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My Proposal for Detroit's Future
Well, we lost, which means we are back to being bad. Jokes aside, the win last weekend was fun, but as I think today showed, it was merely a mirage. The evidence leans toward Matt Patricia not being a good coach, and I think it will be best that he and Detroit go in separate ways at the seasons end. And to be clear, Patricia still has a chance to turn the season around and get Detroit into contention. I think people forget that the Titans were 2-4 last year before winding up in the AFC Championship Game. I absolutely do not believe this will happen for Detroit, but rather, just being realistic that Detroit's schedule will ease up here soon enough, and maybe that gives them the confidence they need to make some things happen. But unless Patricia makes the playoffs, I am prepared, even eager I dare say, to move on. Now, I am obviously not Sheila Ford. But if I were, this is how I would approach this offseason.
The biggest question, should Detroit falter is what happens to Bob Quinn. While most would probably assume that Quinn and Patricia's fates are tied together, I think it could be a little bit more complicated than that. Allow me to elaborate on this. First and foremost, my view of the role of the GM is to work in conjunction with your head coach to create a vision for what the team will look like. The coach then goes about implementing that vision on the practice field and in games, developing and coaching the team to wins in whatever fashion they think they can. The GM goes about implementing that vision in the free agent markets, on the trade blocs, and in the draft room. In this sense, I think you could actually argue that Bob Quinn has been effective. He has built the Detroit Lions in the image of the New England Patriots, largely by bringing in former Patriots and players with a similar skill set. In terms of swiftly restyling the team, Quinn has arguably done exactly this. He's given Patricia personnel that match the scheme both in the draft and in free agency. As the executioner of this flawed vision, Quinn has managed to reshape them. He is effective in building a wannabe Patriots. Most will focus on the wannabe Patriots, as the issue, and to a large degree, they aren't wrong. But what they miss is that Quinn has done it effectively. Now, there are surely some poor decisions mixed in there. Quinn missed on some draft evaluations like Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor. He did ship out Quandre Diggs for pennies and missed the window to extend Kenny Golladay before it could get more expensive. This isn't to say that Quinn is perfect, in fact, I'm not even arguing Quinn is a relatively good GM, just that he effectively executed a vision. Personally, I wish he had embraced a better vision, and for that, I'd have no issue firing him. But rather, just making the case that Quinn could stick around for another coaching hire. After all, it was Quinn who fired Jim Caldwell for his utter inability to beat good teams, only to turn around and hire buddy buddy Matty P who struggles to even beat bad teams. If Quinn is gone, let's look at some of the names to replace him....
General Manager Candidates
The first name that usually comes to everyone's mind is Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds. A widely regarded scout during his time in Seattle, Colts current GM Chris Ballard swiped Dodds away by making him his number two in Indy. He's played a big part in rebuilding the Colts roster, whether bringing in guys like Denico Autry or Kenny Moore, or drafting players like Braden Smith and Darius Leonard. While he's clearly a top option for just about anyone, there are some questions about whether or not he even wants the spotlight of a GM position. From Bleacher Report's Matt Miller: "he doesn't particularly like the attention that comes with being a decision-maker and might not even have the desire to be a general manager." Personally, I don't think someone who is hesitant to take on a general manager role in the first place would be eager to go to the Lions, given our horrid history. Dodds was from the line of Seahawks GM John Schneider, and he has a few other deputies who could be interesting candidates, notably Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer. Originally a scout himself, he's been in Seattle for awhile now, and was huge piece of the 2010-2012 draft classes that produced Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Bobby Wagner. Additionally, he serves alongside fellow co-director of player personnel, Trent Kirchner, who also figures to be an intriguing candidate. Detroit may want to consider getting someone with experience running their own show, and if that's the case, Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland could be an interesting name. Ireland was the Dolphins GM from 2008 until 2013, a time when they weren't as bad as they have been the past few seasons. Over his stretch, they peaked in year one with a playoff berth, and proceeded to go 7-9 just about every year following. So why would Detroit be interested in Ireland? Well, he has had time to reflect on the mistakes made during his time, and spent the past few years working in a better organization (the Saints) where you get an idea of new ways to approach things. I live in Denver, and happen to be connected to a few Broncos employees out here, one of whom would actually have respectable insight, so I texted him and asked "who should Detroit consider for a new GM?". His response was 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters who was with Denver for a few years during their Super Bowl run. He ran college scouting in Denver, and now works alongside John Lynch in building the monstrosity that is the 49ers roster. He even made one the "GM candidates to know" lists that people put out, so it seems some others would share the hype. Looking at other successfully run organizations, the Baltimore Ravens and director of player personnel Joe Hortiz come to mind. Horitz has been in Baltimore under both Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta, so he's clearly seen what a well-run organization looks like, one that isn't exclusively tied to a legendary head coach. He's played a large role in scouting (1998-2016), a time in which Baltimore added stars like Ronnie Stanley, Za'Darius Smith, C.J Mosley, Brandon Williams, Kelechi Osemele, and Jimmy Smith amongst plenty of others. If Detroit wants to take a wild swing at the television personalities, like the Raiders did with Mike Mayock, the top candidate there would probably be ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, who was a pro scout with the Redskins for a few years, and worked as director of player personnel for both the Redskins and Eagles. One person I just want to clearly rule out is Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio. First and foremost, if Bill O'Brien survives the 2020 season as head coach of the Texans, Caserio will be named their new GM. Second, Detroit absolutely needs to avoid another born and raised Patriots executive. So no Caserio. If so, we riot. I think, ultimately for me, Ireland has too much baggage, Riddick is too much of a wild card, and Dodds isn't likely to leave for Detroit. Therefore, my top target is probably going to be Scott Fitterer, but I'd be thoroughly pleased with Kirchner, Peters, or Hortiz.
Head Coaching Candidates
Not even debating it. Matt Patricia is out. Between an archaic scheme, contentious relations with star players, and poor awareness with the media, Patricia hasn't shown he's worth it. We will be parting ways with him, and I'm sure he'll end up with the Patriots, Giants, or Dolphins in some assistant capacity. The first name to mention is Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Everyone knows the deal here, I'm not getting too much into it. Same with Michigan-native, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. We'll be discussing less talked about candidates here. One name that does not get a lot of hype is Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He remains one of the absolute best at tailoring offenses to create dynamic rushing attacks with dual-threat quarterbacks. While Matthew Stafford isn't exactly a dual-threat QB, perhaps a pairing of Roman and OSU QB Justin Fields could be a lot of fun to watch. Roman has called offenses for both Harbaugh brothers, in San Francisco with Jim where he created an offense for Colin Kaepernick, and now in Baltimore with John and Lamar Jackson. One Kansas City coach who doesn't get as much hype as he probably should is Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. He's a trusted assistant for Andy Reid, and historically speaking, special teams coordinators actually have a fairly high success rate. He's been highly regarded for his leadership within the Chiefs franchise these past few years. If Detroit wants to keep a defensive focus at the head coaching spot, then Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is one of the best in the business. Quoting CBS here, "Energetic and disciplined, he's Frank Reich's most well-rounded companion". Eberflus runs a fairly creative defensive scheme that has allowed guys like Darius Leonard to thrive, focusing on getting elite athletes across the board. His defense is so fun, that in Week 3 they actually caught more touchdowns passes from Jets QB Sam Darnold than Darnold was able to throw to members of his own team. Another defensive mind who should be under consideration is Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale. He's been there LB coach since 2012, and their coordinator since 2018 as the Ravens have continued to roll out good defensive units no matter who they have at hand. Martindale's defense is quite the opposite of Patricia's, they blitz like crazy and they mix up their coverage often. If Detroit is willing to give a head coach a second chance (the results on this trend are pretty mixed btw), then Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier would probably be the most intriguing second chance candidate. Quoting SBN here, "His three-year stint as the Vikings' head coach saw him lead the team to the playoffs in 2012 followed by a sharp fall in 2013. But it's hard to blame him too much when he was choosing between Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel at quarterback". While Sean McDermott is a defensive-minded head coach in Buffalo already, he's credited Frazier with a major role in turning the Bills into one of the top defenses in the NFL. Turning to offense, we have another Bills coordinator, Brian Daboll calling the shots on offense. Daboll was with the Patriots for a few years as their tight ends coach, before departing and finding success away from Belichick, winning a national title during his time as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2017, before coming to Buffalo and molded the raw potential of Josh Allen into the dominant player he has been this year. Former Lions backup QB Kellen Moore, now the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys at only 32 years old figures to be a hot name soon. He's helped Dak Prescott continue to build his game, going from a steady game manager to a playmaker himself. Moore's a little young, but is one of the most prolific offensive minds in CFB. Also in the rising star mold is Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, a former star QB himself. Leftwich has worked under Bruce Arians for a few years now, and helped create an offense that put up prolific numbers with Jameis Winston (and a lot of interceptions as well). Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni has also gotten some hype from people in coaching circles, as he's helped the Colts manage the unexpected fallout of Andrew Luck's surprise retirement. If he can milk the remaining production out of Phillip Rivers, he'll be an intriguing candidate who has worked under a few quality head coaches already. Another offensive coordinator that merits some consideration is Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. He played a major role in transitioning the Titans from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill, a move that helped propel them all the way to the AFC Championship game behind the effective duo of Derrick Henry's rushing ability and Tannehill's effectiveness off the play action pass, Usually teams don't hire position coaches, but it's not entirely out of the blue, especially if that position coach does have interim head coaching experience like Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell. Campbell was Miami's interim head coach in 2015, going 5-7 after Joe Philbin was fired. Campbell also played TE for the Lions back in the second half of the 2000's, posting one of the better seasons a Lions tight end had at that point in 2006. He's considered an exceptional leader in the Saints organization. The Panthers brought in college head coach Matt Rhule this past year, and if Detroit is looking to do something similar, the three names to watch would probably be OSU head coach Ryan Day, a former Chip Kelly protege who has somehow made the Buckeyes even more deadly and efficient than they were under Urban Meyer, Oklahoma heisman producehead coach Lincoln Riley, who is responsible for getting Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray drafted #1 overall, and lastly Florida head coach Dan Mullen, a former Urban Meyer protege who has had immense success at Mississippi State and now at Florida so far. There's probably some other candidates I did not dive into. Though similar to Caserio and the GM tree, absolute pass on Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. No need to try that one a second time. Personally, I like a lot of these candidates. There's plenty of diversity in schemes, backgrounds, leadership styles, etc. My favorite, however, is Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. The work he's done with Josh Allen is fantastic, as he's crafted an offense that fits Allen's style, and whether he'd want to keep Stafford or draft his replacement, I'd have the utmost faith that he'd mold that QB in similar fashion.
For the current personnel, it'll be important to identify which players have a future in Detroit. Whether that's based on scheme fit, age, health, cap implication, etc. Taking a look at the roster, here's my best guess, outside of one position, which is detailed in a separate section below. Running back is a good spot for Detroit, regardless of what happens to current starting RB Adrian Peterson. I like RB Kerryon Johnson, but I am absolutely against a sizeable contract extension. Personally, I don't think paying running backs anything more than like $5 mil per year is a good investment, regardless of what back it is. So, he's fine for another season under contract, but may end up parting ways after that. Drafting his replacement in RB D'Andre Swift was a wise move. I actually like the idea of taking good running backs (2nd-3rd round) every other season. That way you never have to pay them and always have fresh legs. Wide receiver will require some effort this offseason. Quinn massively screwed us by not extending WR Kenny Golladay prior to the season. Only leaves more time for larger contracts to be signed. For example, his spotract market value went up from $16 mil per season to almost $19 mil per season because of additional deals being signed. And with a lowered cap, that's gonna be problematic. The Lions should have at least a WR3/4 in WR Quintez Cephus, and WR Geronimo Allison opted out, meaning Detroit retains his contract for 2021. They'll likely need to draft someone early and sign another veteran, maybe even bringing back Jones or Amendola for a 1-year deal. Tight end is pretty straight forward. TE T.J. Hockenson was a top-10 selection, and is starting to look like a very good weapon for the offense going forward. His backup, TE Jesse James is also simple: his contract is too large to retain him if he continues his mediocre play. If he can more consistently play like he did against the Cardinals, they may keep him. If not, cut for cap space. Bryant and Nauta are sort of unknowns at this point. The offensive line may be Detroit's best spot going forward. LT Taylor Decker has been earning that contract extension so far, looking very good at this point. C Frank Ragnow will need his own contract extension soon, but he's been performing as one of the best centers in the NFL, and should remain an integral part of the unit. G Jonah Jackson looks promising as well in his rookie campaign. Detroit will have LG Joe Dahl under contract for one more year, and has G Logan Stenberg developing behind him. The bigger question comes with RT Hal Vaitai and RT Tyrell Crosby. If Vaitai continues to play poorly, he'll be cut after 2021. Crosby could easily be replaced with a better player by that time as well, but for now serves a valuable role as a decent enough spot starter. Defense is almost entirely dependent on who a new head coach would bring in to call the shots. Many of the players on Detroit's roster are scheme-specific to the old Patriot 3-4 scheme that Patricia loves to run. Let's just assume that, regardless of the new coach, it'll be a bit more diverse, modern scheme. On the defensive line, DE Trey Flowers is pretty scheme versatile funny enough. He can play SDE in a 4-man front or iDE in a 3-man. His contract will also pretty much require the new coach to make it work with him. And who knows, Flowers has had the intentional misfortune of playing under no-blitz Patricia, so chances are a more aggressive scheme could give him some help in pass rushing. DE Julian Okwara is also pretty versatile. He could be a 4-3 WDE or a 3-4 OLB and was a good pass rusher at Notre Dame. His brother, DE Romeo Okwara is frankly just not very good. If Detroit goes to a 4-man front in a new coach, they'll definitely want a replacement for Romeo, who is serviceable depth, but not much more. DE Austin Bryant hasn't shown enough to warrant an opinion one way or the other. Interior, DT Danny Shelton is probably not gonna fit in a new scheme. He's an inconsistent run defender who offers little in the pass rush department. DT Nick Williams is a bit more versatile, but the issue is that he's just not very good. His career is as a pretty bland back-end rotational piece. One good season in Chicago would appear to be an anomaly. Cutting either of these two (each set to make around $5 mil cap hits in 2021) would save a net $4 mil in much needed cap space. Behind them, DT Kevin Strong is relatively versatile, but not that good. He's still young and cheap, however, so could still find a role as depth. The big question will be DT Da'Shawn Hand, who has had an inconsistent, but promising career thus far. He can fill a pretty similar role to Flowers, perhaps even being able to play as a 3-tech DT in some schemes (cough, Dan Quinn defensive coordinator). He's a piece that could at least find a useful role under a new regime, but expect Shelton and Williams to be purged within 2 years. Linebacker is where you can pretty much just get rid of everyone. LB Jamie Collins is clearly the best player in the group, but I still wouldn't bet he'd be a for sure keep for a new regime. He struggled outside the Patriots system, during his exile to Cleveland. I think he could find a role as a 3-4 OLB, rather than the 4-3 ILB/OLB hybrid, but it's still hard to peg him in other schemes. He'll be with Detroit regardless in 2021 because of his contract however. LB Jarrad Davis should just walk at this point. Detroit is better when he's not on the field. LB Christian Jones is similar to Collins, in that he's a poor fit for most schemes, but the difference is he's not nearly as good as Collins. Could probably just trade him to whatever team Matt Patricia ends up on. The hardest part about a transition to a new scheme would be giving up on younger guys like LB Jahlani Tavai. He's shown some flashes, but really isn't much of a pass rusher and is too old school for modern schemes. Trading Tavai this offseason to a Patriots-style team (Giants, Miami, Patriots, etc.) would be best for both groups. Now, two guys who could be interesting to bring back are LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin and LB Elijah Lee. Both are currently fish out of water, as they're not great scheme fits for Patricia's defense. They both are on expiring deals however. I'd probably like to see Reeves-Maybin brought back in a new regime, simply because the chance for him to actually find success would go up in a scheme that fits his strengths a bit better. At cornerback, you have a pretty good foundation. CB Jeffrey Okudah and CB Amani Oruwariye are both pretty fluid athletes with the ability to thrive in multiple schemes. In fact, Oruwariye could potentially be even better in a Cover 3 scheme, should Detroit find someone who deploys that philosophy. Similarly, CB Justin Coleman is pretty versatile, especially out of the slot. He's excelled in the Seahawks Cover 3 scheme (which is honestly my recommendation for what kind of defense to run), but is still good in man coverage. Those three give Detroit a great start. CB Darryl Roberts is built more for Patricia's scheme, so probably won't be back, but I'd expect Detroit to find another veteran like him to fill out the two deep. CB Desmond Trufant is definitely a man coverage corner, and is also old and with a checkered injury history recently. We always knew Trufant was more of a veteran bridge to Okudah and Oruwariye taking over. Safety is interesting. S Tracy Walker is a rising star and honestly can play any scheme. He's a baller. S Will Harris is not. Maybe a new scheme gets him sorted out, but at the same time, his biggest issue is that he can't cover in man and he can't tackle. Kind of hard to be a slot safety when you struggle with that. S Duron Harmon is a quality Cover 1 free safety, but he's on an expiring contract. Detroit will likely need to find a new starter there, as Harris isn't ideally suited to free safety, and S C.J. Moore is more of a special teams piece than a starting caliber player. We still need to see more from S Jayron Kearse looks like before making decisions there. Special Teams will require some investment this offseason. Detroit's punting god, Jack Fox, is an ERFA, meaning Detroit can bring him back for pretty cheap. They may just want to reward him and sign him to a deal for a few seasons (though COVID cap implications may prevent that). Both K Matt Prater and LS Don Muhlbach are on expiring deals, so either new deals for them, or replacements. Lions backup LS Steven Wirtel has gotten some praise as a future NFL LS, so perhaps they hand the reins over to him, given that he'd cost half what Muhlbach would, and the Lions will need every penny this offseason.
Quarterback 2021 and Beyond
If there is a new regime change, then it's not out of the realm of possibility that they look into the prospect of finding Matthew Stafford's successor. Stafford will be 33-years old in 2021, and while QB's are still able to continue playing at a high level into their late 30's, for example, Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan and Brady and Brees have all put together quality seasons lately, despite their older age. However, 35 is traditionally the drop-off age, and for a QB who relies on arm talent, it is most definitely something to watch and consider. I'll say this first and foremost, if Detroit ends up in a position to select QB Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson, you pull the trigger on that and sort things out later. The two options behind him are QB Justin Fields, a dual-threat option out of Ohio State, and QB Trey Lance, an athletic, efficient QB out of North Dakota State. Now, personally, I'm a bit skeptical of Trey Lance. I think NDSU sets everything up for him on a platter, and the more film you watch on Lance, the more I find he struggles on full-field reads. If you can isolate his playbook to a half-field read, then I think he crushes it, but the troubles outside of that, added into the large talent gap between NDSU and literally anyone else in the FCS, makes me hesitant. To me, Lance is a slightly higher upside version of Titans QBRyan Tannehill. In that sense, I don't really think he'd be worth the investment if Detroit is selecting in the top-15. Now, Justin Fields is growing on me, admittedly. Rewatched a handful of his OSU games and continue to find his ability to dissect coverage to be a lot more advanced than I recalled during the season. He has a big arm, and has one of the most coveted traits nowadays: the ability to make plays when the original structure breaks down. I think, at this point, I'd probably be sold on Fields, but not on Lance, though honestly, if they did hire a competent offensive mind like Bieniemy or Daboll, I wouldn't object to it, as I think anyone who can get such massive leaps out of Josh Allen could probably get the most out of Trey Lance as well. The bigger issue I do have is whether or not Detroit should move on from Stafford at this point. A few things can all be true at the same time, and four things I'm going to mention all are true.
Matthew Stafford is not playing as well as he was in the first half of 2020, and the issues don't exactly seem to be tied to any injury.
Despite not playing as well as 2020, Stafford is still one of the better QB's in the league, ranking 11th in passing yards (1,017) and 7th in touchdown passes (8). That kind of production wins games with a better defense.
Detroit would be marginally restricted in the ability to build a roster around a large QB cap hit like Stafford's.
The issues holding Detroit back most (its defense) would not be solved with a new quarterback. There are plenty examples of promising young quarterbacks being broken because they were put in less than ideal situations....Sam Darnold in New York being just the latest example. Unless Detroit can build a competent defense, it will not actually matter who the quarterback is.
All that just to say, let's all chill out a bit when dealing with each other's takes on what to do at QB. We don't have to draft a new QB, that denies so many of the bigger issues. We also do not have to keep Matthew Stafford, that denies the reality that plenty of teams have found a new QB can elevate the play of the team, helping them go from good to great (see Chiefs moving Alex Smith for Mahomes), and that even with Stafford, Detroit remains mediocre. Personally, I think it's better to build a good roster and then make the change at quarterback. Right now, I think Detroit is set-up well for its OL going forward, and probably will be decent at WRB with Golladay and Hockenson and Swift and Kerryon, but the defense will continue to lose us games, and I'd hate to waste the early years of a cheap rookie QB still trying to build the roster around him. And personally, I think every bit as good as Fields and Lance is USC QB Kedon Slovis as a potential QB to target in the 2022 draft class.
2021 Free Agency Complications
Now, truly, I have no clue what's going to happen with this, but Detroit, along with the rest of the league, is not going to be overflowing with cap space. Minimal fans in the stadium means no ticket revenue. Some doomsday predictions have the cap going down as far as $175 million. Realistically speaking, I wouldn't anticipate Detroit entering the offseason with anything more than $15-20 million in cap space. If you're trying to overhaul a new scheme with new personnel, that'll be kind of tough. Detroit has a few pieces it can cut, however. Some have been mentioned....Jesse James, Danny Shelton, Nick Williams. All could open up a little bit of change (over $10 mil if all 3) which would be majorly beneficial. Another one who could go is CB Desmond Trufant, which would free up $6 million. QB Chase Daniel could easily have a restructured contract to open up in between $1-2 million. G Joe Dahl would save $3 million if he was cut, but I don't see that really happening, as Dahl's a good bargain for a quality enough starting G. Maybe if Logan Stenberg develops into a quality piece Dahl could be traded, but that seems unlikely.
2021 Free Agency Targets
To remake the team, I'm first going to identify a few veterans who could help accelerate a quick turnaround defensively. Assuming I've gotten my wish of Detroit Lions head coach Brian Daboll, then the offense wouldn't need much reconfiguration. There would honestly be two players I'd want Daboll to bring with him from Buffalo. They are... Bills G Jon Feliciano - a powerful run blocker, Feliciano could either compete with Dahl outright, or simply serve as the first back-up at guard...the new and improved Kenny Wiggins so to speak. Bills LB Matt Milano - Detroit will need modern linebackers, and Milano would be an excellent one to start with. He can cover, get sideline to sideline, and make plays in the box. I think Buffalo ends up re-signing him however. Now, I don't want to simply switch from the Patriots West to the Bills West. But I do generally believe that any new coach should try and bring 2 or 3 players who are familiar, if for nothing more than putting pieces in place that can help introduce the new system to the current roster. Some others however. Detroit will probably need another starting wide receiver in free agency, and while I would absolutely love to get Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins to Detroit, he'll probably be a bit out of the price range, given how many pieces Detroit could need on defense. Some of the more financially plausible options would likely be Jags WR Chris Conley, 49ers WR Kendrick Bourne, Rams WR Josh Reynolds, or maybe Bengals WR John Ross. Similarly, I'd love to go after Bills TE Tyler Kroft as another piece to work with Hockenson, but he'd probably be too pricey, and I imagine Buffalo will retain him rather than let him hit the market. Jags TE Tyler Eifert, Titans TE MyCole Pruitt, or perhaps Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister would all make a bit more sense. This would be dependent on cutting Jesse James in search of an upgrade. Detroit is set on starting OL, but could use a depth piece with Wiggins and Aboushi both on expiring deals. Chargers G Dan Feeney has starting experience, though most of the options here are pretty mediocre. Could actually argue that retaining Wiggins would be the wisest course of action. Defensive Tackle will be a MAJOR spot to address, as Detroit currently doesn't have a quality group there, and scheme change could make it worse. There are some big names like Saints DT Sheldon Rankins or Michigan-native Raiders DT Johnathan Hankins, whom Detroit should've brought in awhile ago. Broncos DT Shelby Harris is a good interior pass rusher who can play multiple roles. I'm guessing Detroit doesn't pony up the money for Giants DT Dalvin Tomlinson but I wouldn't hate that. Defensive end would be a need if Detroit went to a 4-man front, as you'd want an upgrade over Romeo Okwara. Assuming Detroit isn't going for the big names like Vikings DE Yannick Ngakoue or Titans DE Jadeveon Clowney, a more sensible option would a stopgap option like Washington EDGE Ryan Kerrigan, who can play really any edge spot well. Colts DE Denico Autry would be plenty of fun, and if the Lions hired someone like Matt Eberflus, I'd want them to for sure make that move. One of the more under-the-radar pieces that could be more fiscally responsible would be Saints DE Trey Hendrickson. If they go more of a traditional 3-4, then adding an upgrade over Christian Jones would be the move there. Kerrigan would still fit that one well, but other options could be Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram. Perhaps a head coach Martindale would want to bring GVSU grade OLB Matt Judon to Detroit? Though both those options would be pricy. A cheaper option would Jets OLB Jordan Jenkins or maybe Rams OLB Samson Ebukam. Off ball linebackers, we already mentioned Milano. Bucs LB Kendall Beckwith would make some sense, as would Saints LB Alex Anzalone or Chiefs LB Damien Wilson. None of these guys would be stars, but most teams hang onto good LB's who can play off ball and cover backs, so you're probably looking for a veteran stopgap to hold over until you can draft a guy.
2021 NFL Draft
We're getting deep into this. Depending on where Detroit is drafting and who they pulled in with free agency, these would be the guys I'd be most interested in acquiring. DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State - Like I said, Detroit needs to be a lot better at DT, and Wilson is a monster. DE Aidan Hutchinson/Kwity Paye, Michigan - If one of these two could slip to you in the second round, that'd be great. Both very good edge rushers. Would love to grab Carlos Basham out of Wake Forest if Detroit is mid first. I also like Quincy Roche as an OLB in a 3-4. A starting caliber WR. If they miss out on Ja'Marr Chase, then one of the Alabama wide outs (Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith) would suffice just fine. I mentioned the other day that Waddle is my current preferred choice for the draft at this point. Gophers WR Rashod Bateman could also be a fun addition. If they need to hunt for a starting wide out in the 3rd or 4th, Michigan's Nico Collins is an excellent deep threat, not too far from the mold of Golladay and Jones. OSU WR Chris Olave would be a clean replacement for Amendola in the slot. I think Detroit could use a free safety like Trevon Moehrig or Andre Cisco to either immediately start, or develop behind a veteran. Moehrig may end up as a late first round option, but Cisco could be a day 2 pick that pays off immediately. G Wyatt Davis may not stick out as a clear need, but y'all know I am an OL coach, and I think this kid is the best G prospect since Quentin Nelson, so I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger, trade Joe Dahl for a pick, and call it a day. If C/G Josh Myers dropped to the second, I'd also be a very big fan of that move as well. I'm guessing most wouldn't like that, as OL is a relative strength to other spots on the roster, and that's understandable, but if we're truly talking best player available mentality, then Davis has to be considered right after guys like Micah Parsons, Ja'Marr Chase, and Lawrence. As far as linebackers go, either LSU's Jabrill Cox or LB Chazz Surratt out of North Carolina could be guys who can slide into starting roles quickly. Same goes for Micah Parsons but unless Detroit's drafting top-5, they don't get him. Few others who have appeal right now as later round prospects...TE Matt Bushman (BYU), WR Dazz Newsome (UNC), LB Dmitri Moore (Vanderbilt), CB Camryn Bynum (Cal), WR Tutu Atwell (Louisville), LB Ventrell Miller (Florida), S Reed Blankenship (MTSU), and LB Rayshard Ashby (VaTech). Overall, a lot of different ways to go, but this would be my proposal at least. Bring in Brian Daboll, get him a veteran defensive coordinator, and then go about building a modern defense. See what you can get out of Matt Stafford, and prepare for a transition down the road if needed at that point.
NCAA Football Week 5 - Analysis, Predictions and Odds
NCAA Football Week 5 - MAC's Analysis, Predictions and Odds 2021 College Football National Championship Odds + Pick Clemson +200 Alabama +400 Georgia +2000 LSU +10000 Notre Dame +4000 Florida +1200 Oklahoma +2800 Texas +4000 Auburn +6600 Texas A&M +5000 (MAC's Power Pick) Miami (FL) +8000 Oklahoma State +10000 MAC's NCAAF Red Alert Action - 10/03 - No. 13 Texas A&M (1-0) at No. 2 Alabama (1-0) When: Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 at 3:30 PM ET Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL TV: CBS Spread: Alabama -17 Money Lines: Texas A&M +605 / Alabama -855 Total: 51.5 Texas A&M Team Leaders - Touchdowns: Ainias Smith 1 Rushing: Isaiah Spiller 117 Passing: Kellen Mond 189 Receiving: Caleb Chapman 40 Sacks: Micheal Clemons 1.5 Interceptions: Leon O'Neal Jr. 1 Alabama Team Leaders - Touchdowns: Najee Harris 3 Rushing Najee: Harris 98 Passing: Mac Jones 249 Receiving: Jaylen Waddle 134 Sacks: Labryan Ray 1.0 Interceptions: Thomas Fletcher 0 Quick Trends: Aggies are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game. Aggies are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game. Aggies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 conference games. Aggies are 17-8 ATS in their last 25 games on grass. Crimson Tide are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 conference games. Crimson Tide are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game. Texas A&M busted up Vanderbilt 17-12 last weekend as quarterback Kellen Mond aired it out for the small 189 yards and got himself a touchdown. A&M running back Isaiah Spiller grabbed himself the small 117 rushing yards in the unwatchable low scoring game. Alabama smacked up Missouri 28-19 Bama quarterback Mac Jones passed for 249 yards and put 2 in the end zone, while running back Najee Harris put in his 98 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. This week both teams meet up for a good ol boys SEC game in Tuscaloosa. The Aggies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 conference games, but on the flipside 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. Alabama has gone 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in October, but just 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games following a straight up win, 3-7 ATS in their last 10 conference games and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 home games against a team with a winning road record. The Tide can go get it done but reports coming in from our affiliates are ambivalent to give all those points away on the road at best, our consensus is going with Texas A&M to cover the chalk mainly because of the edge at quarterback. MAC's Game Prediction: Alabama 31 Texas A&M 27 Play: Texas A&M +17 10/03 - No. 18 Oklahoma (1-1) at Iowa State (1-1) When: Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 at 7:30 PM ET Where: MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA TV: ABC Spread: Oklahoma -7.5 Money Lines: Iowa State +210 / Oklahoma -260 Total: 62.5 Quick Trends: Cyclones are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game. Cyclones are 7-1-2 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game. Cyclones are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a home underdog. Sooners are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game. Sooners are 3-7 ATS vs. a team with a losing record. Sooners are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points. Sooners Team Leaders: Touchdowns Seth McGowan 2 Rushing Seth McGowan 134 Passing Spencer Rattler 677 Receiving Marvin Mims 111 Sacks DaShaun White 2.5 Interceptions Delarrin Turner-Yell 1 Cyclones Team Leaders: Touchdowns Breece Hall 4 Rushing Breece Hall 257 Passing Brock Purdy 356 Receiving Xavier Hutchinson 69 Sacks JaQuan Bailey 3.5 Interceptions Mike Rose 1 Oklahoma ran through Missouri State 48-0 in their opener, then hit a wall on Saturday with a depressing 38-35 loss against K-State as a insanely obnoxious 28-point favorite. Quarterback Spencer Rattler some how passed for 387 yards with four touchdowns even with 3 costly interceptions. Iowa State laid down against Louisiana Lafayette in their opener, and bumbled a cover against a suspect TCU team, final 37-34 as 3.5-point road favorite they should have had no problem with a soft line like that. Quarterback Brock Purdy got off 211 yards 1 touchdown, running back Breece Hall got 154 yards and 38 attempts and 3 trips to the end zone. The Sooners are paying the books at 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite, 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games overall has Vegas building skyscrapers with bettors money, 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 conference games, I mean these guys are a bunch of bums when it comes to getting the money. Now if you've been putting your action on Iowa State as a underdog you've made some cash, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a home dog, 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 games as an underdog and 15-6 ATS in their last 21 games following a straight up loss, I mean these guys are a golden egg if you play the line right. MAC is setting the standard and putting the business on the table, sharps and early money aren't making a dent in the line because oddsmakers made a tight one this week. MAC's looking at Spencer Rattle as the x factor, if he steps up this could very well be a easy win + cover for the Sooners, Iowa State is getting the 7.5 and MAC smells something fishy about the hook, play the over set at 62.5 up from 61.5 and don't be scared to give the points because Rattler will look like a stud this week against a mediocre Cyclone D. watch "Brock Purdy Lips" gets manhandled by DaShaun White. Iowa State Injury Report - T. Milton WR - Ques Sat - Milton was unavailable for the previous game due to a lower-body injury and it is unknown if he will line up versus Oklahoma on Saturday. R. Hudson OL - Ques Sat - Undisclosed T. Downing OL - Ques Sat - Downing missed the last game with an ankle injury and his status for Saturday's contest against Oklahoma remains up in the air. MAC's Game Prediction: Oklahoma 45 Iowa State 24 Play: Over 62.5 Play: Oklahoma -7.5 No. 7 Auburn (1-0) at No. 4 Georgia (1-0) Auburn made bacon out of the boys down in Kentucky 29-13 last weekend to cash in as a 6.5-point home favorite, big Bo Nix passed for 233 yards with 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, and looking like a god damn stud averaging 6.8 rushing yards a game, MAC would let his daughter and mother date a guy like this, and they got wide receiver Seth Williams coming in catching six passes for 112 yards 2 TDs. Georgia looked like decent, getting through Arkansas 37-10 last weekend was impressive but not really, QB Stetson Bennett threw for 211 yards with 2 touchdowns and surprisingly no picks. Georgia scored 22 third quarter points to take control after going into the half down 7-5, now that could be good football but MAC is saying fluke and calling shenanigan's. When: Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 at 7:30 PM ET Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA TV: ESPN Spread: Georgia -6.5 Money Lines: Auburn +200 / Georgia -250 Total: 45 Auburn Team Leaders - Touchdowns D.J. Williams 1 Rushing Bo Nix 34 Passing Bo Nix 233 Receiving Seth Williams 112 Sacks Daquan Newkirk 1.0 Interceptions Roger McCreary 1 Georgia Team Leaders - Touchdowns Zamir White 1 (MAC's #BumAlert Prospect) Rushing Zamir White 71 Passing Stetson Bennett 211 Receiving Kearis Jackson 62 Sacks Nolan Smith 1.5 Interceptions Richard Lecounte 2 Auburn gets the money early in the season and has gone 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games overall, 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 October games, but be cautious because Bulldogs are money makers too, 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games following a ATS loss and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 home games against a team with a winning road record. The Tigers just can't get through Georgia and have sucked against the spread going 0-6 ATS in their last 6 meetings in Georgia and 1-6 ATS in the last 7 meetings. Now MAC would normally stay away from a game like this but it's hard to bet against big Bo Nixon and that up tempo offense. Georgia -6.5 is a suckers bet, take those points and ride Bo's back like the rest of the Tigers! MAC's Game Prediction: Georgia 17 Auburn 27 Play: Auburn +6.5 Play: Under 45.5 (Get That Hook)
Preface: I'm not including the consensus top guys like CEH, JT, Jeudy, or Lamb because while I love those players, I'm not necessarily higher on them than others. CEH and JT and my #1 and #2 players in the draft overall and Jeudy & Lamb are my WR1 and WR2 but everyone else has them in those same spots. I may actually be a little lower on Jeudy & Lamb than most as I prefer the top 5 RBs and don't see a huge gap between Jeudy/Lamb and the other Round 1 & Round 2 WRs. The only consensus "top guy" I have on my list is Burrow. QB Joe Burrow, 6'2/221, CIN (1.01) Burrow is a legit blue chip QB prospect worthy of the #1 overall pick and my favorite QB prospect since Andrew Luck. While he lacks elite arm talent, he has incredibly accuracy, poise, and mobility to manipulate the pocket. While Tua has a longer track record of success, he's never come close to having a season like Burrow's 2019. Really reminds me of Tony Romo or a less athletic Russell Wilson. I don't love CIN as an organization but Burrow projects as a potential transcendent player and has a decent amount of weapons around him in AJG, Boyd, Higgins, Ross, and Mixon. Jordan Love, 6'3/224, GB (1.26) Probably my favorite value in SF drafts this year. Love easily has the best arm talent in the entire draft class, routinely making jaw dropping throws. He's not a Josh Allen type either with scattershot accuracy and only capable of throwing the fastball. His accuracy is precise at all levels and he can manipulate his velocity and throw with touch. Furthermore, Love is a very mobile QB with the ability to evade pressure, escape the pocket, and keep his eyes downfield. Some of his throws on the run are reminiscent of Patrick Mahommes or Carson Wentz. The issue with Love is simply decision making - locking into his first read or trusting his arm too much. However, you look at his 2018 season and the volume of those bad decisions is not there. In 2019, Love lost not only his coaching staff but his main offensive weapons as well. Considering his elite traits, I'll gladly bet that Love can return to his 2018 form. I don't hate the situation either as sitting behind Rodgers for 1 or 2 years should be helpful and GB has proven itself over the last two decades to be a very stable organization that develops QBs. The upside is huge here and he's routinely available in the mid 2nd round. https://giphy.com/gifs/KeKkJrWyxH4bHjaMEV (throw vs LSU) https://gph.is/g/Z5YbQ36 (rollout) https://gph.is/g/4L5bqK0 (tight window) https://gph.is/g/aQO5gDA (touch) RB D'Andre Swift, 5'8/212, DET (2.03) My pre-draft RB1 and the #2 RB drafted, Swift is a huge value right now in all the rookie drafts I've done. It's pretty unbelievable that a player of his caliber and with his draft capital is available in the mid 1st. Even when on the field with Chubb and Michel as a freshman, Swift stood out as the best RB of the three. Ridiculous lateral agility to make defenders miss, great burst, fantastic receiver, and solid contact balance. The DET landing spot doesn't worry me as much as it seems to worry others. It's clearly below KC and IND (otherwise he'd be in tier 1) but he's tied to a very good, reasonably young QB and I like the offense as a whole with Golladay, Hockenson, MJ, and a solid OL. Kerryon does worry me, however, and there is some risk that Swift never take over as a bellcow. In sum, Swift is a slam dunk can't miss RB talent that's worthy of being the #1 overall pick in most years but is being faded due to short term landing spot. Watch his Auburn & Kentucky games from 2018 to get excited. Cam Akers, 5'10/217, LAR (2.20) A former top recruit, Akers chose to go to Florida St at the wrong time. Akers demonstrates every trait I look for in a RB at a high level - burst, toughness/violence, contact balance, lateral agility, and receiving ability. He didn't have the stage of Swift, Dobbins, CEH, or Taylor and didn't have the same type of huge games given the awfulness of Florida St. However, he's the most well rounded of the top RBs this year and has the highest upside. The one issue I have with Akers is questionable vision at times but it's hard to know whether to attribute that to him or the OL. I love the landing spot with the Rams. Just last year, people were touting the Rams as the best RB situation in the league after we saw CJ Anderson seamlessly fill in for Todd Gurley and put up huge production. I have a hard time believing that the Rams went from the most exciting young offense in the league 1 year ago to suddenly a bad landing spot. Yes, the OL is worse but we're also really bad at predicting OL play year to year. Akers landed in a young exciting offense with a history of utilizing a bellcow RB and has little competition. https://gph.is/g/apb5eq6 https://gph.is/g/aKAbBy3 https://gph.is/g/4bB5Yen AJ Dillon, 6/247, GB (2.30) Dillon is not a player I loved pre-draft but he's proven to be an amazing value in drafts this year given the depth and quality of the class. In any other year, a 2nd round RB with his size, athleticism, and production would be a top 5 pick but you can get him in the mid/late 2nd consistently. I didn't love the player coming out, but I recognized that he has the ability to be a big time producer if put in the right type of offense and that's exactly what happened in GB. I think his production this year has been undersold and with Aaron Jones' contract expiring next year, he'll likely take over as the RB1 in 2021. Antonio Gibson, 6/228, WSH (3.02) Big upside low floor pick. Gibson is one of the most exciting players to watch in this class with his big play ability, size, and explosion. At Memphis he played mostly slot WR but he was a pretty shitty WR and his upside lies at RB. He has a lot of work to do as he doesn't know what he's doing yet as a RB but the traits are really exciting - contact balance + burst. Could be David Johnson if things hit right. Don't love the landing spot as I'm still very high on Guice plus there is still a question mark regarding how Washington plans to use him. If he's used as a Wgadget guy then I don't have much interest in him. His game vs SMU is probably the most fun game I've watched this year. https://gph.is/g/ZOk5mNj https://gph.is/g/EGgbr8M https://gph.is/g/aeA5wDX https://gph.is/g/aXJ53nR https://gph.is/g/aKAb9z9 JaMycal Hasty, 5'8/205, SF (UDFA) My favorite 4th round dart throw, Hasty was my favorite satellite back in this year's class. Hasty is tiny but lightening quick and twitched up with a 90% SPARQ score and awesome burst. Great lateral cuts, big play ability, and can be a weapon in the receiving game. He landed in the perfect possible landing spot as an UDFA with Kyle Shannahan as we've seen that system make starts out of the likes of Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, etc and there is an opening at RB. Mike Warren, 5'9/226, PHI (UDFA) Another one of my favorite 4th round dart throws, Warren is a really fun watch. He's a big, tough, powerful back with a surprising amount of wiggle and pass catching ability. My comp is a 95% version of Zack Moss. I like the landing spot as we don't know whether Doug Pederson wants a bruiser to complement Miles Sanders and Warren would be a good fit in that role. WR Jalen Reagor, 5'11/206, PHI (1.21) Loved Reagor pre-draft and he received premium draft capital in my favorite landing spot. Reagor immediately stands out when watching him as he looks like he's moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field. He's exceptionally twitched up and explosive and is among the easiest separators in the entire class. His game just looks effortless. Not only does he offer separation, YAC, and deep speed but he also shows the ability to make contested, difficult catches and displays excellent body control. He's a lot more well rounded to me than someone like Henry Ruggs or KJ Hamler. My biggest issue with Reagor is that he struggles to extend beyond his frame and thus doesn't give his QBs a huge target. PHI was my favorite WR landing spot in the class as I'm a big fan of that offense and Wentz and they have a huge hole at WR. Reminds me of a tougher but a little slower version of Brandin Cooks. https://gph.is/g/4w8d3Lx https://gph.is/g/4L5bpev https://gph.is/g/ZPm5zPX Brandon Aiyuk, 5'11/205, SF (1.25) Pre-draft I had Aiyuk as my WR3 and ranked in my top 20 overall. Aiyuk can create easy separation all over the field in a variety of ways: deep with straight line speed, with physicality, or with quickness and burst out of breaks. While he's not necessary a burner, Aiyuk is one of the most twitched up and dynamic WRs in this draft. He has the rare ability to cut without losing much speed and maintaining that speed after the catch. He's not necessarily a jump ball catcher but he has flashed the ability to make contested catches. Even in games where his production wasn't there, he's consistently open play after play. He's sometimes portrayed as just a deep ball and YAC guy but he has the ability to be so much more than. I also like the landing spot in SF. While SF will likely remain pretty run heavy, last year is likely somewhat of an outlier as the defense put them in so many great game scripts and defenses regress year to year. Seems like a good chance that the defense falls back a little this year. Also, I'm pretty happy with a player landing with a great young offensive coach who I know will put them in the best position to succeed and likely has a specific role in mind. Biggest issue with the landing spot to me is the presence of Kittle and Deebo but I'm willing to bet on the talent long term. Plus the foot injury to Deebo should leave Aiyuk as the alpha WR at least throughout training camp and likely early in the season, allowing him to potentially establish himself. His value is incredible right now as he routinely drops into the mid/late 2nd round. https://gph.is/g/Zd75D5D https://gph.is/g/4zqY3DK https://gph.is/g/4AjblvO https://gph.is/g/Z2mbxg7 Laviska Shenault, 6'1/227, JAX (2.10) Predraft, Shenault was my WR 5 and in my top 25/30 overall. Shenault has largely been forgotten about given the combination of WR depth this year and his injuries. He really shouldn't be as he is such a dynamic and exciting WR with huge upside. My comp for him is Sammy Watkins and AJ Brown. He has RB size with awesome physicality and YAC ability. He's a little raw in his routes and Colorado didn't do him a lot of favors as they just wanted to get the ball in his hands as much as possible and the easiest way to do so was on wildcat plays, reverses, and screens. Nonetheless, Shenault expresses excellent route running traits and creates easy separation with his burst and physicality. While I don't think he's a burner, he has sufficient speed to threaten and win deep. Combined with his contested catch ability and skills with the ball in his hands, Shenault is an incredibly exciting WR prospect. Biggest issues for me is the injuries but that's well baked into his price as a late 2nd round rookie pick - even though he was a top 50 NFL draft pick. For a mid/late 2nd round pick I'm more than happy to take a shot on an elite talent with injury risk. I'm fine with the landing spot in JAX as well as he can absolutely usurp DJ Chark and even if he doesn't, there's no clear #2 option in that offense. https://gph.is/g/apbqw33 https://gph.is/g/Z7ge57R https://gph.is/g/46vO5Dd https://gph.is/g/ZrdDloG Bryan Edwards, 6'3/212, LVR (3.17) Like Shenault and Aiyuk, Edwards is another big, dynamic, explosive WR with phenomenal YAC ability, toughness, and physicality. Furthermore, Edwards has been incredibly productive at South Carolina starting with his true freshman season at only 17 years old. Edwards can line up all over the formation and turns into a RB with the ball in his hands. Not just a YAC guy, Edwards flashes fantastic hands and the ability to make incredible circus catches. While he doesn't create consistent separation, his quickness and burst is more than sufficient. I really like the landing spot with the Raiders as well. While I don't think he'll do much his rookie year with Tyrell Williams playing the X, Ruggs at the Z, and Renfrow in the slot, he should take over for Tyrell as the X starting in 2021. Thus he's probably a great buy low during the year or even next offseason. https://gph.is/g/EJYbRne https://gph.is/g/a99bdlP https://gph.is/g/EGgb9Ml https://gph.is/g/aRW5N7w KJ Hamler, 5'9/178, DEN (2.12) Hamler is a crazy value right now as he's routinely available in the early 3rd round. Most years I think Hamler is an early 2nd round pick or even late 1st round pick as a top 50 drafted player with electric ability. I really don't see a huge difference between Hamler and Hollywood Brown just as pure prospects. Hamler immediately stands out when watching him with his twitchiness and speed and defenders simply cannot hang with him. He effortlessly separates with his quickness and long speed. While he has some bad drops, I've also seen him make some high level catches as well - plus he doesn't need to be a great contested catcher as he separates from defenders so easily. If Hamler wasn't hurt at the combine I think he would be getting a lot more buzz. I don't love the landing spot in DEN but a player with his talent + draft capital is a slam dunk pick in the late 2nd round or even 3rd round. Joe Reed, 6/224, LAC (5.05) My favorite dart throw 4th round WR, Reed is a WR in the mold of Deebo, AJ Brown, and Shenault as a rocked up, explosive YAC monster. Huge WR that looks like a RB at 6/224 and a 89th percentile SPARQ score, Reed was used all over the field by Virginia on reverses, screens, and even as a RB. He's pretty unrefined as a receiver and needs work but he flashes some contested catch ability. TE Devin Asiasi, 6'3/257, NE (3.27) As a preface, I don't love any of the TEs in this class and I'd rather send a 3rd for one of the guys from last year (Warring, Knox, Oliver, Sternberger) than spend a 2nd or 3rd on someone from this year. That said, Asiasi is my favorite TE value this year. A former top 50 recruit, Asiasi had a rocky road early in his college career. Initially enrolling in Michigan, Asiasi decided to move back home to CA and attend UCLA and as a result had to sit out the 2017 season. Asiasi projects as a Delanie Walker type of TE. While he lacks the size and physicality of some of the other top TEs, he's incredibly smooth and fluid out of his breaks and stems his routes very well to create easy separation. Pretty good YAC ability and is a solid blocker as well. Really like the landing spot in NE and Keene isn't a huge concern as NE has the ability to utilize 2 TEs if necessary and Keene was more of an H-Back at Virginia Tech.
Oddsmakers installed Ohio State as a co-choice to win the College Football National Championship. Teams will play eight game, conference only, schedules. The Big Ten Championship happens on Dec. 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State and Wisconsin are the favorites to play in the title game. Going back to the Buckeyes, no season may have happened if not for OSU quarterback Justin Fields. The Heisman Trophy candidate argued that the conference shouldn’t allow fear to dictate whether or not they play. College Football Playoff future handicappers side with Clemson, Buckeyes, and Bama Clemson and Ohio State are co-choices at +250. Clemson has already played two games. The Tigers blew out Wake Forest 37-13. They dominated The Citadel 49-0. On Oct. 3, Clemson takes on Virginia. On Oct. 10, they go against #12 Miami. Those two games will tell us more about Clemson. Three other games on the schedule could pose issues for the Tigers. Clemson faces #7 Notre Dame on Nov. 7. They finish the season with games against #21 Pittsburgh on Nov. 28 and #20 Virginia Tech on Dec. 5. Alabama is third choice at +350. The Crimson Tide start their season on Sep. 26 against Missouri. Nick Saban’s squad plays against six Top 25 ranked teams during the regular season: #10 Texas A&M, #4 Georgia, #16 Tennessee, #6 LSU, #23 Kentucky, and #8 Auburn. If Alabama makes the CFP this season, they will have earned it. The real 2020 College Football Season starts Sep. 26 In addition to Alabama and Missouri starting up on Sep. 26, the rest of the Southeastern Conference gets it going as well on that day. On paper, the top matchup is #23 Kentucky versus #8 Auburn. But the most intriguing SEC game could be Mississippi State at #6 LSU. Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said most Louisiana State players had contracted the coronavirus. He believed most of his players were over it. Testing this week will prove it. Not only that, but Mike Leach now coaches Mississippi State. Leach convinced former Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello to play in Starkville. Miss State could be this year’s surprise team. Make sure to check that game out on Saturday and see if Leach has done enough for the Bulldogs to challenge the current champs.
Miami Dolphins AFC East (4th place) 2019 record - 5-11 New coaches - Josh Boyer - DC Chan Gailey - OC Robby Brown - QB coach Steve Marshall - OL coach Austin Clark - OLB coach Curt Kuntz - assistant DB coach. Coaches gone - Chad O'Shea - OC Patrick Graham - DC Jerry Schuplinski - Assistant QB coach Dave DeGuglielmo - O-line coach Free Agency
Kyle Van Noy
Byron Jones is the big one here. He will start opposite Xavien Howard and will force teams to throw his way more often, which will lead to more picks. Howard is a ballhawk while Jones is more a lockdown guy. They should make a great duo. Kyle Van Noy brings a lot of versatility and much needed experience to the defense. He should be a do it all type of guy under Brian Flores and should fill the Kyle Van Noy role that dolphins fans have been talking about since 2019 started. Who better? Shaq Lawson brings much needed pass rush to Miami. They were downright pathetic in that area last season Emmanuel Ogbah, see Shaq Lawson. Jordan Howard, speaking of pathetic, Miami's running attack was beyond that last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing. Yes, you actually read that correctly. 38 year old bearded non running QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led the dolphins in rushing for 2019. He had a very measly 243 yards. I still smh typing that out. Howard will fix that issue. Matt Brieda is the lightning to Howards' thunder. He will take a few to the house from mid field this season. Players cut/ lost in free agency
Reshad Jones was one of my favorite dolphins players of all-time so losing him hurts, but it seems it was just his time to move on. A ring of honor player and maybe the best safety to ever play in a Fins uniform. Hard hitter, makes big plays, lots of pick 6's and game sealing interceptions, great tackler, he will be missed. 2020 NFL draft selections Round 1, pick 5 - Tua Tagovailoa Grade - A+ After a year or more of speculation, drooling and hoping for Miami to be in position to grab him, they stayed at number 5, avoided trading up and still got the QB that 99% of Dolphins fans had been praying for. Tua Tagovailoa is a top flight quarterback coming out of college injuries or not. His accuracy and ability to hit receivers in stride in incredible. He doesn't have a huge arm but it's definitely adequate and he maintains that accuracy all over the field. He has touch and great instincts to find the open man. He avoids the sack well, which is something he's gonna have to utilize heavily due to the fact the Dolphins haven't been able to put together a respectable offensive line consistently for the past decade. It's unlikely he'll start right away due to the hip injury he suffered last November and since Ryan Fitzpatrick is in position to maintain his starting role. The covid pandemic did not help him in getting experience, but it did give him more time to rehab. Last I checked Tua had the number 1 and 2 selling jersey in the NFL. To say the least, Dolphins fans are very excited about his arrival. Round 1, pick 18 - Austin Jackson OT USC Grade - B+ This was a pick that sort of divided the fanbase a little bit. He has high upside but is also so young and raw that a lot of fans were justifiably worried he was a reach and wouldn't live up to being the 18th overall selection. He is very athletic and a very hard worker so that's a good sign for his future. He also gave bone marrow for his sister to save her life and somehow still came back and played college football that same year. Absolutely incredible. Personally just that makes me a huge fan of his, but watching his tape he does have some flaws. He played a bad game going against AJ Epenesa, a fellow first rounder in this year's draft. AJ is a very strong player though and even great players have certain guys that give them trouble. He should man the left tackle spot for at least 3 years. There's a good chance he will see a trial by fire season in 2020. Round 1, pick 30 - Noah Igbinoghene DB Auburn Grade - A- This was the first pick that surprised Dolphins fans. Many believe that the Dolphins were targeting a different player at number 26, their original pick, but that player was gone so they traded back. Igbinoghene is an exciting player though. He is figured to man the slot CB position and seems like he has star potential there. It won't hurt having other great CB's like Xavien Howard and Byron Jones to learn from and play next to. He's fast and plays tough. He loves to jam guys and has great play speed to make pass break ups, but he is still pretty raw since he's only been playing defense for a couple years. Should have all the opportunity to snag a "starter" spot as the nickle corner. Most think Bobby McCain will stay at safety so he only needs to beat out Nik Needham who was an undrafted rookie last year. Though Needham did show promise so it isn't a cakewalk. Round 2, pick 39 - Robert Hunt OL Louisiana- Lafeyette Grade - B Nobody was surprised that the dolphins would draft 2 offensive lineman out of their first four picks, but not many saw that guy being Hunt. He plays aggressively and should be a road grader in the run game, though his pass blocking needs refinement. His strength and playstyle will likely give him a leg up on his competition at either right guard or right tackle since head coach Brian Flores loves toughness on the field. He will be given a shot at beating out Jesse Davis for the right tackle spot but will likely land at right guard since he will probably need time to develop at tackle first. Fellow draftee Soloman Kindley, Danny Isidora and Michael Dieter will be competition for him to start. Round 2, pick 56 - Raekwon Davis DL Alabama Grade - B- Davis is strong and plays with a high motor, but lacks great athleticism so his future is a bit murkier than the first 4 players taken by the dolphins. He has versatility and will probably play both tackle and end, allowing for others to move around. Round 3, pick 70 - Brandon Jones S Texas Grade - C+ Jones is projected to be more of a SS than a FS, which makes sense because Reshad Jones is no longer with the dolphins. Brandon Jones has big shoes to fill there. The athleticism and physicality are there, though the ball skills and coverage ability are not. He's gonna have to be kept clean by the coaching staff and his fellow defensive backs if he's going to be able to play a ton of snaps and succeed. Round 4, pick 111 - Solomon Kindley OG Georgia Grade - B Kindley is a destroyer in the run game. He plays to not only win his rep but to shame his opponent. He should be able to find a spot on the line if his pass blocking can even be adequate. Definitely a decent pick at a position of need. Round 5, pick 154 - Jason Strowbridge DL North Carolina Grade - B- Another defensive lineman. I see a theme here this offseason. Round 5, pick 164 - Curtis Weaver DE Boise St. Grade - A Clearly the defensive line was an issue for the dolphins in 2019. Weaver brings some real potential but lacks explosiveness off the edge. Great pickup in the 5th. Round 6, pick 185 - Blake Ferguson LS (longsnapper) LSU Grade - D- I wrote out longsnapper because I'm not sure one has ever been drafted before so maybe some don't know. He will be the only one on the team and has already led to the release of LS Taybor Pepper who was building a gym for his Miami home and posting about it when the news broke. Ouch. Round 7, pick 246 - Malcolm Perry RB/WR Grade - A Perry is a very elusive player that brings a bit of excitement for being drafted so late. He caused an insane amount of missed tackles in 2019 but against bad competition. Obviously it is yet to be seen if he can keep that up against vastly better competition, either way, getting a player with actual potential this late is a steal. UDFA Matt Cole - WR Jonathan Hubbard - T Kylan Johnson - LB Benito Jones - DT Nick Kaltmeyer - OT Ray Lima - DT Kirk Merritt -WR Tyshun Render DE Donell Stanley - C Bryce Sterk - TE Offseason news This was a blissfully peaceful offseason for Dolphins fans (2020 BS excluded). There was one minor incident with Xavien Howard that looked like it could end with a four game suspension but it did not. All charges were dropped and NFL didn't see enough to give any punishment. Maybe the biggest story was Saints WR Michael Thomas losing his damn mind when DeVante Parker tweeted out "A". It was in response to the question "Which is tougher? A. Make a catch while guarded by Stephon Gilmore, or B. Break up a pass while guarding Michael Thomas." It was a far cry from pretty much every offseason Miami has had for nearly twenty years. Pretty much the rest of the story has been Tua, Tua, Tua. Projected starting lineup Offense QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick RB - Jordan Howard RB2 - Matt Brieda WR1 - DeVante Parker WR2 - Preston Williams WR3 - Albert Wilson TE - Mike Gesicki LT - Austin Jackson LG - Erick Flowers C - Ted Karras RG - Robert Hunt RT - Jesse Davis Defense CB - Xavien Howard CB - Byron Jones FS - Bobby McCain SS - Eric Rowe OLB - Jerome Baker MLB - Raekwon McMillan OLB/DE - Kyle Van Noy DE/OLB - Emmanuel Ogbah DE - Shaq Lawson DT - Davon Godchaux DT/NT - Christian Wilkins Nickle corner - Noah Igbinoghene Disclaimer - trying to pin down assignments and starters on a defense that tries to have players play multiple positions and schemes is an exercise in futility. Scheme Offense - Spread offense Chan Gailey has typically used the spread offense throughout his career so that's expected to be the case here in Miami. In the spread offense the basic idea is to force the defense to cover a lot of wideouts in order to open up the run game and pass option, or rpo. Here legendary coach Urban Meyer explains it a million times better than I can, which makes sense since he knows it a million times better. Defense The defense the dolphins will use is a tricky one. They will likely switch between 3-4 and 4-3 regularly and will use many different formations within each one. OLB's will also get after the QB like a DE, DE's will likely slide inside to the DT position, as well. The idea behind the defense is to always have good matchups on the field and to lockdown the receivers with great man to man coverage, allowing the defensive line to get pressure on the QB. It's quite the opposite of what Miami has done in the past, which was to try and get after the QB ASAP and pray that your DB's didn't allow a quick reception, which they usually did. In the past Miami had such great ideas as sending the DE's around the edge quickly but playing off coverage and not trying to take the wideouts off the mark, which almost always just ended up in the QB getting rid of the ball quickly to a wide open receiver running across the middle. Most Dolphins fans found it frustrating to say the least. This new scheme is the opposite of that. They want the DB to knock the wideouts off of his route, while the DE's will play a more contain style and keep the play in front of them rather than running upfield and out of the play. I'm far from an expert on this subject though. Hopefully some of the great Dolphin fans will come on here and clear it up better than I can. 2020 schedule Week 1 - @ New England Week 2 - Buffalo Week 3 - @ Jacksonville Week 4 - Seattle Week 5 - @ San Francisco Week 6 - @ Denver Week 7 - LA Chargers Week 8 - LA Rams Week 9[email protected] Arizona Week 10 - NYFTJets Week 11 - Bye week Week 12 - @ NYFTJets Week 13 - Cincinnati Week 14 - Kansas City Week 15 - New England Week 16 - @ Las Vegas (ew) Week 17 - @ Buffalo Tough schedule for 2020. Starts tough and ends tough. Not a lot of room for error if they want to remain relevant after the bye week. One good thing is there's 3 west coast teams coming to Miami this year and in the past west coast teams have not played well going east and especially going to Miami. It's gonna be tough to make a playoff push, their best bet is to win at home and try and go 4-2 in the division by splitting the Bills and Pats and trying to sweep the Jets. All four teams in the East are looking like they aren't separated by a lot so it's anyone's guess if New England does indeed slip after losing Brady. I'll believe that when I see it. Big shoutout to guys like Kyle Crabbs and Travis Wingfield for helping teach me a lot of this stuff, I leaned heavily on Crabbs' scouting profiles for the draft section, and Wingfield taught me quite a bit about formations. Hopefully I'm not making his teaching look bad 😂. Another shoutout to all the Dolphins fans in Miami dealing with a big covid breakout in Florida. Stay safe you guys and gals!
https://preview.redd.it/31mwbm3qife51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2a747fddadfc5ed75c11c55f378c3489e42dd2c2 We have finally reached NFL training camp and with the agreement between the league and the players association, there is a little more clarity about how the preparation for the 2020 season will look. With such a long time off, the early stages of this will involve a lot of lifting and running, before the players actually go out on the field and compete, but like I have done for several years, I want to look at some of the more interesting battles for starting positions. Now that preseason has been cancelled, it will only enhance the importance of these competitions and even though I usually have a little bias towards rookies, since I studied them a lot since the Super Bowl ended, this whole situation should actually favor the more seasoned veterans. For this exercise, I tried to avoid a few of the really obvious ones, such as the Bears QB competition that has and will be talked to death by all the major networks, or the Dolphins entire offensive line pretty much, where you can’t point to one specific spot. With that being said, here at the ten that I will follow the closest: https://preview.redd.it/pkcbba94jfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=d953bc933be4fef1353adc12c66725f33d319eab
Green Bay Packers – Number two receiver
Key competitors: Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling & Equanimeous St. Brown This seems to make my list pretty much every year and I still don’t feel like the Packers have found a solution. Head coach Matt LaFleur wants to build this offense on the zone run game and play-action passing off it, but this team needs help on the receiving end regardless and that is even more apparent after not going one player at the position in a historically great draft at exactly that. I ended up just calling it their “number two receiver”, because the Packers like to move Davante Adams around and if they use more 12 or 21 personnel this year, with high expectations for Jace Sternberger coming into his second season and drafting a flex H-back type in Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara, it is more about that second guy on the field for them, who can play inside and out. Geronimo Allison went into the 2019 as the guy Rodgers seemed to have the most trust, but he is now Detroit and Allen Lazard emerged as a dependable target over the second half of last season. He came in as an undrafted free agent two years ago and made plays as a big-bodied target, who did his best work in the slot and only dropped two of 37 catchable targets for the second-highest team total of 477 receiving yards. However, Green Bay has two more talented players waiting to finally establish themselves in the pros as well. Coming in as a fifth-round pick in 2018, MVS has had all the chances possible and at running a 4.37 at 6’4”, 205 pounds made me believe he was ready to break out last season, but unfortunately drops and inconsistent play overall have limited his production to some degree. Equanimeous St. Brown came in the same year as a sixth-rounder and as another one of those height-weight-speed freaks, but outside of a strong first showing on offense, his rookie campaign was more about flashes and lacking trust from his QB, before missing all of last season with an ankle injury suffered in preseason. You have to question if any of these three is actually ready to become a major contributor in 2020 – which is exactly why a lot of questioned not using any draft capital on receiver – and the role of the “number two” could be one that is combined for by all of them, but at least the starting gig is still up for grabs. https://preview.redd.it/hbaqimbgkfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=52b6bec65b34c894cffc80f4506cebd45291685a
Philadelphia Eagles – Nickelback
Key competitors: Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sidney Jones & K’Von Wallace After playing about five or six different cornerbacks in each of the last two seasons – due to injury for the most part, but also trying to figure out who they can rely upon – the Eagles took advantage of the opportunity to acquire a true number one guy, when Darius Slay demanded a trade from the Lions. I believe Avonte Maddox when healthy has shown enough to earn that second starting spot, being deployed at outside and slot corner, only allowing one score in each of the last two seasons as the primary coverage defender and being a reliable tackler (missed right around 10 percent of attempts over the same stretch). I would expect him to switch to more of a field-side corner role full-time, because Philly has more options in the slot. The most obvious one seems to be eight-year veteran Nickell Robey-Coleman, who has played more than half of the defensive snaps every single season since coming into the league, but I think he has become a little overrated because of the great name for the spot he plays, due to allowing almost two thirds of the passes his way to be completed over the last two seasons and missing too many tackles. Sidney Jones is the guy the Eagles still hope for to emerge, as a highly touted CB prospect coming out of Washington a few years ago, but falling to the second round of the draft because of a torn Achilles, that he has never returned from fully and has been fighting through injuries ever since. He finally showed some promise last season, with better overall performance in coverage, tackling and coming up with his first two career picks. If he impresses the coaching staff in training camp, he could end up starting on the outside also, if they feel more comfortable with Maddox in the slot. And the third guy in this conversation is this year’s fourth-round pick K’Von Wallace from Clemson, who was labelled as a safety, but really played big nickel for the Tigers for the most part. I love his competitive swagger and ability to get involved as a blitzer, which fits very well with Jim Schwartz’s aggressive play-calling, but he may not be best suited to carry speedsters down the seams. So I think all three brings something different to the table, whether it is quality experience and track record, high level of talent and feel for the position or a more versatile player who features strong run defense and blitzing ability. I could see all three log around 50 percent of the snaps with how many DBs Philly likes to play at the same time. https://preview.redd.it/8dmcuxixhfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=80291eefdfdc117de7144d2ba17659bbb4532ea2
Cincinnati Bengals – Guard spots
Key competitors: Billy Price, Michael Jordan, Xavier Su’a-Filo & Hakeem Adeniji As much as you can like what the Bengals have done this offseason, in terms of getting their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow with that first overall pick, getting rid of some injury-riddled veterans and finally spending money in free agency to improve the defense, if there is one position group that still holds them back from making it out of the bottom of the AFC North, it is the offensive line. Considering they seem content with one of the worst starters in the league at right tackle in particular, I am talking about the two guard spots in particular, where you usually want no more than one of these four players starting. However, they will have to choose two guys and it is really hard to tell who they will be. Last year’s fourth-round pick Michael Jordan ended up starting nine of 13 games and really struggled all-around. Even though he offers some intriguing measurements and athleticism, I always thought he was more of a backup with position flexibility. Third-year man Billy Price has been even more disappointing since they invested a first-round pick in him. Similar to his former teammate at Ohio State, I was lower on Price than most people, but not even I suspected he would have these issues at both guard and center, since you saw the power and grip strength to make you believe he would be a solid starter. Now this year in the sixth round of the draft, Cincinnati grabbed another one of those guys who could give them some versatility in Kansas’ Hakeem Adeniji, who played tackle for the Jayhawks, but projects well to the inside as well with the athletic upside he features. To throw into the mix with these three young guys is Xavier Su’a-Filo, who was once seen as a disappointing second-round pick for Houston, but then ended up starting 31 of 32 games over the last two years for the Texans and was a quality backup for Dallas, who played well when inserted into the lineup. Maybe he is the guy, who gives the Bengals some stability on the interior, but then they need to pick somebody on the opposite side to center Trey Hopkins. If he can get more consistent technically, I would personally like to give Adeniji a shot at some point at least. https://preview.redd.it/27dudpwskfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=c8d41414786e7cc47557764a10855325caa8f01a
Las Vegas Raiders – 3-tech defensive tackle
Key competitors: Maurice Hurst, Jonathan Hankins & Maliek Collins Just two years ago, the Raiders finished dead-last in total scoring defense and their 13 sacks on the year was less than half of the next-closest team. Last year they improved to 24th in points allowed and more than doubled their sack output (32), thanks to some rookies coming onto the scene. This team is still far from getting to where they ultimately want to be defensively and if they want to make noise this season as a group, they will need to take that next step. Outside of maybe wide receiver, linebacker was the biggest need for this team coming into the offseason and they addressed it with two free agents in Corey Littleton and Nick Kwiatkowski, who will immediately upgrade this group. I also like some of the young talent in the secondary, but on the D-line is where I’m totally sure yet how snaps will be split. Maxx Crosby and last year’s fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell should be starting on the edges, to go along with Carl Nassib and Arden Key as rotational pieces, but the interior is where playing time will still be decided as we move towards the regular season. Last year, three defensive tackles were on the field for 50+ percent of the defensive snaps – Jonathan Hankins, P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst – and they moved free agency addition and former Cowboy Maliek Collins to Vegas with them. For this discussion, I am looking at that strongside defensive tackle in particular, who is shading the outside shoulder of the guard. Since Hall has primarily taken on the role of a 1-technique, who got mostly subbed out on passing downs, he is not considered here. Hurst is the most interesting to me, since I was really high on him coming out of Michigan due to the disruptive style of play he presented, but he dropped all the way to the fifth round of the 2018 draft because of a pre-existing heart issue. In 29 career games, he has recorded 7.5 sacks and seven more tackles for loss, but I’d have to say he hasn’t really lived up to my expectations yet. Hankins lead this group in playing time last season as a 16-game starter, who made most of his impact against the run, and also carried the biggest cap hit (around five million). That was until they signed Collins this offseason, who was a promising young player in Dallas, but couldn’t be paid because of all the other high contracts being handed out already. In four seasons with “America’s Team”, he recorded a combined 20 TFLs, 14.5 sacks and an additional 40 QB hits. However, I’m not really sure how much he has improved. So these guys should all play significant snaps, but who will emerge as the top option? And how much could that entire group be subbed out with three DEs that have the body-type to slide inside on passing downs? https://preview.redd.it/zndn2b4flfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=3e92e735314881604e3e86b4f8a6b9e19123c506
Los Angeles Rams – Running back
Key competitors: Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers & Darrell Henderson In today’s NFL, where it’s all about running back by committee and finding those specific skill-sets, there are only like three or four workhorse backs left, but I don’t think there is any team with as much as uncertainty about how touches will be split as the Rams. With the release of Todd Gurley, who was on the field for more than 70 percent of the snaps in each of the last four seasons and has been a star until his knees started becoming a huge question mark, a lot of opportunities have opened up with this group of young guys. Malcolm Brown is the veteran among this unit, who coming into his sixth season with the Ramsm has averaged 278 scrimmage yards over the last three seasons and scored a career-high five touchdowns in 2019. He may not be a very flashy player, but he is a dependable pass-catcher as well as -protector and had a role near the end-zone last season. Last year’s third-round pick Darrell Henderson was anything but dependable as a rookie, dropping one of his six targets and fumbling a toss on one of his 39 rush attempts. He recorded less than a hundred offensive snaps (8%) and only six of them were spent blocking for his quarterback Jared Goff. With that being said, he was a big-play machine at Memphis, putting up a combined 3600 yards from scrimmage and averaging a ridiculous 8.9 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons for the Tigers. He is an excellent fit for this zone-based rushing attack under Sean McVay. And then there’s this year’s second-rounder Cam Akers from Florida State. Once the number one running back recruit in the country, Akers’ career with the Seminoles didn’t go quite as expected, but a lot of that had to do with horrendous O-line play and he still showed plenty of flashes. The amount of miscues up front made it kind of hard to project his game to the next level, but he has tremendous feet to navigate through traffic, great burst through the hole and the ability to run through arm tackles. All those skills will be handy when lining up behind L.A.’s starting five, which had some major issues last season, but started to come together once a couple of rookies were inserted. That whole interior will be decided through training camp as well most likely, but if I had to bet how the usage of this backfield will look like, this is what I would say – Akers should get the majority of the touches, because otherwise the Rams would not have invested a high draft pick in him, with other needs on that roster. Brown will be their primary third down back and see plenty of goal-line work as well. And Henderson might be more of a designated runner, with the burst to threaten the edges of a defense. https://preview.redd.it/svna1530mfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=c4f70161a54bcbabb2963281859fca00f4f920fc
New Orleans Saints – MIKE linebacker
Key competitors: Kiko Alonso, Craig Robertson & Joe Bachie When you look at this Saints roster, it is hard to find a lot of holes – if any – but if you are looking for a spot, where they may not be fully settled, look no further than the middle of this defense. With Emmanuel Sanders finally being that second guy to go with Michael Thomas and being dominant up front on either side of the ball, you have to look at the second level defensively here. Demario Davis is coming off a first-team All-Pro season as their WILL, but the other two spots I would say aren’t locked in yet. As far as the strong-side goes, now that A.J. Klein left in free agency and Alex Anzalone just not being able to stay healthy, to me rookie Zack Baun from Wisconsin is set to become a key contributor for this group with his hybrid ability to play off the ball and come down on over fronts or as a rush end in sub sets. MIKE is really the spot that I’m not sure about. Kiko Alonso once was a very promising young LB, but he had probably the worst season so far now on his fourth team and played a career-low 27 percent of the defensive snaps last year. Craig Robertson amassed over 500 tackles in first six years with the Browns and Saints as a strong run-defender, but he has only started one game these last two seasons in New Orleans and struggled when on the field in 2019 in particular. He missed 18 percent of his tackling attempts and allowed all but one of the 14 targets his way to be completed. My personal favorite is undrafted rookie Joe Bachie from Michigan State, I had him as a top 100 prospect and talked about him as one of my impact UDFAs early in May. Bachie is a ferocious run-defender with excellent instincts for the position and a track-record of making plays in coverage. While some athletic limitations caused him to not hear his name called over the three days of the draft and may lead to him being subbed out on third downs, I think he can absolutely play base downs for them and his blitzing may keep him on the field in some passing situations as well. I’m interested to see how Dennis Allen deploys his personnel in those situations in general, since Baun can not only rush off the edge, but also be used as a roaming blitzer, and they have guys with inside-out versatility up front. https://preview.redd.it/u1zkwgocmfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=24fa0f403ea80035a4cbf00f91585f941c55be74
Washington TBD – Tight-end
Key competitors: Jeremy Sprinkle, Thaddeus Moss & Richard Rodgers Just for future reference, I think I will refer to this franchise as the Washington football team, but not as the nickname “Washington Football Team”, since this obviously has to be a joke to make an official announcement after a few weeks into this whole process and to come up with this. Regardless of that, there are some issues with this roster, even though there is a lot to like as well. The defensive line is filled with first-round picks, Terry McLaurin was a stud receiver as a rookie and even though it didn’t look great last season, people seem to write off a very talented passer in Dwayne Haskins. While this team will likely have to win low-scoring affairs this season, the offense can almost only surpass the cellar-low expectations. There is at least one questionable spot on the O-line and we have yet to see anybody emerge among that receiver crew outside of “Scary Terry”, but they have a loaded running back room, including third-round pick Antonio Gibson, who could be that “swiss army knife” for offensive coordinator Scott Turner. The one spot that is definitely still up for grabs is tight-end. In the Turner offense, that Y has to be able to execute multiple run schemes as an in-line blocker, but also run wide receiver routes from a detached alignment. With such demands from that position, I was surprised Washington didn’t go after a more established tight-end in the offseason, with the only two additions coming in the form of an undrafted free agent and a one-year, one million dollar signing. UDFA Thaddeus Moss to me is actually the favorite of earn that starting gig, since his combination of hand-placement and leg drive make him an asset as a blocker, while also having experience being flexed out and winning on horizontal routes. The second guy added is Richard Rodgers, whose most memorable play came when catching a hail mary from Aaron Rodgers five years ago. Since leaving Green Bay, he has caught just one pass over these last two seasons, but his size and ball-skills still make him an intriguing receiver. Both of them are looking to beat out Jeremy Sprinkle however, who once Vernon Davis went down with an injury early on last season, started the final 13 games. He gets the job done as a blocker, but is a very limited pass-catcher (26 receptions for 241 yards and one TD last season). https://preview.redd.it/785i3kdumfe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=49a73d938a22b15d50312346e0301bd9eee91279
Denver Broncos – Number two cornerback
Key competitors: Bryce Callahan, Isaac Yiadom & Michael Ojemudia Going into this offseason, the Broncos needed to address three areas of their team – wide receiver, interior offensive line and cornerback. With their first two picks in the draft, they went out and got two stud pass-catchers in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler to give this offense a lot of firepower and in the third round they selected LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry, to go with Graham Glasgow coming over from Detroit in free agency. Corner is the one spot they didn’t really invest into, outside of spending another third-rounder on Michael Ojemudia from Iowa, since swapping Chris Harris Jr. for A.J. Bouye was a parallel move at best. Even though Bouye might be in the early stages of his decline, he is still a very good player. That position across from him however isn’t completely settled in my opinion. The favorite right now seems to be Bryce Callahan, who missed all of last season with a foot injury after signing a three-year, 21-million dollar contract with the Broncos. While he did average over 82 percent of the snaps with Chicago’s number-one ranked defense in 2018 in the games he finished, the majority of those were spent in the slot. So even assuming he will play a big role for Denver, with them being right in the middle of NFL defenses with five plus DBs out there for 73 percent of the snaps, these three players could theoretically make up for two “starting” spots next season. Isaac Yiadom played almost half the defensive snaps for the Broncos last year. A sort of hybrid cornesafety coming out of Boston College two years ago, he lined up almost exclusively on the outside, but had some struggles with a passer-rating allowed North of 100 and being responsible for over 400 yards on 45 targets. The guy I think is most likely to eat into that playing time is the rookie from the Hawkeyes. In a deep class at the CB position, Ojemudia is a guy that really stood out to me because of the physical profile he presented and how I saw him being able to use it, when he manned up against some of the nation’s top receivers at the Senior Bowl, after being in an almost pure zone system at Iowa. While the size may scream press-corner, he doesn’t have a lot of experience with that and my biggest concern for him is finding the air in the air late. However, in a Vic Fangio scheme that won’t leave him on an island too much and having Justin Simmons as an in-between the numbers eraser, I would like to see him get extended playing time as a rookie. https://preview.redd.it/reswwtk4ofe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=09e21ea6a6e40c1d389984b5af6ed75ac85cdfa2
Los Angeles Chargers – Z receiver
Key competitors: Andre Patton, Joe Reed & K.J. Hill Whenever people talk about the Chargers, they obviously talk about this loaded defense and the next thing they bring up is this group of skill-position players with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler, who was unbelievable with the ball in space last season and made Melvin Gordon expendable. I like the way they have constructed this backfield to complement Ekeler, but even though Virgil Green has been a very solid blocking tight-end as their number two, he is averaging just 122 receiving yards per season in his career and there really is nobody with any production to speak of behind those two starting receiver. Andre Patton accounted for only 56 yards as a rookie, despite seeing 17 targets on the season, and Joe Reed and K.J. Hill were fifth- and seventh-round picks in April for them. To identify who L.A.’s WR3 will be, we first have to look at which type of player they are looking for in that offense. Mike Williams is your classic big-bodied X receiver, who they like to target on vertical patterns, such as fades and post routes, where his ability to attack the ball in the air can really shine through. Yet, with the offense using Ekeler a lot as a threat on jet or fly sweeps and just motion him around the formation, as well as Henry being flexed out wide as a single receiver at times, Williams on paper lined up quite a bit at Z and in the slot as well. Keenan Allen is a savvy route-runner, who is a nightmare to mirror off the line and is at his best creating separation underneath. He can obviously play out wide and keep corners guessing, but he is excels at operating out of the slot. So what would make sense here is that field-stretching Z receiver, who can create that space at the short and intermediate level. Patton ran a 4.4 flat coming out of Rutgers as a UDFA and even though no other receiver outside of him has more than two career receptions, I have already mentioned how ineffective he was despite actually logging just over 500(!) offensive snaps in 2019. Joe Reed clocked in at 4.47 and while he was used more in the slot and as a gadget player last season, in 2018 he averaged 18.6 yards per grab and you still saw that quick acceleration once the ball was in his hands. I think he telegraphs his routes too much at this point, but he should at least be a factor on special teams, as one of the premiere return-men in the country. And then there’s Hill, who dropped this far because the athletic testing was underwhelming (4.6 in the 40) and he needs to be more effective with getting in and out of his breaks, but he routinely got open at Ohio State and made crucial plays for the Buckeyes. He is much better suited to play inside though. https://preview.redd.it/6tbox9pcofe51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=0d9a628a6e52817e8a82fe719a68c240e5359bf9
Seattle Seahawks – Right tackle
Key competitors: Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi & Jamarco Jones As brilliant as Russell Wilson has been and how he has hidden the issues on this Seahawks roster, the one group that has been a problem child for several years now is the offensive line. We still have to see how the addition of some young guys on the interior will work out, but the right tackle spot in particular has been an issue for a while. With Germaine Ifedi moving on, you would have hoped that Seattle finally finds a long-term solution, but instead they signed two more fringe starters at best in free agency. Brandon Shell has started 37 of 48 games over these last three seasons and has the athletic traits you want to see at the position, but he allowed seven sacks last season and the Jets decided to not re-sign him despite having questions at both tackle spots at that point (before drafting Louisville’s Mekhi Becton in the first round). Then the Seahawks brought in another former first-round pick from a team with one of the worst track records of picking OTs early. Cedrick Ogbuehi started 25 combined games in his second and third season in the league, but even the Bengals with major issues at that position decided to let him walk after he was responsible for 14.5 combined sacks over that period. Last season he was a full-time backup in Jacksonville and now he is on a one-year prove-it deal. The third guy of the bunch is 2018 fifth-round pick Jamarco Jones, formerly of Ohio State, who started two games at right guard and one at left tackle last season, after missing his entire rookie campaign with an ankle injury. He did have his fair share of struggles and fought through some nicks and bruises on a weekly basis, but he brings a lot of thump at initial contact as a run-blocker and has excellent foot-quickness in protection. He definitely still has some technical work to do, but the talent is absolutely there. Shell has the highest cap hit at 3.5 million dollars and Ogbuehi got a pretty good base salary of 1.3 million, considering the start to his career, while Jones counts less than 100.000 against this cap this year as part of his rookie deal. So the money would say Shell has the best chances and Ogbuehi can make a run at this, but the guy I really want to man that position for future years is Jones and he should also be in the running for one of those guard spots.
Other notable position battles:
Chicago Bears – Nickelback (Buster Skrine, Duke Shelley & Kindle Vildor) Detroit Lions – Defensive end (Julian Okwara, Romeo Okwara & Austin Bryant) New York Giants – Outside corner (DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal & Grant Haley/Darnay Holmes) Atlanta Falcons – Sub-linebacker (Deonne Bucannon, Foyesade Oluokun & Mykal Walker) Arizona Cardinals – 5-technique (Jonathan Bullard, Michael Dogbe & Rashard Lawrence) Baltimore Ravens – RUSH linebacker (Pernell McPhee, Tyus Bowser & Jaylon Ferguson) Buffalo Bills – Defensive end (Mario Addison, Trent Murphy & A.J. Epenesa) Houston Texans – Tight-end (Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas & Kahale Warring) Jacksonville Jaguars – Free safety (Jarrod Wilson, Andrew Wingard, Josh Jones & J.R. Reed) Kansas City Chiefs – Center (Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie & Darryl Williams) If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/07/28/key-position-battles-at-2020-nfl-training-camp/ You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-H6JGuHmF4
Hello everyone. Late last year I made weekly rankings on fantasyfootball and received a lot of positive feedback. Since that time I started writing about the NFL Draft on RotoBaller. Here are my half-PPR Top 10 Rankings. All comments and discussion welcome. ..................... I’m considering David Johnson at six. Not the sixth round, but at sixth overall. I’m hoping to land Devonta Freeman or Derrick Henry in the third round, but the decision is a tough one if both are on the board. For quarterback, I’m either going Aaron Rodgers in the seventh round or waiting until the tenth to grab Lamar Jackson. Do I sound crazy? Out of touch? Of course. But in the summer of 2019, these were common takes. Imagine someone drafted Lamar Jackson in the third round last year? Or Derrick Henry in the first? Or Dalvin Cook in the top four? They’d have been ridiculed. Chalk rankings and ADP are not accurate predictors of fantasy production. Players who are being drafted outside the top 20 at their position will finish within the top 10. Players drafted in the first two rounds will *gasp* bust. The actual season never actually happens as the expert rankings tell you it would. The purpose of my rankings is to accurately predict that chaos. The ultimate goal here is to get every single ranking correct, but more realistically, nail some that differ from the consensus. Hopefully, they’ll help you uncover this year's Lamar Jackson. These rankings are based on half-PPR scoring. Projections are prorated for 16 games, but injury risks in terms of possible missed games factor into the rankings. Upside and floor also factor in, which may explain why a player ranked lower may have better projections than a player ranked higher. Stay tuned in the coming days for rankings 11-20, followed by full QB, RB, WR, and TE rankings.
Christian McCaffrey is coming off one of the best fantasy seasons of all time but his situation has changed. He has a new head coach in Matt Rhule, a new offensive coordinator in Joe Brady, and a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. Even though regression is expected, these changes do not make his situation worse. Bridgewater is an upgrade over Kyle Allen and Joe Brady is a stud young coach who just dominated the college ranks. His philosophy about using running backs as receiving weapons meshes well with McCaffrey’s skillset. McCaffrey had a 24% target share in the past two seasons. While the addition of Robby Anderson could drop that number a bit, his new QB’s propensity for short passes should keep his share over 22%. The skill that sets McCaffrey apart from all other backs is not his receiving prowess - but his durability. He handled over 700 touches at Stanford and has played every game in his three NFL seasons. Every player has some level of injury risk, but McCaffrey has proven to be more durable than most. Projections: 287 rushes, 1320 yds, 92 rec, 737 yds, 13 TD 2 Saquon Barkley- RB, Giants There is a strong case to be made for Saquon Barkley as RB1. He is more freakishly athletic than McCaffrey and averaged 2.8 yards after contact compared to McCaffrey’s 1.8 last season. The Giants used two premium picks on offensive linemen, including fourth overall, and expect growth from Will Hernandez. Daniel Jones is coming off a rookie year in which he proved to be a fantasy-friendly player. New Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett hasn’t called plays in a while but has had success feeding his RB1 as a head coach. I expect Barkley to be fed. There is league MVP upside here. Projections: 298 rushes, 1482 yds, 69 rec, 554 yds, 13 TD 3 Ezekiel Elliot - RB, Cowboys I hate chalk rankings. They are boring and regurgitate the same things over and over. The fact that my Top 3 is chalk is frustrating, but that’s what my projections spit out. Zeke is going to be the top weapon on a high-powered offense with PFF’s third-ranked offensive line. I actually do not love his ceiling. I think he is a terrific bet to finish anywhere from RB3 to RB7, but has a fairly low chance to be the RB1 or RB2. Zeke is a year older with a huge contract while impressive second-year backup Tony Pollard is still on his rookie deal and has earned more than the 20% rushing share he had last season. Dak Prescott is also a rushing threat and the Cowboys have one of the best receiver groups in the NFL. Locked in as the RB3 in most formats, there’s no reason to get cute here. His floor when healthy is too high. And as a bonus, he’s already had COVID-19! Projections: 280 rushes, 1242 yds, 57 rec, 485 yds, 14 TD 4 Dalvin Cook - RB, Vikings A year ago, I compared 2019 Dalvin Cook to 2014 Demarco Murray. That proved to be an apt comparison, as Cook broke out thanks in large part due to the addition of Gary Kubiak to the Vikings coaching staff. Unfortunately, untimely injury issues hurt his fantasy owners. Fantasy players have trust issues with him as a result, which is impacting his ADP. Cook was rumored to hold out but instead reported to camp. He is locked in as the featured player on a solid team with a huge role in the passing game. Cook has been an elite touchdown scorer and backfield receiving option dating back to his days dominating the ACC at Florida State. Even with expected slight regression in YPC, TD rate, and target share, Cook projects to continue his efficient ways whenever on the field. The only drawback with Cook as a fantasy asset is his injury risk, having missed 19 of 48 NFL games. It has always been my philosophy to draft currently healthy players based on talent and ignore past injuries unless there is a scientific reason to doubt their chances of staying on the field. Cook has yet to play a full 16-game season, but two years removed from a torn ACL, he’s worth the perceived risk. I would rather have a player miss games on my bench than fail to produce in my lineup. I have the stomach to handle injury risk players because I have confidence in my ability to fill my lineup with good players if they miss time. What hurts my soul is a poor performer IN my lineup. Projections: 259 rushes, 1,140 yds, 62 rec, 511 yds, 13 TD 5 Alvin Kamara- RB, Saints Slowed by nagging injuries, Alvin Kamara had a relatively disappointing 2019 season, finishing as RB8 after widely being drafted in the top three. He is due for some serious positive TD regression after hitting paydirt just 6 times in 2019. He scored 18 and 13 in his first two seasons. It was evident on film that Kamara was not as explosive in 2019 as he was the two years prior, but that can be blamed on the nagging injuries. Kamara himself said he played the season “on one leg” and at just 75%. The only changes in his situation are the additions of Emmanuel Sanders and Ty Montgomery, who hasn’t been relevant in years. The floor here is so high, predicting injury, which is a fool's errand, is the only reason to pass on Kamara near his ADP. Projections: 199 rushes, 895 yds, 87 rec, 688 yds, 12 TD 6 Joe Mixon- RB, Bengals Joe Mixon finished as the RB6 in the second half of last season. His lack of production in the first half can be explained by a new offense, terrible offensive line, and a curious lack of action in the passing game. His 8% target share dropped from his 2018 target share of 12%, and because Giovanni Bernard’s did as well, Zac Taylor’s offense clearly did not emphasize utilizing RBs in the passing game. I expect that to change with a year of Taylor self-scouting and evolving his offense. Teams that don’t use their backs in the passing game are behind the eight ball in terms of analytics. It would be foolish to continue to target backs at such a low rate. Part of the explanation could be the necessity of keeping their backs in protection to help a porous offensive line. The line will be better, as stud first-round pick Jonah Williams returns at left tackle, and expected growth from Billy Price. The Rams added a quality tackle the year Gurley broke out. Offensive line aside, the addition of Joe Burrow points to more targets in the passing game for Bengals RBs after he helped feed Clyde Edwards-Helaire at LSU. So if Mixon’s targets go up and he remains as effective as a runner, there is big-time upside in an offense that will be much better. I’m buying the Bengals offense this year. Projections: 290 rushes, 1,283 yds, 41 rec, 342 yds, 12 TD 7 Josh Jacobs- RB, Raiders The Raiders ran the ball at the eighth-highest rate in the league last season and return one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. Josh Jacobs had an extremely impressive rookie season, grading out as PFF’s second-ranked runner, despite battling a shoulder injury. Jacobs has as good a shot as any RB to lead the league in rushing. His value is dependent on two key factors. First is his role in the passing game. At Alabama, Jacobs was frequently used as a pass-catcher, while Damien Harris was more of the grinder. Jacobs flashed terrific hands and pass pro reps on film, which made his lack of involvement in the Raiders’ passing game last year curious. The second factor, his questionable durability outlook, is actually related to that lack of volume as a pass-catcher. The Raiders likely scaled back his workload in terms of the mental side of the game. Jacobs was not a featured player at Alabama, but the Raiders still saw him as their best pure runner. So, instead of giving a green rookie a full plate of assignments, they let him succeed as a runner while using Jalen Richard, who isn’t a great runner, to his strengths as a receiving back. It makes sense that in his second year, Jacobs’ role in the passing game will expand. In fact, Mike Mayock has already mentioned it. The potential league-winning question is how many touches can Jacobs handle, considering he's never been a workhorse and has had injury issues. My projections are aggressive because two old-school football minds spent a first-round pick on him and he’s done nothing but impress when on the field. Projections: 302 rushes, 1,344 yds, 35 rec, 271 yds, 11 TD 📷 8 Nick Chubb- RB, Browns The Browns offense underachieved under Freddie Kitchens last season. Baker Mayfield regressed, the offensive line played poorly, and the talented receivers underperformed. Nick Chubb still finished as RB7. Chubb’s production fell when Kareem Hunt returned from suspension, but he was still the preferred running option, and his effectiveness remained elite. 16 games of Hunt is a legitimate concern, but reports have him cross-training at wide receiver, which will allow the Browns to play both on the field at the same time. Chubb’s 77% rushing share will probably decline, but everything else about his situation looks better. Kevin Stefanski has had success with running backs, most recently Dalvin Cook. Both tackle spots have been upgraded, with Jedrick Wills on the left side and Jack Conklin on the right side. The Browns even added lead-blocker fullback Andy Janovich from Denver. Chubb averaged five yards per carry last year and has a real chance to approach that number again. He's currently being drafted with substantial drops in rushing share and efficiency baked in. The Browns will run more and be a better offense, so I’m buying Chubb everywhere. My only two concerns are his lack of involvement in the passing game and a chance of a lower TD rate due to all the prolific TD-scorers on the roster. Projections: 284 rushes, 1,418 yds, 20 rec, 153 yds, 12 TD 9 Michael Thomas- WR, Saints One of the biggest mistakes fantasy players make is placing too much emphasis on what happened last year. You aren’t drafting a player and simply getting last year’s stats. On the other hand, looking back at stats from two-plus years ago is probably even less relevant. The job of fantasy prognosticators is to project what will happen this year, and in many cases, while that does involve analyzing what happened last year, it is often overstated. Football factors, such as situation, film, coaching, and schedule are difficult to quantify in projections, but insight into more than just the math can give you an edge. I try to mix logical football reasons based on film study and a deeper understanding of the game when projecting next season. There was no 2018 or 2017 data that would suggest Michael Thomas would command 185 targets in 2019. What could have been predicted was the impact of losing Mark Ingram and the lack of development from potential ancillary receiving options, in addition to the foreseeable uptick in passing attempts. Keep this in mind when I paint possible scenarios in order to go out on a limb and separate my rankings from the cookie-cutter chalk. Imagine the backlash a fantasy expert would have gotten for ranking Thomas in the top-five last offseason. Thomas had a 34% target share last season. He’s still basically the same player as he was in 2018 when he had a 28% target share, and there is no reason to expect 180+ targets again. The Saints passed more last year than they did in 2017 and 2018, Drew Brees is a year older, and Emmanuel Sanders is now a legitimate second option. Thomas has a high floor, but even my projection of 163 targets might be aggressive given his 147 targets in 2018 and 149 in 2017. Projections: 163 targets, 129 rec, 1,486 yds, 8 TD 10 Jonathan Taylor- RB, Colts A rookie rounds out my top 10, but not the one you might expect. Full disclosure: I am a draftnik. I may tend to overvalue rookies. And the interesting thing here is that I didn’t even have Jonathan Taylor as a top-three back in my pre-draft RB rankings. I wasn’t exactly low on him, I just loved Dobbins and CEH, and thought Swift had upside as a pass-catcher. So why am I ranking Taylor so high? Let’s look at the facts. One of the greatest runners in the history of college football was drafted with the 41st pick, the sweet spot for RBs, by the Colts after a trade-up. The Colts have the best offensive line in football, a bright and productive offensive coaching staff, and a veteran quarterback who has had a ton of success checking at the line of scrimmage and generally utilizing running backs throughout his career. The elephant in the room is Marlon Mack, who was drafted by the Colts with the 143rd pick in 2017 and has ranked as the 28th, 37th, and 31st running back by PFF in the past three seasons. Mack is a good player, but the Colts did not use a premium pick on a workhorse with the goal of splitting the workload evenly. I’m actually more concerned with Hines taking snaps away in full-PPR leagues. The Colts will finish in the top-five in rushing attempts this season (poor division helps), and Taylor will win leagues. He’s not a great receiver and I am somewhat concerned that three of my top ten running backs have receiving workload question marks. Full-PPR drafters can adjust accordingly. Projections: 282 rushes, 1,316 yds, 21 rec, 178 yds, 12 TD Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for rankings 11-20 and positional rankings in the coming days.
This is a list of "my guys" from this years draft. The common theme is that every one on the list was a breath of fresh air when I watched them on film and I have each player above the consensus, some significantly so. Some of the guys are highly regarded top end players, some are day 2 type of players, and some are day 3 players that I tagged as really good bets to exceed expectations. For the top end players, these are the guys I feel immensely confident in becoming high end NFL players. For some of the players listed I fully understand the significant issues holding them back but they may have some fantastic trait or are incredibly fun to watch. I create full positional rankings and big boards but the success of my evaluations this year, in my opinion, will hinge more on how the players fare that I feel especially strong towards. Here is my list from 2019: https://www.reddit.com/NFL_Draft/comments/bbi73chwf3rds_my_guys/ From 2018: https://www.reddit.com/NFL_Draft/comments/8ct6na/chwf3rds_my_guys/ From 2017: https://www.reddit.com/NFL_Draft/comments/675cbc/5_prospects_i_have_significantly_above_the/ This year I did an additional list of late Day 3 guys that I feel good about. Jordan Love, QB, Utah St, 6'3/224 Grade: Round 1 (Top 20 overall) I would take Love in the top 10 overall if I had a need at QB. Love easily has the best arm talent in this draft class, routinely making jaw dropping throws. He's not a Josh Allen type either with scattershot accuracy and only capable of throwing the fastball. His accuracy is precise at all levels and he can manipulate his velocity and throw with touch. Furthermore, Love is a very mobile QB with the ability to evade pressure, escape the pocket, and keep his eyes downfield. Some of his throws on the run are reminiscent of Patrick Mahommes or Carson Wentz. The issue with Love is simply decision making - locking into his first read or trusting his arm too much. However, you look at his 2018 season and the volume of those bad decisions is not there. In 2019, Love lost not only his coaching staff but his main offensive weapons as well. Considering his elite traits, I'll gladly bet that Love can return to his 2018 form. https://gph.is/g/aKAgJje (throw vs LSU) https://gph.is/g/Z5YbQ36 (rollout) https://gph.is/g/4L5bqK0 (tight window) https://gph.is/g/aQO5gDA (touch) Cam Akers, RB, Florida St, 5'10/217, 54% SPARQ Grade: Top 20 A former top recruit, Akers chose to go to Florida St at the wrong time. Akers demonstrates every trait I look for in a RB at a high level - burst, toughness/violence, contact balance, lateral agility, and receiving ability. He didn't have the stage of Swift, Dobbins, CEH, or Taylor and didn't have the same type of huge games given the awfulness of Florida St. However, he's the most well rounded of the top RBs this year and has the highest upside. The one issue I have with Akers is questionable vision at times but it's hard to know whether to attribute that to him or the OL. https://gph.is/g/apb5eq6 https://gph.is/g/aKAbBy3 https://gph.is/g/4bB5Yen Antonio Gibson, RB, Memphis, 6/228 Grade: Round 3 Gibson mostly played slot WR at Memphis but I project him as a RB. As a RB, Gibson's combination of size, speed, and receiving ability creates an upside similar to David Johnson. Gibson doesn't really know what he's doing at RB yet and is a projection but he demonstrates phenomenal traits for the position including burst, contact balance, and lateral quickness. He is dynamic player with the ball in his hands, whether on receptions, carries, or special teams, with special athletic ability and open field vision. Not only is his upside as a RB through the roof but his floor is decent as well as a great returner and valuable gadget player on offense. His SMU game is maybe the most fun game I've watched this year. https://gph.is/g/ZOk5mNj (crazy run) https://gph.is/g/EGgbr8M (catch in traffic) https://gph.is/g/aeA5wDX (return TD) https://gph.is/g/aXJ53nR (good run) https://gph.is/g/aKAb9z9 (receiving TD) Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina, 5'11/213, 81% SPARQ Grade: Round 4 Dowdle demonstrates all the traits you look for in a high level 3 down RB but lacks the production to match. He's a high level NFL athlete and that athleticism shows on film with his awesome burst. He's a really tough runner with good size, contact balance, and a compact and powerful frame. He demonstrates decent vision behind the LOS and has receiving ability to boot. He doesn't have a ton of wiggle but everything else is there. https://gph.is/g/46vb3Y8 (tough run vs Alabama) https://gph.is/g/ZWw52yv https://gph.is/g/amX59YJ Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona St, 5'11/205, 89% SPARQ Grade: Round 1 Aiyuk is my WR3 and ranked in my top 20 overall. Aiyuk can create easy separation all over the field in a variety of ways: deep with straight line speed, with physicality, or with quickness and burst out of breaks. While he's not necessary a burner, Aiyuk is one of the most twitched up and dynamic WRs in this draft. He has the rare ability to cut without losing much speed and maintaining that speed after the catch. He's not necessarily a jump ball catcher but he has flashed the ability to make contested catches. Even in games where his production wasn't there, he's consistently open play after play. He's sometimes portrayed as just a deep ball and YAC guy but he has the ability to be so much more than. https://gph.is/g/Zd75D5D https://gph.is/g/4zqY3DK https://gph.is/g/4AjblvO https://gph.is/g/Z2mbxg7 Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU, 5'11/206, 89% SPARQ Grade: Round 1 Reagor is my WR4 and in my top 25 overall. Reagor immediately stands out when watching him as he looks like he's moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field. He's exceptionally twitched up and explosive and is among the easiest separators in the entire class. His game just looks effortless. Not only does he offer separation, YAC, and deep speed but he also shows the ability to make contested, difficult catches and displays excellent body control. He's a lot more well rounded to me than someone like Henry Ruggs or KJ Hamler. My biggest issue with Reagor is that he struggles to extend beyond his frame and thus doesn't give his QBs a huge target. https://gph.is/g/4w8d3Lx https://gph.is/g/4L5bpev https://gph.is/g/ZPm5zPX Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado, 6'1/227 Grade: Round 1 Shenault is my WR 5 and in my top 25/30 overall. For clarity, my grade is not taking into account injury concerns as I don't have access to his medicals. Thus I wouldn't be surprised if he drops due to medical issues and I'm fine if that's the case. Nonetheless, Shenault has largely been forgotten about given the combination of WR depth this year and his injuries. He really shouldn't be as he is such a dynamic and exciting WR with huge upside. My comp for him is Sammy Watkins and AJ Brown. He has RB size with awesome physicality and YAC ability. He's a little raw in his routes and Colorado didn't do him a lot of favors as they just wanted to get the ball in his hands as much as possible and the easiest way to do so was on wildcat plays, reverses, and screens. Nonetheless, Shenault expresses excellent route running traits and creates easy separation with his burst and physicality. While I don't think he's a burner, he has sufficient speed to threaten and win deep. Combined with his contested catch ability and skills with the ball in his hands, Shenault is an incredibly exciting WR prospect. https://gph.is/g/apbqw33 https://gph.is/g/Z7ge57R https://gph.is/g/46vO5Dd https://gph.is/g/ZrdDloG Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina, 6'3/212 Grade: Round 2 (top 35 overall) Edwards is another WR that is being somewhat overshadowed due to injuries and WR depth. Like Shenault and Aiyuk, Edwards is another big, dynamic, explosive WR with phenomenal YAC ability, toughness, and physicality. Furthermore, Edwards has been incredibly productive at South Carolina starting with his true freshman season at only 17 years old. Edwards can line up all over the formation and turns into a RB with the ball in his hands. Not just a YAC guy, Edwards flashes fantastic hands and the ability to make incredible circus catches. While he doesn't create consistent separation, his quickness and burst is more than sufficient. https://gph.is/g/EJYbRne https://gph.is/g/a99bdlP https://gph.is/g/EGgb9Ml https://gph.is/g/aRW5N7w James Proche, WR, SMU, 5'11/201 Grade: Round 3 Proche projects as a slot WR in the NFL. Proche had a very productive season at SMU as their go to offensive weapon. His calling cards are hands and YAC ability. Proche has the best hands in the entire draft and can make difficult circus catches along with strong catches in traffic. He has some separation issues due to a lack of speed and quickness but if he's moved to the slot a lot of that should be accounted for. https://gph.is/g/ZYl5LwD https://gph.is/g/ajW55yG Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama, 6'4/312 Grade: Top 10 (5th player overall) I have Wills in a tier of his own among the OL this year and I think he's an elite OT prospect. Of the big 4 OTs, Wills is the most well rounded. His balance is phenomenal and he's always in control. His pass sets look great and he combines an immoveable anchor to counter power rushers with sufficient feet to meet speed. As a run blocker, he's incredibly powerful as a drive blocker and has the movement ability to block at the second level. His Auburn game is absolutely phenomenal. Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia, 6'6/350 Grade: Round 2 If Mechi Becton weren't in this class, Wilson would be getting a lot more buzz. An absolute mountain at 6'6/350, Wilson carries that weight as well as one possibly can. If you're looking for a traditional RT, Wilson is your guy. He's a mauler in the run game and plays with a nasty demeanor, throwing around SEC defenders. He projects immediatly as a great run blocker in the NFL. In pass pro, he has an easy anchor and shouldn't struggle against power. While he'll struggle some mirroring speed rushers, his kickslide looks fluid and even without ideal feet, his it'll be a struggle for defenders to get around a 6'6/350lbs OT with 93rd percentile arm length. Ben Bartch, OT, St. Johns, 6'5/309 Grade: Round 2/3 For a new OT convert playing at a tiny school, Bartch has one of the prettiest pass sets in this class. This demonstrates a willingness on his part to learn the position and a natural aptitude for pass blocking. He absolutely dominated awful competition at St. Johns and demonstrated great traits including light feet to mirror speed and a natural anchor to stop power. In the run game, Bartch bullied and dominated. He still doesn't look completely natural and can lose his knee bend at times but that's to be expected for such a green player. What really sold me was when he played great at the Senior Bowl against top competition. Robert Hunt, IOL, Lousiana, 6'5/323 Grade: Round 2 Hunt is a college RT that projects inside in the NFL. His upside as a guard is huge as he is moves extremely well for the position. He demonstrates great balance and control with a great anchor to stop power. Moreover, he plays with a great nasty demeanor fitting for a guard. While he struggled some in space against speed, moving inside will ease those concerns. Matt Hennessy, OC, Temple, 6'3/293 Grade: Round 2/3 At only 293lbs, Hennessy is limited to zone schemes. He has great movement ability to reach difficult blocks and has easy transitions. He's extremely quick off the snap and maintains great positioning to create holes for the RB. He's not a powerful drive blocker but won't be asked to do so in a zone scheme. He struggles some with power and lacks ideal strength but he is rarely beat as uses his pad level and hands to effectively anchor down when needed. Tyre Phillips, IOL, Miss St, 6'5/331 Grade: Round 3 Philllips was a college RT who I project inside. He's an absolute unit at 331lbs with 88th percentile arm length and a massive, thick upper body. He has incredibly powerful, sticky hands and moved SEC defenders with ease. While his foot speed presented issues at tackle, he projects very well inside given his strong anchor. Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina, 6'5/324 Grade: Top 10 Kinlaw is one of the most disruptive players in this class and possesses elite physical traits. Not only is he massive and long (92% length), but his burst off the ball is incredible. He simply outpowered and outphysicaled the best OL in the country in the SEC. He displayed good hand usage and rip moves and has the ability to stack and shed vs the run using his size and length. While his upside is sky high, there is some downside with Kinlaw given his inconsistency. He can play too high and struggle to anchor at times, getting washed and pushed around vs the run. I'll take the Chris Jones type upside and accept that risk. https://gph.is/g/ZYl558p https://gph.is/g/EGgbb5d McTelvin Agim, DL, Arkansas, 6'3/309 Grade: Round 3/4 Agim is former 5 star high school recruit who just switched from DE to DL this past year. While his athletic profile is incomplete, he ran a sub 5.0 40 at the combine at 4.98. That athleticism showed on film as he has some of the best get-off in this class. Not only is his initial burst phenomenal, but he can convert that speed into power and bench press SEC OL into the backfield. He's pretty raw and lacks any kind of hand usage right now. Furthermore, he struggles holding up against the run and may have to start off as a pass rushing specialist. Nonetheless, he has room to grow given his youth at the position. https://gph.is/g/ZOk55DP https://gph.is/g/EGgbbbp https://gph.is/g/E0rbj6y Darrell Taylor, Edge, Tennessee, 6'4/267 Grade: Round 2 (top 50) A discount K'Lavon Chaisson/Terrell Lewis. Taylor is a flash player with ideal Edge traits. Taylor has an awesome rocked up frame with little body fat. He shows great burst, flexibility to corner, and power to bull rush. Taylor possesses a phenomenal all-around skillset that projects well to the NFL as he can win with power or speed. His BYU game from this past year and his Kentucky game from 2018 were phenomenal. The issue with Taylor is that his flashes are very inconsistent and he lacks pass rushing moves. Still, he demonstrates elite Edge traits. As he was stuck on a poor team, he didn't receive the same publicity as other, similar type of players in this class (Chaisson and Lewis). https://gph.is/g/amXNxVQ https://gph.is/g/Z5YxwnG https://gph.is/g/Zxe6GD7 https://gph.is/g/4bBb9VG https://gph.is/g/Zd7WBzo Zack Baun, LB/Edge, Wisconsin, 6'2/238 Grade: Round 2 (top 35 overall) If I was coaching a game today and needed a sack, Baun would be my second choice in this class behind Chase Young. He's one of the few pass rushers in this class with some advanced pass rushing moves and can win in a variety of ways. He can win with a pure speed rush, flashes some speed to power with a long arm move, and has a nice spin move. Overall, he was consistently disruptive off the edge for Wisconsin. While he lacks size and natural strength, he use of leverage allows him to hold the edge vs the run. In the NFL, I think he projects as a SAM/Rush LB. He has some experience dropping back at Wisconsin and looked natural in space. https://gph.is/g/46vbVv9 https://gph.is/g/Z8eP7Bd https://gph.is/g/EqGQO5K Willie Gay Jr, LB, Miss St, 6'1/243, 98% SPARQ Grade: Round 2 (top 50) Gay is my LB4 or 5 (depending on what you list Zack Baun as) and he has the biggest upside at the position in this draft outside of Isaiah Simmons. He had an elite combine as he tested in the 98 percentile of SPARQ. That athleticism was clearly apparent on film as in the few games he played he looked like a top 20 draft pick. He's all over the field with sideline to sideline range and awesome closing burst. He has ideal LB size and plays with awesome physicality. Moreover, he has the fluidity necessary to drop back in coverage. In short, he demonstrates the traits of an all-pro 3 down LB that can play in the box or in coverage. He can be late on his reads and his angles are off at times but those issues may be due to his lacks of playing time. Even if those issues are never fixed, if he plays how he did in college in the NFL he easily projects as an impactful NFL starting LB. The off-field issues are well known but apparently he impressed teams in interviews. https://gph.is/g/4w8dlJ2 https://gph.is/g/4oL5dxJ https://gph.is/g/ZYl5Bdw https://gph.is/g/EGgbvdp https://gph.is/g/a99bmYo Evan Weaver, LB, Cal, 6'2/237, 26% SPARQ Grade: Round 4 Weaver is a tough, physical, productive, and instinctive LB that is incredibly fun to watch. He's an incredibly reliable tackler that is always around the ball. He's all over the field making tackles with an A+ motor. At the very least, Weaver will be a great character guy and a plus vs the run on early downs. While he's not a great mover and has some issues changing directions, his awareness in zone is pretty good and I see some upside as a 3 down LB. https://gph.is/g/aRW5AjJ https://gph.is/g/Zk65Ony https://gph.is/g/4zqYDxl https://gph.is/g/Zd75qG3 CJ Henderson, CB, Florida, 6'1/204, 95% SPARQ Grade: Top 10 (7th overall player) He's been getting a little more hype the past few days as a top 10 pick but I've had Henderson in my top 10 since February. I really don't see a huge difference between Henderson and Okudah. He's the ideal man to man CB with elite mirroring ability. His feet are incredibly quick, he has easy fluidity in his hips, and his closing burst is fantastic. Additionally, Henderson has the ideal frame and physical profile at 6'1 with 4.39 speed and 60th percentile arm length. He has two main issues - tackling and ball production. For me, the ball production is more concerning but I prioritize sticky man coverage over ball production. In sum, Henderson is a rare prospect with elite traits at a valuable position. https://gph.is/g/aRW5ApN https://gph.is/g/46vby3d https://gph.is/g/Zd75q3P Reggie Robinson, CB, Tulsa, 6'1/205, 92% Grade: Round 2/3 Robinson is an athletic, physical press man CB. He's an incredibly physical boundary CB that beats up WRs and uses the sideline to his advantage. He has quick feet and twitch to mirror in man coverage and the deep speed to stay with WRs downfield. His game vs Tylan Wallace really stands out.Moreover, he's great vs the run and comes up with physicality against the run and screens. The issues with Robinson are that he's overly physical to a fault and lacks the preferred fluidity in his hips. https://gph.is/g/Zywoxjd https://gph.is/g/EJYb1QB https://gph.is/g/4L5bzPR https://gph.is/g/EBmvkyK https://gph.is/g/4oL5mlP Antoine Winfield, S, Minnesota, 5'9/203 Grade: Round 1 (top 20 overall) Winfield is a versatile, high IQ, physical safety prospect with excellent ball skills. He's incredibly physical and ball carriers feel him when he hits. His reactions are very quick and combined with his ball skills, his ball production at Minnesota should translate to the NFL. Against the run, blockers don't phase him and he's a reliable tackler as the last line of defense. He didn't look like an especially explosive or sudden athlete on film but he killed the combine with a 82% SPARQ score. His main issues are his size and injury history. https://gph.is/g/ajW5zqG https://gph.is/g/Z2mbq0W https://gph.is/g/E0rbwyX https://gph.is/g/ZPm5Ldp https://gph.is/g/ZrdXbjw https://gph.is/g/amX52lB K'Von Wallace, S/NCB, Clemson, 5'11/206, 97% SPARQ Grade: Round 1/2 (top 35 overall) Wallace is my #3 ranked safety and I would be comfortable taking him late Round 1 or early Round 2. He projects as a slot CB, safety hybrid with elite athleticism. He's extremely twitched up on film with a phenomenal closing burst on the ball. He reacts decisively on his reads and consistently makes plays on the ball with very good ball skills. Moreover, he's an extremely physical player that plays with an attitude and tenacity. https://gph.is/g/aN851zv https://gph.is/g/ZOk5zAg https://gph.is/g/aQO53KB https://gph.is/g/aQO53q5 https://gph.is/g/4AjbX8G Intriguing Late Day 3 Guys JaMycal Hasty, RB, Baylor Mike Warren, RB, Cincinatti Benny LeMay, RB, Charlotte Joe Reed, WR, Virginia CJ O'Grady, TE, Arkansas Cameron Clark, OT, Charlotte Michael Onwenu, IOL, Michigan Jonathan Garvin, Edge, Miami DJ Wonnum, Edge, South Carolina Broderick Washington, DL, Texas Tech Bravvion Roy, DL, Baylor Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno St John Reid, NCB, Penn St Julian Blackmon, S, Utah (not late day 3 but like him a lot) Josh Metellus, S, Michigan
LSU is out of The Associated Press college football poll for the first time since 2017 and is the first defending national champion to drop from the rankings in nine years. Picks, odds, and game forecast for LSU at Florida on Sat 10/17 7:30 PM GMT in Gainesville The Gators rank No. 1 in the nation in takeaways (17) and interceptions (12), making this a defense unlike any LSU has faced this season. Florida at LSU: Odds, betting lines and picks. Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Thursday at 12 p.m. ET. Prediction. LSU 34, Florida 30. Moneyline LSU vs. Florida odds, line: 2020 college basketball picks, Feb. 26 predictions from proven computer model The SportsLine projection model has a pick for the clash between LSU and Florida. Early betting action has heavily favored the Gators in this SEC tilt as Florida has jumped from a 9.5-point favorite on the opening line all the way up to a 13.5-point favorite. Bettors are also expecting a high-scoring game as the total has been bet up from its opener at 68 points to 69.5 points.
Bet On It - College Football Picks and Predictions, Line ...
Florida vs LSU 2/26/20 Free College Basketball Pick and Prediction CBB Betting Tips The LSU Tigers visit the Florida Gators in Wednesday college basketball action. Get Mitch's College Basketball ... MarkRogersTV joins us to break down the betting lines in some of the biggest conference championship games. ... College Football Betting Lines - Championship Week ... #7 Florida vs #5 LSU ... LSU Tigers vs Florida Gators 02/26/20 Free College Basketball Picks, Predictions, Betting Odds & Tips Florida Gators vs LSU Tigers College Basketball Predictions, Picks, and Odds for their ... LSU Tigers vs Florida Gators Predictions, Picks and Odds for their College Football showdown on September 29, 2018 from Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville. Direct from Las ... 💰 In this week's episode of Bet On it direct from Las Vegas, Kelly Stewart, Marco D'Angelo, and Gianni "The Greek Gambler" break down College Football Week 1...