior Bowl game, showing why he’s such a tantalizing prospect.
  6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB: The Jets will continue toiling in mediocrity as long as they lack quality quarterback play. If anyone can handle the spotlight and attention that comes with playing for the Jets, it’s the Heisman Trophy winner.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley: With Doug Martin having an up and down career, why not give Jameis Winston one more weapon and see if he really is your franchise quarterback. Defensive end is another area of need.
  8. Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M WR: The Bears almost have to pick a wide receiver. While many will peg Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, I think Kirk is a little bit better. But the Bears couldn’t go wrong with either.
  9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame OG: With Jimmy Garoppolo looking like the quarterback of the future, San Francisco can draft the best player available. As weird as it is to say that is a guard, Nelson is just special.
  10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia LB: A defense with Khalil Mack on it shouldn’t be as bad as Oakland’s was this season. Smith is maybe the best off-ball linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly.
  11. Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, LSU DE/OLB: Nelson could be an option, but instead they’ll take Key. While he might have off-field concerns, the LSU product has the potential to be an elite pass rusher. Marcus Davenport of UTSA could also get a look here after a strong Senior Bowl.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame T: The Bengals have skill players and a number of young and talented defenders. Where they most need help is on the offensive line. McGlinchey, or his teammate, Nelson, could be an option.
  13. Washington Redskins: Derwin James, FSU DB: Washington has it’s quarterback of the future with Alex Smith.  So look for them to take a player such as James, who is 95 percent the player that Fitzpatrick is.
  14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, Iowa CB: Secondary is still a huge area of need for the Packers. It’ll either be Jackson or Denzel Ward as the first cornerback taken in the draft.
  15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, Texas T: Quarterback is Arizona’s biggest need. They could reach for Mason Rudolph, or drastically improve their offensive line with the selection of Williams.
  16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR:  The Ravens might have the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. This makes too much sense.
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT: The Chargers had the second-worst rush defense in the league. Payne will help them improve, especially after how he took over the College Football Playoff.
  18. Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, LSU RB: The Seahawks have had a revolving door of running backs since Marshawn Lynch departed. Guice would make it two years in a row that an LSU running back goes in the first round. Seattle could also look at the secondary, given that the Legion of Boom is getting old.
  19. Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT: Hurst might not be drafted this high simply because of his position. But the Cowboys need defensive tackles who can play, and Hurst is one of the best football players in this draft class.
  20. Detroit Lions: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech LB: Running back could be an option here, but Edmunds fits a similar role to what Anthony Barr does for Minnesota. He could be a big riser come the NFL combine.
  21. Buffalo Bills: James Washington, Oklahoma State WR: While they need to figure out their quarterback situation, the Bills need to improve at the wide receiver position.
  22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City), Vita Vea, Washington DT: The Bills traded Marcell Dareus earlier this season. And they’ll look to Vea to fill his void.
  23. Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA: With Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers getting up their in age, Davenport is the perfect project to step in and eventually take over.
  24. Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma T: Andrew Whitworth was huge for the Rams this season. But he’s also 36 years old. Brown is raw, but he could become the Rams’ left tackle of the future. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn could also help on the interior.
  25. Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB: The Titans selected a cornerback in the first round last year and will look to continue to improve their secondary. The Titans also could target a pass rusher, but with Mike Varbel now in charge, the Ohio State connection makes this too easy.
  26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia OG: Wynn had a great senior season with Georgia and then followed it up with a dominant Senior Bowl. Given the Falcons’ struggles on the interior of the offensive line, he’s a player who makes a lot of sense here.
  27. New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, DE/OLB: Cam Jordan had a fantastic season for the Saints, but the defense still has some holes in the front 7. Adding Landry gives them another dynamic pass rusher.
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, Alabama LB: With the Ryan Shazier injury casting doubt on his NFL future, linebacker becomes a position of need. Evans isn’t the prospect that Shazier was, but he, like many other Alabama linebackers, can be very good.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State QB: Blake Bortles isn’t the answer for Jacksonville. The Jaguars could look at Rudolph or Louisville product Lamar Jackson. Rudolph will need to have a strong NFL combine to solidify this ranking after he missed the Senior Bowl.
  30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, Ohio State G/C: Quarterback could be in play here, but Price, like Pat Elflein did this season for Minnesota, could be a Day 1 starter on the interior.
  31. New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE/OLB: Bill Belichick loves players who have ties to Greg Schiano. Pass rusher is a huge need for New England. And Hubbard’s defensive coordinator is in fact Schiano.
  32. Philadelphia Eagles: Braden Smith, Auburn OG: For a team on the verge of winning the Super Bowl, there aren’t a lot of holes here. Offensive line is one given that a number of key players are starting to get up there in age.

2018 NFL Draft: First-round order

Pick Nos. 1 through 20 are set now that the regular season is finished.

1. Cleveland Browns

2. New York Giants

3. Indianapolis Colts

4. Cleveland Browns

5. Denver Broncos

6. New York Jets

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. Chicago Bears

9. San Francisco 49ers OR Oakland Raiders (coin flip)

11. Miami Dolphins

12. Cincinnati Bengals

13. Washington Redskins

14. Green Bay Packers

15. Arizona Cardinals

16. Baltimore Ravens

17. Los Angeles Chargers

18. Seattle Seahawks

19. Dallas Cowboys

20. Detroit Lions

21. Buffalo Bills

22. Buffalo Bills(Via Kansas City)

23. Carolina Panthers

24. Los Angeles Rams

25. Tennessee Titans

26. Atlanta Falcons

27. New Orleans Saints

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Minnesota Vikings

31. New England Patriots

32. Philadelphia Eagles

The post NFL mock draft 2018: First-round predictions, NFL draft order, top players for the 2018 NFL Draft appeared first on SEC Country.

Connor Riley – SEC Country

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NFL mock draft 2018: First-round predictions, NFL draft order, top players for the 2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Mock Draft-NFL draft-2018 NFL Draft-Sam Darnold-Josh Rosen-NFL mock draft

The 2018 NFL Draft is once again expected to be loaded with talented players.Below find a 2018 NFL mock draft, and an up to date NFL draft order. The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is set for April 26. Baker Mayfield is expected to be a high pick in the draft.

This draft figures to be quarterback heavy, with potentially four signal callers,  Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen going among the top-10 picks. Of the non-quarterbacks, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick could be selected in the top 5.

NFL mock draft 2018: First-round projections, top players

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, USC QB: The Browns have to use the pick on a quarterback, and we think they’ll choose Darnold.
  2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA QB: Rosen vs. Darnold will be an interesting debate. The UCLA quarterback might be wired to better succeed in New York than Darnold.
  3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb DE: While Minkah Fitzpatrick is the better prospect, defensive end is the bigger need for the Colts. Offensive line, such as Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, could also be a target.
  4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama DB: The Browns went quarterback with their first pick. Next up, they grab the best defensive prospect in the class. Fitzpatrick is a queen-on-the-chessboard-type of defensive back.
  5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, Wyoming QB: Offensive line could be the pick here. Drafting Allen is a risk, but the Denver quarterback situation might be the worst in the league. Allen did well in the Senior Bowl game, showing why he’s such a tantalizing prospect.
  6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB: The Jets will continue toiling in mediocrity as long as they lack quality quarterback play. If anyone can handle the spotlight and attention that comes with playing for the Jets, it’s the Heisman Trophy winner.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley: With Doug Martin having an up and down career, why not give Jameis Winston one more weapon and see if he really is your franchise quarterback. Defensive end is another area of need.
  8. Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M WR: The Bears almost have to pick a wide receiver. While many will peg Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, I think Kirk is a little bit better. But the Bears couldn’t go wrong with either.
  9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame OG: With Jimmy Garoppolo looking like the quarterback of the future, San Francisco can draft the best player available. As weird as it is to say that is a guard, Nelson is just special.
  10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia LB: A defense with Khalil Mack on it shouldn’t be as bad as Oakland’s was this season. Smith is maybe the best off-ball linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly.
  11. Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, LSU DE/OLB: Nelson could be an option, but instead they’ll take Key. While he might have off-field concerns, the LSU product has the potential to be an elite pass rusher. Marcus Davenport of UTSA could also get a look here after a strong Senior Bowl.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame T: The Bengals have skill players and a number of young and talented defenders. Where they most need help is on the offensive line. McGlinchey, or his teammate, Nelson, could be an option.
  13. Washington Redskins: Derwin James, FSU DB: Washington has it’s quarterback of the future with Alex Smith.  So look for them to take a player such as James, who is 95 percent the player that Fitzpatrick is.
  14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, Iowa CB: Secondary is still a huge area of need for the Packers. It’ll either be Jackson or Denzel Ward as the first cornerback taken in the draft.
  15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, Texas T: Quarterback is Arizona’s biggest need. They could reach for Mason Rudolph, or drastically improve their offensive line with the selection of Williams.
  16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR:  The Ravens might have the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. This makes too much sense.
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT: The Chargers had the second-worst rush defense in the league. Payne will help them improve, especially after how he took over the College Football Playoff.
  18. Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, LSU RB: The Seahawks have had a revolving door of running backs since Marshawn Lynch departed. Guice would make it two years in a row that an LSU running back goes in the first round. Seattle could also look at the secondary, given that the Legion of Boom is getting old.
  19. Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT: Hurst might not be drafted this high simply because of his position. But the Cowboys need defensive tackles who can play, and Hurst is one of the best football players in this draft class.
  20. Detroit Lions: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech LB: Running back could be an option here, but Edmunds fits a similar role to what Anthony Barr does for Minnesota. He could be a big riser come the NFL combine.
  21. Buffalo Bills: James Washington, Oklahoma State WR: While they need to figure out their quarterback situation, the Bills need to improve at the wide receiver position.
  22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City), Vita Vea, Washington DT: The Bills traded Marcell Dareus earlier this season. And they’ll look to Vea to fill his void.
  23. Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA: With Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers getting up their in age, Davenport is the perfect project to step in and eventually take over.
  24. Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma T: Andrew Whitworth was huge for the Rams this season. But he’s also 36 years old. Brown is raw, but he could become the Rams’ left tackle of the future. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn could also help on the interior.
  25. Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB: The Titans selected a cornerback in the first round last year and will look to continue to improve their secondary. The Titans also could target a pass rusher, but with Mike Varbel now in charge, the Ohio State connection makes this too easy.
  26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia OG: Wynn had a great senior season with Georgia and then followed it up with a dominant Senior Bowl. Given the Falcons’ struggles on the interior of the offensive line, he’s a player who makes a lot of sense here.
  27. New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, DE/OLB: Cam Jordan had a fantastic season for the Saints, but the defense still has some holes in the front 7. Adding Landry gives them another dynamic pass rusher.
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, Alabama LB: With the Ryan Shazier injury casting doubt on his NFL future, linebacker becomes a position of need. Evans isn’t the prospect that Shazier was, but he, like many other Alabama linebackers, can be very good.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State QB: Blake Bortles isn’t the answer for Jacksonville. The Jaguars could look at Rudolph or Louisville product Lamar Jackson. Rudolph will need to have a strong NFL combine to solidify this ranking after he missed the Senior Bowl.
  30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, Ohio State G/C: Quarterback could be in play here, but Price, like Pat Elflein did this season for Minnesota, could be a Day 1 starter on the interior.
  31. New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE/OLB: Bill Belichick loves players who have ties to Greg Schiano. Pass rusher is a huge need for New England. And Hubbard’s defensive coordinator is in fact Schiano.
  32. Philadelphia Eagles: Braden Smith, Auburn OG: For a team on the verge of winning the Super Bowl, there aren’t a lot of holes here. Offensive line is one given that a number of key players are starting to get up there in age.

2018 NFL Draft: First-round order

Pick Nos. 1 through 20 are set now that the regular season is finished.

1. Cleveland Browns

2. New York Giants

3. Indianapolis Colts

4. Cleveland Browns

5. Denver Broncos

6. New York Jets

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. Chicago Bears

9. San Francisco 49ers OR Oakland Raiders (coin flip)

11. Miami Dolphins

12. Cincinnati Bengals

13. Washington Redskins

14. Green Bay Packers

15. Arizona Cardinals

16. Baltimore Ravens

17. Los Angeles Chargers

18. Seattle Seahawks

19. Dallas Cowboys

20. Detroit Lions

21. Buffalo Bills

22. Buffalo Bills(Via Kansas City)

23. Carolina Panthers

24. Los Angeles Rams

25. Tennessee Titans

26. Atlanta Falcons

27. New Orleans Saints

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Minnesota Vikings

31. New England Patriots

32. Philadelphia Eagles

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Predictions for South Carolina vs. Texas A&M, plus news on 5-star DE K.J. Henry

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Picks for South Carolina-Texas A&M

SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan and Mike Chapman don’t like South Carolina’s chances against Texas A&M on Saturday night at Kyle Field.

McGranahan calls for a 38-24 Texas A&M win, while Chapman sees the Aggies doubling up the Gamecocks, winning 42-21.

The two cite the Gamecocks’ injuries and recent struggles on offense as the reasons for their predicted downfall in College Station.

“The heart is there for South Carolina, but the players to get it done this week are not,” Chapman writes. “They do not have enough horses in the stable to keep up with a high-powered Aggies offense that’s led by freshman quarterback Kellen Mond and sophomore running back Trayveon Williams.”

South Carolina is looking for its first win in the series since the two schools became cross-division rivals in 2014.

K.J. Henry applauds Will Muschamp’s personal recruiting efforts

Five-star defensive end K.J. Henry told SEC Country that South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is recruiting him hard.

“That’s definitely been a guy, whenever I want to talk to someone there, he’s the one I’m calling, so I think our relationship is very well,” Henry said. “To have that relationship with the head coach, that speaks volumes.”

Henry noted that Muschamp has been the only coach to come see him play this season.

The 5-star defensive end is rated as the No. 16 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.

‘He’ll be special there’

Count Adrian Snow, Henry’s coach at West Forsyth High School (Clemmons, N.C.), among those impressed with Muschamp.

“[Muschamp has] done a good job and he’ll continue to do so,” Snow said. “If they just leave him alone, let him get things straight, he’ll do it there and he’ll be special there, too.”

Snow has already sent two former players to Power 5 programs: Jalen Dalton, currently a junior at North Carolina, and Alex McCalister, who played for Muschamp at Florida and is now on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hayden Hurst talks with Paul Finebaum

South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst appeared on The Paul Finebaum Show on Tuesday to discuss his team’s upcoming game against Texas A&M and how the Gamecocks can exceed expectations this season, via Gamecock Central.

Despite having just 11 catches for 145 yards and 1 touchdown, the all-SEC tight end has contributed greatly in blocking this season, an area of his game he looked to improve from 2016.

News on Bryson Allen-Williams

South Carolina linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams underwent surgery on his injured shoulder on Wednesday.

His mother, Darnisha Allen-Jackson, had a brief update on the junior linebacker’s status.

Allen-Williams posted 10 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 1 interception in three games this season.

The Ellenwood, Ga., native plans to use his redshirt for the remainder of this season and return for his redshirt senior season in 2018.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off relocated

Due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off has been moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., ESPN announced on Wednesday.

The tournament, scheduled for Nov. 16-19, features South Carolina, Iowa State, Tulsa, Western Michigan, Appalachian State, Boise State, Illinios State and UTEP.

South Carolina will play Illinois State in the first game of the tournament on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Former Gamecocks earns NFL honors

Former South Carolina standout and current Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month on Wednesday, via Lou Bezjak of The State.

Through three games this season, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft has 5½ sacks and 14 total tackles.

Ingram is best-remembered for his sensational 68-yard touchdown run on a fake punt against Georgia in 2011.

Not to be outdone by his old South Carolina teammate, ex-Gamecocks kicker Ryan Succop took home AFC Special Teams Player of the Month honors for September.

Succop made 10 of 11 field goals and all 8 extra points for the Tennessee Titans through the first three weeks of the season.

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Predictions for South Carolina vs. Louisiana Tech; plus, 2 Gamecocks defenders listed as game-time decisions

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Predictions for South Carolina vs. Louisiana Tech

SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan and Mike Chapman are both calling for a South Carolina victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“How a team responds after a loss can really give you an indication of what you really have and we’ll get to see how the Gamecocks rebound from last Saturday’s disaster,” Chapman said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that South Carolina wins this Saturday against Louisiana Tech, but how they win is what I am really interested in seeing.”

Both writers have the Gamecocks winning by 7: Chapman predicts a 27-20 South Carolina victory, while McGranahan anticipates the Gamecocks winning, 20-13.

South Carolina football mailbag

McGranahan answered questions on all things South Carolina football in the latest edition of the SEC Country mailbag.

The writer was asked to explain to worried South Carolina fans that one loss won’t ruin the Gamecocks’ next recruiting class.

“There’s a misconception that a recruit’s game-day experience is ruined by a loss,” McGranahan wrote. “While results matter, in the grand scheme of things, one game won’t make or break a decision. Well, it shouldn’t.”

Game-time decision for 2 South Carolina seniors

Senior defensive end Dante Sawyer and senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams are both game-time decisions for the Louisiana Tech game, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp announced on his call-in show on Thursday night.

Sawyer sustained a hamstring injury against Kentucky, while Allen-Williams has been dealing with a shoulder issue, reported JC Shurburtt of The Big Spur.

The senior duo has combined for 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss this season.

Gamecocks O-line looks to bounce back

South Carolina right tackle Zack Bailey is likely to miss the game against Louisiana Tech, but former starter Malik Young should start in his place. The rest of the unit should look similar to the one that started against Kentucky.

The Gamecocks could turn to younger, unproven players to provide a boost to the offensive line off the bench, according to Muschamp.

“D.J. Park is a guy that can play across the board,” Muschamp told the media earlier this week. “Sadarius Hutcherson can do some different things for us as far as multiple spots [and] Blake Camper as well. We’ve got some guys that have some multiplicity in there.”

The offensive line performed admirably in pass protection against Kentucky, giving up only 2 sacks, but the Gamecocks as a whole struggled running the ball.

The team hopes to change that on Saturday when the face off against the Bulldogs’ No. 108-ranked rush defense.

‘Really a wonderful experience’

Class of 2020 athlete Maleik Faust was among the visitors to Columbia last Saturday.

“It was really a wonderful experience seeing all the fans and how much support they had for the players,” Faust said. “It was very awesome to see them up close, person to person.”

The Charlotte, N.C., native already boasts offers from South Carolina and Penn State.

Top 5 for Zion Williamson

According to several national recruiting experts, South Carolina is among the five schools most likely to sign 5-star small forward Zion Williamson, via Ben Roberts of The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.

Williamson was among those in attendance at Williams-Brice last Saturday.

The Herald-Leader polled five of the leading basketball recruiting analysts to create a top 5 list for the Class of 2018’s No. 2 overall prospect, including South Carolina, Clemson, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky.

Feel-good flashback

Making it to the Final Four wasn’t enough for South Carolina basketball fans, they want Williamson in the fold.

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Predictions for South Carolina vs. Kentucky; plus, news on two major 2018 targets

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Picks for South Carolina vs. Kentucky

Joe Mussatto and Kyle Tucker of SEC Country like the Gamecocks’ chances to improve to 3-0.

Both writers predicted South Carolina to beat Kentucky on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Mussatto called for a 30-17 Gamecocks win. Tucker picked Kentucky to cover the 5.5-point spread but South Carolina to ultimately win, 27-24.

Gamecocks’ home opener sold out

South Carolina’s home opener against Kentucky on Saturday night is officially a sellout, according to the South Carolina athletic department.

South Carolina fans are clearly excited for their team’s first 2-0 start since 2012. The Gamecocks are looking to snap a three-game losing streak to the Wildcats.

South Carolina still in play for Dorian Gerald

Three-star junior college defensive end and Tennessee commit Dorian Gerald told Phil Kornblut of SportsTalk that South Carolina has the best shot at flipping him.

“If I ever were to flip, they probably stand the best chance,” Gerald said of the Gamecocks.

The Florence, S.C., native has been committed to the Vols since July 6. He’s rated as the No. 8 overall junior college player for 2018, according to 247Sports composite.

On the Xavier Thomas rumors

In the latest edition of the South Carolina recruiting and football mailbag, SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan was asked about the rumors regarding 5-star DE and Clemson commit Xavier Thomas.

“The rumblings about the firmness of his commitment to Clemson seem to have come out of nowhere, but that sort of is the nature of recruiting,” McGranahan wrote. “The timing of this stuff is odd, because he was just on campus up there this past weekend for the Auburn game. I was skeptical, but the word on the street is that Thomas has told people that he was planning to de-commit. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Thomas is rated as the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.

MORE: Could Xavier Thomas make a big weekend even bigger? 

The IMG Academy standout was planning to announce either Clemson or South Carolina on his birthday, Dec. 20. However, those plans changed when Thomas surprisingly committed to the Tigers just before their spring game on April 8.

Kentucky LB ruled out for South Carolina game

Kentucky linebacker Jordan Jones won’t play against South Carolina on Saturday night, coach Mark Stoops told reporters after practice on Thursday. The junior linebacker injured his shoulder against Eastern Kentucky last Saturday.

“We did an exam right after the game and then we did some more tests Monday after my press conference,” Stoops said. “Once I got that information he was ruled out for this week.”

Jones was third in the SEC last season with 109 total tackles.

Gamecocks welcome DJ to stadium

South Carolina home football games will now feature a live DJ, according to a press release on Thursday, via Josh Kendall of The State.

DJ A-Minor, based out of Charlotte, N.C., has been hired by the school to play music before and during all of the Gamecocks’ games at Williams-Brice this season.

“Everyone’s pulling the same direction, that recruiting is our No. 1 focus. With that being the direction, it’s a natural fit,” South Carolina marketing director Eric Nichols said. “Our music wasn’t where it needed to be. It just wasn’t resonating with any segment of the fan base. It needed a refresh. The new DJ will provide that refresh.”

Case against Rakym Felder dismissed

The assault case against South Carolina point guard Rakym Felder was reportedly dropped on Wednesday, according to Sportstalk SC.

The sophomore was suspended by South Carolina coach Frank Martin on June 30 because of the alleged charges.

Felder averaged 5.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists for the Gamecocks last season in their run to the Final Four.

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South Carolina vs. Mizzou predictions; expect a heavy dose of Gamecocks running backs

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

South Carolina vs. Mizzou predictions

Mike Chapman and Hale McGranahan of SEC Country previewed the upcoming South Carolina-Missouri game, with both contributors predicting a South Carolina victory.

“South Carolina has the offense to keep up with Missouri, but I believe this week we are going to see a heavy dose of the running game to try to keep that Tigers offense off of the field,” wrote Chapman, calling for a score of 42-39 in favor of the Gamecocks. “The Gamecocks were able to rush for almost 180 yards last year against the Tigers, and I think they have an excellent shot at getting more than 200 yards on the ground on Saturday.”

McGranahan predicts a 45-40 win for the Gamecocks, with South Carolina’s running back corps playing a major role in the win.

The Gamecocks are looking for their first road win since beating Vanderbilt in the 2016 season opener.

Rico Dowdle is ready for Mizzou

South Carolina RB Rico Dowdle is ready to run against Missouri on Saturday.

“I think we’ll run the ball a lot more this week,” Dowdle said. “You’ll see a better rotation, also at running back this week. You should see a lot more carries. I think North Carolina State was one of the better defenses that we’ll play this season.”

In their 31-21 win against the Missouri last season, the Gamecocks ran for 174 yards, their highest total in SEC play in 2016. Dowdle led the way with 27 carries for 149 yards and 1 touchdown.

South Carolina recruiting after Week 1

McGranahan answered questions on all things South Carolina football, with many fans curious how the team’s Week 1 victory affected the Gamecocks’ recruiting.

“I didn’t think South Carolina would beat N.C. State. But I did think the team would finish this season 7-5, so in my eyes, this is an ideal start,” McGranahan wrote.

“Going into the home opener at 2-0 would be a tremendous boost, especially to a recruit such as 4-star linebacker Channing Tindall, who’s expected to make a commitment at some point this month.”

Predicting South Carolina’s 2018 signing class

Which remaining Class of 2018 prospects can South Carolina realistically sign?

McGranahan gives his predictions on how the Gamecocks will fare with Tindall, Rick Sandidge, Dylan Wonnum and Dax Hollifield.

“I’ve heard from one source who thinks Dax Hollifield will choose South Carolina or Virginia Tech,” McGranahan wrote. “He’s one prospect who’s really paying attention to what the Gamecocks’ record is this season. Fortunately, for them, they have a need at linebacker, and Hollifield knows it.”

Hollifield is rated as the No. 125 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.

The Gamecocks’ latest QB target

South Carolina co-offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Kurt Roper knew 2019 3-star QB Ryan Hilinski’s last name looked familiar. For good reason, the Gamecocks assistant recruited Hilinski’s older brother while at Duke.

“I know [Roper’s] a great guy, superprestigious QB coach with great insight and I’d love to play for him,” Hilinski said. “We’ve already built a great relationship, so it’s going to be fun to see how it goes down the road.”

Roper offered the younger Hilinski a scholarship on Sunday, joining the likes of Boston College, Fresno State and others in pursuit of the 3-star quarterback.

The 6-foot-3.5, 218-pound Orange, Calif., native is rated as the No. 580 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, according to 247Sports.

The streak continues

South Carolina super fan Kirk Hollingsworth was in danger of having his streak of attending Gamecocks games come to an end until the South Carolina athletic department stepped in on Thursday.

“The University of South Carolina called and said they’ve got room for me on the [athletic department]plane that leaves out in the morning,” Hollingsworth told Ben Breiner of The State. “Ray Tanner got this thing organized in a quick fashion. I’ll be going.”

Hollingsworth has been to an incredible 295 consecutive South Carolina football games.

Feel-good flashback

Connor Shaw to Bruce Ellington against Missouri in 2013. Could it be anything else?

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South Carolina vs. N.C. State predictions; can the Gamecocks pull off another season-opening upset?

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

South Carolina vs. North Carolina State predictions

Hale McGranahan and Mike Chapman of SEC Country offered their predictions for South Carolina’s season opener against North Carolina State at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday.

McGranahan has the Gamecocks losing by 3, 24-21, while Chapman has the Gamecocks winning by 3, 27-24.

“When you have the motivation to get better and the time to prepare, it makes for success for a lot of football teams in the opening week of the season, and I think South Carolina is one of those teams,” Chapman wrote.

N.C. State on upset alert?

Expect the underdog Gamecocks to pull off another season-opening upset, wrote David Caraviello for SEC Country. Caraviello is calling for a 24-21 South Carolina victory.

The biggest reason N.C. State is on upset alert? South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley.

“His struggles last season came on the road [more on that later], and against opponents a step above the one he’ll face Saturday,” Caraviello said of Bentley. “At Bank of America Stadium he will be the best player on the field and the one figure most capable of swinging the outcome in his team’s direction.”

South Carolina football mailbag

In the latest SEC Country mailbag, McGranahan takes questions on all things South Carolina football.

South Carolina fan Jason Johnson cut right to the chase with the question he posted on Facebook: “Do you think we can take the East this year?”

“That side of the league is wide open, even though Georgia and Florida are probably the favorites,” answered McGranahan. “But, right now, I don’t think South Carolina can win the East. However, if the Gamecocks win big on Saturday, I’ll probably change my tune, because I really like N.C. State.”

SEC Network analyst loves Will Muschamp’s recruiting

SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic thinks South Carolina coach Will Muschamp and his staff will do big things on the recruiting trail, he tells Ben Breiner of The State.

“I’ve said since Will got the job and he brought Lance Thompson and he brought T-Rob [Travaris Robinson], got Bobby Bentley on the staff, that they will have more talent in Columbia, S.C, top to bottom than has ever been there before in 3-5 years,” Cubelic said.

Cubelic made headlines last week when he picked N.C. State as one of his College Football Playoff teams.

South Carolina offers former Auburn DT

The Gamecocks offered former Auburn defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson on Thursday.

Jackson, the stepbrother of South Carolina linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, signed with Auburn in 2016 but departed after redshirting last season. The 6-foot-2 defensive tackle is now enrolled at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas.

The former 4-star prospect was also offered by Ohio State and Alabama earlier this week. The Buckeyes are believed to be his favorite.

4-star center visits Gamecocks

Four-star 2019 center DJ Burns visited South Carolina last weekend for Frank Martin’s elite basketball camp.

“It was a great experience. There were some kids out there who — there were a lot of really good guards,” Burns said. “That was one time when you went to a camp, even if the guards were giving [big men] the ball, they made sure that we got to get the ball.”

The 6-9 center boasts offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and more. Burns, a Rock Hill, S.C., native, is rated as the No. 12 overall center in the Class of 2019, according to the 247Sports composite.

Don’t count out South Carolina for Zion Williamson

South Carolina is still in the running for 5-star forward Zion Williamson, according to Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson.

“We respect the state, and South Carolina and Clemson are in pretty good shape,” Anderson told SportsTalk’s Phil Kornblut. “They have not been ruled out of the equation. They will be schools that he would actually sit down with an attentive ear and listen to. I’m sure of that.”

Williamson is rated as the No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2018.

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