Jake’s Take: Post-Draft Postseason Predictions

Seven rounds and three days later, the NFL Draft has finally come to a close. While some teams made blockbuster trades to jump up in the draft and others had draft picks taken from them, the vast majority of teams simply stayed put and surprised us with the player chosen rather than the media coverage leading up to the pick. With that being said, here are my rapid-fire postseason predictions hot off the drafting skillet.

NFC

Wild Cards- Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings

The Cardinals drafted no skill position players, yet there is almost no question that they are one of the three-to-four best teams in the NFC. A great interior pass rusher in DT Robert Nkemdiche with the first-round pick solidifies a fearsome pass rush with Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker and the newly-acquired Chandler Jones.

Minnesota was in the market for weapons for Teddy Bridgewater and for players to take some of the pressure off of Adrian Peterson. They got both of those things in WR Laquon Treadwell, TE David Morgan and the first ever European pick WR Moritz Boehringer. These weapons in the blocking and passing games should round out a growing passing game.

NFC North- Green Bay Packers

After giving up the 2015 division title to the Vikings, the Packers should be sitting back on top in 2016. The biggest concern for Green Bay was definitely their defense, and they shored up any holes they may have had by using four of their seven picks on defensive lineman and linebackers, highlighted by DT Kenny Clark in the first round.


NFC South- Carolina Panthers

The reigning NFC champions didn’t have a very high-profile draft, yet the Panthers were not bad in their picks. Yes, drafting second to last in each round makes it difficult to do well, they found DT Vernon Butler at the 30th overall pick, along with S James Bradberry and CB Daryl Worley in the secondary, to add much-needed physicality to their defense.

NFC West- Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are slated to open the season as the favorites to win the Super Bowl, but they didn’t do themselves too much of a favor with their draft class. From a fairly weak first-round pick in OT Germain Ifedi to anonymity throughout the rest of their picks, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Seahawk rookies all season long.

NFC East- Dallas Cowboys

There has not been a repeat champion in the NFC East since the Philadelphia Eagles won the division from 2001 through 2004. Now, it just seems that it is Dallas’ turn, especially considering a healthy Tony Romo and RB Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield to lead this team that was utterly leaderless that year.

AFC

Wild Cards- Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals

The Colts are coming off of an awful, injury-plagued 8-8 2015, but a healthy Andrew Luck should thrust this team right back into the thick of the playoff hunt. This is without the mention of the top center in the draft in Ryan Kelly falling to the team in desperate need of a center to couple with their franchise quarterback in Luck.

The Bengals are another team that dropped off just a bit but had a good draft to make up for last season’s early exit. CB William Jackson III and WR Tyler Boyd were both early-round steals for Cincinnati, and the intimidation factor, which the Bengals love so much, is good for high marks for both players.

AFC North- Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers, unlike the Bengals, had a very good 2015 season and a draft that can only be summed up by the word eh. Pittsburgh is in the same boat as the Seahawks in that they are both highly-ranked in many preseason polls, but neither had a great draft. CB Artie Burns would be a great option if the Steelers played more physical press man coverage instead of the hybrid defense they’re running now. It will be interesting to see the development of Pittsburgh’s draft picks in 2016.



AFC South- Houston Texans

The Texans had built a team that excels in every area on the football field. Every area, that is, minus the quarterback position. Bill O’Brien got his man, though, in the form of Brock Osweiler on the first day of free agency. In response, the front office drafted two big-play wide receivers in Will Fuller and QB-turned-WR Braxton Miller who will be fighting for catches behind DeAndre Hopkins and the other young wideouts all year.

AFC West- Oakland Raiders

I have been waiting for this day for longer than my two little brothers can remember (at least five years). This is the day when I can- in full seriousness and legitimacy- pick the Oakland Raiders to win the AFC West. They picked up the best safety in the draft class in Karl Joseph, and they added RB Deandre Washington in the fifth round to add more depth to an already extremely deep backfield. This is not even considering their massive successes in recent drafts. In short, watch out for the Raiders.

AFC East- New England Patriots

And, finally, we have the safest bet in sports, the New England Patriots. The Bills and Dolphins both had very good drafts, and Tom Brady will be unavailable for the first four games of the season, but there is no conceivable way that the Patriots would lose the division, especially with new additions like CB Cyrus Jones and DT Vincent Valentine to add depth to the defense. New England also picked up QB Jacoby Brissett in the third round as a backup to Jimmy Garoppolo, and Brissett may be the spark Garoppolo needs to motivate him to play to the peak of his potential in the first four weeks of the 2016 season.

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