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The Weekly Mock Draft 1.0: Buccaneers add star WR, Colts steal Lawrence

2020.09.16 13:56 GaryNunchucks The Weekly Mock Draft 1.0: Buccaneers add star WR, Colts steal Lawrence

What is The Weekly Mock Draft?
Every Wednesday/Thursday of the season, I will post a mock draft. The order is determined by Tankathon (based on current record and SOS) and will be updated weekly as well. This will be used as a tool to determine how the stocks of the top prospects changed throughout the year and for the fans to have something to look forward to once football games are over for the week. The teams will pick players as if they are drafting today. Enjoy!
1. Dallas: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Since Dallas is 0-1 and has the lowest SOS, they end up picking at 1. They are set at the positions that make up the top 5 prospects in this draft and since there are no trades, Dallas selects a traditional edge defender in Gregory Rousseau. Although he is still developing as a player and has to rely on his physical traits to succeed, Rousseau has the hand placement, extension, and length necessary to thrive as a core member of the Cowboys defense.
2. Cleveland: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Micah Parson is the top defensive prospect in the draft and is Cleveland's for the taking. Their LB corps has been horrible, with their best player being Sione Takitaki. Parson isn't the most consistent tackler but he is very athletic and has great instincts, making him the obvious choice for Cleveland.
3. Atlanta: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Like Cleveland, Atlanta also lacks in the LB department. The Falcons do have a quality LB in Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun is solid, but the only other LBs on their roster are rookie Mykal Walker and veteran LaRoy Reynolds, who has only started 7 of 100 games he's played in since entering the league in 2013. Atlanta needs to address defense here and Moses would be a smart pick.
4. Tampa Bay: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Tampa Bay has a star WR duo featuring Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Behind them, though, they have Justin Watson and Scotty Miller. Both are adequate players but neither of them are expected to make a big impact on the offense. Wherever the Buccaneers are picking, they won't hesitate to add a standout like Ja'Marr Chase if he is available.
5. Minnesota: Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida State
On the IDL, Minnesota has Shamar Stephen and Jaleel Johnson. Michael Pierce is out with an injury but even after he comes back, the Vikings will have to add another player to complement him. Scouts have nothing but praise for the powerful Florida State recruit, who has a perfect blend of everything you could ask for in a defensive player.
6. NY Giants: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
After the Deandre Baker fiasco, the Giants have to find a new player to bolster the secondary. The James Bradberry signing certainly helps but replacing Corey Ballentine is a must and considering Farley is the best CB prospect in this draft, the Giants have to select him and they should wait until further rounds to address EDGE and LB.
7. Cincinnati: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The best non-QB prospect falls to Cincinnati and there is no doubt they will take him if he is available. Sewell is a powerful drive blocker and serves as a terrific run lane anchor. He is a perfect fit for Cincinnati's offense and will help keep Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon healthy for years to come.
8. Philadelphia: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Darius Slay is a star CB and makes the secondary much better than they were before but his counterpart, Avonte Maddox, isn't anything special and can be replaced. Patrick Surtain II has a perfect blend of hight, weight, and length and has a competitive drive worth adding to a driven team like the Eagles.
9. Indianapolis: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Picking at 9, the top prospect of 2021 falls right in the lap of Chris Ballard. Out of all the teams in the top 10, the Colts are the only one that needs a QB. Philip Rivers wasn't as horrendous as advertised in Week 1 but he is a free agent in 2021 and if things don't go as planned, Indianapolis might pass on signing him to a new contract. This is where Trevor Lawrence comes in. The Clemson passer is physically gifted and has the size, athleticism, and arm talent to survive as a QB in today's NFL. Even if Rivers is still a Colts in 2021, Indianapolis will definitely pick Lawrence if he is available at their pick.
10. Detroit: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Lions have an amazing WR trio consisting of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola. However, all three of them will be free agents after this season and it is unlikely all of them return to Detroit. They will likely spend most of their money securing Golladay with a hefty contract but that will mean having to let the other two go so there will still be money left over to pay other free agents. In this situation, the Lions decide to add a reliable receiver in DeVonta Smith next to Kenny Golladay. Considering the track record Alabama WRs have in the NFL, Detroit will be getting an offensive stud that can help push the offense to the next level.
11. Carolina: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Teddy Bridgewater is the type of QB you can rely on to fill in while your starter is injured but you can't depend on him to start 16 games and lead your team to the playoffs. Although Carolina is paying him $21,000,000 per year, they will soon realize that he isn't worth so much money and it is consensus at this point that if they can get Justin Fields, they will. Fields deserves to go in the top 5 but since the teams there don't have a need at QB, the Panthers land an impressive franchise QB.
12. Houston → MIA: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
With their first Round 1 selection, Miami selects a RAC machine in Rondale Moore. The Dolphins have to set Tua Tagovailoa up to succeed when he becomes the starter and for that to happen, they need to improve the WR room. DeVante Parker is the only steady receiver on the team and until Preston Williams proves himself to be a reliable option in wake of Parker's injury, WR remains a pressing need for Miami.
13. NY Jets: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Fans are still waiting for Sam Darnold to break out but he hasn't displayed the consistency teams look for in a franchise QB. His play is erratic and the Jets, stuck in playoff purgatory, should consider moving on if he doesn't improve this season. To be fair, Darnold was tasked with getting the ball past Tre'Davious White this past weekend, but as of now, QB is a need for the Jets, and Trey Lance is an absolute steal at 13.
14. Miami: Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
With their second pick, Miami looks to improve at EDGE with the addition of the in-state Quincy Roche. His explosiveness and vision combine with his fluidity to form the ideal run defender that the Dolphins crave. Raekwon Davis, Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson, and Kyle Van Noy currently form the EDGE corps but it wouldn't be a surprise if Miami decided to improve at the position.
15. San Francisco: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Although San Francisco is constantly praised for their defense, they still need to work on upgrading at certain positions, such as EDGE and the secondary. Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Moseley are the starting corners in San Francisco and while Sherman is great at what he does and Moseley is a solid player (despite his performance this past weekend). Sherman is also nearing retirement so the 49ers should focus on finding his successor. Campbell is a severely underrated prospect and while scouts aren't grading him high right now, they will after seeing him play this year. He would be an excellent fit in a young and promising 49ers defense that could use an agile, athletic CB.
16. Denver: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
A.J. Bouye is no longer the All-Pro shutdown corner we remember from 2017. Bryce Callahan was injured last year but if he can replicate his convincing 2018 season, the Broncos will be set with one dependable CB. Both will be free agents in 2022 and Denver will likely only keep Callahan, so selecting Wade here would absolutely make sense. He is an aggressive and physical player that can boost his stock this season now that Jeff Okudah is in the NFL.
17. Pittsburgh: Jaylen Twyman, IDL, Pittsburgh
Like Miami, Pittsburgh takes an in-state defensive star, but for their defensive line. Serving as a dynamic pass rusher, Twyman has displayed amazing speed and vision, plus undeniable effort. Pittsburgh already has one of the best pass rushing groups in the league, featuring the likes of Stephon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Bud Dupree. Putting Twyman on the field with these stars would give the Steelers an even more dangerous defense for years to come and aid them in knocking the Ravens off their throne atop the AFC North.
18. Las Vegas: Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
The best IOL prospect in the draft falls to Las Vegas at 18 and the Raiders get a strong leader on the offensive line. While the Raiders are set on the IOL with Richie Incognito, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson, the former of the three is likely headed for retirement and soon and a replacement like Humphrey would be hard to pass.
19. Green Bay: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Jaire Alexander has been an outstanding cornerstone in Green Bay's secondary but next to him is Kevin King, who is not the answer at CB. The Packers are in perfect position here, as they can let King go in free agency next year and bring in Adebo. Green Bay needs to make the most of these last couple years while Aaron Rodgers is still the starter and it starts with focusing on drafting players that they actually need and that can make a big impact on the field.
20. Washington: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Dwayne Haskins Jr. is looking like a better and more mature QB than he was last season and Antonio Gibson could be in for a big rookie year if the offensive line holds up. Morgan Moses did well against the Eagles on the right side but Geron Christian Sr. looked like a liability. They have only played one game so far but the popular opinion, and rightfully so, is that Washington has to find Trent William's successor. Leatherwood is an effective blocker that could help Washington forget about Williams and look toward the future.
21. New Orleans: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Jared Cook could possibly retire after this season and although Josh Hill was surprising solid last year, it doesn't look like he can be the TE1 New Orleans will need. Adam Trautman was drafted in April by the Saints but until he plays and shows that he can replace Jared Cook next year, TE will remain a need for the Saints. Pat Freiermuth is a polished blocker and pass catcher, and has been compared to Rob Gronkowski. If he lives up to the expectations, the Saints will have a menacing receiving corps that opposing secondaries will have a hard time covering.
22. Tennessee: Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
Tennesse has two astounding defensive linemen in Jeffery Simmons and DaQuan Jones, and while Jack Crawford looked much better last night than he did last season, the Titans need to bolster their IDL. Although Alabama defensive linemen have tended to underperform once they enter the league in the past, team shouldn't shy away from taking a chance on Barmore. A rock solid interior defender, Barmore has looked amazing at Alabama and will enhance a solid Titans defense.
23. Jacksonville: Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
Gardner Minshew II was stellar in his season debut against Indianapolis but then again, the Colts don't exactly have the best secondary in the NFL. This isn't a blow to Minshew II's performance but it can be agreed upon by many that the Jaguars still need a QB and will probably consider drafting one, especially since the ownership is clearly trying to tank. Since this mock acts as if teams are drafting today, the Jaguars would almost certainly look at taking a QB. Purdy may be an enormous reach here but as he is the best QB available, Jacksonville opts to select him.
24. Baltimore: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
After letting go of Earl Thomas, S became a huge need for Baltimore. Chuck Clark can hold his own but DeShon Elliott is available to be replaced if he doesn't have a big season. He is a natural athlete that has displayed an impressive array of skills that can make the Ravens forget they ever had Earl Thomas.
25. Chicago: Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State
If Mitchell Trubisky can play like he did on Sunday and save his job, the Bears should focus on keeping him healthy. RG Germain Ifedi is not likely to be back in Chicago next year and also isn't worth keeping if they can get a steal in Davis at 25. He deserves to go int he top 20 but if he is available, the Bears need to add this bully to the offensive line.
26. Arizona: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Kyler Murray finally has a star WR1 in DeAndre Hopkins and it proved to be a game changer, as Arizona swiftly defeated the reigning NFC champions. Larry Fitzgerald is regressing with age and Christian Kirk doesn't look like he can be the Cris Carter to Hopkins's Randy Moss. The Cardinals will have to make a difficult choice between Rashod Bateman and Jaylen Waddle but eventually, Bateman will come out on top with his alpha-mentality.
27. LA Chargers: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
The Chargers were in great position to get an offensive line mainstay in the draft this year but they decided to draft their QB of the future in Justin Herbert. Setting him up for success starts with finding an OT that can help keep everyone safe and healthy so the up-and-coming offense can get the job done.
28. Kansas City: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
It isn't wise to judge a player based on the first game of the season and that will quickly be a realization in the minds of people who are expecting Sammy Watkins to have a Pro Bowl-caliber year. Tyreek Hill is the obvious WR1 that will be the center of Patrick Mahomes's attention but the Chiefs need a reliable receiver that can catch the ball when Tyreek Hill is facing double teams. Jaylen Waddle is fairly overrated as a prospect because scouts are expecting him to go much higher than 28, but this is where he would ideally go based on his play.
29. Seattle → NYJ: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
After getting a new franchise QB in Trey Lance, the Jets shift their attention to the defense. With all the top CBs off the board, the Jets will have to settle for Michigan power rusher Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson, a high motor athlete with outstanding body control, will give the Jets a defensive star they so desperately need.
30. New England: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Cam Newton will most likely be back in New England next year, which means the Patriots have to look at offensive playmakers and defensive linemen. With all the best WRs gone, New England should address the RB position. James White is headed for free agency made a noticeable regression from 2018 to 2019. He isn't expected to be the Patriots RB of the future but Etienne could be the answer.
31. LA Rams → JAX: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Jaguars landed their new QB, Brock Purdy, and now they need to add weapons for him. Kyle Pitts is a major steal here at the end of Round 1. One look at Jacksonville's depth chart will tell you all you need to know about their TE situation. Tyler Eifert is very injury-prone and James O'Shaugnessy is not a long-term option. Pitts, on the other hand, can be treated as an extra WR rather than a dual threat TE and pairing him with DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. will give Jacksonville a trio of receivers they need.
32. Buffalo: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
Dion Dawkins is an exception LT and is under contract for a while but Daryl Williams could easily be replaced if an OT like Faalele is available. He is a slight reach at 32 but the only other positions the Bills could possibly address here, CB and LB, don't have any prospects worth taking here. Faalele is an incredible athlete is very mobile, making him an easy selection that can start come Week 1.
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2020.09.09 14:57 GaryNunchucks The Weekly Mock Draft 0.0: Jaguars land Lawrence, Raiders replace Carr

What is The Weekly Mock Draft?
Every Wednesday/Thursday of the season (starting today and ending after Week 17), I will post a mock draft. The order is determined by Tankathon (record and SOS) and will be updated weekly as well. This will be used as a tool to determine how the stocks of the top prospects changed throughout the year and for the fans to have something to look forward to once football games are over for the week. The teams will pick players as if they are drafting today. Enjoy!
1. Jacksonville: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence is the ultimate prize of the 2021 NFL Draft and if the Jaguars are sitting at the top, their choice will be easy. Lawrence is one of the most gifted QBs we've seen in recent years, with a perfect vision of the field and an amazing arm. There are no issues about his size, considering he stands tall at 6'6" and his pros easily outweigh the cons, like under-throwing deep passes.
2. Washington: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
If Washington ends up picking at 2, it would most likely be because Dwayne Haskins was a failure or if the offensive line failed to protect him. In this case, the latter happens and the team brings in an exceptionally talented blocker in Sewell. This was also maximize Antonio Gibson's success in the backfield, as Sewell serves as a great run lane anchor. In the end, Washington gets a replacement for Trent Williams that makes his teammates better.
3. Cincinnati: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The best player available here is Micah Parsons but the Bengals can wait to address LB after a few rounds. With Sewell off the board, Cincinnati takes a look at LSU standout Ja'Marr Chase. The Bengals have two competent WRs in Green and Boyd and a promising rookie in Higgins but we don't know if Green will be the same Pro Bowler he was years ago after his recent injuries. He will also be a free agent after this season and they could very well bring him back but Chase already has chemistry with Burrow and fits the youth movement in Cincinnati, so whether A.J. Green is a Bengals uniform next year, Chase should be selection regardless.
4. Carolina: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Teddy Bridgewater is a great backup. He can be a decent starter but he is not the guy that will take the Panthers to the Super Bowl while McCaffrey is in his prime. McCaffrey will most likely be carrying the team to however many games they win but until we see if Bridgewater can help this team win, the Panthers absolutely need to draft a QB. Fields is one of the most impressive prospects in this draft and teaming him up with McCaffrey will give the team an astronomical boost.
5. NY Giants: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Giants had Isaiah Simmons in their lap back in April but opted for an OT to protect Daniel Jones and allow Saquon Barkley to play to his full potential. That decision could end up being one of the smartest Dave Gettleman has ever made, as Parson will be theirs for the taking next year. They do have a hole at CB after the release of Baker but Parson is too good to pass up at 5.
6. Miami: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Gregory Rousseau gets to stay in Miami but this time in a Dolphins jersey. One of Miami's biggest needs is an EDGE that can consistently get to the passer. Rousseau has spectacular length and a large tackle radius, making him a better defender. He still has room to develop but that will be easy if he learns under a defensive-minded head coach like Brian Flores.
7. Detroit: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Detroit made a great move signing Jamie Collins Sr. to bolster their LB room but he is being complemented Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones, both of whom are okay but not exactly franchise cornerstones. Moses will bring his superb instincts and power to a young and blossoming Lions defense that desperately needs all the help they can get.
8. NY Jets: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Jets secondary suffered a big hit after trading away Jamal Adams but luckily, they drafted Ashtyn Davis and they also have Marcus Maye, who had a breakout year in 2019. However, CB is one of their worst positions, as the current starters are Pierre Desir and Blessuan Austin. Brian Poole is a solid slot corner but Desir and Austin are not long-term options. Farley has extraordinary footwork for a player new to the position and displays a great bend of skills, size, and length.
9. Las Vegas: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Derek Carr is a great QB and the Raiders are hoping they can finally reach the playoffs after adding a speedy receiver in Henry Ruggs III but if they end up picking at 9, Carr might be the scapegoat. If the Raiders can get Lance here, they'll send the card to Cleveland in record time.
10. LA Chargers: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Chargers secondary is stacked, featuring the likes of Chris Harris Jr. and Casey Hayward Jr. but the former is only under contract for two seasons and if he leaves, a hole could be left. The AFC West is also home to many young and promising receivers like Sutton, Jeudy, and Ruggs III so adding a CB like Surtain II would be a welcome addition.
11. Denver: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
After the departure of Chris Harris Jr., Denver is left with Bouye and Callahan as their starting CBs. Bouye is not the same player he was in 2017 and Callahan isn't looking a future star, so Campbell will be the obvious selection.
12. Arizona: Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida State
Wilson is a borderline top 10 prospect but since this draft is more oriented toward QBs and CBs, it's very likely he falls to Arizona just outside the top 10. The Cardinals have a great defense but their defensive line isn't anything special and adding a mobile IDL like Wilson will keep the defense young and powerful.
13. Atlanta: Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
It would be ideal for Atlanta to trade back and take Roche but there are no trades in this mock draft, so the Falcons will have to reach for the other explosive EDGE from Miami. Whether you get Rousseau or Roche, you're still getting a possible franchise anchor on defense.
14. Houston → MIA: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
After addressing EDGE with their first pick, Miami adds Too Tagovailoa's teammate at Alabama, DeVonta Smith. The shifty 6'1" receiver offers lots of potential and could end up being an offensive game-changer.
15. Cleveland: Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
Humphrey is an intelligent player with much needed leadership skills and will certainly keep Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb healthy for years to come. While he has disadvantages such as being left handed and having an uncontrollable momentum, his strengths are too great and beat out any doubts.
16. Chicago: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Rondale Moore will get the attention CeeDee Lamb got for being a RAC machine but it looks like he will be drafted earlier. When he has the ball in his hands, he looks like a seasoned RB with quick feet and explosiveness. The starting WRs for the Bears this year are Allen Robinson II, Anthony Miller, and Ted Ginn Jr., which is not the receiver trio you should expect much success with. Robinson II is phenomenal but his contract expires after this year and they will be lucky to keep him. Even then, WR is a big need for Chicago.
17. LA Rams → JAX: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
The Jaguars have to fix most of their offense and while they will have to replace Ngakoue in this draft, they decide to go with the best player available in Pat Freiermuth, the polished 6'5" TE from Penn State. There are some people who have compared him to a lite version of Rob Gronkowski and if he lives up to the expectations, Jacksonville will have an exciting young QB-TE tandem for many years to come.
18. Minnesota: Jaylen Twyman, IDL, Pittsburgh
Michael Pierce is a solid DT but since he will be opting out, the starters are Shamar Stephen and Jaleel Johnson. Minnesota should definitely keep an eye on a dynamic pass rusher like Twyman. The Vikings defense is getting older and needs a good dose of youth injection.
19. Indianapolis: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Rock Ya-Sin had an okay rookie year and could develop within the next few years and Xavier Rhodes is in town but let's face it, he went from hero to zero and was one of the worst CBs in the league last year. The Colts are in a good position here as Wade is the best player available and fits a big need.
20. Tennessee: Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
The Titans have a promising defense that could be among the best in a couple years if their young players develop at a favorable pace but they still aren't set on the defensive line. The rock solid Christian Barmore is an elite interior defender that displays great versatility and he might even become too good a prospect to be available at 20.
21. Buffalo: Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State
This pick will be simple for Buffalo. Their IOL consists of LG Quinton Spain, mediocre C Mitch Morse, and a replaceable RG in Brian Winters. Thankfully, the best of the three, Morse, is under contract for a while and Winters is a free agent after this season. Spain is the worst of the three and needs to be replaced immediately. The Bills need to keep Josh Allen, who will likely be cemented as the franchise QB after this year, healthy and drafting Davis fits that need.
22. Seattle → NYJ: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Sam Darnold was a contender for the top picking the 2018 NFL Draft but so far, he has been underwhelming. You could just pinpoint the blame on him but you need to also realize that he hasn't had any dependable receivers. Since 2018, his best option has been Robby Anderson. Enough said. You could consider Bateman a very slight reach here as they could trade down a few spots and still get him, but with the Packers just two spots behind them, the risk would be even greater. Instead, the Jets make it simple and select an exciting WR for Darnold to throw to.
23. Philadelphia: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The Eagles landed Darius Slay in a blockbuster trade this offseason but his counterpart in the backfield is Avonte Maddox, who definitely needs to be replaced as soon as possible. The only other player that could be in contention to be selected here is Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle but Adebo is a better prospect and fixes a gaping hole at CB.
24. Green Bay: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
A year after shocking the league and trading up for QB Jordan Love, the Packers finally draft a WR to pair with Davante Adams. Whether this helps Aaron Rodgers win a championship or not, as long as Waddle doesn't completely bust, the future QB will have a receiver to grow with.
25. Tampa Bay: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
While Fournette is one of the better RBs in the league, he isn't Christian McCaffrey good and could certainly not be a Buccaneer next season. His contract is only good for one season and considerings it's the NFL, you never know what will happen. This mock draft will consider RB a need for the Buccaneers, so the team brings in Clemson standout Travis Etienne.
26. Dallas: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
Dallas suffered big hits in the backfield this offseason with the departures of Byron Jones and Jeff Heath. At the S position, their starters are Darian Thompson and Xavier Woods. Although Woods is decent, Thompson is not expected to be an important piece. Nasirildeen is a perfect fit for the Cowboys and will add to a bright, young secondary that added Trevon Diggs through this year's draft.
27. New England: Jay Tufele, IDL, USC
New England could very well take the best player available, Alex Leatherwood, even though OT is not a pressing need but instead, they opt to bolster their defensive line with the powerful Jay Tufele. Lining him up alongside Lawrence Guy will create a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.
28. Pittsburgh: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
After falling a few spots farther than expected, the Steelers see their golden opportunity so snatch up Alex Leatherwood. These next few years will be Ben Roethlisberger's last chance to compete for a Super Bowl and to aid him in doing so, the Steelers need to draft a sturdy protector like Leatherwood. Alejandro Villanueva and Zach Banner are both reliable but they hit free agency together next year and the Steelers are more likely to give Banner the bigger contract. If Villanueva ends up leaving, Pittsburgh has to address the OT position here.
29. New Orleans: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Saints are in a similar position as the Steelers. They both have aging QBs that have to try and win it all within the next couple years, except the Saints are set at OT. Jared Cook has been reliable in the Saints offense but he is 33 years old and this is the last year of his contract. They will probably look at an LB like Cameron McGrone but that would be too big of a reach at 29 so Pitts is the smart choice.
30. Baltimore: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
If a WR like Jaylen Waddle is available here, the Ravens will take him in an instant. However, Waddle went to the Packers and the Ravens decide to settle for the impressive power rusher from Michigan, Aidan Hutchinson. Scouts have some concerns about his inexperience, only starting 13 games, and the fact that he needs to become a more diverse pass rusher, but that isn't something the Ravens coaching staff can't fix.
31. San Francisco: Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
The 49ers will target Hutchinson but since he was selected right before them, they have to opt for Paris Ford, an outstanding game-changer from Pittsburgh. San Francisco is a Super Bowl contender and if they want to keep competing, they have to draft defense and add youth, mainly in the secondary. Ford brings many things to the field, such as speed and versatility, a welcome addition to the best defense in the league.
32. Kansas City: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
The Chiefs have a quality offensive line but both of their OTs, Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, become free agents in 2022. The Chiefs are most likely going to give Schwartz a big payday and Fisher could be on his way out of town for a paycheck elsewhere, possibly offering more money than Kansas City could've given him, considering their cap situation. This is where Radunz comes in, filling in at LT, and he displays excellent qualities like competitiveness and toughness, both of which fit the Chiefs culture perfectly.
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2020.09.04 15:21 hallach_halil NFL 2020 season award predictions

Now a week away from the season officially being kicked off with Texans @ Chiefs, I’m ready to commit to all these predictions. As I have done for several years now, I am going to forecast all the major season awards, such as league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and others, before I get into my playoff picks in a few days.

MVP:


https://preview.redd.it/b56utx0843l51.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d455432fc8973818cd897a152b1c0cec82831310

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Lamar Jackson
  3. Dak Prescott

Let’s not get this wrong – this is a quarterback award. We have seen other positions get attention in this discussion, but in the end, Adrian Peterson has been the only non-QB since 2007 to take home the trophy.
Not much surprise at the top here. Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the league and if we get a full 16 games out of him again, I expect the numbers to match the amount of highlight plays we see from him on a weekly basis. Other than losing a starting guard – which might have been replaced with equal player – and swapping their starting running back with a stud first-round pick, nothing about the offense has changed. Tyreek Hill is still the most dangerous receiver in the league, Travis Kelce is a nightmare to match up with, Sammy Watkins took a pay-cut to stay with the Super Bowl champs, KC miraculously found a way to bring back Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman is bound to make a jump, after how productive he was on very limited opportunites (41 targets, 26 catches, 538 yards and 6 TDs). I think having Clyde Edwards-Helaire to give this high-flying attack a physical presence and picking up some unlikely first downs will only help Mahomes. Maybe most important, the Chiefs did not lose offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who was thought to get more head coach interviews, and he will continue to build creative and aggressive gameplans with Andy Reid.
The second choice her isn’t overly surprising either. The reigning, unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson is coming off a phenomenal season, in which he broke the all-time mark for rushing yards by a quarterback (1206) and at the same time his touchdown pass percentage (9.0) was the highest since Y.A. Tittle in 1963. There are several other highly impressive numbers, like having more total touchdowns than Sam Koch had punts and all those stats being amassed with the season finale being sat out, but none of that captures how electric his performance was. This offseason, Baltimore added one of the top-flight backs in the draft in J.K. Dobbins to give that record-setting rushing attack another boost, made some excellent wide receiver picks in the later rounds of the draft and most importantly, Marquise Brown is coming his second season without that foot injury, that bothered him all of last season. I expect the speedster to open up the offense a little more and create a special connection with his QB. Without a full offseason to prepare for this unique Greg Roman offense, the Ravens led by Lamar will be tough to stop once again and since I have them earning the AFC’s number one seed once again, I expect Action Jackson to be right there in that race for MVP honors with Mahomes for most of the season.
The one candidate from NFC here is Dak Prescott. He already put up career-highs in completions (388), passing yards (4902) and touchdowns (30) last season, but I expect those to go even higher. When you look at the Cowboys last season, offensively they put up some big numbers, but those didn’t always result in wins. Whether that was about going away from the run game at some points, their stars not really coming through in the big games or the defense not making any game-changing plays. I expect Ezekiel Elliott to trim down and have that extra gear again in 2020, the defense will be changed up a bit with some of the veterans they brought in and they now have maybe the best trio of receivers in the league. With Amari Cooper being a master route-runner, Michael Gallup working the sideline and now rookie Ceedee Lamb giving them a beast at the catch-point but even more so after the catch, Dallas has all the ingredients to have an explosive aerial attack. Combine that with one of the best O-lines still, play-action being more effective and the coaches allowing Dak to throw on first down more hopefully could make this squad pretty scary. Being a little more effective even and leading his team to an 11-5 record (as I predicted), while trying to prove he deserves that franchise QB contract, should put Dak in this MVP race.

Just missed: Josh Allen & Kyler Murray


Offensive Player of the Year:


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  1. Saquon Barkley
  2. Lamar Jackson
  3. Kyler Murray

I’m always hesitant to list candidates for MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, since this overlaps a lot and I still don’t really get how the Most Valuable Player isn’t also the Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year, but since the first is almost a pure QB award, here are a couple of other names.
To me the most talented and best running back in the NFL is Saquon Barkley. How explosive he is, the power he has to break tackles, yet at the same time being so elusive in the open field and having that break-away speed at 230 pounds is special. I thought he Saquon was the most impressive back in the league as a rookie already and last season he lost some of that shine due to being banged up for about half the year and the spectacular season Christian McCaffrey had. With Joe Judge as the new head coach, having that New England mindset of running the ball at a high rate, and new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett focusing on the ground game heavily himself, I see no reason why Saquon shouldn’t touch the ball 350-400 times. Big Blue a pretty good trio of receivers to spread the field and open up room on the inside, the offensive line should be upgraded with fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas coming in and with Daniel Jones taking snaps from the shotgun, he is a threat to pull the ball, therefore binding one of the backside defenders. The only concern for me here is that I don’t expect the G-Men to win a lot of games and them having to go away from the run game too early, but Saquon is a master at making something happen after catching a check-down as well.
The second guy here is Lamar, who I just talked about in the MVP discussion. His dynamic ability as a runner puts him a little higher than Mahomes in this discussion.
And then I expect Kyler Murray to take another big step coming into his sophomore campaign. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year immediately transformed one of the most boring offenses league-wide into an exciting attack, despite not having a lot of weapons around him for most of the season. Kyler was responsible for 24 touchdowns and finished second behind only Lamar with 544 rushing yards on the season. He did all that despite having guys charge at him constantly (48 sacks) and his best receiver still being a 35-year old Larry Fitzgerald. This offseason Arizona traded for an elite wideout in DeAndre Hopkins to go with a healthy Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella coming into year two, Fitzy still being there and a guy I really liked in last year’s draft in Hakeem Butler having his first season after being out for all of 2019. Running back Kenyan Drake will also play a full 16 games for the Cards, after how dynamic he looked like over the second half of last year, coming over from Miami. The O-line should at least be marginally improved, while I like a lot of the things they do on defense. If Kyler can lead this team to one of the final playoff spots in the NFC and him probably putting up big numbers in the process, I think he will get some attention for it.

Just missed: Patrick Mahomes & George Kittle

Defensive Player of the Year:


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  1. Myles Garrett
  2. Darius Leonard
  3. Chandler Jones

To be named DPOY, you usually have to put up some big numbers and make those impact plays that people remember. Last season was pretty unique, since Stephon Gilmore was a true shutdown corner, but also tied for lead-league in picks (6) and scored a couple of touchdowns. Usually this award favors pass-rushers and ball-hawking safeties.
After getting his big contract and being on a team that is ready to finally make some noise, I expect Myles Garrett to have a big season. What happened in week 11 against the Steelers last year wasn’t pretty and there is no need to discuss it any longer, but I believe while Garrett learned his lesson, he is also ready to come back with a vengeance. Over the ten games he played last season, the former number one overall pick recorded ten sacks and 18 more hits on the QB, to along with eleven tackles for loss and a league-best 18.5% disruption rate (pressures and sacks divided by pass-rush attempts). So even then, he would have been in the discussion for DPOY at least with a full season of production and I expect him to be even more disruptive, playing for a better team. Garrett has really come along as a pass-rush technician, after relying on his athleticism and a couple of moves early on in his career. He just had a lot of time in the lab to work on his craft and might have a couple of new tricks to show for it. I like what is going on in the secondary, the other guys on the D-line should be healthy to start this season and maybe most important, I expect the Browns to be in a lot more positive game-script situations. The offense has so much potential and I like Kevin Stefanski to sustain drives with a run-oriented approach. That allows Garrett to stay fresh and as teams have to get more pass-reliant, number 95 can just tee off and get after opposing passers at a higher rate.
The other young player I like in this discussion is Darius Leonard. Now that Luke Kuechly has retired, I think Bobby Wagner has the crown for the best inside linebacker in the game, but among the two or three other, names that could surpass him in that discussion in the near future, is this guy. “The Maniac” has made plays all over the field ever since coming into the league. In 28 career games, Leonard has put together 284 tackles (182 solo), 12 sacks, seven INTs and another 15 passes deflected. That was playing form a defense that didn’t have a lot of disruptors up front and had been suffering through injuries in the secondary. This offseason the Colts traded for 49ers team MVP DeForest Buckner, who to me has entrenched himself as a top 50 overall player in the league and is one of the very best at creating chaos for the opposition. Leonard will feast more from those opportunites to clean up or shoot through a gap that opens up as the offensive line can’t get off those double-teams quickly enough to put hands on him. Kemoko Turay could be a breakout candidate off the edge back healthy and I find myself coming back to Indy’s schedule, which is made up with half the teams finished in the bottom-third in terms of scoring offense.
The final candidate here is somebody who has not gotten the credit he deserves over his last four years in the desert. Over that stretch, Chandler Jones leads the league in total sacks (60), is tied for the most fumbles forced (17) and has been near the top in QB pressures every single season. What makes all those numbers even more impressive is the fact that he has done it for a losing franchise for the most part. That has led to limited opportunities to rush the passer overall, but also has resulted in limited obvious passing situations, where Jones was able to just get off the ball, with the other team trying to catch up. The Cardinals are bound to improve from a bottom-ten rush defense with added beef up front and a freakish rookie on the second level (Isaiah Simmons), which should already give their top pass-rusher more opportunities in general, but with the offense ready to take another step with Kyler Murray coming into year two and upgrading their receiving corp, this team should have the lead more often and make those sacks or strips or games scream louder than they have been before. I believe Jones will once again be in the race for the Deacon Jones award (most sacks in a season) and get more love with the added attention for Arizona.

Just missed: Fred Warner & T.J. Watt


Offensive Rookie of the Year:


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  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  2. Jonathan Taylor
  3. Joe Burrow

Last year I thought the voters made a mistake by voting Kyler Murray OROY, even with how fun he was to watch, because of the body of work Josh Jacobs put together. So I was a little hesitant to put two more running backs up here, with Dak Prescott taking home the trophy over his teammate Ezekiel Elliott, but historically speaking, RBs tend to be favorites.
And for a long time I had Clyde Edwards-Helaire only second in this discussion, but now that Damien Williams has opted out of the 2020 season, I just can’t get away from the first-round pick out of LSU. The Chiefs could addressed a rather thin secondary or even traded up a few spots to grab one of those top-tier linebackers in the draft, but instead they sat there at 32 and invested more into that explosive offense with a guy they have compared favorably to Brian Westbrook. CEH was a bowling ball in college, who constantly ran through defenders and picked up crucial first downs, by willing himself across that line, no matter who was in his way. He is great at running duo, showing patience to allow things to get set up and having the short-area quickness to avoid charging defenders. As I mentioned before, I expect him to give Kansas City a physical presence to complement that high-flying passing attack. However, what makes the difference between my number two choice and this young man is what he can do in the pass game. Clyde was used a lot as a coverage indicator off motions and not only ran downfield routes of the backfield but also lined up out wide quite a bit and ultimately caught 55 passes for 453 yards. Even just on those little check-downs, he was a load to bring down for defenders and to have that as a fall-back plan if none of those speedster is open downfield, is scary.
With that being said, I feel pretty good about my second option here as well. When the Colts selected Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the draft, I immediately put it on my Instagram story and said “JT behind that Colts O-line. I’m calling for Offensive Rookie of the Year right now”. I also talked about him recently, when I broke down some of the favorite targets in fantasy drafts, since I think his ceiling is enormous. With almost 6200 rushing yards and 50 TDs in three years at Wisconsin, no other rookie has a resume as impressive as Taylor, and even though I think Marlon Mack is a really solid starter, he doesn’t have that brute strength or home-run ability of this kid. While I don’t see staying on the field on third downs a whole lot and the big concern here are fumbles, which could be difference between taking home this award and splitting touches with Mack, I just think with his ability behind what I think is the best offensive line in football, I can’t overlook the potential. Now that they brought in Michael Pittman Jr. with that other second-round pick as that big-bodied X receiver, Parris Campbell showing flashes in practice after being banged up for most of his rookie year and T.Y. Hilton hopefully back healthy, they could be a much more productive group overall.
And since the voters do prefer quarterbacks a lot of times, I had to put the first overall pick up there. Joe Burrow had an all-time great season his senior year at LSU, completing 76.3 percent of his passes for almost 5700 yards and 60 touchdowns. The Bengals let Andy Dalton walk this offseason, leaving no doubt that the rookie quarterback will take over the reigns right away. And while the O-line still needs some work to be done, their collection of skill position players is really impressive actually, if A.J. Green is back to 100 percent. Tyler Boyd is still there as a dependable big slot, Auden Tate showed some signs last season, John Ross should at least give them a field-stretcher hopefully and Tee Higgins is awesome at the point of the catch, which meshes really well with Burrow’s precise ball-placement. Combine that with maybe the most underrated two-way back in the game named Joe Mixon and a duo of tight-ends Cincy likes quite a bit and there are all the ingredients for a much more wide open offense. I still have to see how much Zac Taylor caters the offense to what Burrow did at LSU, but especially with a shortened offseason program, I expect that to happen largely.

Just missed: Jalen Reagor & Jerry Jeudy

Defensive Rookie of the Year:


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  1. Chase Young
  2. Patrick Queen
  3. Antoine Winfield Jr.

No surprise at the top here. I once had a different name up there at one point, but how can you go against a guy, who was my highest-graded defensive prospect since Von Miller? Chase Young was playing out of his mind in 2019, when he broke Ohio State’s all-time sack record (16.5), recorded 21 TFLs and seven forced fumbles in 12 games. While he doesn’t quite have the technical advancement at this stage of his football career as the Bosa brothers, he has picked up a lot of their famous hand-swipes, but at the same time he has better speed and bend around the corner than those guys. Even though he isn’t in the most pass-happy division in the NFL necessarily, I just love what Washington has put together around him in years prior. Having the two Bama boys in Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne inside, to go with Montez Sweat potentially breaking out in year two and being able to learn from a highly productive veteran in Ryan Kerrigan should Young to work a lot of one-on-one matchups and be put in some great situations. With Ron Rivera coming in and bringing Jack Del Rio with him, this defense will rely heavily on the front-four getting home and playing coverage behind it, which should lead to most of the sacks being split between the D-line only.
The second candidate was another top-20 prospect for me, but for Patrick Queen it might be even more about the situation he finds himself in. The Baltimore Ravens obviously have a rich history of inside linebackers and a big reason those guys have had the success they have shown, has been a lot about the bodies up front. While did they lose Michael Pierce in free agency, this allows Brandon Williams to move back to his natural fit at the nose and with Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe being rocks against the run as well, that should allow Queen to stay clean and shoot through gaps for those TFLs or chase guys down to the edge if they are forced to bounce outside. In the pass game, the former LSU backer is still learning the intricacies of coverage play, but he has tremendous range to limit yards after the catch, already does a pretty good job reading the eyes of the quarterback and the fluid hips to turn and run with RBs & TEs. What might have put Queen over some of these other candidates is the scheme Baltimore runs, with a lot of heavy pressure looks on third downs, where their inside backers line up in the A-gaps, are brought on cross-blitzes or delayed rushes. With over 100 tackles, double-digits for loss, five plus sacks and a couple of picks maybe, he should get some recognition.
I originally had another safety up here, but with the uncertainty about Grant Delpit’s injury for the Browns, I chose one of my favorite guys I watched for the draft – Antoine Winfield Jr. He may be undersized and there are guys who have a little more of that top-end speed, but boy, this kid can play. Winfield missed almost two full seasons with Minnesota, but when he was out on the field, he was a true play-maker for the Gophers. He was down in the box, not showing any hesitation to crash into bigger bodies in run defense, he manned up against tight-ends, blitzed from the slot, covered deep half and middle. I expect him to be that same versatile piece in the secondary for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, similar to what he had in Arizona with the Honeybadger. With monsters in the middle to stop the run on early downs, guys who can crash off the edge against the pass, two super-rangy linebackers and a young secondary that is starting to come together, Winfield’s smarts and ball-hawking skills will allow him to make some big plays. I expect this to be a top-ten defense in the NFL and this rookie safety could be a guy whose name we hear called repeatedly.

Just missed: Isaiah Simmons & Zack Baun


Comeback Player of the Year:



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  1. Ben Roethlisberger
  2. Matthew Stafford
  3. Rob Gronkowski

This award is always a bit of a question mark, in terms of what qualifies as a “comeback season”. We have seen players returning from major injury take home the honors, some just returning to glory after being stuck in the mud for a few years and at times even be out of the year for a season.
After suffering a seemingly harmless elbow injury early on in week two of last season, Ben Roethlisberger had to have surgery on it and was out for the entire year because of it. While it feels like an entirety by now, in 2018 Big Ben led the league with over 5100 yards, finished fifth with 34 passing TDs and was the biggest reason their offense finished top-six in both yards and points gained. The biggest difference between that group and what they have now is the departure of Antonio Brown, who at that point was still one the truly elite receivers in football. Last season Juju Smith-Schuster was fighting through some nicks and bruises and a lot of that had to do with who threw him the ball for the final 14+ games, but he still has to prove he is that clear-cut number one option. With that being said, I like the different weapons at Ben’s disposal and how those can alleviate pressure from Juju. I already predicted Diontae Johnson to have a breakout season, James Washington showed some signs in 2019, Eric Ebron can be that move TE to create mismatches and second-round pick Chase Claypool has enormous potential, if you don’t ask him to do too much right away. I still think they have a top ten O-line and a nice mix of backs, while the defense might be the best from top to bottom, to give the ball back to the offense.
I had a line for Matt Stafford a few backs, which still makes me chuckle a little, when I said Stafford finally broke the back that he had carried the Lions franchise on for years now. For most of his career, Detroit did not have any running attack to speak of (only one 1000-yard rusher in 11 seasons – Reggie Bush in 2013), the offensive line has been a question mark on several occasions and he only had one year, where the defense actually played at a really high level (didn’t finished above 13th in points scored outside of that). I feel as good about the surrounding pieces on offense for Stafford as I have ever done, with a nice trio of receivers, investments into the O-line and a dynamic duo of backs to take some pressure off the QB, with a focus on the ground game. Last season in his second year in Darrell Bevell’s system, Stafford had the looks of an MVP candidate over the first half of the season and he might be even more comfortable in it for 2020. While I’m not a huge believer in Matt Patricia, he should finally have all the pieces to run that New England defense and not put that attack in catch-up mode as much. To my surprise, Stafford had played all 16 games for eight straight years before 2019, but he has been fighting through injuries routinely. Now back to 100 percent, finally just as a part of the team and not the savior, I like him to light up defenses.
My third choice is the only player of this group that was out of the league last season. Rob Gronkowski seems to be back to his 2018 form and maybe that year off was the perfect thing for him, after he looked pretty broken down, as that year went along (even if he still made big plays for his team obviously). When we think back to his last season with New England, he was really the only dependable target outside of Julian Edelman. This offseason he joined what last season was the number one passing offense, with the premiere duo of receivers in the game, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, which made improvements on the offensive line and added his old friend Tom Brady. If his body is back to full strength and opposing defenses need to keep two safeties high, leaving the seams open for the Gronkster or have him one-on-one against a linebacker, watch out! My only real concern for the new Bucs tight-end, is the fact they have three legitimate options at the tight-end position to take away snaps, but I think we will see heavy 12 personnel from Bruce Arians’ troops. I picked Gronk over a couple of other guys I believe could be more productive, because I think the narrative will lead to a lot of votes.

Just missed: A.J. Green & Bradley Chubb


Coach of the Year:


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  1. Sean Payton
  2. John Harbaugh
  3. Sean McDermott

For this final award, I went with the two head coaches that I believe will call the shots for the number one-seeded teams in either conference and another still rising coach, who has taken a team that had been out of the playoffs for more than 20 years to a couple of a appearances already, in position to take another step forward.
It has been 14 years since Sean Payton last was named Coach of the Year, with some great regular season teams since then, but I think this could be his best one since winning the Super Bowl a decade ago. With a master of his craft like Payton, you know he will always find a way to keep his team motivated and he will once again call one of the top offenses in the NFL. It’s Drew Brees final run at another championship, they have elite offensive line and skill position play, the defense has a great mix of productive veterans and young guys and as I have discussed before – the Saints will be in cap hell after the season. Another interesting dynamic here, is that Payton already had COVID-19 and understands the measurements necessary to prevent it from spreading. So I’m interested to see if that can give him any advantage over other coaches. As far as this award goes, I ultimately went with Payton over the head-man of the AFC’s number on seed because of what kind of gauntlet the NFC will once again be and them emerging from it will be highly impressive.
However, I could absolutely see John Harbaugh as a repeat-candidate to earn recognition, since I project the Ravens to earn the AFC’s top seed once again at 13-3. It might be a tougher task, with the Steelers getting Big Ben back, the Browns bound to improve simply because of how talented that roster is and the Bengals not looking like they will first overall again in the 2021 draft. With that being said, I think Baltimore has an even better all-around team than what they had when they had an NFL-best record of 14-2 and there should be no missing motivation after an ugly exit in the Divisional Round at home against the Titans. For Harbaugh in particular, his willingness to embrace analytics in terms of in-game decisions and how he puts equal focus on all three phases of the game, as a former special teams coordinator, with excellent teachers in place of the three coordinators positions, this should be a very well-rounded team. With revenge wins over Kansas City and Tennessee on the slate, they won’t leave anything desired on the table and you can check out my playoff predictions, to see if I think they can carry that momentum into January.
What head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have done over their three plus years together in Buffalo has been truly outstanding. They have changed around the culture and brought in players that fit their system to a tee. I still have the Bills on an upward trajectory and at 11-5, with the AFC’s number three seed earned, I hope McDermott gets the recognition he deserves. With improvement from quarterback Josh Allen now that he has that true number one guy in Stefon Diggs, who will open up the offense with his ability to stretch the field, potentially a strong one-two punch of backs and a defense that seems to be in the right position every single week, because of the game-specific coaching, this is a team that you just don’t want to face. This is their time to shine and since I project them to win the AFC East for the first time since 1995(!), I believe the voters will show their head coach some love, as they finally get to host a home playoff game in blistering January cold once again. Too bad that wild crowd will probably not be allowed to be there when they at least see their team run out onto that field to kick off the new year.

Just missed: Frank Reich & Mike McCarthy


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/09/03/predicting-the-entire-2020-nfl-season/
You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-MxnrfYiZE
submitted by hallach_halil to nfl [link] [comments]


2020.08.21 16:09 hallach_halil Ranking all 32 NFL teams in tiers pre-2020 season


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Now that we have passed the opt-out deadline and are only about three weeks away from the Chiefs and Texans kicking off the 2020 NFL season, I wanted to put together my pre-season power rankings and put all 32 teams in separate tiers, to give you an idea of where I see them at this point.
When putting together this list, I considered the talent on the roster, coaching staff and what will be a more important factor coming into this season than it has been in previous – the continuity as a franchise, since the COVID situation has limited the amount of preparation and ability to build chemistry as a team. That will be especially tough for new head coaches and inexperienced teams.
With that being said, this is how I would group them:

Super Bowl contenders:

This group of four represents what I think are the four elite teams in the NFL. They all feature complete rosters, excellent coaching and continuity as a franchise. I think these are the franchises that will most likely square up against each other in the conference championship games on either side of the bracket.

1. Kansas City Chiefs
We have heard this many times over the course of the offseason – the reigning Super Bowl champs bring back 20 of 22 starters (actually 19 now) on offense and defense combined. They have the best player in the league, the most dangerous receiving corp, above-average O-line play and a still improving defense, that just added some much-needed speed at the second level, which will allow DC Steve Spagnuolo to even more versatile. So at this point I can not have anybody unseat them. I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU) will be a star in that offense, they get a couple of guys back that missed their playoff run and there are plenty of young, developing players on that roster. What general manager Brett Veach has done this offseason in terms of securing Patrick Mahomes for the next decade and still opening up cap room to also sign their best defensive player in Chris Jones is amazing to me. My only two concerns for Kansas City at this point are a lack of depth in the secondary and the fact they will have to go on the road when they face the four best teams on their schedule – Baltimore, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and New Orleans, which has me favoring the second team on my list for the number one seed in the AFC and which this year means having one more game in the playoffs on their road to another Super Bowl for Andy Reid’s troops.

2. Baltimore Ravens
Right behind the Chiefs, as the biggest competitor for the AFC is Baltimore. They were the best team in the regular season from this past year, but the Titans handed them only their third loss of the season in the Divisional Round at home. While they did lose what to me is a first-ballot Hall of Fame guard in Marshal Yanda, outside of that the Ravens to me have an even better roster. The reigning MVP Lamar Jackson is only entering his third season in the league, the Ravens just added a top prospect in J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State) to a backfield that set a league-record in rushing yards and some of these young receivers will continue to develop. On defense, they addressed the two areas that needed some help, when they brought in Calais Campbell to boost their pass-rush and two top-six linebackers on my board in the draft (Patrick Queen & Malik Harrison). They may not have as many superstar names as some other teams, but without a full offseason to prepare for it, that Greg Roman offense could be even tougher to stop if Marquise Brown becomes a more dependable deep threat (now fully healthy) and I love how multiple Wink Martindale is with his defense, combining the different pressure looks to go along with more versatile pieces up front and one of the elite secondaries in the game. You combine that with a rising young special teams coordinator in Chris Horton and a great motivator and in-game decision-maker in John Harbaugh – I just can’t find a lot of L’s on their schedule.

3. San Francisco 49ers
Obviously the Super Bowl hangover will be brought up a lot of times with the loser of that contest, but unlike a lot of these teams coming off the big game – yet similar to the actual winners in the Chiefs – John Lynch did a great job re-tooling for the few losses they did have and didn’t overspend on some of their talented guys. Kyle Shanahan to me is the best offensive play-caller and game-designer in football, with a diverse rushing attack and the type of personnel to match it, while Jimmy G, despite some issues, is coming off his first 16-game season in his career. Defensively, they are losing what I thought was their best player in DeForest Buckner, but they did replace him with a top ten prospect in Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina) and Fred Warner is an emerging superstar. Their Seattle-based scheme under Robert Salah may not be very complex, but the Niners have a ferocious pass-rush, fast-flowing linebackers and a great safety tandem to be very sound in their execution. The Deebo Samuel injury is definitely a concern for me and if he doesn’t get back a few weeks into the season, I might drop San Fran a spot or two, plus I don’t love what they have at that second cornerback spot, but as for now I see the recipe that made me predict them winning the NFC West ahead of 2019 and what allowed them to be up double-digits in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

4. New Orleans Saints
One of the themes this offseason for me has been how loaded this Saints roster is and that they just need to win this year. This is the final season with Drew Brees at the helm, they are already in a horrible place with the cap – before that even goes down in 2021 – and to be honest, a lot of their key contributors are getting pretty old now. While I have seen a significant drop-off in the arm-strength of Brees, other than that I don’t see any offense with this Sean Payton-led offense – the front-five is elite, Alvin Kamara should be back to 100 percent as a dynamic dual-threat back and they finally found a number two receiver in Emmanuel Sanders. When healthy, that defensive line is a dominant unit, I think third-round pick Zack Baun (Wisconsin) gives that linebacker group some versatility and they have a lot of experience in the secondary, including a guy I thought would be a future star on the outside in Marshon Lattimore. Before anything else, they need to take care of divisional-rival Tampa Bay – which is a very tough challenge already – but if they can do that, they are fairly in the hunt for the NFC’s top seed. There’s a lot of pressure on this group because of the cap situation, their all-time great QB having his “Last Dance” and brutal playoff losses in recent years, but they have all it takes to finally break through all the way.

Playoff contenders:

This second tier consists of eight teams that to me have only or two holes on their roster, while their coaching gives them an advantage over the majority of teams in the league and they bring back most of their pieces from a year or at least improved in those areas. I expect all but one of these squads to make the playoffs in 2020, as long as they don’t suffer significant injuries along the way.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Number five in the entire league seems pretty high for a team that finished below .500 last season, but this is not just about Tom Brady coming in, but rather the roster Tampa Bay has built around him. To me Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are the top receiver duo in the league, the Bucs arguably have the best tight-end room in the league and the offensive line only got better with superhuman Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) playing one of those spots on the right side. I have talked about this a lot over the offseason, looking at the match between Bruce Arians’ vertical-based passing attack and what Brady is used to, in terms of spreading the field and getting the ball out of his hands quickly. My bet is they go to a bit of hybrid and figure things out. Maybe more importantly, I don’t think people realize what they have put together on defense. Last season the Bucs finished number one against the run, they forced the fifth-most turnovers (28) and tied for sixth with yards per play (5.1) in the league. Todd Bowles is excellent defensive mind, who now enters his second season with as much talent as he has had since his Arizona days. Jameis turned it over 35 times last year (12 more than any other player in the league), while Tom didn’t even crack double-digits once again, and he immediately improves their situational football awareness and overall execution. This is a very dangerous squad.

6. Dallas Cowboys
When you talk about some of the most talented rosters in the league, the Dallas Cowboys come to mind right away – especially on the offensive side of the ball. Dak Prescott now has one of the premiere receiver trios with the selection of Ceedee Lamb (Oklahoma) in the draft, still probably a top-five offensive line and Zeke looking to re-establish himself as a top-tier back, after looking a step slow for most of last season. Defensively they are getting back Leighton Vander Esch, whose energy they desperately missed for stretches last season, and they have a very deep rotation at the defensive line (even though nobody knows what we’ll get from a couple of guys that were out of the league), while Mike Nolan will change things up a little more and get his guys into the face of opposing receivers. We have yet to see how much Mike McCarthy will want to have say in the offensive play-calling, but I like that they retained a young and creative OC in Kellen Moore, and as far as in-game control and CEO duties go, I certainly believe McCarthy is an upgrade. There are some questions with the secondary after the loss of Byron Jones and losing Travis Frederick to retirement hurts, but I think those are things that can be overcome. Something that I think should not be overlooked is the signing of former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein and his special teams coordinator John Fassel, after converting only 75 percent of their field goal attempts last season (6th-lowest in the league) and missing a couple of crucial kicks.

7. Philadelphia Eagles
Right behind the Cowboys, I have their division rivals from Philadelphia. I think the Eagles actually have a better quarterback, the best defensive player among the two teams in Fletcher Cox and a more experienced secondary. However, with Brandon Brooks out for the season and maybe the worst group of linebackers in the NFL, I could not put this group ahead of Dallas, even though they have come up victorious against them in the big games recently. Last year Carson Wentz carried a group of skill-position players from the practice squad and a banged-up O-line to a division title. This upcoming season he will go from already wasn’t an overly dynamic receiving crew to a group of track stars, most notably with first-round pick Jalen Reagor (TCU) and a hopefully healthy DeSean Jackson, plus Miles Sanders I think is ready to emerge as a star back for Philly. The defense did lose some long-time stalwarts like Malcolm Jenkins and Nigel Bradham, but I loved the addition of Javon Hargreave in the middle to free up the other guys to attack upfield and with Darius Slay as their new CB1, not only does that move everybody one spot lower on the depth chart, but it also finally makes more sense for Jim Schwartz to be as aggressive with those zero-blitzes, since he has the guys to cover. Those two newcomers also fit perfectly when matching up against Dallas, because of an improvement interior run defense and having a guy who can match up with Amari Cooper, after the other guys got toasted for the most part.

8. Buffalo Bills
For the first time in about twenty years, a team not named the Patriots will enter a season as favorites in the AFC East – and it’s actually not that close for me. Buffalo made a switch last season offensively to more 11 personnel and quick-tempo with Brian Daboll moving to the booth. This offseason they finally got the big-armed Josh Allen a dependable deep threat in Stefon Diggs, who averaged 12.0 yards per target last season (second-highest in the league), which – similar to what I just talked about with the corners in Philadelphia – moves everybody else down one spot in the food chain. And I love what they do defensively, with Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s game-plan specific zone pattern coverages, with a versatile secondary to execute those, to go with a deep D-line and two super-rangy linebackers. Even outside the Diggs trade, Buffalo has made some sneaky-good deals since losing that Wildcard game at Houston in such heart-breaking fashion. Whether that is Mario Addison as double-digit sack guy in four straight years, added depth on the O-line or a really solid draft class to complement what they already had. I don’t want to crown them at this point, but to me they are the favorites for the AFC’s number three seed as for right now, since I think the South doesn’t have that clear front-runner to win the majority of their divisional games.

9. Seattle Seahawks
I would have probably had the Hawks as the final team of this group or right at the top of the next one a couple of weeks ago, but after acquiring Jamal Adams, I think they have re-established themselves as that second team in the NFC West, since I had them very close with Arizona originally, I did not love what they did in the first two days of the draft (somewhat of a trend with them), they lost their second-best defensive player at that point in Jadeveon Clowney, I’m not sure if they upgraded on the offensive line and we don’t even if know if Quinton Dunbar will be suspended at this point. With that being said, Seattle has finished above .500 every single year with Russell Wilson under center and while I’m not a fan of their conservative approach offensively, where they don’t allow Russ to throw the ball on first downs and push the tempo a little at times, they are one of the most effective rushing teams and they have two lethal weapons to catch those trademark rainbow balls from the Seahawks QB. Defensively there are still some questions about the edge rush and at second corner spot, but Pete Carroll at least has what he wants most in a team at those positions – competition – and you already saw them go to more two-high looks in coverage than we are used to, telling me they utilize Jamal’s versatile skill-set more than what that strong safety mostly does in that system.

10. Green Bay Packers
The whole Aaron Rodgers-Jordan Love drama has been looming large over the offseason and that has brought us some interesting discussions, but let’s not allow this to take away from the fact Green Bay just had a first-round bye in the playoffs and made it to the NFC title game. While they were 8-1 in one-score games and should regress more towards the mean in terms of the success rate in those close games, the North is still wide open and they have a few things going for themselves – they have the best quarterback in the division, the best offensive line, the most versatile and effective pass rush and a lot of young talent in the secondary. The first-round selection of a future signal-caller aside, I wasn’t too fond of what they did in the draft. Even though I liked Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara and can see what they want to do with him as H-back/move guy in this offense, I thought they did not get Aaron Rodgers help in the receiving corp, which has no proven commodity outside of Davante Adams. Their defense got absolutely steamrolled in two games against the eventual conference champion 49ers, but I hope to see Rashan Gary develop in his second season and I think Christian Kirksey was a very under-the-radar signing as a run-stopping linebacker. I think schematically with Matt LaFleur’s offense based on what they did under Sean McVay and Mike Pettine being very creative himself they are one of the better coaching staffs in the NFC, but I would like to see them open up the offense more for Rodgers and break tendencies more often with their coverage calls.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers
Another very dangerous squad for me is the Steelers. I have talked many times about how bad the Steelers quarterback situations was last season, as both Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges finished near the bottom in air yards per attempt, percentage of throws beyond the marker and many others. We have only seen Big Ben throw in some short clips on the internet, but if he is just 70-80 percent of what he was in 2018, this team is bound for a playoff berth. There are some question marks with this group of skill-position players, but I expect Juju to bounce back in a major way with a capable QB and being healthy himself, I have already picked Diontae Johnson as a breakout candidate for this season and I like the diversity of this group of backs. Pittsburgh’s defense was already elite last year, finishing top five in both yards and points allowed, tied for first in yards per play (4.7), the most takeaways (38) and sacks (54). If former Raven Chris Wormley can replace Javon Hargreave as a two-down run-stopper at least and rookie Antoine Brooks Jr. (Maryland) can fill a very specific role as their second sub-package linebacker in place of Mark Barron, I think they will one of the scariest units in the NFL once again. So the best all-around defense for my money and an offense who I would say has top ten potential at the very least is a tough match-up. Maybe not quite battling with the Ravens for the North, but the top Wildcard spot for sure.

12. Indianapolis Colts
If there is one team in the AFC that could go from finishing sub-.500 to making it all the way to the conference championship game, the Colts would be my pick. I thought Philip Rivers had a really rough 2019 campaign, in which his arm looked rather weak and his decision-making hurt the Chargers on multiple occasions, but he will play behind by far the best offensive line he has ever had and they will run the heck out of the ball. Indy already had a pretty good back in Marlon Mack, but Wisconsin superstar Jonathan Taylor, who they selected in the second round, will be one of the front-runners for Offensive Rookie of the Year if given the chances in combination with what I believe is the best front-five in the entire league, plus their other second-rounder Michael Pittman Jr. (USC) will be that Vincent Jackson/Mike Williams type target for Rivers. More importantly, with the trade for a top 50 player in the league in DeForest Buckner, this entire Colts D immediately takes a step forward, since he is a perfect fit as that 3-technique in their front and help them disrupt plays at a much higher rate, to go with range in zone coverage behind that, including the “Maniac” Darius Leonard chasing people down. I’m a big fan of Frank Reich and the coaching staff he is has put together, in terms of in-game decision-making, offensive gameplans and just the intensity his team plays him.

Fringe playoff teams:

This middle tier is made up from all those teams who I expect to be at .500 or above, firmly in contention for a Wildcard spot at least. They can be some areas of concern, but overall they have the roster ready to compete with the big dogs and/or feature above-average coaching. With a couple of these there is a change at quarterback and head coach respectively, but they have enough around those to overcome that.

13. Tennessee Titans
This definitely seems a little low for a team that is coming off an AFC Championship game appearance, but people seem to forget the Titans were 8-7 ahead of week 17 and if it wasn’t for the Steelers losing their final three games, this group wouldn’t have even been in position to lock down the six seed. Things were also made a lot easier by their division rival Texans, who sat most of their starters after beating Tennessee two weeks prior. So as impressive as their playoff run was, you have to think of what happened before that and put it into perspective a little. With one more playoff spot in each conference, their chances of making it to the tournament should be at least equally as good, but I believe the Colts are the favorites to win the South and for me the Steelers are the favorites for the fifth seed. With all that being said, there is plenty to like about this team still – they can pound you with the Derrick Henry and the run game, Ryan Tannehill at least gives them the threat of pulling the ball and going deep off play-action, they have some young weapons catching the ball and defensively they are very versatile in how they set up gameplans. I also like the mind-set Mike Vrabel installs in these guys and I was impressed with what OC Arthur Smith did in 2019. If there are two spots that could decide if this group is fighting for a division title or that final playoff berth, it will be their rookie right tackle Isaiah Wilson (Georgia) and recently signed edge rusher Vic Beasley.

14. Cleveland Browns
While I don’t see them competing for the AFC North – just because of how loaded the Ravens are – the Browns are pretty clearly the most talented team that is considered to be third in their division. In terms of their group of starting skill-position players at least, they are near the top of the NFL, the O-line to me already just made my top ten ranking with room to move up, if healthy they are at least in the conversation for that with the D-line as well, with a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Myles Garrett, and I like how they have assembled their secondary. Now, they have some unproven guys at the linebacker level and Cleveland’s potential is largely dependent on which Baker Mayfield we will get. With Kevin Stefanski coming and installing an offense that will be built on the zone run game and bootlegs off that, where his quarterback is put on the move, I could see much more efficient play and more comfort in that system. Something that really jumped out to me on tape was how many times Baker seemed to not be “on the same page” with his receivers, expecting routes to break off differently and unfortunate drops in certain situations. Even though the preparation for the season does look a lot different and QB & WRs haven’t been able to spend too much time together, I expect this to improve and more suitable roles for those pass-catchers overall. And if they are ahead in more games, that pass rush will be a problem.

15. Arizona Cardinals
There are certainly still some issues here, but the Cardinals are probably the most exciting young team in all of the NFL. Kyler Murray was a one-man show last season and is due for a big jump, with DeAndre Hopkins being added to a receiving corp that severely lacked dependable weapons, to go with some other youngsters fully healthy, Kenyan Drake looked like a different player once he came over from Miami and the O-line should at least be marginally better. Defensively they transitioned a little up front, with big gap-pluggers on the line and Isaiah Simmons being that ultra-rangy player on the second level, who can run guys down on the edges, if those ball-carriers forced to bounce outside, plus they have maybe the most underappreciated edge rusher over the last four years in Chandler Jones. I don’t think they are very deep in the secondary, but Budda Baker is an absolute baller, Jalen Thompson emerged late last season and I already predicted Byron Murphy would have a breakout second season. With Kliff Kingsbury and Vance Joseph, Arizona has creative play-calling on both sides of the ball and they now have the personnel to execute at the needed level as well. Like I mentioned, I was ready to have the Cardinals at least go toe-to-toe with Seattle for a playoff spot, but the addition of Jamal Adams has shifted the balance again to some degree. And if you just go based off my rankings, two NFC Wildcard spots already go to teams from five to seven.

16. Denver Broncos
A team that has been getting a lot of love this offseason is the Broncos. They have pretty much all the pieces that you usually see with those rising squads – a promising second-year quarterback with a lot of weapons surrounding him, a ferocious defensive front and having shown signs late last season. My belief in them has taken a bit of a dump unfortunately since I thought they did well to improve the offensive line, with Garrett Bolles on the left end being the only weak-spot, but now that Ja’Wuan James won’t be available at right tackle for the second straight year (injury last season and now opting out), their duo of OTs is a concern for me. Defensively you have to love what they have in the front seven, with Von Miller and now again Bradley Chubb coming off the edges, Jurrell Casey added to the interior to go with Shelby Harris and Alexander Johnson being an under-the-radar standout at linebacker. I’ve always been a big fan of Justin Simmons, but that second corner spot is still up in the air. I like Vic Fangio and that coaching staff they have put together in Denver, with Pat Shurmur providing a QB-friendly offense, the game’s best O-line coach in Mike Munchak and most of the people that have helped Fangio put out elite defenses at multiple stops before. So the Broncos are still the most dangerous opponent of the Chiefs in the AFC West, but now I’m not sure if they can add some drama over the fourth quarter of the season.

17. Minnesota Vikings
At the same time, a team that has been a little overhyped to me this offseason is Minnesota. While I don’t love how the Packers have operated since February, what have the Vikings done to really improve? They traded away the best deep threat in the league last season in Stefon Diggs, stalwarts on the D-line in Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph are now gone, their entire group of corners has combined for less than 1500 career snaps and their offensive coordinator is now in Cleveland. I’m intrigued by the combination of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who could be pretty interchangeable in their roles and I like their 12 and 21 personnel groupings, but they lack depth at the receiver position. And the defense will be relying on several inexperienced pieces to step in. I mean their three starting corners from last year are off the team now. So I don’t really get how most people all of a sudden put them ahead of the Packers. With that being said, I like the offensive scheme and always thought Gary Kubiak was a huge factor in their success on the ground at least. On defense there are certainly question marks – especially in the secondary – but Minnesota could easily have a top five player at their respective position at all three levels, with Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Harris, plus they still have some promising young guys like Ifeadi Odenigbo, Mike Hughes and a deep rookie class. Their only true shade nose Michael Pierce opting out hurts though.

18. New England Patriots
This offseason must have been a rollercoaster for Patriots fans. First, Tom Brady leaves and everybody goes crazy. Then people start getting onto the Jarrett Stidham hype train and talk about how good the rest of this team still is. Out of nowhere they sign Cam Newton for the veteran minimum basically and they are back in the conversation for the top teams in the AFC all of sudden. And now, they lead the league in players opting out of the season, with key defensive pieces like Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung, to go with a couple of role players on offense at least. So now they are right at the bottom of these fringe playoff teams for me, because purely based on the roster, they are not even in the top 20 league-wide, but they still have maybe the greatest defensive mind in NFL history in Bill Belichick and one of the best offensive play-callers right now in Josh McDaniels. Obviously a lot of this will come down to what version of Cam Newton we will get and even if he is and can stay totally healthy. Not only is New England the most adaptable team in terms of how they can adjust to personnel and how flexible they are with their game-plans, but Cam is a great fit in that offense, where he can spread the field and make decisions based on defenses adjusting. The one area that took the biggest bump – outside of quarterback I’m guessing – is the offensive line, because they lost a legendary position coach in Dante Scarnecchia and their probable starter at right tackle in Marcus Cannon. While the Pats do have some young players, who can replace part of the losses, they were already more in plan for the pieces that left before there was any virus outbreak.

Around .500:

This broad group of seven teams represents all those franchises who will be dancing around .500 mark in the win-loss column. A couple of teams have the potential to win nine or ten games, while others could see those numbers on the wrong side of the column as well. There are obvious question marks in certain areas, even though they might feature top-tier players and/or coaches.


19. Houston Texans
It’s kind of tough to put a team here that has won its division the last two years, but I think the Texans are pretty clearly number three in the South now. I love Deshaun Watson and I think he has fairly established himself as a top five quarterback in the NFL, but Bill O’Brien just took away an elite wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and replaced him with an injury-prone Brandin Cooks to go with another always banged up Will Fuller and a declining Randall Cobb, to go with a David Johnson in the backfield, who was unrecognizable last season. I think the O-line is improving, but outside of Laremy Tunsil maybe, they don’t have anybody other than Deshaun who is clearly above-average in their role. And defensively they finished in the bottom five in yards allowed and tied with Cincinnati (who picked first overall in the draft) for an NFL-high 6.1 yards allowed per play. Hopefully having J.J. Watt back for a full season should help, I like the selection of Ross Blacklock (TCU) on the inside and there are some talented young corners on this roster, who could be better much in 2020. I would not be surprised if they are that .500 team at heart and their quarterback carried them to a couple of wins that they weren’t supposed to get – which we have seen him do many times before – but it’s more likely to me that they are fighting for one of the two bottom Wildcard spots.

20. Atlanta Falcons
Very rarely do you have a team that was among the worst over the first half of the season and among the best over the second half. The Falcons started out 2019 with a 1-7 record, but would go on to win six of the final eight games. Their defense was absolutely atrocious early on last season, with no pass-rush impacting the opposing quarterback and several miscues in coverage. With Raheem Morris taking over the defensive play-calling, they showed a lot of improvement already and there are signs that trend will continue. While there are some questions about the back-end and if they can get consistent production from their rush outside the top two guys, I think Dante Fowler is an upgrade over Vic Beasley, I like Marlon Davidson (Auburn) as a guy with inside-out flexibility on sub-packages and Keanu Neal is back healthy, as that Kam Chancellor-type, who can be that extra defender in the box in their system and punish receivers when catching the ball over the middle or in the flats. Offensively I believe this is still a team that can move the ball – they just have to start doing so earlier in games. While the top NFL receiver duo is in their own division with the guys in Tampa Bay, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley could easily be that next one. They lost a very productive tight-end in Austin Hooper, but I believe Hayden Hurst can replace at least 80 percent of that production, and while we have no idea what we get from Todd Gurley and his knees at this point, last year the Falcons had one of the least effective per-touch backs in Devonta Freeman. Plus, the O-line should take a step forward with former first-round pick Chris Lindstrom returning from injury.

21. Las Vegas Raiders
To me the Raiders are still in transition, not only moving to Las Vegas, but also in terms of roster construction and the culture Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are trying to establish. Outside of Tyrell Williams, that entire group of receivers was overhauled, they have a lot of young pieces on the defensive line and the secondary, plus they will have at least two new starters on the second level of their defense. By far the biggest thing they have going for them is the offensive line and second-year back Josh Jacobs running behind it. When I did my top ten offensive lines in the NFL a couple of weeks ago, I had the Silver & Black at number five, and Jacobs was already a top 100 player in the league for me, with how physical and elusive a runner as he is. I could easily see the Raiders finish near the top in terms of ground production, and I also like the young guys they brought in around that, with Henry Ruggs III (Alabama) keeping the defense honest with his speed, Bryan Edwards (South Carolina) as a physical receiver, who will get hands after the catch, and Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky) as that chess-piece potentially, that you can use in a multitude of way. My bigger question here is if Derek Carr is willing to push the ball down the field. Defensively I like the rotation they have on the interior D-line and the two linebackers they brought in via free agency, most notably Corey Littleton. There are still some questions about how snaps will be split between their corner group, but I’m excited to see a full season of Jonathan Abram hopefully. These guys have some attitude and an energetic head coach.

22. Los Angeles Rams
Oh, how far we have come. Just one-and-a-half years ago the Rams were officially 20 spots higher basically, when they lost the Super Bowl to New England. Ahead of last season, I predicted them to miss the playoffs and while they made a bit of a run at it late, that’s what ended up happening. Now I see them as the fourth team in their own division – even though that says more about the competition they face rather than them. I still believe in Sean McVay and his ability to win on paper with play-design and game-planning, but Jared Goff has turned out to be an average quarterback, they don’t have a prime Todd Gurley setting the table anymore and the offensive line had some major issues, for large stretches of last season, especially in the run game. I was very high on Cam Akers, who they selected in the second round out of Florida State, but he will obviously be a rookie with shortened preparation, rather than an Offensive Player of the Year like Gurley was for them. Defensively, they have two elite players in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey and I like some of the other guys in their roles, but overall the high-end talent beyond the two biggest names isn’t overly impressive. Leonard Floyd might be their top edge rusher and he has always been more of a Robin, they have no proven commodity as stand-up linebacker and I have yet to see if Brandon Staley can actually be an upgrade over Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator.

23. Detroit Lions
While I was going back and forth with putting the Lions third or fourth in the NFC North, I recently said they are among the top two teams that could go from worst to first in their division and I would not be surprised if they were in the hunt for a Wildcard spot in the last couple of weeks of the season. His second year in a system under Darrell Bevell – where he wasn’t just going in shotgun 40 times a game and asked to make magic happen – Matthew Stafford looked like an MVP candidate as long as he was healthy in 2019. That duo of Kerryon Johnson and my top-ranked running back in the draft D’Andre Swift (Georgia) could be one of the most dynamic ones in the league, the receiving corp is highly underrated and I like those rookies competing for the two guard spots. Defensively, they seem to finally look like what Matt Patricia wanted, when he came over from New England, in terms being versatile with their fronts and having guys who can take on receivers in man-coverage. With that being said, there is also a good chance that the Patricia experiment could go to shambles, if some of the veterans get turned off by his style of coaching without having established that winning culture, and this team has simply been dealing with too many injuries to key players. I don’t think there is much of a gap between the Lions and Vikings for example, but Detroit has not shown the stability of some other organizations.

24. Chicago Bears
A franchise that I don’t really hear anybody talk about – unless it’s their quarterback competition – is that team from the Windy City. I understand that the Bears aren’t really sexy because they lack those superstars on offense that people will recognize, but I’m higher on some of the guys they do have on that side of the ball and on defense they could be much closer to 2018, when they led the league in points allowed and turnovers forced, rather than being just inside the top in most categories last season. A guy I already predicted to break out for Chicago this upcoming season with a bigger workload is running back David Montgomery, to go with Anthony Miller as a gadget player and developing young pass-catcher and one of the more underappreciated receivers out there in Allen Robinson. Defensively, I thought the biggest issue last season was Akiem Hicks missing double-digit games, as a table-setter with his ability to disrupt plays from the interior, and Leonard Floyd didn’t provide much on the opposite side of Khalil Mack, who they upgrade from with Robert Quinn, who just had his best season since the Rams were still in St. Louis. Now, I don’t love what they have at that second safety spot to complement Eddie Jackson, someone will have to fill that second corner spot – even though I’m a fan of second-round pick Jaylon Johnson (Utah) – and nose tackle Eddie Goldman opting out is a huge loss. If the quarterback position can just complement the rushing attack and the defense plays up to their potential, this group could be competing for second in the North, but Foles or Trubisky could still hold them back.

https://preview.redd.it/aep6uj385di51.png?width=1060&format=png&auto=webp&s=07674898e4de7d73699c065907983e69612c56a4


The final tier is in the comments!!

If you enjoyed this breakdown, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/08/18/ranking-all-32-nfl-teams-in-tiers-pre-season/
You can also listen to my analysis on the Youtube channel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz7WE0epZw8
submitted by hallach_halil to nfl [link] [comments]


2020.08.18 00:53 Jonnyawesome89 Offseason Review Series: Baltimore Ravens

Coming off an incredible 14-2 regular season in which the Ravens, led by MVP Lamar Jackson, shocked the league with an innovative offense that ran all over opponents, the team looks toward a 2020 campaign in which they will attempt to shake the sting to an extremely disappointing first round playoff exit.
[Baltimore Ravens]
Division: AFC North
Coaching Changes
In a season rocked by uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ravens have a significant advantage in the fact that they retain both coordinators and head coach after a successful season. In February, head coach John Harbaugh announced title changes for 6 members of the staff (per baltimoreravens.com):
· Chris Horton – special teams coordinator (formerly special teams coach)
· Randy Brown – special teams coach (formerly assistant special teams coach)
· Chris Hewitt – pass defense coordinator (formerly defensive backs coach)
· Sterling Lucas – defensive assistant/defensive line (formerly defensive assistant/linebackers)
· Jesse Minter – defensive backs coach (formerly assistant defensive backs coach)
· Drew Wilkins – outside linebackers coach (formerly assistant defensive line and outside linebackers coach)
Chris Horton
Horton enters his second year guiding the Ravens' special teams unit after taking over for longtime coordinator Jerry Rosburg following his retirement in 2019. Last season, Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro K Justin Tucker finished second in the NFL with a 96.6 percent field goal success rate (28 of 29), which was also the second-best mark in franchise single-season history. Baltimore also finished eighth in punt return average (8.2) in 2019. A seventh-year coach with the Ravens, Horton has been working with the special teams group since 2015.
Randy Brown
Brown is in his 13th year working with the Ravens' specialists. He has had an instrumental role in the development of the team's kicking game by helping Tucker become the most accurate kicker of all time (90.8 percent). Tucker has scored 141 points in each of his past four seasons, which tie for the Ravens single-season scoring record and make him the NFL's only kicker to surpass the 140 mark in each of the last four years (2016-19).
Chris Hewitt
Hewitt enters his ninth-year coaching with the Ravens after serving as the team's defensive backs coach for the past five seasons (2015-19). Last season, Baltimore's pass defense finished sixth in the NFL (207.2 ypg) with three players from the secondary earning Pro Bowl honors (CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters and S Earl Thomas III). Humphrey and Peters also earned first-team All-Pro accolades. Baltimore tallied a 77.5 defensive passer rating in 2019, which stood as the NFL's second-best mark.
Sterling Lucas
Lucas is in his fifth season with the Ravens after joining the team in 2016 as a strength and conditioning assistant in 2016. He has also served as an administrative assistant – defense (2017), quality control – defense (2018) and most recently as defensive assistant/linebackers (2019). Prior to joining Baltimore, Lucas spent two years as a defensive graduate assistant at North Carolina State.
Jesse Minter
Minter has been with the Ravens since 2017, when he started as a defensive assistant. He was promoted to assistant defensive backs coach in 2019, when he worked under Hewitt. This past season, Baltimore tied (Tampa Bay) for the NFL lead with six defensive touchdowns (including three interceptions returned for touchdowns).
Drew Wilkins
Wilkins enters his 11th year with the Ravens after initially joining the team as a football video operations intern in 2010. He served as the team's assistant defensive line & outside linebackers coach the past two seasons (2018-19). Wilkins originally moved to the coaching side in 2013, when he became a coaching staff assistant. He was promoted to defensive assistant in 2014 before becoming the assistant defensive line coach in 2017. In 2019, OLB Matthew Judon led the Ravens with a career-high 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. The Ravens also finished with 111 quarterback hits, the NFL's third-most.
Free Agency:
Players Lost/Cut
Player Position New Team
Tony Jefferson SS Released
James Hurst OT Released
Michael Pierce DT FA, Minnesota
Josh Bynes ILB FA, Cincinatti
Patrick Onwuasor ILB FA, NY Jets
Seth Roberts WR FA, Carolina
Hayden Hurst TE Traded, Atlanta
Chris Wormley DE Traded, Pittsburgh
De’Anthony Thomas WKR Opt-Out
Andre Smith OT Opt-Out
In an offseason with a few notable departures for the Ravens, none is more impactful than the retirement of OG Marshal Yanda. A 13-year veteran, Yanda anchored the Ravens offensive line, and was consistently amongst the best guards in football. Not just a dominant force on the field, Yanda brought veteran leadership to a young Ravens squad that found a lot of success in the regular season. Now retired, he becomes a prospect for the NFL Hall of Fame. Marshal Yanda is a caliber of player that is not easily replaced, and the loss of his ability and leadership is one of the biggest question marks for the Ravens offense going into 2020.
Michael Pierce came into the league as an UDFA who was able to become an immediate contributor for the Ravens front 7. An imposing figure at over 330 lbs., Pierce, along with Ravens stalwart Brandon Williams created a stout, if not agile, front for the Ravens defense. Following a 2019 in which Pierce came into camp overweight and out of shape, his long-term future with the team was immediately brought into question, culminating with him signing with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason. The additions by the Ravens of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe this offseason softens the blow considerably, and the unit may even look to be improved headed into this year.
When it comes to Baltimore Ravens and Greg Roman offenses, extensive use of Tight Ends immediately comes to mind. It was therefore surprising to some when the Ravens decided to trade former first round pick Hayden Hurst to the Falcons this offseason. Hurst played significant snaps for the Ravens in a system that heavily utilizes tight ends. Unfortunately for Hurst, he was injured his rookie season and struggled for targets behind Mark Andrews, who has made a case to be considered a top TE in the league. Ultimately, this may be a rare win-win trade, as Hurst will have an opportunity to flourish with Matt Ryan on a Falcons team who recently lost Austin Hooper, while the Ravens were thrilled to use the resulting pick on standout RB JK Dobbins, who fits their system perfectly.
While neither player was a force in the back field last season, the simultaneous losses of Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor presents an interesting challenge for the Ravens, who are now likely to feature two rookies (Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison) heavily in their rotation this year.
The inclusion of opt-outs due to Covid-19 made this offseason tricky for some teams, but the Ravens were relatively unscathed. While the loss of De’Anthony Thomas and Andre Smith does impact depth, ultimately both players were replacement level, and their loss does not represent a significant challenge for 2020.
Players Acquired

Player Position Old Team Length Salary
Matthew Judon DE Ravens Franchise Tag $16.3MM
Derek Wolfe DE Broncos 1 Year $3MM
Jihad Ward DE Ravens 1 Year $1.1MM
Jimmy Smith CB Ravens 1 Year $3.5MM
Anthony Levine Sr S Ravens 1 Year $1.81MM
Chris Moore WR Ravens 1 Year $1.7MM
Sam Koch P Ravens 2 Years $4.95MM
Matt Skura C Ravens 1 Year RFA Tender
Chuck Clark SS Ravens 3 Years $15.3MM
Jordan Richards S Ravens 1 Year $845k
Gus Edwards RB Ravens 1 Year $750K
Nick Moore LS Ravens 1 Year $610K
Calais Campbell DE Jaguars 2 Years $25MM
DJ Fluker OG Seahawks 1 Year $1.07MM
Pernell McPhee DE Ravens 1 Year $1.1MM
While the Ravens did not make a ton of moves on outside players, they did make a big splash early in the offseason with the acquisition of Calais Campbell. At the low cost of just a 5th round pick, the Ravens were able to acquire a perennial pro bowler and veteran leader. A no brainer for the cost, by making this move, along with the signing of Derek Wolfe, the Ravens were able to address their D Line, a unit that was exposed last year by both Nick Chubb and Derek Henry. On the offensive line, the Ravens were able to add DJ Fluker, who can immediately slot into the void left by Marshal Yanda. While Fluker will certainly be a drop off from the Hall of Fame prospect Yanda, his veteran presence should help minimize the impact of losing such an important player.
On the re-signing front, the name of the game was continuity. The Ravens were able to accomplish this goal, returning key pieces of the 2019 squad. Most notably, the Ravens were able to keep intact what was one of the best secondaries in the NFL last year down the stretch. By re-signing Chuck Clark, Anthony Levine, Jimmy Smith and extending Marcus Peters (with already signed players Marlon Humphrey and Earl Thomas) the Ravens are once again slated to have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. This is key, as the Ravens clock chewing, points scoring offense often forces enemy teams to play from behind, and the Ravens defense is once again set up to make passing the ball extremely difficult. At the DE position the Ravens tagged Matthew Judon. A productive player with a high amount of pressures in 2019, Judon was important to retain on an extremely thin DE unit. On offense, they returned RB Gus Edwards and starting C Matt Skura. Skura is an important piece, as his loss was keenly felt against the Titans following his season ending injury in the Rams game.
Draft
The Ravens are known across the NFL for accumulating picks through trades and compensatory selections. This year was no exception, as the Ravens had 10 total selections, including a whopping 6 picks in the first three rounds.

Round Pick (OVR) Player Position School
1 28 (28) Patrick Queen LB LSU
2 23 (55) JK Dobbins RB Ohio State
3 7 (71) Justin Madubuike DT Texas A&M
3 28 (92) Devin Duvernay WR Texas
3 34 (98) Malik Harrison LB Ohio State
3 42 (106) Tyre Phillips OT Miss State
4 37 (143) Ben Bredeson G Michigan
5 25 (170) Broderick Washington DT Texas Tech
6 22 (201) James Proche WR SMU
7 5 (219) Geno Stone S Iowa

Draft Grades:
Round 1:
Patrick Queen: A+
One of the most notable weaknesses of the Ravens Defense in 2019 was the linebacking corps. After losing CJ Mosley the previous offseason, the remaining LBs proved unequal to the task, culminating in a complete reshuffling of the position with off the street free agents a few weeks into the season. While the new group was serviceable, the Ravens had a noticeably porous run defense when playing from behind, which was not an issue for much of the year but got completely exposed in an embarrassing round 1 playoff exit. This made LB a huge position of need. The Ravens, true to their reputation, remained patient in the first round while other teams linked to first round LB talent, (teams like Green Bay and New Orleans) went elsewhere, and other teams made reaches, (notably the Seahawks one pick earlier) and still got their guy, much later than originally projected. Queen is an exciting addition to the Ravens Defense. Fast and with great instincts, Queen has a knack for always being around the play. He shows up in the biggest moments, snagging a key interception from Tua Tagovailoa against Alabama and earning Defensive MVP honors in the national championship game. Queen does have some weaknesses, with weak tackling at times and only one year of proven production. However, given the Ravens’ ability to develop linebackers, they must have been ecstatic to snag a player who many analysists believed would be long gone by pick 28.
Round 2:
JK Dobbins: A-
The Ravens had perhaps the most dominant rushing attack of the modern era in 2019, which caused many to be shocked when they selected a running back with their second pick of the NFL Draft. However, anyone who is a close observer of the Ravens understood the selection. The Ravens live by the mantra of “Best Player Available” and as an organization refuse to reach for positions of need. This has made them one of the more successful organizations in the draft, as they consistently find value with their picks. Dobbins is a perfect fit for the Ravens system. He is a shifty back with great vision who demonstrated great understanding of how to take what the defense gives him. This projects very well into an offense that opens so many holes with a dominant line and constant running threat of MVP Lamar Jackson. Dobbins should be an immediate contributor and projects as the long-term starter, particularly if the Ravens part ways with Mark Ingram after this year. He is the second All-Time rusher at Ohio State, ahead of players like Ezekiel Elliott and Eddie George. His ability to run out of the pistol makes him a great complement to Lamar Jackson in RPO situations.
Rounds 3:
Justin Madubuke: A
Every year the Ravens seem to have a pick in the mid rounds that dumbfounds analysts. This is because they have a knack for scooping up players that should not still be on the board without giving up capital to do so. In this example, the Ravens traded back from pick 60, and likely still got the player they were targeting. Madubuike is a mountain at 6’3, 293 pounds, and has shown success at not only containing the run but pressuring the QB. Madubuike provides an infusion of youth to a defensive line that is one of the older units on the team. This pick is also indicative of the Ravens commitment to returning to their run stuffing roots, the front office was clearly unhappy with the pain inflicted by Derek Henry in the divisional round.
Devin Duvernay: B+
Coming into 2020, the Ravens WRS are the biggest question mark on the roster. An extremely inexperienced unit, many thought that it was a position that would be addressed much earlier in the draft. However, the Ravens were patient, and snagged the guy they wanted in Devin Duvernay. Duvernay had extremely successful 2019, racking up 1,386 yards and showcasing very reliable hands. The speedy, sure-handed nature of Duvernay’s game is a definite complement to Lamar Jacksons playstyle, as the Ravens rely on efficiency over volume in the passing game. One consideration with Duvernay moving forward is that he is most effective from the slot, which is rather crowded with the Ravens current lineup of pass catchers.
Malik Harrison: A-
As with Patrick Queen, the Ravens were clearly motivated to overhaul a weak line backing unit that was picked on at times in 2019. Harrison, a large, run thumping LB, projects as a great complement to the speedy, instinctual Queen. The Ravens were clearly motivated to fix their run stopping issues. Harrison is a large presence who is extremely reliable in maintaining his gap assignments, which should go a long way in shoring up the Ravens run D.
Tyre Phillips: B-
With the last pick of the third round, an exhausted Roger Goodell announced the pick of Tyre Phillips. Phillips, a 6 ft 5, 345 pound OT, is likely to be involved in the Ravens competition at guard to replace Marshal Yanda. Phillips shows great size and natural athleticism, with some roughness to his technique. While he was drafted earlier than predicted, Phillips will have the chance to grow in the Ravens’ system and compete for a starting role.
Round 4:
Ben Bredeson: A-
An All Big Ten player under head coach John Harbaugh’s brother Jim at Michigan, Ben Bredeson seemed destined to stay in the Harbaugh family. A great complement to the previous pick of Phillips, Bredeson projects as more pro ready on day one. There are concerns about his natural length at the pro level, however, with his technique, Bredeson should be in the mix early on. Adding a second offensive line here was a great move by the Ravens to help shore up their interior O line.
Round 5:
Broderick Washington: C
The Ravens addressed defensive line again in round 5, in a move that was a head scratcher to some. The Ravens like Washington as a player and as a leader, and so did not hesitate to grab him. While this does seem like somewhat of a luxury pick, Washington will get the chance to learn from great players like Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. Washington doesn’t need to feel pressured to contribute year one. This pick once again demonstrates the Ravens commitment to “Best player Available”.
Round 6:
James Proche: B+
In a surprise move, the Ravens traded back in to acquire James Proche. A player who analysts like Mel Kiper thought would go much higher, the Ravens get to add another prospect to their stable of young WRs. Proche is a speedy, productive, sure-handed WR that seems to be the favorite of QB Lamar Jackson. With the opting out of De’Anthony Thomas, Proche’s most likely route to the field in year one will be as a kick returner.
Round 7:
Geno Stone: B
With their 10th and final selection of the draft, the Ravens snagged S Geno Stone. An intelligent, cagey safety at Iowa, Stone fell to the seventh round due to concerns around his athleticism. He will have to prove himself to make a stacked roster. However, he does project as a special teams contributor with some long term potential upside in a safety group that lacks depth.
Overall A: In a draft with many picks, the Ravens acquired a lot of good players with immediate contribution potential. They were able to make a good team better without making drastic moves or giving up significant capital. The Ravens FO are masters at letting the draft come to them, and once again they had a consensus great draft that was lauded by analysts.
Other Offseason News that Affected the Team
The Ravens avoided major drama in the offseason. There were, however, a few stories of note in the media.
Earl Thomas Incident: Earl Thomas was in the news following an altercation with his wife in which she allegedly pointed a gun at his head. Thomas’ wife Nina reportedly tracked Earl and his brother to a rental house, were they were shacked up with women. The Ravens were reported to be very displeased with Thomas, who did not alert the team to the story ahead of time. One point that is important to note, that while the entire incident was very strange, Earl was not in the same room as his brother as was being speculated on the internet. Both brothers were in different rooms with their respective partners.
Lamar Jackson: After a breakout MVP season, Lamar has become a veritable superstar, notably gracing the cover of Madden.
Antonio Brown: After being filmed working out with quarterback Lamar Jackson and his cousin, WR Hollywood Brown, Antonio Brown has been repeatedly linked with the Ravens. Jackson has gone as far as to publicly advocate for signing the wayward receiver. However, given that Brown will be suspended for half of the season, and Owner Steve Bischotti has publicly eschewed the idea of signing players with domestic violence issues following the Ray Rice incident, a pairing of Antonio Brown and Jackson seems unlikely.
Hollywood Brown: While not a national story, one thing that Ravens fans are excited about is the offseason progress of Hollywood Brown. After having a screw surgically removed from his foot, Brown has been posting his workouts and has reportedly gained 23 pounds from last year.
Mo Gaba: A heart breaking story this offseason, the passing of Ravens superfan Mo Gaba was announced on July 28th. A dedicated fan of Baltimore sports, Mo passed at age 14 after multiple battles with cancer. He was heavily involved with the Ravens organization, notably announcing the Ravens selection of Ben Powers as the first ever draft pick announced via braille in 2019. He was known as a ray of light by many Ravens players, and always had a sunny and cheery disposition despite the struggles he faced. This post is dedicated to his life, and Mo is beloved across Ravens nation.
Latest Injury and FA News:
Iman Marshal: Torn ACL, out for the year.
Chris Moore: Broken finger, out for a few weeks.
Dez Bryant: The FA WR, has reportedly garnered interest from the Ravens front office and is traveling to Baltimore for a workout.
Projected Starting Lineup:
· QB: Lamar Jackson:
Following an incredible MVP season, expectations are heaped high on QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson amazed with his running ability, making elite athletes routinely look foolish with his juking ability and speed. He was also incredibly efficient in the passing game, leveraging his running threat to keep defenses spread thin. Lamar is expected to continue his dominance this year, as his unique skillset is incredibly difficult to plan for. Jackson has his sights set on the post season, as his 0-2 playoff record is one black mark on an otherwise incredible start to his career.
· RB: Mark Ingram:
Ingram proved to be a force in 2019 as a complement to Lamar, as he chewed up defenses frozen by Jacksons rushing ability for YAC and first downs on a routine basis. As with last year the Ravens will address running back with a committee, expect to see Gus Edwards and new addition JK Dobbins feature heavily in the offense.
· FB: Patrick Ricard:
One of the NFLS few remaining two-way players, Ricard is an 800-pound gorilla whose lead blocking ability sets the tone of the Ravens hardnosed rushing offense.
· TE: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle:
A dynamic duo, Andrews and Boyle will have more responsibility following the offseason departure of Hayden Hurst. Boyle has proven himself as one of the most effective blockers at the tight end position in the NFL, and he acts almost like another linemen, mauling defense fronts and empowering the run game. Andrews has emerged as one of the premier TE receiving threats in the NFL, and will have the opportunity this year to take the leap needed to reach the tier of players like George Kittle, Travis Kelsey, and Zach Ertz.
· WR: Hollywood Brown, Willie Snead, Miles Boykin:
In an offense that does not heavily feature WR play, the Ravens young corps will need to step up to get the Ravens over the hump in the playoffs. Brown and Boykin will need to take a leap in their second years to solidify the group. Brown faces the weight of expectation as many believe he has the potential to become the 1,000-yard WR threat the Ravens have lacked for most of their franchises’ history.
· LT: Ronnie Stanley:
The best LT in the NFL, Stanley imposes his will on defenders and anchors an offensive line that was dominant in 2019. Stanley’s play last year earned him all pro honors and the biggest question around him is how expensive he will become following the block buster extension signed by Laremy Tunsil this offseason,
· LG: Bradley Boseman:
An average to above average starter at left guard, Bozeman did a good job in 2019. While he will face competition for his spot from players like Ben Powers and Ben Bredeson, he projects to start again in 2020.
· C: Matt Skura: The starting center who was lost mid-season due to injury, Skura’s return is of keen importance to the Ravens. Skura’s back up, Patrick Mekari, did a great job filling in, but was ultimately exposed in the Titan’s game, contributing to the Ravens offensive woes in that matchup.
· RG: DJ Fluker: A road grader in the run game who is average to below average in the passing game, Fluker’s skillset fits what the Ravens are trying to accomplish. While there will be a competition for this spot, the ability to plug in a veteran like Fluker over a first- or second-year player makes him the likely candidate to replace Ravens great Marshal Yanda.
· RT: Orlando Brown Jr.:
A gigantic human being who followed in his father’s footsteps, Brown along with Stanley formed one of the best young tackle duos in the NFL. Brown Jr. was extremely solid in 2019 and should only get better going into this year.
· DL: Derek Wolfe, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Jaylon Ferguson:
A group ultimately marked by its failure to stop the run in 2019, the Ravens completely overhauled their starting lineup. The addition of Campbell and Wolfe to a unit that returns Brandon Williams to his natural position of NT should see significant improvement heading into this year.
· LB: Matthew Judon, Patrick Queen, LJ Fort:
A unit that was so weak last year that the Ravens were signing players off the street to start, the LB corps has a lot to live up to in 2020. One of the team’s larger question marks, the LB corps’ effectiveness will ultimately hinge on what level of contribution it can get from rookies Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison.
· CB: Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, Marcus Peters:
Featuring one of the best CB duos in the league in Peters and Humphrey, the Ravens CBs will somehow be even better with the return of slot corner Tavon Young from injury. This CB group will be focused on being the best unit in the league, and there is no reason why they should not accomplish that goal.
· S: Chuck Clark, Earl Thomas:
The Ravens Safety group struggled last year until the injury of Tony Jefferson, and over the season anchored a very effective secondary. There were questions at times about Thomas’ hustle, but he will undoubtedly contribute heavily. Clark played well enough to earn a large extension, and his intelligence will feature heavily in the complicated Martindale system.
· K: Justin Tucker:
Not much to say about this one, Justin Tucker is just better than every other kicker in the league. He is extremely clutch and an absolute weapon on game winning drives, oh and he sings opera too.
· P: Sam Koch:
A player who reinvented the way his position is played, Sam Koch rejoins the wolf pack for another season with a fresh leg, after barely having to punt last year. Not a bad gig.
· KR: Justice Hill:
In a crowded RB room, KR may be the best way for the speedy Hill to see the field consistently next year.
· PR: James Proche:
A shifty and speedy talent with extremely sure hands, Proche will compete immediately for the PR spot, and should see time there in 2020.
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses
Position groups:
· QB: The Ravens are very strong at the QB position. With the League MVP in Lamar Jackson, and an above average back up in RGIII, the team should feel extremely confident about its QB room.
· Backfield: The Ravens have one of the strongest RB Corps in the league, and all 4 RBS should contribute in many ways in the Ravens unique offense.
· OL: One of the strongest units in 2019, the OL should take a step back with the loss of Marshal Yanda. How the unit adjusts to this change will be one of the most important questions for the team to answer this year,
· Pass Catchers: Efficiency is the name of the game for the Ravens passing game and that will be the story in 2020. While there are many teams in the league with more productive TE and WR rooms, the Ravens offensive scheme should allow players like Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews to be big contributors.
· DL: The DL must do its part in washing the stain of Derek Henry’s play off performance from the Raven’s memory. This unit appears to be much improved and should be poised to do so under the leadership of Calais Campbell.
· LB: This unit is a huge question mark and we will not know how good they are until we can see the impact of the rookies firsthand. If Patrick Queen and Harrison are ready to contribute right away, it should be a solid group.
· Secondary: The Ravens have across the board the most complete secondary in the league, bar none. This unit was extremely strong last year and should remain so in 2020.
· Special Teams: Special Teams has traditionally been a strength for the Ravens. The kicking and punting units should continue to be top of the league, while there are some questions on how the KR and PR teams will perform this year.
Schedule Prediction
Week 1: Browns
Prediction: Win
The Browns have a talented roster and could be a huge threat if they can pull things together in 2020. However, installing a new HC with the limitations of covid places the Ravens as the week one favorites.
Week 2: @ Texans
Prediction: Win
Houston is hard to predict given the instability of the O’Brien regime. However, a Texans team that got trounced by the Ravens last year and lost their star WR will have a hard time overcoming an improved Ravens. The score will likely be closer, but the Ravens should pull it out.
Week 3: Chiefs
Prediction: Loss
The Ravens will have every opportunity to finally snag a win from Patrick Mahomes. However, it will be difficult to overcome a Super Bowl winning team that returns a ridiculous number of starters, especially when Covid steals homefield advantage from you.
Week 4: @ Washington Football Team
Prediction: Win
The WFT comes into the season with a new brand and a fearsome looking defensive line. However, there are too many questions on offense to think the Redskins are likely to beat a stacked Ravens roster.
Week 5: Bengals
Prediction: Win
Joe Burrow has all the tools needed to be an excellent NFL starter. The AFC North is a cold and hostile place however, and it will be difficult to exhibit those talents in year one.
Week 6: @ Eagles
Prediction: Win
The Eagles WR group will have a tough time getting anything going against the Ravens secondary, especially if they have to play from behind. Look for the offense to chew clock and force the Eagles to throw early and often.
Week 7: Steelers
Prediction: Win
Its hard to know how good Pittsburgh will be without seeing the state of Big Ben, but Mike Tomlin is a great head coach and always puts a good team on the field. Since the Ravens and Steelers almost always seems to split, the Ravens are likely to take the contest at home.
Week 8: Bye
The players get much needed rest while I sit in my house cheering for AFC rivals to lose.
Week 9: @ Colts
Prediction: Loss
This Ravens team is stacked, but they are likely to lose a game they should have won, and Indy seems a likely culprit. A talented roster that gets even a decent level of play from Rivers could cause the Ravens to slip up.
Week 10: @ Patriots
Prediction: Win
Belichek always puts a decent product on the field, but a Patriots team that lost the goat QB and was ravaged by opt outs may struggle this season, especially against a team like the Ravens.
Week 11: Titans
Prediction: Win
Revenge game time. A revamped front 7 and a vengeful Lamar Jackson show the Titans how the first game should have gone.
Week 12: @ Steelers
Prediction: Loss
The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is as evenly matched as it is brutal, and its likely the Steelers will be able to split the series with a win at home.
Week 13: Cowboys
Prediction: Win
Dallas has a scary WR corps with the addition of Ceedee Lamb, but after losing Travis Frederick, they might struggle against the Ravens strong secondary and blitz happy front. Ravens win by one score.
Week 14: @ Browns
Prediction: Loss
As stated previously, the Browns have a great roster on paper, and should be a threat. A run first offense with Chubb that utilizes the strong pass catching unit they have could well hand the Ravens a loss later in the season. Or they might continue to be the Browns and not do that at all, but I remain cautious that they can figure it out this year.
Week 15: Jaguars
Prediction: Win
Calais gets to catch up with some old friends while sitting on the bench watching the Ravens offense pound the rock. Ravens cruise to victory.
Week 16: Giants
Prediction: Win
The Giants add an important piece by acquiring a strong Left Tackle but they need to fill a few more holes to compete.
Week 17: u/Bengals
Prediction: Win
Bengals get an advantage as they are comfortable playing at home in an empty stadium, but it is the Lamar Jackson show once again.
Final Record: 12-4
History states that regression is likely after a 14-2 season, and this prediction reflects that. However, the Ravens should still be very strong and Lamar will get his chance once again to prove himself in the post season.
Offensive and Defensive Schemes
Offense: The Ravens debuted a unique offense last year that focused on rushing the ball and using heavy sets with tight ends. The entire offense hinges on the threat of Lamar Jackson running the football. Teams are forced to stay honest up front, or they risk getting gouged by a QB scramble. This allows the Ravens offense to utilize a lot of reads in which Lamar can hand the ball off or keep it himself based on how certain players react. This dynamic run scheme thus allows the passing game by opening holes in the secondary. Look for the Ravens to add more wrinkles in 2020 and utilizes more passing attempts to help the offense remain ahead of the curve.
Defense: The Ravens defense is all about pressure. The Ravens blitz at the highest rate in the NFL. DC Wink Martindale uses multiple looks to confuse quarterbacks by disguising blitzes and coverage. The lynch pin of the scheme is the secondary, which can be left on an island while the front brings pressure. Look for the Ravens to continue this trend in 2020, going after QBs to force mistakes.
Conclusion: The Ravens project as one of the best teams in the NFL, and they need to prove themselves in the post season to take the next step.
Link to hub: https://www.reddit.com/nfl/comments/hju9t3/offseason_review_series_call_for_writers/
submitted by Jonnyawesome89 to nfl [link] [comments]


2020.08.18 00:51 Jonnyawesome89 Offseason Review Series: Baltimore Ravens

Coming off an incredible 14-2 regular season in which the Ravens, led by MVP Lamar Jackson, shocked the league with an innovative offense that ran all over opponents. The team looks toward a 2020 campaign in which they will attempt to shake the sting to an extremely disappointing first round playoff exit.
[Ravens]
Division: AFC North
Coaching Changes
In a season rocked by uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ravens have a significant advantage in the fact that they retain both coordinators and head coach after a successful season. In February, head coach John Harbaugh announced title changes for 6 members of the staff (per baltimoreravens.com):
· Chris Horton – special teams coordinator (formerly special teams coach)
· Randy Brown – special teams coach (formerly assistant special teams coach)
· Chris Hewitt – pass defense coordinator (formerly defensive backs coach)
· Sterling Lucas – defensive assistant/defensive line (formerly defensive assistant/linebackers)
· Jesse Minter – defensive backs coach (formerly assistant defensive backs coach)
· Drew Wilkins – outside linebackers coach (formerly assistant defensive line and outside linebackers coach)
Chris Horton
Horton enters his second year guiding the Ravens' special teams unit after taking over for longtime coordinator Jerry Rosburg following his retirement in 2019. Last season, Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro K Justin Tucker finished second in the NFL with a 96.6 percent field goal success rate (28 of 29), which was also the second-best mark in franchise single-season history. Baltimore also finished eighth in punt return average (8.2) in 2019. A seventh-year coach with the Ravens, Horton has been working with the special teams group since 2015.
Randy Brown
Brown is in his 13th year working with the Ravens' specialists. He has had an instrumental role in the development of the team's kicking game by helping Tucker become the most accurate kicker of all time (90.8 percent). Tucker has scored 141 points in each of his past four seasons, which tie for the Ravens single-season scoring record and make him the NFL's only kicker to surpass the 140 mark in each of the last four years (2016-19).
Chris Hewitt
Hewitt enters his ninth-year coaching with the Ravens after serving as the team's defensive backs coach for the past five seasons (2015-19). Last season, Baltimore's pass defense finished sixth in the NFL (207.2 ypg) with three players from the secondary earning Pro Bowl honors (CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters and S Earl Thomas III). Humphrey and Peters also earned first-team All-Pro accolades. Baltimore tallied a 77.5 defensive passer rating in 2019, which stood as the NFL's second-best mark.
Sterling Lucas
Lucas is in his fifth season with the Ravens after joining the team in 2016 as a strength and conditioning assistant in 2016. He has also served as an administrative assistant – defense (2017), quality control – defense (2018) and most recently as defensive assistant/linebackers (2019). Prior to joining Baltimore, Lucas spent two years as a defensive graduate assistant at North Carolina State.
Jesse Minter
Minter has been with the Ravens since 2017, when he started as a defensive assistant. He was promoted to assistant defensive backs coach in 2019, when he worked under Hewitt. This past season, Baltimore tied (Tampa Bay) for the NFL lead with six defensive touchdowns (including three interceptions returned for touchdowns).
Drew Wilkins
Wilkins enters his 11th year with the Ravens after initially joining the team as a football video operations intern in 2010. He served as the team's assistant defensive line & outside linebackers coach the past two seasons (2018-19). Wilkins originally moved to the coaching side in 2013, when he became a coaching staff assistant. He was promoted to defensive assistant in 2014 before becoming the assistant defensive line coach in 2017. In 2019, OLB Matthew Judon led the Ravens with a career-high 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. The Ravens also finished with 111 quarterback hits, the NFL's third-most.
Free Agency:
Players Lost/Cut
Player Position New Team
Tony Jefferson SS Released
James Hurst OT Released
Michael Pierce DT FA, Minnesota
Josh Bynes ILB FA, Cincinatti
Patrick Onwuasor ILB FA, NY Jets
Seth Roberts WR FA, Carolina
Hayden Hurst TE Traded, Atlanta
Chris Wormley DE Traded, Pittsburgh
De’Anthony Thomas WKR Opt-Out
Andre Smith OT Opt-Out
In an offseason with a few notable departures for the Ravens, none is more impactful than the retirement of OG Marshal Yanda. A 13-year veteran, Yanda anchored the Ravens offensive line, and was consistently amongst the best guards in football. Not just a dominant force on the field, Yanda brought veteran leadership to a young Ravens squad that found a lot of success in the regular season. Now retired, he become a prospect for the NFL Hall of Fame. Marshal Yanda is a caliber of player that is not easily replaced, and the loss of his ability and leadership is one of the biggest question marks for the Ravens offense going into 2020.
Michael Pierce came into the league as an UDFA who was able to become an immediate contributor for the Ravens front 7. An imposing figure at over 330 lbs., Pierce, along with Ravens stalwart Brandon Williams created a stout, if not agile, front for the Ravens defense. Following a 2019 in which Pierce came into camp overweight and out of shape, his long-term future with the team was immediately brought into question, culminating with him signing with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason. The additions by the Ravens of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe this offseason softens the blow considerably, and the unit may even look to be improved headed into this year.
When it comes to Baltimore Ravens and Greg Roman offenses, extensive use of Tight Ends immediately comes to mind. It was therefore surprising to some when the Ravens decided to trade former first round pick Hayden Hurst to the Falcons this offseason. Hurst played significant snaps for the Ravens in a system that heavily utilizes tight ends. Unfortunately for Hurst, he was injured his rookie season and struggled for targets behind Mark Andrews, who has made a case to be considered a top TE in the league. Ultimately, this may be a rare win-win trade, as Hurst will have an opportunity to flourish with Matt Ryan on a Falcons team who recently lost Austin Hooper, while the Ravens were thrilled to use the resulting pick on standout RB JK Dobbins, who fits their system perfectly.
While neither player was a force in the back field last season, the simultaneous losses of Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor presents an interesting challenge for the Ravens, who are now likely to feature two rookies (Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison) heavily in their rotation this year.
The inclusion of opt-outs due to Covid-19 made this offseason tricky for some teams, but the Ravens were relatively unscathed. While the loss of De’Anthony Thomas and Andre Smith does impact depth, ultimately both players were replacement level, and their loss does not represent a significant challenge for 2020.
Players Acquired

Player Position Old Team Length Salary
Matthew Judon DE Ravens Franchise Tag $16.3MM
Derek Wolfe DE Broncos 1 Year $3MM
Jihad Ward DE Ravens 1 Year $1.1MM
Jimmy Smith CB Ravens 1 Year $3.5MM
Anthony Levine Sr S Ravens 1 Year $1.81MM
Chris Moore WR Ravens 1 Year $1.7MM
Sam Koch P Ravens 2 Years $4.95MM
Matt Skura C Ravens 1 Year RFA Tender
Chuck Clark SS Ravens 3 Years $15.3MM
Jordan Richards S Ravens 1 Year $845k
Gus Edwards RB Ravens 1 Year $750K
Nick Moore LS Ravens 1 Year $610K
Calais Campbell DE Jaguars 2 Years $25MM
DJ Fluker OG Seahawks 1 Year $1.07MM
Pernell McPhee DE Ravens 1 Year $1.1MM
While the Ravens did not make a ton of moves on outside players, they did make a big splash early in the offseason with the acquisition of Calais Campbell. At the low cost of just a 5th round pick, the Ravens were able to acquire a perennial pro bowler and veteran leader. A no brainer for the cost, by making this move, along with the signing of Derek Wolfe, the Ravens were able to address their D Line, a unit that was exposed last year by both Nick Chubb and Derek Henry. On the offensive line, the Ravens were able to add DJ Fluker, who can immediately slot into the void left by Marshal Yanda. While Fluker will certainly be a drop off from the Hall of Fame prospect Yanda, his veteran presence should help minimize the impact of losing such an important player.
On the re-signing front, the name of the game was continuity. The Ravens were able to accomplish this goal, returning key pieces of the 2019 squad. Most notably, the Ravens were able to keep intact what was one of the best secondaries in the NFL last year down the stretch. By re-signing Chuck Clark, Anthony Levine, Jimmy Smith and extending Marcus Peters (with already signed players Marlon Humphrey and Earl Thomas) the Ravens are once again slated to have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. This is key, as the Ravens clock chewing, points scoring offense often forces enemy teams to play from behind, and the Ravens defense is once again set up to make passing the ball extremely difficult. At the DE position the Ravens tagged Matthew Judon. A productive player with a high amount of pressures in 2019, Judon was important to retain on an extremely thin DE unit. On offense, they returned RB Gus Edwards and starting C Matt Skura. Skura is an important piece, as his loss was keenly felt against the Titans following his season ending injury in the Rams game.
Draft
The Ravens are known across the NFL for accumulating picks through trades and compensatory selections. This year was no exception, as the Ravens had 10 total selections, including a whopping 6 picks in the first three rounds.

Round Pick (OVR) Player Position School
1 28 (28) Patrick Queen LB LSU
2 23 (55) JK Dobbins RB Ohio State
3 7 (71) Justin Madubuike DT Texas A&M
3 28 (92) Devin Duvernay WR Texas
3 34 (98) Malik Harrison LB Ohio State
3 42 (106) Tyre Phillips OT Miss State
4 37 (143) Ben Bredeson G Michigan
5 25 (170) Broderick Washington DT Texas Tech
6 22 (201) James Proche WR SMU
7 5 (219) Geno Stone S Iowa

Draft Grades:
Round 1:
Patrick Queen: A+
One of the most notable weaknesses of the Ravens Defense in 2019 was the linebacking corps. After losing CJ Mosley the previous offseason, the remaining LBs proved unequal to the task, culminating in a complete reshuffling of the position with off the street free agents a few weeks into the season. While the new group was serviceable, the Ravens had a noticeably porous run defense when playing from behind, which was not an issue for much of the year but got completely exposed in an embarrassing round 1 playoff exit. This made LB a huge position of need. The Ravens, true to their reputation, remained patient in the first round while other teams linked to first round LB talent, (teams like Green Bay and New Orleans) went elsewhere, and other teams made reaches, (notably the Seahawks one pick earlier) and still got their guy, much later than originally projected. Queen is an exciting addition to the Ravens Defense. Fast and with great instincts, Queen has a knack for always being around the play. He shows up in the biggest moments, snagging a key interception from Tua Tagovailoa against Alabama and earning Defensive MVP honors in the national championship game. Queen does have some weaknesses, with weak tackling at times and only one year of proven production. However, given the Ravens’ ability to develop linebackers, they must have been ecstatic to snag a player who many analysists believed would be long gone by pick 28.
Round 2:
JK Dobbins: A-
The Ravens had perhaps the most dominant rushing attack of the modern era in 2019, which caused many to be shocked when they selected a running back with their second pick of the NFL Draft. However, anyone who is a close observer of the Ravens understood the selection. The Ravens live by the mantra of “Best Player Available” and as an organization refuse to reach for positions of need. This has made them one of the more successful organizations in the draft, as they consistently find value with their picks. Dobbins is a perfect fit for the Ravens system. He is a shifty back with great vision who demonstrated great understanding of how to take what the defense gives him. This projects very well into an offense that opens so many holes with a dominant line and constant running threat of MVP Lamar Jackson. Dobbins should be an immediate contributor and projects as the long-term starter, particularly if the Ravens part ways with Mark Ingram after this year. He is the second All-Time rusher at Ohio State, ahead of players like Ezekiel Elliott and Eddie George. His ability to run out of the pistol makes him a great complement to Lamar Jackson in RPO situations.
Rounds 3:
Justin Madubuke: A
Every year the Ravens seem to have a pick in the mid rounds that dumbfounds analysts. This is because they have a knack for scooping up players that should not still be on the board without giving up capital to do so. In this example, the Ravens traded back from pick 60, and likely still got the player they were targeting. Madubuike is a mountain at 6’3, 293 pounds, and has shown success at not only containing the run but pressuring the QB. Madubuike provides an infusion of youth to a defensive line that is one of the older units on the team. This pick is also indicative of the Ravens commitment to returning to their run stuffing roots, the front office was clearly unhappy with the pain inflicted by Derek Henry in the divisional round.
Devin Duvernay: B+
Coming into 2020, the Ravens WRS are the biggest question mark on the roster. An extremely inexperienced unit, many thought that it was a position that would be addressed much earlier in the draft. However, the Ravens were patient, and snagged the guy they wanted in Devin Duvernay. Duvernay had extremely successful 2019, racking up 1,386 yards and showcasing very reliable hands. The speedy, sure-handed nature of Duvernay’s game is a definite complement to Lamar Jacksons playstyle, as the Ravens rely on efficiency over volume in the passing game. One consideration with Duvernay moving forward is that he is most effective from the slot, which is rather crowded with the Ravens current lineup of pass catchers.
Malik Harrison: A-
As with Patrick Queen, the Ravens were clearly motivated to overhaul a weak line backing unit that was picked on at times in 2019. Harrison, a large, run thumping LB, projects as a great complement to the speedy, instinctual Queen. The Ravens were clearly motivated to fix their run stopping issues. Harrison is a large presence who is extremely reliable in maintaining his gap assignments, which should go a long way in shoring up the Ravens run D.
Tyre Phillips: B-
With the last pick of the third round, an exhausted Roger Goodell announced the pick of Tyre Phillips. Phillips, a 6 ft 5, 345 pound OT, is likely to be involved in the Ravens competition at guard to replace Marshal Yanda. Phillips shows great size and natural athleticism, with some roughness to his technique. While he was drafted earlier than predicted, Phillips will have the chance to grow in the Ravens’ system and compete for a starting role.
Round 4:
Ben Bredeson: A-
An All Big Ten player under head coach John Harbaugh’s brother Jim at Michigan, Ben Bredeson seemed destined to stay in the Harbaugh family. A great complement to the previous pick of Phillips, Bredeson projects as more pro ready on day one. There are concerns about his natural length at the pro level, however, with his technique, Bredeson should be in the mix early on. Adding a second offensive line here was a great move by the Ravens to help shore up their interior O line.
Round 5:
Broderick Washington: C
The Ravens addressed defensive line again in round 5, in a move that was a head scratcher to some. The Ravens like Washington as a player and as a leader, and so did not hesitate to grab him. While this does seem like somewhat of a luxury pick, Washington will get the chance to learn from great players like Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. Washington doesn’t need to feel pressured to contribute year one. This pick once again demonstrates the Ravens commitment to “Best player Available”.
Round 6:
James Proche: B+
In a surprise move, the Ravens traded back in to acquire James Proche. A player who analysts like Mel Kiper thought would go much higher, the Ravens get to add another prospect to their stable of young WRs. Proche is a speedy, productive, sure-handed WR that seems to be the favorite of QB Lamar Jackson. With the opting out of De’Anthony Thomas, Proche’s most likely route to the field in year one will be as a kick returner.
Round 7:
Geno Stone: B
With their 10th and final selection of the draft, the Ravens snagged S Geno Stone. An intelligent, cagey safety at Iowa, Stone fell to the seventh round due to concerns around his athleticism. He will have to prove himself to make a stacked roster. However, he does project as a special teams contributor with some long term potential upside in a safety group that lacks depth.
Overall A: In a draft with many picks, the Ravens acquired a lot of good players with immediate contribution potential. They were able to make a good team better without making drastic moves or giving up significant capital. The Ravens FO are masters at letting the draft come to them, and once again they had a consensus great draft that was lauded by analysts.
Other Offseason News that Affected the Team
The Ravens avoided major drama in the offseason. There were, however, a few stories of note in the media.
Earl Thomas Incident: Earl Thomas was in the news following an altercation with his wife in which she allegedly pointed a gun at his head. Thomas’ wife Nina reportedly tracked Earl and his brother to a rental house, were they were shacked up with women. The Ravens were reported to be very displeased with Thomas, who did not alert the team to the story ahead of time. One point that is important to note, that while the entire incident was very strange, Earl was not in the same room as his brother as was being speculated on the internet. Both brothers were in different rooms with their respective partners.
Lamar Jackson: After a breakout MVP season, Lamar has become a veritable superstar, notably gracing the cover of Madden.
Antonio Brown: After being filmed working out with quarterback Lamar Jackson and his cousin, WR Hollywood Brown, Antonio Brown has been repeatedly linked with the Ravens. Jackson has gone as far as to publicly advocate for signing the wayward receiver. However, given that Brown will be suspended for half of the season, and Owner Steve Bischotti has publicly eschewed the idea of signing players with domestic violence issues following the Ray Rice incident, a pairing of Antonio Brown and Jackson seems unlikely.
Hollywood Brown: While not a national story, one thing that Ravens fans are excited about is the offseason progress of Hollywood Brown. After having a screw surgically removed from his foot, Brown has been posting his workouts and has reportedly gained 23 pounds from last year.
Mo Gaba: A heart breaking story this offseason, the passing of Ravens superfan Mo Gaba was announced on July 28th. A dedicated fan of Baltimore sports, Mo passed at age 14 after multiple battles with cancer. He was heavily involved with the Ravens organization, notably announcing the Ravens selection of Ben Powers as the first every draft pick announced via braille in 2019. He was known as a ray of light by many Ravens players, and always had a sunny and cheery disposition despite the struggles he faced. This post is dedicated to his life, and Mo is beloved across Ravens nation.
Latest Injury and FA News:
Iman Marshal: Torn ACL, out for the year.
Chris Moore: Broken finger, out for a few weeks.
Dez Bryant: The FA WR, has reportedly garnered interest from the Ravens front office and is traveling to Baltimore for a workout.
Projected Starting Lineup:
· QB: Lamar Jackson:
Following an incredible MVP season, expectations are heaped high on QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson amazed with his running ability, making elite athletes routinely look foolish with his juking ability and speed. He was also incredibly efficient in the passing game, leveraging his running threat to keep defenses spread thin. Lamar is expected to continue his dominance this year, as his unique skillset is incredibly difficult to plan for. Jackson has his sights set on the post season, as his 0-2 playoff record is one black mark on an otherwise incredible start to his career.
· RB: Mark Ingram:
Ingram proved to be a force in 2019 as a complement to Lamar, as he chewed up defenses frozen by Jacksons rushing ability for YAC and first downs on a routine basis. As with last year the Ravens will address running back with a committee, expect to see Gus Edwards and new addition JK Dobbins feature heavily in the offense.
· FB: Patrick Ricard:
One of the NFLS few remaining two-way players, Ricard is an 800-pound gorilla whose lead blocking ability sets the tone of the Ravens hardnosed rushing offense.
· TE: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle:
A dynamic duo, Andrews and Boyle will have more responsibility following the offseason departure of Hayden Hurst. Boyle has proven himself as one of the most effective blockers at the tight end position in the NFL, and he acts almost like another linemen, mauling defense fronts and empowering the run game. Andrews has emerged as one of the premier TE receiving threats in the NFL, and will have the opportunity this year to take the leap needed to reach the tier of players like George Kittle, Travis Kelsey, and Zach Ertz.
· WR: Hollywood Brown, Willie Snead, Miles Boykin:
In an offense that does not heavily feature WR play, the Ravens young corps will need to step up to get the Ravens over the hump in the playoffs. Brown and Boykin will need to take a leap in their second years to solidify the group. Brown faces the weight of expectation as many believe he has the potential to become the 1,000-yard WR threat the Ravens have lacked for most of their franchises’ history.
· LT: Ronnie Stanley:
The best LT in the NFL, Stanley imposes his will on defenders and anchors an offensive line that was dominant in 2019. Stanley’s play last year earned him all pro honors and the biggest question around him is how expensive he will become following the block buster extension signed by Laremy Tunsil this offseason,
· LG: Bradley Boseman:
An average to above average starter at left guard, Bozeman did a good job in 2019. While he will face competition for his spot from players like Ben Powers and Ben Bredeson, he projects to start again in 2020.
· C: Matt Skura: The starting center who was lost mid-season due to injury, Skura’s return is of keen importance to the Ravens. Skura’s back up, Patrick Mekari, did a great job filling in, but was ultimately exposed in the Titan’s game, contributing to the Ravens offensive woes in that matchup.
· RG: DJ Fluker: A road grader in the run game who is average to below average in the passing game, Fluker’s skillset fits what the Ravens are trying to accomplish. While there will be a competition for this spot, the ability to plug in a veteran like Fluker over a first- or second-year player makes him the likely candidate to replace Ravens great Marshal Yanda.
· RT: Orlando Brown Jr.:
A gigantic human being who followed in his father’s footsteps, Brown along with Stanley formed one of the best young tackle duos in the NFL. Brown Jr. was extremely solid in 2019 and should only get better going into this year.
· DL: Derek Wolfe, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Jaylon Ferguson:
A group ultimately marked by its failure to stop the run in 2019, the Ravens completely overhauled their starting lineup. The addition of Campbell and Wolfe to a unit that returns Brandon Williams to his natural position of NT should see significant improvement heading into this year.
· LB: Matthew Judon, Patrick Queen, LJ Fort:
A unit that was so weak last year that the Ravens were signing players off the street to start, the LB corps has a lot to live up to in 2020. One of the team’s larger question marks, the LB corps’ effectiveness will ultimately hinge on what level of contribution it can get from rookies Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison.
· CB: Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, Marcus Peters:
Featuring one of the best CB duos in the league in Peters and Humphrey, the Ravens CBs will somehow be even better with the return of slot corner Tavon Young from injury. This CB group will be focused on being the best unit in the league, and there is no reason why they should not accomplish that goal.
· S: Chuck Clark, Earl Thomas:
The Ravens Safety group struggled last year until the injury of Tony Jefferson, and over the season anchored a very effective secondary. There were questions at times about Thomas’ hustle, but he will undoubtedly contribute heavily. Clark played well enough to earn a large extension, and his intelligence will feature heavily in the complicated Martindale system.
· K: Justin Tucker:
Not much to say about this one, Justin Tucker is just better than every other kicker in the league. He is extremely clutch and an absolute weapon on game winning drives, oh and he sings opera too.
· P: Sam Koch:
A player who reinvented the way his position is played, Sam Koch rejoins the wolf pack for another season with a fresh leg, after barely having to punt last year. Not a bad gig.
· KR: Justice Hill:
In a crowded RB room, KR may be the best way for the speedy Hill to see the field consistently next year.
· PR: James Proche:
A shifty and speedy talent with extremely sure hands, Proche will compete immediately for the PR spot, and should see time there in 2020.
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses
Position groups:
· QB: The Ravens are very strong at the QB position. With the League MVP in Lamar Jackson, and an above average back up in RGIII, the team should feel extremely confident about its QB room.
· Backfield: The Ravens have one of the strongest RB Corps in the league, and all 4 RBS should contribute in many ways in the Ravens unique offense.
· OL: One of the strongest units in 2019, the OL should take a step back with the loss of Marshal Yanda. How the unit adjusts to this change will be one of the most important questions for the team to answer this year,
· Pass Catchers: Efficiency is the name of the game for the Ravens passing game and that will be the story in 2020. While there are many teams in the league with more productive TE and WR rooms, the Ravens offensive scheme should allow players like Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews to be big contributors.
· DL: The DL must do its part in washing the stain of Derek Henry’s play off performance from the Raven’s memory. This unit appears to be much improved and should be poised to do so under the leadership of Calais Campbell.
· LB: This unit is a huge question mark and we will not know how good they are until we can see the impact of the rookies firsthand. If Patrick Queen and Harrison are ready to contribute right away, it should be a solid group.
· Secondary: The Ravens have across the board the most complete secondary in the league, bar none. This unit was extremely strong last year and should remain so in 2020.
· Special Teams: Special Teams has traditionally been a strength for the Ravens. The kicking and punting units should continue to be top of the league, while there are some questions on how the KR and PR teams will perform this year.
Schedule Prediction
Week 1: Browns
Prediction: Win
The Browns have a talented roster and could be a huge threat if they can pull things together in 2020. However, installing a new HC with the limitations of covid places the Ravens as the week one favorites.
Week 2: @ Texans
Prediction: Win
Houston is hard to predict given the instability of the O’Brien regime. However, a Texans team that got trounced by the Ravens last year and lost their star WR will have a hard time overcoming an improved Ravens. The score will likely be closer, but the Ravens should pull it out.
Week 3: Chiefs
Prediction: Loss
The Ravens will have every opportunity to finally snag a win from Patrick Mahomes. However, it will be difficult to overcome a Super Bowl winning team that returns a ridiculous number of starters, especially when Covid steals homefield advantage from you.
Week 4: @ Washington Football Team
Prediction: Win
The WFT comes into the season with a new brand and a fearsome looking defensive line. However, there are too many questions on offense to think the Redskins are likely to beat a stacked Ravens roster.
Week 5: Bengals
Prediction: Win
Joe Burrow has all the tools needed to be an excellent NFL starter. The AFC North is a cold and hostile place however, and it will be difficult to exhibit those talents in year one.
Week 6: @ Eagles
Prediction: Win
The Eagles WR group will have a tough time getting anything going against the Ravens secondary, especially if they have to play from behind. Look for the offense to chew clock and force the Eagles to throw early and often.
Week 7: Steelers
Prediction: Win
Its hard to know how good Pittsburgh will be without seeing the state of Big Ben, but Mike Tomlin is a great head coach and always puts a good team on the field. Since the Ravens and Steelers almost always seems to split, the Ravens are likely to take the contest at home.
Week 8: Bye
The players get much needed rest while I sit in my house cheering for AFC rivals to lose.
Week 9: @ Colts
Prediction: Loss
This Ravens team is stacked, but they are likely to lose a game they should have won, and Indy seems a likely culprit. A talented roster that gets even a decent level of play from Rivers could cause the Ravens to slip up.
Week 10: @ Patriots
Prediction: Win
Belichek always puts a decent product on the field, but a Patriots team that lost the goat QB and was ravaged by opt outs may struggle this season, especially against a team like the Ravens.
Week 11: Titans
Prediction: Win
Revenge game time. A revamped front 7 and a vengeful Lamar Jackson show the Titans how the first game should have gone.
Week 12: @ Steelers
Prediction: Loss
The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is as evenly matched as it is brutal, and its likely the Steelers will be able to split the series with a win at home.
Week 13: Cowboys
Prediction: Win
Dallas has a scary WR corps with the addition of Ceedee Lamb, but after losing Travis Frederick, they might struggle against the Ravens strong secondary and blitz happy front. Ravens win by one score.
Week 14: @ Browns
Prediction: Loss
As stated previously, the Browns have a great roster on paper, and should be a threat. A run first offense with Chubb that utilizes the strong pass catching unit they have could well hand the Ravens a loss later in the season. Or they might continue to be the Browns and not do that at all, but I remain cautious that they can figure it out this year.
Week 15: Jaguars
Prediction: Win
Calais gets to catch up with some old friends while sitting on the bench watching the Ravens offense pound the rock. Ravens cruise to victory.
Week 16: Giants
Prediction: Win
The Giants add an important piece by acquiring a strong Left Tackle but they need to fill a few more holes to compete.
Week 17: u/Bengals
Prediction: Win
Bengals get an advantage as they are comfortable playing at home in an empty stadium, but it is the Lamar Jackson show once again.
Final Record: 12-4
History states that regression is likely after a 14-2 season, and this prediction reflects that. However, the Ravens should still be very strong and Lamar will get his chance once again to prove himself in the post season.
Offensive and Defensive Schemes
Offense: The Ravens debuted a unique offense last year that focused on rushing the ball and using heavy sets with tight ends. The entire offense hinges on the threat of Lamar Jackson running the football. Teams are forced to stay honest up front, or they risk getting gouged by a QB scramble. This allows the Ravens offense to utilize a lot of reads in which Lamar can hand the ball off or keep it himself based on how certain players react. This dynamic run scheme thus allows the passing game by opening holes in the secondary. Look for the Ravens to add more wrinkles in 2020 and utilizes more passing attempts to help the offense remain ahead of the curve.
Defense: The Ravens defense is all about pressure. The Ravens blitz at the highest rate in the NFL. DC Wink Martindale uses multiple looks to confuse quarterbacks by disguising blitzes and coverage. The lynch pin of the scheme is the secondary, which can be left on an island while the front brings pressure. Look for the Ravens to continue this trend in 2020, going after QBs to force mistakes.
Conclusion: The Ravens project as one of the best teams in the NFL, and they need to prove themselves in the post season to take the next step.
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2020.08.15 01:29 Sconnie92 Around the Alliance 07.20 ROOKIE ROUND UP and 2020 PROJECTIONS

In this important (and delayed) edition of Around the Alliance:

RECAP of 2020 UFFA ROOKIE DRAFT

Quarterbacks
Joe Burrow (1.02) Lincoln - After a blockbuster trade that saw Lincoln move up, it was believed the move was to get Burrow. The young QB will have plenty of time to develop alongside Sam Darnold as the veterans Ryan, Newton, and Rivers helm the Johnsons' first season in the heartland.
Tua Tagoviola (1.05) Swansea City - After some surprise that Tua wasn't taken at #4 overall, the Ducks made sure he didn't fall farther. The pick eases pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick to perform when starters Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo need a break. QB and RB were Swansea's biggest needs coming into the draft, and walking away with Tagoviola is a great feeling.
Justin Herbert (1.08) St Louis - While Herbert was never mocked higher than #8 overall, it was by no means a reach. The rebuilt Clydesdales are fully moved into their new headquarters across the river in Illinois and excited to see what a new signal caller can do for the Gateway City.
Jalen Hurts (3.06) Hawaii - Hurts lands in a great position in Hawaii with starter Drew Brees entering into his last season and Derek Carr and Marcus Mariotta unlikely to coexist long in the SF slot. Though currently slotted for the Taxi, it would not be surprising to see the Volcanoes move Hurts to active for emergency starts given his 3 year contract option.
Jordan Love (3.09) Northwoods - Love will ride the taxi for the Hoes for possibly two years, given the team's strength and youth at the position. By selecting at the end of the 3rd round, Northwoods now effectively controls Jordan Love for possibly 5 years before entering into extension talks. Hindsight may look back quite fondly on this pick on day.
Jacob Eason (5.04) Alaska - Headed to the great white north, Eason will look to ride the taxi for 2020 in hopes of getting a shot on the active roster in 2021. For the time being, he'll need to progress in the minors before getting his Alliance shot.
Running Backs
Jonathan Taylor (1.01) Alaska - Despite half-assed smokescreens, Taylor goes 1st overall to the Kodiak. While the addition of McCaffrey was a major transaction (in a continuation of Alaska going all-in on 2020), Taylor gives a small glimmer of hope for the future at RB with the looming unknown of Aaron Jones career arc.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1.03) San Juan - Adding CEH at #3 overall has helped cement the Shrimp as a real player in the 2020 Extior. While some are ready to hand over the championship to Alaska, San Juan has a strong case that the division is still up for grabs. Safely playing Flex behind Mixon and Drake will give Edwards-Helaire time to acclimate to the Alliance before needing to produce.
Cam Akers (1.04) Albuquerque - The first true Roadrunner, Akers was a bit of a surprise, but not a reach. While the majority of mocks had Albuqueque landing CEH or Tua, the fiesty expansion team gave a boost of confidence to Tannehill and Bridgewater as they turned toward RB over QB. Akers should sure up the Flex, if not outright challenge Conner or Ekeler for starting RB.
J.K. Dobbins (1.09) Northwoods - After missing out on landing Dalvin Cook via trade, the Hodags were able to grab Dobbins at the end of the 1st. With a strong backfield already, Dobbins will have time to sit, but is unlikely to ride the taxi.
De'Andre Swift (2.02) Dunedin - With their second pick, the Rangers landed top talent with Swift. Given the age and shaky injury history of Dunedin's backfield, it makes sense why GM Koch was thrilled to send in the pick.
Zack Moss (2.03) San Juan - Somewhat of a surprising pick at #13 overall, GM Ramos got his guy in Zack Moss. Moss was unlikely to fall into the 3rd round, and San Juan has always been cautious with trades, so the pick only raises eyebrows on ADP. Should Moss produce at the goal line, as the Shrimp hope, then no one will worry about this selection.
Ke'Shawn Vaughn (2.05) Swansea City - The Swansea City Ducks addressed a position of need when they drafted Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the middle of the second round. Vaughn will hope to be a depth piece behind Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt and may even get consistent game time this season depending on how the Ducks plan to line up. (DonJuaN64)
Darryton Evans (2.09) Hawaii - The 8th RB off the board, Evans leapfrogged several backs that he was projected behind. While the pick was unexpected given some of the other names available, GM Alexa has received resounding praise for his alertness in reading the room and pulling the trigger ahead of the curve.
Antonio Gibson (3.01) Oklahoma City - The defending Alliance champs didn't get their first pick until the beginning of the 3rd. With that 21st overall selection, the Storm strengthened their RB room with the versatile Gibson. While OKC only has 7 rostered RBs, all of them, including Gibson, are in contention for snaps this season.
A.J. Dillon (3.04) Lincoln - Selected with the 1st of the Johnsons two picks in the 3rd round, A.J. Dillon joins a running back group already led by Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs. If he plays, he will most likely be in the mix with Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram II for backup snaps and he'll be hoping his large frame will allow him some limited goal line work behind Henry. (DonJuaN64)
Joshua Kelley (3.10) Albuquerque - After a long wait from their first pick, the Roadrunners ended the 3rd with another RB. Kelley is a prime taxi target given the depth of the position for the team.
Lamical Perine (4.04) St Louis - A depth pick for sure, Perine could get in the mix for 2020 snaps should starters Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette, or Kerryon Johnson experience prolonged injury.
Anthony McFarland (4.08) Lincoln - While likely to make the team, McFarland will have to fight for his spot on the active roster against declining veterans Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis.
Eno Benjamin (5.02) Hawaii - A move for the future, Benjamin has already been declared a taxi target by the Volcanoes. The hope is for Benjamin to pick up some wisdom from elder backs Freeman, Bell, and the like.
Lynn Bowden (5.06) Dunedin - Mired in some legal trouble, Bowden is a swing for the fences you like to see at the end of the draft. If he is able to play in the Alliance, he could easily turn into a star for the Rangers.
DeeJay Dallas (5.10) Albuquerque - Mr. Irrelevant 2020 goes to DeeJay Dallas. Despite the moniker, the Roadrunners are hoping for early return on Dallas thanks to his return skills. This is likely the only path to keeping him off the taxi/roster bubble.
Wide Receivers
CeeDee Lamb (1.06) Dunedin - Taken 6th overall, CeeDee Lamb was one of the two most hyped wide receivers in this stacked draft class for the position. The 6'2" 21 year old joins a Rangers wide receiver group led by 'Bama boys, Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Given his talent and high draft spot, CeeDee BLAM will no doubt be competing with Brandin Cooks for a starting spot. (DonJuaN64)
Justin Jefferson (1.07) Lincoln - Lincoln was the only team with two 1st round picks. The first pick was chalk (Joe Burrow, 1.02), but Jefferson was a heart pick at #7. With other highly touted names still available, the Johnsons addressed a position of need with the guy they clearly believe in the most.
Jerry Jeudy (1.10) Hawaii - Closing out the 1st round, Hawaii took Jeudy as part of their air raid offense. With Drew Brees in the final act of his career, the front office is surrounding him with all the talent possible. Jeudy's route running and high football IQ should help him instantly mesh with the veterans of the corps.
Henry Ruggs (2.01) Alaska - Taken as the first pick of the second round by the Alaska Kodiak, Henry Ruggs III comes into the Alliance boasting one, of if not the, fastest speeds of any receiver. Even with his speed and upside, Ruggs will face an uphill battle to make it into the starting lineup on a weekly basis, as the top 3 spots will most likely be filled by Tyreek Hill, Deandre Hopkins, and Mike Evans. He may have to settle for being 4th receiver in the Flex, if he makes the starting lineup at all. (DonJuaN64)
Jalen Reagor (2.04) St Louis - Reagor adds some depth behind a star studded starting WR corp. Expect the Clydesdales to call on the rookie a few times this season for Flex play.
Michael Pittman (2.06) Hawaii - Grabbing their second WR in as many picks, the Volcanoes continue to go all-in on their passing attack. Playing alongside minor league teammate Parris Campbell will also be a boon to Pittman's value.
Tee Higgins (2.07) Northwoods - GM Smith has an affinity for WR, and it must have hurt passing on Jeudy in the 1st. But patience paid off as the Hodags snatched Higgins at a great value. There's little pressure on the rookie to produce early, but he may still see some action in 2020.
Laviska Shenault (2.08) Alaska - A favorite of co-owner Peele, Shenault brings versatility to an already stacked starting line up. It was well known that the Kodiak needed to come out of the draft with several WRs to bolster their depth, and Laviska falls perfectly in line.
Denzel Mims (3.02) St Louis - Taken 2nd in the 3rd round by the Clydesdales, Denzel Mims is most likely a depth pick. The 6'3" man out of Baylor starts his UFFA career buried in the Clydesdales depth chart. (DonJuaN64)
Brandon Aiyuk (3.03) San Juan - Brandon Aiyuk starts his UFFA journey with the Shrimps after being taken 3rd in the 3rd round. Taken as the first WR to the Shrimps, the 6'0" man out of ASU is far from being guaranteed a start, with the Shrimps starting wide receivers being relatively established, but don't be surprised if the YAC monster makes a push up the depth chart. (DonJuaN64)
Chase Claypool (3.05) Swansea City - Claypool is a nice pick at a relatively strong position for the Ducks. His $3 rookie contract makes him a likely candidate for active roster, but Swansea City has no need to press him into the lineup. That said, recent news about starter Deebo Samuel's foot injury could make Claypool an interesting depth piece.
Devin Duvernay (3.07) St Louis - The 2nd wide receiver taken by the Clydesdales in the 3rd round, Devin Duvernay faces the same uphill battle as earlier pick Denzel Mims for a starting spot. Duuuuuvernaayyyy however, is at a height disadvantage compared to his fellow 3rd round draftee at only 5'11". (DonJuaN64)
Bryan Edwards (4.01) Alaska - In what was a truly bizarre pick (traded twice in a matter of minutes), the Kodiak came away with Edwards. Rumor has it Alaska was itching to get back into the 3rd to grab the WR. Obviously they see something special, as they valued him equal to a 2021 2nd rounder.
Antonio Gandy-Golden (4.03) San Juan - Gandy-Golden is a nice depth piece, but comes into a crowded (and talented) WR room. Given the Shrimp's roster construction and cap situation, AGG might go unsigned come August.
K.J. Hamler (4.06) Dunedin - Rumored to be half-hobbit, the 5'9" WR will hope to make a big impression to the coaches as the Rangers look to transition their corp from aging veterans to younger talent.
Tyler Johnson (4.07) St Louis - The Clydesdales used their last pick on Johnson (their 4th WR taken). While a potential taxi target, Johnson could also be thrust into action to see if he's worth the flier or could be a cut candidate in seasons to come.
Donovan People-Jones (4.10) Alaska - The Kodiak came away with 4 receivers as expected from mocks, but People-Jones may be best suited on the taxi rather than a depth piece on the bench.
Van Jefferson (5.05) Swansea City - One of the most surprising falls in the draft, Jefferson was expected to late 3rd/early 4th. The Ducks got great value on the pick and even have the luxury of possibly putting Van on the taxi to extend his rookie 2 year deal.
Gabriel Davis (5.08) Lincoln - While the Johnsons need WR depth, Davis is very much on the roster bubble given that Lincoln is 2 players over the max.
Tight Ends
Cole Kmet (2.10) Dunedin - Selected at the tail end of the 2nd round by the Rangers and as the 1st tight end off the board, Cole Kmet joins a crowded tight end group led by Darren The Wallerus. Kmet fits the mold that the Rangers look for at the position, having similar measurements to the majority of their current tight ends. Given the other tight ends on the roster, it is very possible Kmet starts at some point in his rookie season depending on how his competition performs. (DonJuaN64)
Adam Trautman (3.08) Lincoln - Adam Trautman became just the second tight end to be drafted when he was selected by the Lincoln Johnsons near the end of the 3rd round. He comes into an already crowded tight end room, and given when he was taken in the draft, he will be hoping that competition for a starting role will be lessened by roster cuts. At this time though, the 6'5" man out of Dayton may just be a piece for the future of the Johnsons. (DonJuaN64)
Devin Asiasi (4.02) Hawaii - Over the moon to get their guy, Asiasi becomes a Volcano. After Northwoods traded into the 4.01, it seems certain that Asiasi wouldn't make it to Hawaii, but with a second trade of the pick to Alaska, GM Alexa was able to get his guy at tremendous value.
Thaddeus Moss (4.05) San Juan via Swansea City - The son of Hall of Fame wideout Randy Moss, Thaddeus was drafted in the middle of the 4th round to the Ducks as a tight end out of LSU. There were negotiations behind the scenes to bring Moss across the pond to San Juan to join the Shrimps and the two teams reached an agreement in the days following the conclusion of the draft. The deal sees veteran tight ends Rudolph the Red Zone Danger and Cameron Brate the Great head the other way to the Ducks. With this deal, the Shrimps are back within roster requirements and get a young, exciting prospect with future potential even if he doesn't start this year, while the Ducks receive two very capable backup tight ends with reasonable deals that have the ability to step up and start if needed. Moss will hope to get some game time this year or at very least get acclimated with San Juan and the Shrimps and be their tight end of the future as the joint youngest tight end on the roster at 22. (DonJuaN64)
Albert Okwuegbunam (4.09) Northwoods - With the strong duo of Kittle and MAndrews, Albert O will have no pressure to produce anytime soon and is a prime taxi target.
Josiah Deguara (5.01) Albuquerque - The only non-RB taken by the Roadrunners, Deguara may be pressed into duty with injury concerns around Gronk, Eifert, Dissly, and Graham.
Harrison Bryant (5.03) San Juan - A solid upside pick, Bryant may not get the chance to take the field in San Juan given the team's full roster.
Brycen Hopkins (5.07) Oklahoma City - Only the second pick for the defending champs, GM Reynolds had to pinch himself to believe Hopkins fell into their lap. If capturing the imagination of one of the owners isn't enough, Hopkins is likely to have a comfortable rookie (and maybe even sophomore season) on the taxi.
Dalton Keene (5.09) Northwoods - Joining a stacked TE room, Keene will have the opportunity to grow in a potentially killer group of young TEs.
Trades
1.02 - Lincoln was able to acquire the #2 overall selection (along with other assets) the day before the draft. Trading away Christian McCaffrey is a bold move, but the Johnsons are still a solid team with a bright future thanks to Burrow. The trade also saw the defending champion Storm give up the pick in order to acquire Dalvin Cook, a move that I'm sure any team in the Alliance would make.
4.01 - In what will go down as one of my more bizarre draft day moments, Albuquerque traded out of of the pick for Northwood's 2021 3rd only to see the Hodags immediately flip the pick to Alaska for a 2021 2nd. When reached for comment, GM Spira said, "I was enjoying a show with my wife and checked my phone when she went to the bathroom. I saw the trade, saw Bryan Edwards on the board, and immediately knew this was our chance to get our guy. [GM Smith] was lucky to have gotten to [GM Williams] ahead of us."
Bryce Love - Late in the draft, Alaska began shopping around roster bubble players. While the team would have needed to cut someone to clear room for the incoming rookies, Hawaii took a flyer on RB Bryce Love and his $1 contract for a 2022 5th. The low risk play works out for both sides, as Hawaii gets a high upside depth piece and Alaska got back $1 and roster space.
Wentz/McLaurin et. al. - Within hours of the draft, the heated rivalry of Northwoods and OKC cooled for a moment as the teams announced a major trade to shake up the Interior. The Storm took on WR breakout star, Terry McLaurin, unproven TE Jace Sternberger, and RB Alexander Mattison (a great pairing with minor league teammate, Dalvin Cook). In return, the Hoes get high upside TE depth behind starters Kittle and MAndrews in the form of Irv Smith, who just received a major payday this past free agency with a $5 contract from OKC. Northwoods also received QB Carson Wentz, creating a 3-headed monster at the position with Jared Goff and Dak Prescott. Should Dwayne Haskins (and/or the long term stash of Jordan Love) pan out, the Hodags could be looking at a generational QB room.
Thad Moss/Rudolph & Brate - Despite being a mid-4th round pick, Moss gained the attention of the Shrimp. A fateful combination of cap and roster gymnastics left San Juan needing to make some creative moves. Swansea City benefits by surrendering their dart throw TE rookie for proven veterans at the position, Kyle Rudolph and Cameron Brate. While Moss may have glimmers of long term success, Rudolph and Brate both are looking to prove they still have some gas left in the tank.
Grades
Alburquerque Roadrunners: B+
Cam Akers (1.04) / Joshua Kelley (3.10) / Josiah Deguara (5.01) / DeeJay Dallas (5.10)
Holding only 4 picks in this year's draft, none in the 2nd or 4th rounds, and none of their own, the Roadrunners focused on the running back position, accounting for 3 of their picks. The only non running back chosen by the Roadrunners was TE and gadget player Josiah Deguara. The highlight of their draft was undoubtedly 4th overall pick, Florida State running back Cam Akers. Though largely not "flashy" picks, every one of the Roadrunners draftees has the potential to surprise this year.
The Roadrunners needed to address a lot of areas from being one of the two expansion teams. The first area that needed help was the RB position, and they addressed it with two great picks. They did a great job addressing the biggest hole in their team, but didn’t address anything else.
Akers is a solid pick and may be a better long term asset over Tua, Lamb, or other RB options. Kelley and Dallas also could find a niche after some minor league seasoning. The big unknown is Degaura who will likely be called to action given the fragility of the other TEs on the team.
Alaska Kodiak: B+
Jonathan Taylor (1.01) / Henry Ruggs (2.01) / Laviska Shenault (2.08) / Bryan Edwards (4.01) / Donovan People-Jones (4.10) / Jacob Eason (5.04)
The Kodiak did not need much from this draft other than depth. They have stars everywhere at every position. The first 4 picks might be able to make a splash their rookie year, but they probably won’t do better than the starters. Peoples-Jones was an interesting pick, and Eason was a bit interesting as well. The first pick of the draft could have been many different choices, CEH, Taylor, Jeudy, Lamb, Burrow, or Tua. This draft went well, they were able to get some depth pieces if a star were to fall to injury .
Holding none of their original picks, including one extra, the Kodiak looked heavily to the wide receiver position in a historically stacked wide receiver class. Their first overall pick of Jonathan Taylor out of Wisconsin came as little surprise as they had been linked to him leading up to the draft. The rest of the Kodiak draft consisted of signing depth pieces with potential including a late flier on Washington quarterback Jacob Eason.
The Kodiak addressed a clear positional need in this draft by taking 4 WRs, but how many of these will truly standout? Ruggs and Shenault were coin flips with many other 2nd & 3rd round receivers, making it hard to give lots of credit to the team. Spending a future 2nd on Edwards was bold and possibly foolhardy. Eason and Taylor seem to be the only picks to escape critical eyes.
Dunedin Rangers: A
Ceedee Lamb (1.06) / De'Andre Swift (2.02) / Cole Kmet (2.10) / K.J. Hamler (4.06) / Lynn Bowden Jr. (5.06)
The Rangers went into the draft trying to shore up multiple positions including running back and wide receiver and they came out of the gates with intent, selecting 1st round wide receiver stud CeeDee Lamb followed by running back D'Andre Swift. Both can make an immediate impact while their other 2nd round pick Cole Kmet has a chance to be a factor in the tight end room. The Rangers also added additional depth through the draft, picking another running back and wide receiver, concluding a very successful draft.
Dunedin absolutely crushed this draft. They came away with the #1 WR (Lamb) and #1 TE (Kmet), along with grabbing a top tier RB in Swift as the top of the 2nd. Hamler in the mid-4th was a steal and a great slot weapon, and getting the gadget talent of Bowden in the mid-5th definitely offsets the potential baggage he carries.
The Rangers really needed to get a QB with their first-round pick but chose to go for a WR here which was a bit of a shocker when Herbert was still available. They were able to get Swift and address their RB need and the rest of their picks did a good job addressing the depth they needed for their team.
Hawaii Volcanoes: B+
Jerry Jeudy (1.10) / Michael Pittman Jr. (2.06) / Darryton Evans (2.09) / Jalen Hurts (3.06) / Devin Asiasi (4.02) / Eno Benjamin (5.02)
Hawaii is one of the two expansion teams and needed a lot from this draft, but the main points of emphasis needed to be WR, RB, and QB. Hawaii did a good job to get some depth pieces. Pittman and Jeudy are looking to make a splash for their rookie seasons, but Hurts, Asiasi, and Benjamin are pieces for the future and are going to be mainly depth pieces. Hawaii still has a bit of a hole at QB that needs to be addressed as soon as they can, but with what was available, Hawaii made the best picks for their team. Their future is bright!
Holding an extra pick in this year's draft, the Volcanoes spread out their picks fairly evenly amongst the positions. As an expansion team, this was to be expected. The Volcanoes landed absolute stud wide receiver Jerry Jeudy at the end of the 1st round and followed that up with another talented wideout in Michael Pittman Jr. They would have hoped to land a running back in one of the first 2 rounds, but the Volcanoes did well with who was on the board at the time of their picks and late running back pick Eno Benjamin may surprise people. Quarterback Jalen Hurts and tight end Devin Asiasi will also be players to watch.
Hawaii may be the team whose draft changes the most when hindsight rolls around. Jeudy and Pittman both have potential to make rookie splashes, but may need some time to adjust to pro ball. Meanwhile, Evans, Hurts, and Asiasi are all positional gambles looking to get a lucky break in the minors. GM Alexa closed the tiers with Jeduy and Asiasi, which is always a good sign of evaluating BAP (best available position).
Lincoln Johnsons: A-
Joe Burrow (1.02) / Justin Jefferson (1.07) / A.J. Dillon (3.04) / Adam Trautman (3.08) / Anthony McFarland Jr. (4.08) / Gabriel Davis (5.08)
The Johnsons drafted every position this year and were helped by the fact they held an extra pick. A big surprise was the selection of Joe Burrow 2nd overall. He joins an already talented quarterback room, but they must see something special in Burrow they didn't want to miss out on. LSU wideout Justin Jefferson was another notable addition, being selected 7th overall with the Johnsons 2nd pick in the 1st round. Running back A.J. Dillon and tight end Adam Trautman were also intriguing additions to the Johnsons.
Lincoln had a mixed draft. They surprised everyone by moving up in the draft to the second overall pick. They then took Burrow who was the perfect pick for this team. They have some good QBs, but Burrow has the possibility to break out. Justin Jefferson was a bit of an interesting pick. Reagor, Pittman, and Jeudy were all still available and ranked higher than Jefferson, so I am unsure about that pick being the best pick they could have made. They also got some depth pieces with every other pick, so that should help them out.
Lincoln seems to be embracing the "reboot" over "rebuild" model, as they rounded out their roster across the board. Going in, it was expected they would make a strong push at WR, but waited until the closing moments to grab a second in Gabriel Davis. Choosing Justin Jefferson over Jerry Jeudy was a bold move in the 1st, but is balanced by the chalk pick of Burrow at #2. Perhaps Lincoln would have taken another WR in the 3rd had the tier not closed one pick ahead, but "settling" for Dillon isn't too bad.
Northwoods Hodags: B
J.K. Dobbins (1.09) / Tee Higgins (2.07) / Jordan Love (3.09) / Albert Okwuegbunam (4.09) / Dalton Keene (5.09)
The Hodags had all of their original picks this year aside from swapping one. They addressed a need with their 1st round pick J.K. Dobbins, who will undoubtedly play a major role in their team in the coming years. Their swapped pick turned into wide receiver Tee Higgins who will be at least a depth pick, joining a crowded wide receiver group. Although not an immediate need, The Hodags decided to use their 3rd round pick on quarterback Jordan Love. Depending on how things shake out, that pick may come in handy. A position of need was addressed in the 4th and 5th rounds when the Hodags drafted tight ends Albert Okwuegbunam and Dalton Keene. Both will be fighting for backup spots but were necessary depth picks at the position.
GM Smith took advantage of some key situations and came out of the draft a big winner. He snatched top RB talent that got pushed down thanks to positional needs in the late first, grabbed a fringe top-tier WR in Higgins in the mid/late 2nd, and sniped Jordan Love for their taxi squad at the end of the 3rd, functionally giving them 5 years of Love on a rookie deal,
When Northwoods had its first pick, the best RB available was who they should have taken, and that is exactly what they did. This was a smart pick backed up by another smart pick with Tee Higgins. The real hard part about the rest of the picks is that these are guys who won’t be making any splashes in the league anytime soon unless something happens that no one expects, so it’s hard to rank those picks that high, because of that
Oklahoma City: B-
Antonio Gibson (3.01) / Brycen Hopkins (5.07)
This was a very hard draft to grade due to only two players being drafted. They had the second overall and should have gotten Burrow but chose to trade it away in a blockbuster trade that involved Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, and others. Due to this and many other trades made in the offseason, they lost a lot of picks. Gibson is not a bad pick, but it’s a very risky and quite interesting pick. He has a lot of talent but got drafted to a Washington team with so many different RB options, it’ll be hard to see if Gibson plays in the next two or maybe even three years. They really need to figure out how to get some QBs in the future, because they missed out here.
The Storm only had two picks this year and neither of them were their original picks. With their 1st pick coming in the beginning of the 3rd round, the Storm drafted running back Antonio Gibson. With an already stacked running back group, it was a surprise they took Gibson here. Their second and last pick came near the end of the 5th round with Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins. Hopkins is a depth piece that the Storm hope will be able to contribute in the future.
In only having a mid-round and end of draft picks, OKC gets no star power to smooth the grading curve. Gibson and Hopkins are both solid players with room to flash on their minor league squads in the next few years. That said, Gibson was taken while A.J. Dillon was still on the board, and Hopkins felt like a homer dart throw when selected ahead of Dalton Keene. Neither player was the consensus BAP at their position, but then again this draft grade is of little importance considering Dalvin Cook was the reward the Storm got for selling their rookie draft down the river!
San Juan: A-
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1.03) / Zack Moss (2.03) / Brandon Aiyuk (3.03) / Antonio Gandy-Golden (4.03) / Harrison Bryant (5.03)
Sitting pretty at 3rd overall, the Shrimp were in prime position no matter what. Going CEH over Tua or Lamb feels good, but there was no wrong answer among them. Grabbing Aiyuk in the early 3rd as the last WR of the startable tier was a great spot as well. That said, the Zack Moss pick at 2.03 felt like a reach, given the WR options available and that similar tier RBs Gibson and Dillon went a full round later. Keep an eye on Harrison Bryant who might make waves as a do-it-all H-Back for San Juan... provided he makes the final roster.
San Juan really needed to address their RB position, and they more than did so with Moss and CEH. They were able to address every other position they needed. The biggest shame here is that they did not take a TE earlier, they took the TE late and the TE they got might not be the best to what they needed.
One of the only 2 teams with all of their original picks, the Shrimps focused on increasing depth during the draft, with running back being their clear priority, accounting for their first two picks, followed by wide receiver, making up the next two. Their quarterback room may need a new addition in the near future depending on when Brady and Rodgers decline or slow down and how the young, unproven Kyle Allen and Jared Stidham perform. But for now it seems they aren't in too much of a hurry and picked the best of who was available, without loading up on one position, and added depth along with taking a chance at the tight end position.
St. Louis: A-
Justin Herbert (1.08) / Jalen Reagor (2.04) / Denzel Mims (3.02) / Devin Duvernay (3.07) / Lamical Perine (4.04) / Tyler Johnson (4.07)
With the first pick, the Clydesdales looked to get a depth piece for their QB spot, but could have used this pick better to get a WR to make an impact for the upcoming year, and Jeudy was still available, so the QB pick was not as helpful as it could have been. They did bounce back and take 4 more WRs before the end of the draft, so that was a good idea, but they really needed a RB for depth, and could have managed the draft a little better to address everything they needed.
St. Louis came in hot and heavy for the WR! Herbert in the 1.08 wasn't a surprise, but fans may debate if this was gamesmanship by GM Steinke over BAP. Though Jerry Jeduy was unlikely to fall to 2.04, there would still be top-notch WR, but Herbert wasn't getting past Hawaii at 1.10. Regardless of how calculated it was, the Clydesdales still got three solid WRs with Mims, Reagor, and Duvernay. Perine and Johnson are likely to dress as emergency relief if they even manage to avoid the Taxi.
The Clydesdales held an extra pick in this draft and none of their own. They entered the draft needing a quarterback and a wide receiver and the Clydesdales addressed both. After Burrow and Tua were off the board, the Clydesdales made sure to get their man Herbert. They followed this up by picking talented TCU receiver Jalen Reagor in the 2nd round. Out of their draftees, Reagor is the one tipped to have the biggest immediate impact.
Swansea City: A-
Tua Tagovailoa (1.05) / Ke'Shawn Vaughn (2.05) / Chase Claypool (3.05) / Thaddeus Moss (4.05) / Van Jefferson (5.05)
With many in the UFFA industry mocking Tua to the Roadrunners, the Ducks had to be pleasantly surprised to snatch up the young QB. While it must have hurt to pass up on all the WR talent in the 2nd, gettting Vaughn was necessary to adding a possible RB Flex not named Kareem Hunt. This was the right call given the entire 2nd tier of RBs was gone by 3.05. Claypool, Moss, and Jefferson are all medium-ceiling picks, but there's not too much invested should they flame out early.
The second of the 2 teams holding all of their original picks, the Ducks went into the draft wanting to address the quarterback and running back positions and that is exactly what they did. The Ducks drafted Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa 5th overall, which would have been of little surprise to those close to the organization. They followed up by drafting Vanderbilt running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who was the highest rated running back available at that spot. The Ducks remaining picks were used to increase wide receiver depth along with a surprise pick of LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss, who shortly after the draft, was traded to the Shrimps for 2 veteran tight ends who can make an immediate impact.
The Ducks did everything right at the beginning of the draft, but then came in with a very interesting pick with Claypool. Moss and Jefferson were really good picks for the depth of this team. The Ducks were able to do a good job with their picks.
submitted by Sconnie92 to UFFA [link] [comments]


2020.06.09 23:56 hallach_halil Biggest remaining needs for each team in the AFC

We are at the second part of my “biggest remaining needs for each NFL team” breakdown and today we look at the AFC side of things. Once again, at this rather eventless point of the offseason, I get to break down the rosters of all 32 teams and watch some tape to pin-point the one area each squad should still improve at to be their best.
That can be an impact player at a certain position, a contributor in a specific role or just a backup at a spot, where the team doesn’t have great depth. Of course scheme fit and available ressources have to be considered individually, but looking at this from a more general perspective, these are the one spots each team should still be looking to upgrade at.


AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens – True speed edge rusher

I’ll be honest here – it’s really damn hard to find holes on that Ravens team. They were 14-2 for a reason and while it will be hard to recreate that record of course, they might have a squad better suited to make a run at the AFC this season. They did lose a Hall of Fame guard in Marshal Yanda, a run-plugging nose tackle in Michael Pierce and maybe their best inside linebacker in Patrick Onwuasor, but I think they have made moves to do better than just even those out. Yanda can obviously not be replaced with the same level of play, but they did draft Michigan guard Ben Bredeson in the fourth round and another offensive lineman in Mississippi State’s Tyre Phillips, who could move inside, plus they signed D.J. Fluker in addition to who they already had there. With Pierce gone, Brandon Williams can move to his more natural position over the center, while veterans Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe were brought in to improve that D-line. And the duo of draft picks Patrick Queen from LSU and Malik Harrison from Ohio State could easily be better than what they had in 2019, as they complement each other extremely well. The one thing that still stands out to me is that they don’t have is a true speedball off the edge. Matt Judon finally got the recognition he deserves with a Pro Bowl nod last season and they like some of the young guys they can line up on the opposite side, in addition to Campbell having outside flexibility, but none of those guys really scare tackles with their ability to beat them around the corner consistently. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale gets home with those heavy pressure looks that have almost everybody near the line and you don’t know who will drop out, but having somebody you can rely upon to win one on one and force quarterbacks to step up would make them more effective.

Cincinnati Bengals – Guard

The obvious choice would have been linebacker here, when you look at what they are bringing back, but after drafting two guys I really like in Wyoming’s Logan Wilson and App State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither, plus Purdue’s Marcus Bailey later on, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and see how they plan to use their guys. Cincinnati also finally decided to spend in free agency, bringing in one of the most underrated D-linemen in the league in D.J. Reader, a great match at safety with Vonn Bell to pair up with Jessie Bates and a couple of corners. If A.J. Green is back healthy and they get anything out of John Ross, that group of skill-position players is pretty interesting, surrounding first overall pick Joe Burrow. Instead I’m looking at the interior offensive line. Two of their most recent draft picks Michael Jordan and Billy Price were horrendous in their first and second season respectively. Trey Hopkins seems to be locked into the center spot, but I really don’t know who will be lining up on either side once the regular season rolls around. Cincy also brought in Xavier Su’a-Filo, who was a nice backup in Dallas these last two seasons after a rather forgettable start in Houston, and they selected Kansas’s Hakeem Adeniji, who might move inside and stand out with his athleticism. Jonah Williams will finally be able to make his debut after being my top tackle in last year’s draft, while Bobby Hart is a below-average starter on the right side. However, their new franchise QB had a lot of his success last year due to great integrity of the interior pocket, so that should be their priority. Adeniji and veteran Fred Johnson should also be in competition for that RT spot. However, the Bengals have kind of told us already that they don’t want to give up on Hart, even though he hasn’t done much to deserve that.

Cleveland Browns – MIKE linebacker

As I talked about in my recap of the draft, there are definitely some things that you can question about how the Browns front-office handles things, but they put together an outstanding class of rookies. I love what they have done on the offensive line, signing former Titans right tackle Jack Conklin to a reasonable contract and selecting my top-rated tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) at tenth overall as book-ends to an already really good interior O-line. They have a strong assortment of skill position players on offense and defensively they already had a ferocious D-line, plus I really like they safety tandem they built with Karl Joseph coming over from the Raiders and second-round pick Grant Delpit. The one position group I have to look at is the linebacker level, having lost Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey. Mack Wilson was an absolute steal from Bama as well last year on day three of the draft and Sione Takitaki is a guy they really like as well coming in with him. Wilson could probably play either MIKE or WILL if he can still improve his play-recognition a little and Takitaki fits best on the strong-side, having played on edge early on at BYU before moving more off the ball his senior year. I believe putting Wilson on the weak-side and allowing him to just shoot gaps makes the most sense, so it’s the guy in the middle that is really missing. In round three of this most recent draft the Browns select LSU backer Jacob Phillips, but he was way down my board and their worst pick to me, as his conservative style of play doesn’t make him the missing piece to me. The one guy he will be in competition with is B.J. Goodson, who has some starting experience, but he only started a quarter of the snaps for the Packers last season, who didn’t have a lot of quality play the position.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Backup quarterback

Looking at this Steelers team last season, it was a tale of two completely different units – an elite defense that kept them in games and an offense that failed to sustain any drives for large stretches of games. Once Minkah Fitzpatrick came over from Miami in a trade, that secondary really made plays in combination with one of the best starting front-sevens in the league. I thought about adding some depth behind it, especially at inside linebacker, where they lost Mark Barron, but I think they found their replacement for that type of player in Maryland’s Antoine Brooks Jr., who will probably transition to linebacker full-time. Either way he will definitely slide in on sub-packages. So the LB depth wasn’t the biggest need here. Instead I’m looking at what broke their back last season – Ben Roethlisberger getting hurt. While the team did make a run at a wildcard spot behind their dominant defense, those guys were exhausted at the end of the season and couldn’t carry them anymore. The Steelers can’t go anywhere with one of the other QBs under center if Big Ben misses some time again. I documented this early on, when Mason Rudolph could not do anything in the downfield passing game and how the coaching staff hid him behind creative run plays, easy dump-offs on shallow crossers and quick passes to his backs. When he had to do anything beyond that, he was truly horrific. Devlin Hodges gave them some hope in a big win over the Chargers and then going 3-0 once he took over as the starter in Pittsburgh, but after throwing four picks versus Buffalo on Sunday Night and losing the final three games to close out the season, I don’t think the coaches want to turn to him anymore either. The Steelers brought in a former first-round pick of the Broncos in Paxton Lynch and maybe he will show some of the potential that got him drafted highly, but I don’t think they have anybody on the roster that can steer the ship if Ben is out again.


AFC East:


Buffalo Bills – Punter

When you look at this Bills team, they are set up as well as they have been since the turn of the millennium. I was already a big fan of their roster and coaching staff, but they have made some moves to take them to the next level, especially the trade for Stefon Diggs from Minnesota and some of the picks they made in the draft. Receiver looked like the obvious need a few months ago, but by trading for Diggs and drafting a couple of pass-catchers on day three of the draft, that room suddenly looks like one of the better ones in the league. The Bills could maybe add another offensive guard or cornerback and they seem to be counting on Dawson Knox to take the next step in year two – who I liked a lot more than most people last year in April – but I didn’t think they had a real hole on either side of the ball. So instead I looked at special teams – in particular their punter situation. Corey Bojourquez averaged only 41.9 yards per punt last season, which was 29th among starters and only three guys had a higher touchback percentage (8.9%) than him. For a team with close to an elite defense, that values field-positioning, you don’t want to rank inside the bottom ten in terms punt return average allowed either (even though that obviously is about how they cover kicks as well). The offense will try to grind away games with a duo of third-round running backs in Devin Singletary in 2019 and then Zack Moss from Utah this year. A lot about this team will have to do with how much quarterback Josh Allen can mature in year three and if he can come up big for them with added national attention (four primetime games in 2020), but this team has a clear identity and as little of a difference as a punter may make for some teams, this will be very important for Buffalo.

Miami Dolphins – Free safety

Looking at teams like the Cardinals picking first overall in the draft just a year ago or the 49ers going from selecting right behind them to appearing in the Super Bowl, among organizations in rebuild mode, the Dolphins may not be the one furthest ahead in that transition, but very may be set up as well as them. They seemed to be “Tanking for Tua” early on last season, but they did show a lot of fight and the signs of a culture being built by Brian Flores & company and still saw the Alabama star quarterback fall into their lap at fifth overall. They have spent a bunch of ressources to protect their future signal-caller, Devante Parker emerged in the second half of 2019 and a lot was invested to retool the defense. Similar to what Flores was a part of with New England in terms of building that unit back-to-front, their secondary has some of the best pieces in the league now all of a sudden. After signing Byron Jones to a huge free agency contract coming over from Dallas and drafting Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene 30th overall to develop in the slot, with those two combined with Xavien Howard coming back from injury, Miami could easily have one of the premiere trio of corners going forward. The Dolphins also brought in Eric Rowe for some depth and they surprisingly grabbed Texas safety Brandon Jones in the third round, who not a lot of people may know despite coming from a big program, but has the traits to develop into a really good, versatile safety if he cleans up some of his technique as a tackler. With that being said, I still think they don’t have a true free safety after trading Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers at the start of last season. With those guys they have to man up on receivers, they won’t shy away from aggressive cover-zero and -one coverages, but if you do go single-high, you need an instinctive and rangy player back there to clean things up. Jones may have the ability to cover ground for that role, but his feel in deep coverage still may not quite be there yet.

New England Patriots – Outside receiver

It is kind of crazy to think that the Patriots went from 20-year dynasty to almost an afterthought overnight, when Tom Brady decided to go to Tampa Bay. While I certainly have questions about this roster, they do still have several key pieces from last year’s number-one ranked defense and two of the best minds on either side of the ball with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick of course. I mentioned this a few times already – the Patriots will want to run the ball 35+ times a game. Not only because they have like ten running backs on their roster or the fact they will be starting second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham – who had one of the two passes he threw last season returned for a pick-six – but they also simply don’t have any true outside threats at the receiver position. Looking at the slot – Julian Edelman was banged up last season and should be in better shape now, they did give up a second-rounder for Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta who should be better after looking more like a disappointing investment once he came over last season and even Jakobi Meyers showed some signs as a rookie, who I really liked to make an impact for them as an undrafted free agent. New England selected N’Keal Harry from Arizona State in the first round last year, but even he to me would be at his best lining up inside, not showing the ability to create separation vertically or at the top of his route all the time. They did bring in free agents Marquise Lee and Damiere Bryd, who have both been productive when given the opportunity, but none of those guys strikes me as a true alpha, who they can just put at X receiver and ask him to win one-on-one against the opposing teams top corner consistently. This probably is much easier to deal with in McDaniels’ matchup-based passing attack, but having that different type of pass-catcher, with the size and skill-set to defeat press-coverage, would give them another dimension.

New York Jets – Edge rusher

A couple of years ago you could have argued that the Jets had the worst roster in the league. Last offseason was pretty crazy with how the Jets fired their general manager Mike Maccagnan after spending over 200 million dollars in free agency and running their draft. However Gang Green did bring in a very promising young guy head man to the front office in Joe Douglas coming over from Philadelphia and I really like some of the moves they have made since, especially with an excellent draft class just recently. The Jets will get finally get back their big free agent signing C.J. Mosley and a dynamic target at the tight-end position in Chris Herndon for Sam Darnold, who won’t be getting mono again either. While there are still areas to upgrade going forward, I look at three positions in particular that you could look at as real needs – right guard, outside corner and edge rusher. I think Brian Winters is a viable option on the interior of the O-line and I really like the upside of third-round pick Cameron Clarke from Charlotte. At corner I’m a fan of the under-the-radar signing of Pierre Desir, who was quietly one of the better cover-guys when healthy these last two years. I had fifth-round pick Bryce Hall from Virginia as a top-ten prospect at the position and he might have been even higher if healthy, plus we still don’t know if they want to play third-rounder Ashtyn Davis at corner or nickel in year one possibly. Instead I’m looking at the much-dreaded edge position, where these guys have been looking for somebody to really make an impact since maybe John Abram 15 years ago. Jordan Jenkins is a solid run-stopping SAM and they brought in some talented young guys like Jordan Willis, Tarrell Basham and Wyatt Rey. Florida’s Jabari Zuniga was a third-rounder for them this year and I recently talked about an interesting UDFA in former Memphis Tiger Bryce Huff. Still, none of those guys are bonafide pass rushers, who they can rely on to threaten offensive tackles.


AFC South:


Houston Texans – Strong safety

Right off the bat, the Texans offensive line is still not where it needs to be. At this time two years ago I called them the worst unit in all of football and heading into 2019 I said they would struggle because the additions they made were developmental rookies in Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. The trade for Laremy Tunsil last season was huge and they have already secured him with a long-term deal, but they did pay a hefty price – which took them out of the market for more help up front in the draft. Now with those two guys from last year being a season in the system and back healthy, I want see how they look like this season before talking about how they still need to upgrade that unit. Like many others I seriously question the DeAndre Hopkins deal and Brandin Cooks will have to stay healthy to keep that receiving corp viable, but for now they should have enough around Deshaun Watson to put up points. Instead I’m looking at the defensive side of the ball, where Houston looks to go to more even fronts possibly with some of the additions they have made and with one of my draft crushes in Ross Blacklock from TCU thrown into the mix. I really like what they have put together in the front-seven. Corner is still a little shaky without anybody putting together consistent stretches outside of Bradley Roby last season, but Gareon Conley and Lonnie Johnson are two guys they are still pretty invested in because of the upside they present, and I love their fourth-round pick John Reid out of Penn State, who should be competing with Vernon Hargreaves – another first-rounder – for the starting nickel spot. Justin Reid is one of the better young safety, but I’m not sure about anybody lining up alongside him, since they released Tashaun Gipson a few weeks ago. Eric Murray looks like the clear front-runner, with names like Keion Crossen, Jaylen Watkins and others on the roster. None of those are true difference-makers to me.

Indianapolis Colts – Outside corner

It’s crazy to think we are less than a year away from the Andrew Luck retirement. While my view on the Colts has completely changed as far as their future goes, I think this year’s team could really make some noise and is my favorite to win the division as of right now, after appearing to be a challenger through the first half of 2019. Philip Rivers looked kind of a broken for most of 2019, but playing behind one of the elite offensive lines in the NFL instead of one of the worst in L.A. last season should help. I also believe second-round pick Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) will run wild with his new team and I love their other second-rounder in USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. as that big-bodied wideout Rivers has been working well with through the years. Defensively, I really like the addition of DeForest Buckner right in the middle and I’m on board some of the other guys they have up front. However, there are some uncertainties about this secondary. They lost Pierre Desir in free agency and they signed Xavier Rhoades, who has been falling off a cliff recently. Last year’s second-round pick Rock Ya-Sin showed excellent stretches of play and I love him going forward, but still there are major question marks for both their outside corner spots. Even if Rhoades miraculously returns to more of his 2018 form, I’m not sure about who will line up on the opposite side of the field, if Ya-Sin maybe plays more in the slot. T.J. Carrie is by far the most experienced, but he did not look good at all in Cleveland last year. Kenny Moore has been very solid over these last three years as a former UDFA, but lacks some size for the outside, and Quincy Wilson has never become what I hoped he would be as that ultra-physical guy. Depending on if they want to stick with that cover-two heavy scheme, they might need another big corner, who won’t shy away from tackling.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Free safety

Looking at Vegas odds, the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April with their OveUnder set at 4.5 wins this season. And I’m not saying that they will surprise everybody by making a run at the playoffs or anything, because they did lose a lot of pieces, but I don’t think people look at this remaining roster and see the talent they still have. Cam Robinson might be better suited to move inside to guard if they still find somebody to replace him at left guard and some of their young guys on defense still have to prove themselves, but there is plenty to like here as well. Jacksonville has one of the more underrated receiving corps with D.J. Chark breaking out last season, Dede Westbrook capable of big things every single week and now a guy like Colorado’s Laviska Shenault coming in with enormous potential to surround Gardner Minshew and see if he can potentially take them out of the quarterback market. I’m not sure what they want to with Leonard Fournette or Jannick Ngakoue, but I like some of the young back they brought in from the last two drafts and that duo of Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson from LSU this April could give them one of the more dynamic two-packs of edge rushers. Where I think they are the furthest from that Sacksonville defense is the back-end. Ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson is a dog and they are counting on his potential to give them another shut-down corner and I liked Ronnie Harrison as a strong safety coming out of Alabama in 2018, but they don’t have that true free safety. Jarrod Wilson has played fairly well for them as a UDFA, but you like at Josh Jones, Andrew Wingard and now a day-three pick in Auburn’s Daniel Thomas all being better suited to play near the line of scrimmage. Maybe the Jags go to more quarters looks, where their safeties can read patterns and attack upfield. I still believe in J.R. Reed, who went undrafted coming out of Georgia, so maybe he is the solution.

Tennessee Titans – Interior offensive line depth

The Titans are coming off their deepest playoff run since the 2002 team led by Steve McNair. They got there thanks to a bruising running game with the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry putting the team on his back late in the season and a very opportunistic defense. Looking at their offseason, they are trying to run it back with almost all of their starters staying in Nashville and directly replacing the guys they did lose in the draft. Someone alongside Harold Landry coming off the edge was the biggest need they wanted to address, but they did take a swing at a former top-ten draft pick of the Falcons in Vic Beasley. I think they made a steal late in round two of this year’s draft in LSU corner Kristian Fulton and I believe he allows Mike Vrabel to move Adoree Jackson back into the slot. So I’m not sure if they still need a starting piece necessarily. With the selection of Georgia behemoth Isaiah Wilson at 29th overall, the Titans now have Dennis Kelly or Ty Sambrailo as their swing-tackle, which is what they should be. The interior three of last year’s free agency addition Rodger Saffold, one of the most underrated players in center Ben Jones and last year’s third-rounder Nate Davis gives them a basis to run the ball effectively to go with those aggressive tackles. However, I just don’t see anybody that will give them very high level of play behind those three. Jamil Douglas played by far the most among those guys last season with almost 40 percent of the snaps, but he definitely struggled when he was in, allowing three sacks and being flagged twice. Once again, the moves the Titans have made in the draft are basically direct replacements of the guys they lost in free agency and they recapture they bottle of lightning they had once Ryan Tannehill was put in under center. If that’s what they think will make them successful, they need to secure the strength of their team and not take a big step backwards if somebody on the interior O-line goes down at some point.

AFC West:


Denver Broncos – Backup offensive tackle

The Broncos are one of the most improved teams in the entire league – especially on the offensive side of the ball. Their first two picks being Jerry Jeudy from Alabama and K.J. Hamler from Penn State, plus a former Missouri teammate in tight-end Albert O to go with Courtland Sutton coming into year three and last year’s first-rounder Noah Fant, that receiving corp for sophomore QB Drew Locke suddenly has a LOT of firepower. Denver also continued to strengthen the offensive line with free agency addition Graham Glasgow coming over from Detroit and the steal of LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry II in the third round – who I had as my 35th overall prospect. The one spot that is still a bit of a question mark for me is left tackle, where Garrett Bolles just saw his fifth-year option declined. This is really prove-it year for him and he does have the skill-set to prove the doubters wrong, but in case he struggles or either one of the tackles goes down, the Broncos should add another guy on the edge to carry on gameday. Jake Rodgers was a seventh-rounder in 2015 for Atlanta and Calvin Anderson is pretty talented kid who went undrafted last year, but neither one of them gives me a great deal of confidence. I think Pat Shurmur will help out his young quarterback with some easy completions, but we saw what happens if the tackles can’t get the job done with what happened in New York under him last season. Defensively, they should be as good as they have been in a while now, with A.J. Bouye replacing Chris Harris Jr., another veteran on the D-line in Jurrell Casey coming in, some pieces in the draft being added and most importantly, Bradley Chubb coming back from season-ending injury. If Bolles finally plays up to his potential and they can stay mostly healthy, I don’t see a reason why they can’t compete for the West or at least be a pain in the you know what for Kansas City.

Kansas City Chiefs – Secondary depth

First of all, if you are the reigning Super Bowl champions, there aren’t too many pieces you still need to add and bringing back 20 of 22 starters from the year prior in a situation like that is pretty unheard of. The offense is still just loaded with all those track-stars at receiver and the game’s premiere pass-catching tight-end in Travis Kelce around what I think should be universally regarded as the best player in the entire league, when you look at what Patrick Mahomes can do. They made another huge addition in first-round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who just gives them a different dimension with his hard-nosed running style and ability to make things happen after catching a simple check-down if nobody is open downfield. Looking at the end of last season, that KC defense really stepped up with timely stops and big plays. The D-line has some dogs on it, if second-round pick Willie Gay Jr. can speed up his mental processing a little he gives them a guy that can really fly around on the second level and I like a lot of the things Steve Spagnuolo did for them with aggressive blitz-packages and coverages. The one unit I still look at as being a little thin is the secondary. I talked about this a little a couple of weeks ago when mentioning former Auburn corner Javaris Davis as an undrafted free agent, who could make an early impact on their team. The Chiefs really believe in their trio of corners in Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland and Rashad Fenton, while Juan Thornhill will be back from injury and should only be better in year two to go with the Honeybadger, plus they still have Daniel Sorensen, who excels for them on special teams. Fourth-round pick L’Jarius Sneed gives them some versatility across the secondary and like I said, I could see Davis play quite a bit on sub-packages, but nobody off the bench has established themselves as actual difference-makers at this level. So maybe they should sign or trade for one more established veteran.

Las Vegas Raiders – WILL linebacker

In their first year in Las Vegas, these Raiders are trying to make a splash and if you are looking for anything to indicate that – they drafted three receivers through their first four picks of the draft and added a couple of feisty corners to go along with it. They also quietly made a few nice moves on defense with linebackers Corey Littleton and Nick Kwiatkowski in addition to safety Damarious Randall, who will complement one of last year’s first-rounders in Jonathan Abram very well. You could certainly call this a make-or-break year for Derek Carr, whose unwillingness to push the ball downfield is maddening to me and could take away some of that splash. I mean he averaged 6.3 air yards per attempt and threw the ball 2.3 yards short of the sticks on average, despite being in the top half of the league in terms of times in the pocket. Jon Gruden will rely more on his big offensive line and rookie standout running back Josh Jacobs once again. While I don’t love all of their defensive personnel, I think all the pieces are there to improve on that side of the ball for the most part,.The final one I am looking at is weak-side linebacker. Vontaze Burfict is hopefully finally out of the league for good and as I already mentioned, Mike Mayock has brought in what I believe are two pretty underrated players at that linebacker level, but they also lost Tahir Whitehead to the Panthers. Littleton has excellent range to play right in the middle and I like Kwiatkowski’s physicality on the strong-side, but who will replace Whitehead at WILL? Marquel Lee has slipped a little since a promising rookie campaign, playing only 6.7 percent of the defensive snaps last season and Nicholas Morrow played very poorly in a starting role last season. Maybe DC Paul Guenther plans on using Tanner Muse at linebacker on base downs already, since I project him to play there on sub-packages anyway.

Los Angeles Chargers – Left tackle

The Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the entire league, with an excellent core of skill-position players and an improved defense with studs at every level. I’m not sure if you could even find a hole on the defensive side if you wanted to, now with Derwin James back healthy, Chris Harris Jr. being brought in from their division-rival Broncos and trading back up into the first round for a super-rangy linebacker like Kenneth Murray. I love the fact they decided to make Austin Ekeler an even bigger piece for them offensively, after he came through for them routinely when relied upon last season. We still have to see how the quarterback situation shakes out, since Tyrod Taylor looks to be the starter heading into week one and depending on how well they do, that could keep sixth overall pick Justin Herbert on the bench for most of the season. However, despite some quality acquisitions, this offensive line still needs one piece. One of the better guards in Trai Turner was brought over in a trade for the often-injured Russell Okung, Bryan Bulaga was one of the more reasonable deals in all of free agency as a premiere right tackle and Mike Pouncey returns from injury. With that being side, who protects the blind-side of Taylor and/or Herbert? Sam Tevi? Trey Pipkins? Those are very underwhelming options. Tevi has been responsible for 11.5 sacks and seven flags over 29 starts these last two years, while Pipkins was brought in as a developmental player and had major issues when called upon as a rookie – three sacks allowed and flagged another three times on jut 250 total snaps. You can argue that this O-line is in the best shape it has been in several years now through four spots, but having that one liability can wreck an offense, constantly having to slide the protection his way, especially since the Chargers mostly want that back out on a route as well and only keep five in.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/05/19/biggest-remaining-needs-for-each-team-in-the-nfc-for-2020/

You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbcmXpqxxqI
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2020.06.09 22:29 hallach_halil Biggest remaining needs for each team in the AFC for 2020

We are at the second part of my “biggest remaining needs for each NFL team” breakdown and today we look at the AFC side of things. Once again, at this rather eventless point of the offseason, I get to break down the rosters of all 32 teams and watch some tape to pin-point the one area each squad should still improve at to be their best.
That can be an impact player at a certain position, a contributor in a specific role or just a backup at a spot, where the team doesn’t have great depth. Of course scheme fit and available ressources have to be considered individually, but looking at this from a more general perspective, these are the one spots each team should still be looking to upgrade at.
Also check out my NFC version of this write-up and you can listen to my breakdowns on Youtube as well.


AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens – True speed edge rusher

I’ll be honest here – it’s really damn hard to find holes on that Ravens team. They were 14-2 for a reason and while it will be hard to recreate that record of course, they might have a squad better suited to make a run at the AFC this season. They did lose a Hall of Fame guard in Marshal Yanda, a run-plugging nose tackle in Michael Pierce and maybe their best inside linebacker in Patrick Onwuasor, but I think they have made moves to do better than just even those out. Yanda can obviously not be replaced with the same level of play, but they did draft Michigan guard Ben Bredeson in the fourth round and another offensive lineman in Mississippi State’s Tyre Phillips, who could move inside, plus they signed D.J. Fluker in addition to who they already had there. With Pierce gone, Brandon Williams can move to his more natural position over the center, while veterans Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe were brought in to improve that D-line. And the duo of draft picks Patrick Queen from LSU and Malik Harrison from Ohio State could easily be better than what they had in 2019, as they complement each other extremely well. The one thing that still stands out to me is that they don’t have is a true speedball off the edge. Matt Judon finally got the recognition he deserves with a Pro Bowl nod last season and they like some of the young guys they can line up on the opposite side, in addition to Campbell having outside flexibility, but none of those guys really scare tackles with their ability to beat them around the corner consistently. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale gets home with those heavy pressure looks that have almost everybody near the line and you don’t know who will drop out, but having somebody you can rely upon to win one on one and force quarterbacks to step up would make them more effective.

Cincinnati Bengals – Guard

The obvious choice would have been linebacker here, when you look at what they are bringing back, but after drafting two guys I really like in Wyoming’s Logan Wilson and App State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither, plus Purdue’s Marcus Bailey later on, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and see how they plan to use their guys. Cincinnati also finally decided to spend in free agency, bringing in one of the most underrated D-linemen in the league in D.J. Reader, a great match at safety with Vonn Bell to pair up with Jessie Bates and a couple of corners. If A.J. Green is back healthy and they get anything out of John Ross, that group of skill-position players is pretty interesting, surrounding first overall pick Joe Burrow. Instead I’m looking at the interior offensive line. Two of their most recent draft picks Michael Jordan and Billy Price were horrendous in their first and second season respectively. Trey Hopkins seems to be locked into the center spot, but I really don’t know who will be lining up on either side once the regular season rolls around. Cincy also brought in Xavier Su’a-Filo, who was a nice backup in Dallas these last two seasons after a rather forgettable start in Houston, and they selected Kansas’s Hakeem Adeniji, who might move inside and stand out with his athleticism. Jonah Williams will finally be able to make his debut after being my top tackle in last year’s draft, while Bobby Hart is a below-average starter on the right side. However, their new franchise QB had a lot of his success last year due to great integrity of the interior pocket, so that should be their priority. Adeniji and veteran Fred Johnson should also be in competition for that RT spot. However, the Bengals have kind of told us already that they don’t want to give up on Hart, even though he hasn’t done much to deserve that.

Cleveland Browns – MIKE linebacker

As I talked about in my recap of the draft, there are definitely some things that you can question about how the Browns front-office handles things, but they put together an outstanding class of rookies. I love what they have done on the offensive line, signing former Titans right tackle Jack Conklin to a reasonable contract and selecting my top-rated tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) at tenth overall as book-ends to an already really good interior O-line. They have a strong assortment of skill position players on offense and defensively they already had a ferocious D-line, plus I really like they safety tandem they built with Karl Joseph coming over from the Raiders and second-round pick Grant Delpit. The one position group I have to look at is the linebacker level, having lost Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey. Mack Wilson was an absolute steal from Bama as well last year on day three of the draft and Sione Takitaki is a guy they really like as well coming in with him. Wilson could probably play either MIKE or WILL if he can still improve his play-recognition a little and Takitaki fits best on the strong-side, having played on edge early on at BYU before moving more off the ball his senior year. I believe putting Wilson on the weak-side and allowing him to just shoot gaps makes the most sense, so it’s the guy in the middle that is really missing. In round three of this most recent draft the Browns select LSU backer Jacob Phillips, but he was way down my board and their worst pick to me, as his conservative style of play doesn’t make him the missing piece to me. The one guy he will be in competition with is B.J. Goodson, who has some starting experience, but he only started a quarter of the snaps for the Packers last season, who didn’t have a lot of quality play the position.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Backup quarterback

Looking at this Steelers team last season, it was a tale of two completely different units – an elite defense that kept them in games and an offense that failed to sustain any drives for large stretches of games. Once Minkah Fitzpatrick came over from Miami in a trade, that secondary really made plays in combination with one of the best starting front-sevens in the league. I thought about adding some depth behind it, especially at inside linebacker, where they lost Mark Barron, but I think they found their replacement for that type of player in Maryland’s Antoine Brooks Jr., who will probably transition to linebacker full-time. Either way he will definitely slide in on sub-packages. So the LB depth wasn’t the biggest need here. Instead I’m looking at what broke their back last season – Ben Roethlisberger getting hurt. While the team did make a run at a wildcard spot behind their dominant defense, those guys were exhausted at the end of the season and couldn’t carry them anymore. The Steelers can’t go anywhere with one of the other QBs under center if Big Ben misses some time again. I documented this early on, when Mason Rudolph could not do anything in the downfield passing game and how the coaching staff hid him behind creative run plays, easy dump-offs on shallow crossers and quick passes to his backs. When he had to do anything beyond that, he was truly horrific. Devlin Hodges gave them some hope in a big win over the Chargers and then going 3-0 once he took over as the starter in Pittsburgh, but after throwing four picks versus Buffalo on Sunday Night and losing the final three games to close out the season, I don’t think the coaches want to turn to him anymore either. The Steelers brought in a former first-round pick of the Broncos in Paxton Lynch and maybe he will show some of the potential that got him drafted highly, but I don’t think they have anybody on the roster that can steer the ship if Ben is out again.


AFC East:


Buffalo Bills – Punter

When you look at this Bills team, they are set up as well as they have been since the turn of the millennium. I was already a big fan of their roster and coaching staff, but they have made some moves to take them to the next level, especially the trade for Stefon Diggs from Minnesota and some of the picks they made in the draft. Receiver looked like the obvious need a few months ago, but by trading for Diggs and drafting a couple of pass-catchers on day three of the draft, that room suddenly looks like one of the better ones in the league. The Bills could maybe add another offensive guard or cornerback and they seem to be counting on Dawson Knox to take the next step in year two – who I liked a lot more than most people last year in April – but I didn’t think they had a real hole on either side of the ball. So instead I looked at special teams – in particular their punter situation. Corey Bojourquez averaged only 41.9 yards per punt last season, which was 29th among starters and only three guys had a higher touchback percentage (8.9%) than him. For a team with close to an elite defense, that values field-positioning, you don’t want to rank inside the bottom ten in terms punt return average allowed either (even though that obviously is about how they cover kicks as well). The offense will try to grind away games with a duo of third-round running backs in Devin Singletary in 2019 and then Zack Moss from Utah this year. A lot about this team will have to do with how much quarterback Josh Allen can mature in year three and if he can come up big for them with added national attention (four primetime games in 2020), but this team has a clear identity and as little of a difference as a punter may make for some teams, this will be very important for Buffalo.

Miami Dolphins – Free safety

Looking at teams like the Cardinals picking first overall in the draft just a year ago or the 49ers going from selecting right behind them to appearing in the Super Bowl, among organizations in rebuild mode, the Dolphins may not be the one furthest ahead in that transition, but very may be set up as well as them. They seemed to be “Tanking for Tua” early on last season, but they did show a lot of fight and the signs of a culture being built by Brian Flores & company and still saw the Alabama star quarterback fall into their lap at fifth overall. They have spent a bunch of ressources to protect their future signal-caller, Devante Parker emerged in the second half of 2019 and a lot was invested to retool the defense. Similar to what Flores was a part of with New England in terms of building that unit back-to-front, their secondary has some of the best pieces in the league now all of a sudden. After signing Byron Jones to a huge free agency contract coming over from Dallas and drafting Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene 30th overall to develop in the slot, with those two combined with Xavien Howard coming back from injury, Miami could easily have one of the premiere trio of corners going forward. The Dolphins also brought in Eric Rowe for some depth and they surprisingly grabbed Texas safety Brandon Jones in the third round, who not a lot of people may know despite coming from a big program, but has the traits to develop into a really good, versatile safety if he cleans up some of his technique as a tackler. With that being said, I still think they don’t have a true free safety after trading Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers at the start of last season. With those guys they have to man up on receivers, they won’t shy away from aggressive cover-zero and -one coverages, but if you do go single-high, you need an instinctive and rangy player back there to clean things up. Jones may have the ability to cover ground for that role, but his feel in deep coverage still may not quite be there yet.

New England Patriots – Outside receiver

It is kind of crazy to think that the Patriots went from 20-year dynasty to almost an afterthought overnight, when Tom Brady decided to go to Tampa Bay. While I certainly have questions about this roster, they do still have several key pieces from last year’s number-one ranked defense and two of the best minds on either side of the ball with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick of course. I mentioned this a few times already – the Patriots will want to run the ball 35+ times a game. Not only because they have like ten running backs on their roster or the fact they will be starting second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham – who had one of the two passes he threw last season returned for a pick-six – but they also simply don’t have any true outside threats at the receiver position. Looking at the slot – Julian Edelman was banged up last season and should be in better shape now, they did give up a second-rounder for Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta who should be better after looking more like a disappointing investment once he came over last season and even Jakobi Meyers showed some signs as a rookie, who I really liked to make an impact for them as an undrafted free agent. New England selected N’Keal Harry from Arizona State in the first round last year, but even he to me would be at his best lining up inside, not showing the ability to create separation vertically or at the top of his route all the time. They did bring in free agents Marquise Lee and Damiere Bryd, who have both been productive when given the opportunity, but none of those guys strikes me as a true alpha, who they can just put at X receiver and ask him to win one-on-one against the opposing teams top corner consistently. This probably is much easier to deal with in McDaniels’ matchup-based passing attack, but having that different type of pass-catcher, with the size and skill-set to defeat press-coverage, would give them another dimension.

New York Jets – Edge rusher

A couple of years ago you could have argued that the Jets had the worst roster in the league. Last offseason was pretty crazy with how the Jets fired their general manager Mike Maccagnan after spending over 200 million dollars in free agency and running their draft. However Gang Green did bring in a very promising young guy head man to the front office in Joe Douglas coming over from Philadelphia and I really like some of the moves they have made since, especially with an excellent draft class just recently. The Jets will get finally get back their big free agent signing C.J. Mosley and a dynamic target at the tight-end position in Chris Herndon for Sam Darnold, who won’t be getting mono again either. While there are still areas to upgrade going forward, I look at three positions in particular that you could look at as real needs – right guard, outside corner and edge rusher. I think Brian Winters is a viable option on the interior of the O-line and I really like the upside of third-round pick Cameron Clarke from Charlotte. At corner I’m a fan of the under-the-radar signing of Pierre Desir, who was quietly one of the better cover-guys when healthy these last two years. I had fifth-round pick Bryce Hall from Virginia as a top-ten prospect at the position and he might have been even higher if healthy, plus we still don’t know if they want to play third-rounder Ashtyn Davis at corner or nickel in year one possibly. Instead I’m looking at the much-dreaded edge position, where these guys have been looking for somebody to really make an impact since maybe John Abram 15 years ago. Jordan Jenkins is a solid run-stopping SAM and they brought in some talented young guys like Jordan Willis, Tarrell Basham and Wyatt Rey. Florida’s Jabari Zuniga was a third-rounder for them this year and I recently talked about an interesting UDFA in former Memphis Tiger Bryce Huff. Still, none of those guys are bonafide pass rushers, who they can rely on to threaten offensive tackles.


AFC South:


Houston Texans – Strong safety

Right off the bat, the Texans offensive line is still not where it needs to be. At this time two years ago I called them the worst unit in all of football and heading into 2019 I said they would struggle because the additions they made were developmental rookies in Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. The trade for Laremy Tunsil last season was huge and they have already secured him with a long-term deal, but they did pay a hefty price – which took them out of the market for more help up front in the draft. Now with those two guys from last year being a season in the system and back healthy, I want see how they look like this season before talking about how they still need to upgrade that unit. Like many others I seriously question the DeAndre Hopkins deal and Brandin Cooks will have to stay healthy to keep that receiving corp viable, but for now they should have enough around Deshaun Watson to put up points. Instead I’m looking at the defensive side of the ball, where Houston looks to go to more even fronts possibly with some of the additions they have made and with one of my draft crushes in Ross Blacklock from TCU thrown into the mix. I really like what they have put together in the front-seven. Corner is still a little shaky without anybody putting together consistent stretches outside of Bradley Roby last season, but Gareon Conley and Lonnie Johnson are two guys they are still pretty invested in because of the upside they present, and I love their fourth-round pick John Reid out of Penn State, who should be competing with Vernon Hargreaves – another first-rounder – for the starting nickel spot. Justin Reid is one of the better young safety, but I’m not sure about anybody lining up alongside him, since they released Tashaun Gipson a few weeks ago. Eric Murray looks like the clear front-runner, with names like Keion Crossen, Jaylen Watkins and others on the roster. None of those are true difference-makers to me.

Indianapolis Colts – Outside corner

It’s crazy to think we are less than a year away from the Andrew Luck retirement. While my view on the Colts has completely changed as far as their future goes, I think this year’s team could really make some noise and is my favorite to win the division as of right now, after appearing to be a challenger through the first half of 2019. Philip Rivers looked kind of a broken for most of 2019, but playing behind one of the elite offensive lines in the NFL instead of one of the worst in L.A. last season should help. I also believe second-round pick Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) will run wild with his new team and I love their other second-rounder in USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. as that big-bodied wideout Rivers has been working well with through the years. Defensively, I really like the addition of DeForest Buckner right in the middle and I’m on board some of the other guys they have up front. However, there are some uncertainties about this secondary. They lost Pierre Desir in free agency and they signed Xavier Rhoades, who has been falling off a cliff recently. Last year’s second-round pick Rock Ya-Sin showed excellent stretches of play and I love him going forward, but still there are major question marks for both their outside corner spots. Even if Rhoades miraculously returns to more of his 2018 form, I’m not sure about who will line up on the opposite side of the field, if Ya-Sin maybe plays more in the slot. T.J. Carrie is by far the most experienced, but he did not look good at all in Cleveland last year. Kenny Moore has been very solid over these last three years as a former UDFA, but lacks some size for the outside, and Quincy Wilson has never become what I hoped he would be as that ultra-physical guy. Depending on if they want to stick with that cover-two heavy scheme, they might need another big corner, who won’t shy away from tackling.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Free safety

Looking at Vegas odds, the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April with their OveUnder set at 4.5 wins this season. And I’m not saying that they will surprise everybody by making a run at the playoffs or anything, because they did lose a lot of pieces, but I don’t think people look at this remaining roster and see the talent they still have. Cam Robinson might be better suited to move inside to guard if they still find somebody to replace him at left guard and some of their young guys on defense still have to prove themselves, but there is plenty to like here as well. Jacksonville has one of the more underrated receiving corps with D.J. Chark breaking out last season, Dede Westbrook capable of big things every single week and now a guy like Colorado’s Laviska Shenault coming in with enormous potential to surround Gardner Minshew and see if he can potentially take them out of the quarterback market. I’m not sure what they want to with Leonard Fournette or Jannick Ngakoue, but I like some of the young back they brought in from the last two drafts and that duo of Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson from LSU this April could give them one of the more dynamic two-packs of edge rushers. Where I think they are the furthest from that Sacksonville defense is the back-end. Ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson is a dog and they are counting on his potential to give them another shut-down corner and I liked Ronnie Harrison as a strong safety coming out of Alabama in 2018, but they don’t have that true free safety. Jarrod Wilson has played fairly well for them as a UDFA, but you like at Josh Jones, Andrew Wingard and now a day-three pick in Auburn’s Daniel Thomas all being better suited to play near the line of scrimmage. Maybe the Jags go to more quarters looks, where their safeties can read patterns and attack upfield. I still believe in J.R. Reed, who went undrafted coming out of Georgia, so maybe he is the solution.

Tennessee Titans – Interior offensive line depth

The Titans are coming off their deepest playoff run since the 2002 team led by Steve McNair. They got there thanks to a bruising running game with the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry putting the team on his back late in the season and a very opportunistic defense. Looking at their offseason, they are trying to run it back with almost all of their starters staying in Nashville and directly replacing the guys they did lose in the draft. Someone alongside Harold Landry coming off the edge was the biggest need they wanted to address, but they did take a swing at a former top-ten draft pick of the Falcons in Vic Beasley. I think they made a steal late in round two of this year’s draft in LSU corner Kristian Fulton and I believe he allows Mike Vrabel to move Adoree Jackson back into the slot. So I’m not sure if they still need a starting piece necessarily. With the selection of Georgia behemoth Isaiah Wilson at 29th overall, the Titans now have Dennis Kelly or Ty Sambrailo as their swing-tackle, which is what they should be. The interior three of last year’s free agency addition Rodger Saffold, one of the most underrated players in center Ben Jones and last year’s third-rounder Nate Davis gives them a basis to run the ball effectively to go with those aggressive tackles. However, I just don’t see anybody that will give them very high level of play behind those three. Jamil Douglas played by far the most among those guys last season with almost 40 percent of the snaps, but he definitely struggled when he was in, allowing three sacks and being flagged twice. Once again, the moves the Titans have made in the draft are basically direct replacements of the guys they lost in free agency and they recapture they bottle of lightning they had once Ryan Tannehill was put in under center. If that’s what they think will make them successful, they need to secure the strength of their team and not take a big step backwards if somebody on the interior O-line goes down at some point.

AFC West:


Denver Broncos – Backup offensive tackle

The Broncos are one of the most improved teams in the entire league – especially on the offensive side of the ball. Their first two picks being Jerry Jeudy from Alabama and K.J. Hamler from Penn State, plus a former Missouri teammate in tight-end Albert O to go with Courtland Sutton coming into year three and last year’s first-rounder Noah Fant, that receiving corp for sophomore QB Drew Locke suddenly has a LOT of firepower. Denver also continued to strengthen the offensive line with free agency addition Graham Glasgow coming over from Detroit and the steal of LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry II in the third round – who I had as my 35th overall prospect. The one spot that is still a bit of a question mark for me is left tackle, where Garrett Bolles just saw his fifth-year option declined. This is really prove-it year for him and he does have the skill-set to prove the doubters wrong, but in case he struggles or either one of the tackles goes down, the Broncos should add another guy on the edge to carry on gameday. Jake Rodgers was a seventh-rounder in 2015 for Atlanta and Calvin Anderson is pretty talented kid who went undrafted last year, but neither one of them gives me a great deal of confidence. I think Pat Shurmur will help out his young quarterback with some easy completions, but we saw what happens if the tackles can’t get the job done with what happened in New York under him last season. Defensively, they should be as good as they have been in a while now, with A.J. Bouye replacing Chris Harris Jr., another veteran on the D-line in Jurrell Casey coming in, some pieces in the draft being added and most importantly, Bradley Chubb coming back from season-ending injury. If Bolles finally plays up to his potential and they can stay mostly healthy, I don’t see a reason why they can’t compete for the West or at least be a pain in the you know what for Kansas City.

Kansas City Chiefs – Secondary depth

First of all, if you are the reigning Super Bowl champions, there aren’t too many pieces you still need to add and bringing back 20 of 22 starters from the year prior in a situation like that is pretty unheard of. The offense is still just loaded with all those track-stars at receiver and the game’s premiere pass-catching tight-end in Travis Kelce around what I think should be universally regarded as the best player in the entire league, when you look at what Patrick Mahomes can do. They made another huge addition in first-round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who just gives them a different dimension with his hard-nosed running style and ability to make things happen after catching a simple check-down if nobody is open downfield. Looking at the end of last season, that KC defense really stepped up with timely stops and big plays. The D-line has some dogs on it, if second-round pick Willie Gay Jr. can speed up his mental processing a little he gives them a guy that can really fly around on the second level and I like a lot of the things Steve Spagnuolo did for them with aggressive blitz-packages and coverages. The one unit I still look at as being a little thin is the secondary. I talked about this a little a couple of weeks ago when mentioning former Auburn corner Javaris Davis as an undrafted free agent, who could make an early impact on their team. The Chiefs really believe in their trio of corners in Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland and Rashad Fenton, while Juan Thornhill will be back from injury and should only be better in year two to go with the Honeybadger, plus they still have Daniel Sorensen, who excels for them on special teams. Fourth-round pick L’Jarius Sneed gives them some versatility across the secondary and like I said, I could see Davis play quite a bit on sub-packages, but nobody off the bench has established themselves as actual difference-makers at this level. So maybe they should sign or trade for one more established veteran.

Las Vegas Raiders – WILL linebacker

In their first year in Las Vegas, these Raiders are trying to make a splash and if you are looking for anything to indicate that – they drafted three receivers through their first four picks of the draft and added a couple of feisty corners to go along with it. They also quietly made a few nice moves on defense with linebackers Corey Littleton and Nick Kwiatkowski in addition to safety Damarious Randall, who will complement one of last year’s first-rounders in Jonathan Abram very well. You could certainly call this a make-or-break year for Derek Carr, whose unwillingness to push the ball downfield is maddening to me and could take away some of that splash. I mean he averaged 6.3 air yards per attempt and threw the ball 2.3 yards short of the sticks on average, despite being in the top half of the league in terms of times in the pocket. Jon Gruden will rely more on his big offensive line and rookie standout running back Josh Jacobs once again. While I don’t love all of their defensive personnel, I think all the pieces are there to improve on that side of the ball for the most part,.The final one I am looking at is weak-side linebacker. Vontaze Burfict is hopefully finally out of the league for good and as I already mentioned, Mike Mayock has brought in what I believe are two pretty underrated players at that linebacker level, but they also lost Tahir Whitehead to the Panthers. Littleton has excellent range to play right in the middle and I like Kwiatkowski’s physicality on the strong-side, but who will replace Whitehead at WILL? Marquel Lee has slipped a little since a promising rookie campaign, playing only 6.7 percent of the defensive snaps last season and Nicholas Morrow played very poorly in a starting role last season. Maybe DC Paul Guenther plans on using Tanner Muse at linebacker on base downs already, since I project him to play there on sub-packages anyway.

Los Angeles Chargers – Left tackle

The Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the entire league, with an excellent core of skill-position players and an improved defense with studs at every level. I’m not sure if you could even find a hole on the defensive side if you wanted to, now with Derwin James back healthy, Chris Harris Jr. being brought in from their division-rival Broncos and trading back up into the first round for a super-rangy linebacker like Kenneth Murray. I love the fact they decided to make Austin Ekeler an even bigger piece for them offensively, after he came through for them routinely when relied upon last season. We still have to see how the quarterback situation shakes out, since Tyrod Taylor looks to be the starter heading into week one and depending on how well they do, that could keep sixth overall pick Justin Herbert on the bench for most of the season. However, despite some quality acquisitions, this offensive line still needs one piece. One of the better guards in Trai Turner was brought over in a trade for the often-injured Russell Okung, Bryan Bulaga was one of the more reasonable deals in all of free agency as a premiere right tackle and Mike Pouncey returns from injury. With that being side, who protects the blind-side of Taylor and/or Herbert? Sam Tevi? Trey Pipkins? Those are very underwhelming options. Tevi has been responsible for 11.5 sacks and seven flags over 29 starts these last two years, while Pipkins was brought in as a developmental player and had major issues when called upon as a rookie – three sacks allowed and flagged another three times on jut 250 total snaps. You can argue that this O-line is in the best shape it has been in several years now through four spots, but having that one liability can wreck an offense, constantly having to slide the protection his way, especially since the Chargers mostly want that back out on a route as well and only keep five in.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/05/19/biggest-remaining-needs-for-each-team-in-the-nfc-for-2020/

You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbcmXpqxxqI
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2020.06.07 00:00 hallach_halil Biggest remaining needs for each team in the NFC

The big free agency period and draft are now in the books, so we have reached what I like to call the “dark hole” of the offseason. You don’t have a lot of trades or signings going on and the biggest news are about teams changing their uniforms. However, what this part of the year allows me to do, is watch the film of some players I wasn’t really able to during the regular season and evaluate how teams are built.
I looked through the rosters of all 32 NFL organizations and tried to pin-point the one spot they could still use an upgrade at. That can be a very specific fit for their scheme, a true impact starter, depth at a certain position group or whatever. I tried to go through some of the areas of improvement I looked at, how they might have addressed some of them already and how I got to the conclusion of what their biggest need is.
I will put out my AFC version of this next week.

NFC North:


Chicago Bears – Strong safety

There are certainly question marks about Chicago’s offense, starting with the battle for the starting quarterback gig, but if the Bears are going to be in the mix for this division, they will have to dominate on defense once again. Looking at this unit last year, the D-line was hurting with Akiem Hicks out, but even when Roquan Smith missed time, Nick Kwiatkowski filled in nicely (earning himself a pretty good contract with the Raiders) and while they did lose Prince Amukara in free agency, I think 50th overall draft pick Jaylon Johnson is ready to step in and contribute right away. The one spot I still have questions about is strong safety. Chicago lost Adrian Amos last offseason and took a step back with Haha Clinton-Dix. They might be getting worse again. It just looked like a battle between Deon Bush, Jordan Lucas and maybe Kentrell Brice to pair up with Eddie Jackson. The Bears did sign Tashaun Gipson a good two weeks ago after the Texans let him go, but he will turn 30 in August and probably played the worst season of his career in 2019. While he did make 11 plays on the ball, his play in deep coverage was rather questionable and he missed 15 percent of his tackling attempts. Eddie Jackson is one of the elite safeties in the league and has the instincts and range to play single-high more, but as it stands, the Bears do want to run quite a few two-high safety looks and then be able to rotate them in kind of an interchangeable fashion. I’m not sure if you can expect that from Gipson, since he biggest issue come to daylight when he is put in space with great athletes, That’s one of the reason I was so annoyed with the Bears selecting Notre Dame tight-end Cole Kmet with their second-round pick in the draft, when Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. was on the board and would have been a perfect match here.

Detroit Lions – Punter

For a team that just had the third pick in the draft, the Lions have a pretty complete roster in my opinion. You can look at the guard position, since they did lose Graham Glasgow in free agency and Joe Dahl was sub-par in his only season as a starter, but I expect their third- and fourth-round picks in Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg to earn the two starting guard spots. Edge rusher has been a big need for them in recent years ever since Ziggy Ansah first got banged up, but they did invest heavily in Trey Flowers from New England last offseason and I think Julian Okwara could be an impactful edge player if they get him to play more consistently. And they now one of the better trios of corners when healthy. Instead I am looking at a specialist for them – more specifically the punter. Detroit lost Sam Martin to the Broncos in free agency, who paid the 30-year old just outside the top in average salary among the position. Now the Lions go into camp with a battle between Jack Fox, who was an undrafted free agent last year, and Arryn Sippos, who they pay over two million dollars a year coming over from the Australian Football League in 2018 and then averaging 44.0 yards per punt for Auburn over these last two seasons, When you look at the Lions’ draft, they want to play ball-control and win with their defense. They selected Georgia running back D’Andre Swift 35th overall to form a dynamic duo with the often-banged up Kerryon Johnson, whose touches they want to limit. You can question Matt Patricia paying everybody the Patriots can’t afford, but with Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon and others I see what he wants to build on defense. If that is the way you want to play, you need to be able to flip the field consistently and I just don’t know what to think of their punter situation.

Green Bay Packers – Z receiver

The Packers are coming off a 13-3 campaign and a trip to the NFC Championship. While they did get hammered in San Francisco and the win total was kind of fluky with an 8-1 record in one-score games, this team was in situation where it needed to add those couple of pieces to remain a contender. The defense finished top ten in points allowed for the first time since their Super Bowl season in 2010 and Aaron Jones was their first 1000-yard rushers since Eddie Lacy in 2014. Green Bay had the 30th overall pick in the draft and everybody had them going wide receiver at that stop, but instead they drafted Aaron Rodgers’ future replacement in Utah State’s Jordan Love. You can argue with me about how Rodgers’ play has fallen off recently and I don’t hate the range the rookie QB was selected in, but for them to actually use a fourth-round pick to trade up four spots and take him there, when you just extended your current franchise player for another four years, 134 million can certainly be questioned. Even worse – they didn’t select a single receiver among an all-time great class. The Packers have to hope for Rick Wagner to get to back form and replace Bryan Bulaga at right tackle and I also considered interior defensive line after the 49ers just steamrolled them in the NFC Championship game, but I still hold out hope for some of those young guys they have on their roster. Instead I come back to the receiver position and in particular, I am looking for a speed receiver, who can stretch the field and create space underneath on post and go-routes. Davante Adams is a bonafide stud, but nobody else has been able to establish themselves as the number two, while Allen Lazard and Equanimeous St. Brown would definitely benefit from more space being created. The one guy who has it all, but simply hasn’t been able to put it all together is Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Minnesota Vikings – Outside receiver

The Vikings did lose quite a few pieces this offseason with Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, their two starting corners and trading away Stefon Diggs, but they also just made the most selections in the draft ever (15) and have a lot of competition across the board now. Defensively they now have a lot of young corners they are looking for to develop and by bringing back Anthony Harris on the franchise tag, they still have one of the premiere safety tandems in the league. The D-line is a bit of a question mark with Griffen and Joseph out of the building. Ifeadi Odenigbo came on late in the season and Minnesota just signed Michael Pierce to a three-year deal, who might actually be an upgrade over Joseph at shade nose. Shemar Stephen played just over half the snaps last season and they other guys they have some other promising young players in Jaleel Johnson and Armon Watts, who have been learning behind those other guys. They also brought in some guys late on day three in the draft. So the bigger need at 3-tech would be for one of those candidates to emerge. I trust Mike Zimmer to fit those pieces together and look back at the offensive side of the ball. The Vikes are plugging 22nd overall pick Justin Jefferson from LSU in for Stefon Diggs, even if I think he did almost all of his damage from the slot. Contrary to popular belief, Adam Thielen actually lines up out wide more than in the slot, but what I like about these two guys is the fact they are kind of interchangeable. With the amount of 12 and 21 personnel they run, Minnesota only needs two receivers out there for about half the snaps, but I just believe they could use someone else who can play on the outside, since the depth chart behind them doesn’t blow anybody away and all those guys are better suited for an inside role as well.


NFC East:


Dallas Cowboys – Strong safety

Man, looking at this roster, this team is just so damn talented. The whole contract drama with Dak Prescott is certainly hanging over them like a dark cloud and the players still have to actually put it to the field, but they have all the pieces to compete for the NFC in theory. Offensively, they are still kind of re-grouping up front after the retirement of Travis Frederick, but they have added a lot of quality pieces in draft these last couple of year. Dallas is expecting Blake Jarwin to take a big step in his first season as a full-time starter, to go with a tremendous of trio of receivers, as they might run more 11 personnel than any other team in the league. While a large portion of their offensive production was empty calories and they did shrink in some big games, to me the defense is where they really need to improve. Their interior D-line rotation is outstanding and as long as they find someone outside of DeMarcus Lawrence who can stay focused, their pass-rush could be vicious. Depending on how Leighton Vander Esch has recovered from that neck surgery, they could once again have guys who can fly around on the second level. The loss of their top corner in Byron Jones definitely hurts, but their draft picks Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II certainly have all the talent to play there, to go with a big group of quality slot defenders. Instead I’m going back to the safety position. The coaches seem to love Xavier Woods at free safety, but I don’t think who they want to pair him up with long-term. Haha Clinton-Dix is an adequate starter, but he is really better suited in deep coverage and there is a reason he has been on three teams over the last two season, while being on a one-year deal with Dallas right now. With new DC Mike Nolan, the defense will not be as simplistic with single-high coverages, but you still a safety who can play closer to the line of scrimmage.

New York Giants – Edge rusher

The Giants went into this offseason with two major areas of improvement – protecting their young quarterback and getting after opposing ones. They finished bottom five in sacks and QB hits allowed, while nobody on the roster – since Marcus Golden wasn’t resigned (yet) – logged five sacks or more last season. Well, the Giants drafted Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall, selected another developmental tackle in Matt Peart (UConn) in the third round and one of my favorite guards in Shane Lemieux (Oregon) in the fourth. Big Blue did draft Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter last year and they selected four linebackers in late April, with two of them having outside flexibility, but they lost their leading sacker in Golden and they just don’t have that true dog up coming off the edge. I like the signing of Kyler Fackrell, who should take over at SAM with a healthy competition for that second spot on the outside, but who will come around the corner and put the heat on opposing quarterbacks consistently? Leonard Williams – who they acquired via trade mid-season and have put the franchise tag on – has some edge flexibility, but I just see a run-plugging beefy D-line that might not be able to get home with their pass-rush. I liked B.J. Hill coming out of N.C. State a couple of years ago with his ability to beat guards, one of their 2019 first-rounders Dexter Lawrence can definitely create push up the middle and Dalvin Tomlinson is excellent at setting up stunts and twists, to create opportunities for his teammates. However, when you look at all those great offensive tackles in the NFC East, I’m just not sure who the G-Men have to seriously threaten off the edge consistently. If they can bring back Golden or sign one of those other veterans out on the market, I would certainly feel better about them. Also because it would help a young room of guys at that position.

Philadelphia Eagles – SAM linebacker

I had the Eagles as NFC favorites coming into 2019, but after DeSean Jackson went down following a monster week one performance, that entire receiver room was split into pieces and they were desperate for speed. That’s why they selected TCU’s Jalen Reagor in the first round, traded for Marquise Goodwin and drafted Boise State’s John Hightower on day three. With those guys added to the best tight-end duo in the league, a breakout back like Miles Sanders going into year two and a strong O-line to support Carson Wentz, I really like this offense. Defensively, they traded for Darius Slay, who was a top ten corner for a long stretch until he was a little banged up last season and they signed Javon Hargreave to add to the interior D-line. However, that whole linebacker corp may not be a strength for them next season. I like T.J. Edwards as a thumping MIKE and Duke Riley when healthy and kept clean can make some plays from the weak-side, but then at SAM I certainly have question marks. Right now it looks like Nathan Gerry and Jatavis Brown could compete for that spot, but depending on how they want to use that position, I don’t see them putting either one over the tight-end to control the point of attack. The Eagles drafted Colorado’s Davion Taylor in third round, who I had as about my 20th-ranked linebacker. He was basically a big nickel in college and certainly is the kind of explosive athlete who can make some splash plays, but he was never really tagged with box duties and weighed in at under 230 pounds at the combine. Their fourth-rounder K’Von Wallace from Clemson is a natural fit in the slot, but Philly also lost Malcolm Jenkins in free agency. NFL teams play with 5+ DBs on the field over 70 percent of the snaps on average, but against heavy personnel this group of backers could be exposed, and the two LBs they would keep on the field on sub haven’t been true difference-makers in the league.

Washington Redskins – Slot receiver

There are some things Ron Rivera still has to figure out about this Washington defense, depending on the status of Reuben Foster at linebacker and how he wants to assemble the secondary, but with a defensive line that now has Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Montez Sweat and others, they are going to wreak some havoc. For this team it is really more about the offense and in particular what Dwayne Haskins can do in year two. His support system wasn’t great in 2019, with Adrian Peterson being their top back and their most productive receiver being third-round pick Terry McLaurin, who Haskins had just been throwing passes to at Ohio State and had an excellent rookie campaign considering the erratic QB play. While Trent Williams is now finally off the team, this year’s third-rounder Saahdiq Charles should at least be an upgrade over what they had last season and I like some of other guys they added. I would have definitely said tight-end here, but to get Thaddeus Moss as an undrafted free agent, who may not be the most dynamic pass-catcher, but is very reliable pass-catcher and an excellent in-line blocker, could fix that issue. Instead I’m looking more towards the receivers. I had last year’s sixth-rounder Kelvin Harmon ranked over guys like Patriots first-round pick N’Keal Harry and the Colts’ second-rounder Parris Campbell and then Washington got another one of my favorites this time around with Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden in the fourth round. What do all three of those guys have in common? – They did most of their damage on the outside in college. McLaurin has played some in the slot and could move inside on 11 personnel sets, but their best true slot receiver is Trey Quinn, who didn’t even crack the 200-yard mark last season and caught just one TD. I certainly believe they could use an upgrade there, in the mold of what Haskins had in his one year as a starter in college with the aforementioned Campbell, to get involved on jet sweeps, shallow crossers and other easy yardage plays.


NFC South:


Atlanta Falcons – WILL linebacker

The Falcons defense was a mess last season, with a mixture of bad play and miscommunication. With all the investments they made on the offensive line a year ago, they could completely focus on the defensive side of the ball. I first thought about edge rusher for Atlanta, because they lost Vic Beasley, who might have never lived up to his draft status outside of one abnormal 15.5-sack campaign, but was still a high-upside pass rusher when allowed to just go. However, I think Dante Fowler will be an upgrade and their first-rounder from 2017 in Takk McKinley has shown flashes. I certainly have questions about they interior, where I thought they would actually go if they found a partner to trade up with in the draft. Grady Jarrett is one of the best 3-techs in the league, but he has barely had help around him and actually had to line up in the A-gaps more than he would like to. The Falcons selected Auburn’s Marlon Davidson early on day two of the draft, who I think best fits shading the outside shoulder of guards as well, so maybe they plan on moving Jarrett inside even more. Davidson played a hybrid outside backer in college, so he could play some heavy end as well and then you possibly have Fowler at SAM with more Over looks. The other options on the inside are a run-stopping Tyler Davidson and Deadrin Senat, who has some potential. I think a more proven 1-tech would have been a good addition, but instead I’m focusing more on the second level of the defense. Deion Jones is a super-rangy MIKE, who can cover shifty backs one-on-one as well, but Atlanta lost his partner in crime in De’Vondre Campbell. They brought in Fresno State’s Mykal Walker early on day three of the draft, who lined up a lot on the edge in college and could potentially start on the strong-side for them, but they still need a WILL, who can take away cutback lanes in the run game and punish single receivers for catching simple slant routes.

Carolina Panthers – Right guard

You could maybe nit-pick at a spot or two on defense for the Panthers, but when you spend all seven of your draft picks on that side of the ball, you can’t really complain and we really still have to see how they put all those pieces together. Instead I’m looking at the offensive line, where they just traded away Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner for a fragile tackle in Russell Okung from the Chargers. I would strongly guess that this was more due to cap purposes, but after losing Andrew Norwell in free agency last year already – who in fairness has been a disappointment in Jacksonville so far – that group has gone from a strength to more of a concern. I could see Okung move inside in order to let their talented second-round pick from 2019 in Greg Little develop, but he looked pretty lost out there as a rookie. John Miller who projects to be the starter at left guard had a solid start to his career with Buffalo, but took a step back with a lackluster Bengals O-line last season and Dennis Daley is really more of a natural fit on the edge. With what they have on their roster right now, flipping Okung to the right side and moving Taylor Moton one spot to the inside, with Little being thrown in the fire again, would probably put their best five out on the field, but I think they would be best suited to add another interior O-lineman to at least add some competition. New QB Teddy Bridgewater finished dead-last among starting QBs in intended air yards last season. I still have to see how that meshes with those vertical targets the Panthers have in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and to some degree Curtis Samuel, who I personally believe Joe Brady will use more on slants and crossers underneath – his version of Justin Jefferson so to speak.

New Orleans Saints – Speed receiver

When I looked at this Saints roster in preparation for my 2020 mock draft, it was tough to find a true hole on the depth chart. The one position I thought they could address was MIKE linebacker, since their only LB on their roster with at least 30 percent of the snaps outside of Demario Davis is now gone, and I thought Patrick Queen would be a good fit in this pass-heavy division. Instead they went with my top-rated interior O-lineman in Cesar Ruiz before letting Larry Warford go, which is a little bit of a head-scratcher simply because they only got cheaper – not necessarily better. Still, I think third-rounder Zack Baun (Wisconsin) will start at SAM and I love their undrafted free agent Joe Bachie (Michigan State), who I believe could start at MIKE for them as a rookie and then be subbed off more on third downs possibly. Therefore I went back to the receiver position, which I thought was their biggest area of improvement before bringing in Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. Drew Brees may no longer throw the deep ball very effectively or want to at all, but you still need to somehow stretch the field and clear space. Michael Thomas broke the single season reception record because he is a physical possession-type receiver, who they heavily target on slants and crossing routes. Sanders once was a true deep threat, but he is now 33 years old and wins more with crafty route-running (even though he had a step on the defense for a potential game-winner in this past Super Bowl). So with Drew you may not be able to fully utilize that deep threat, but having somebody who can use that speed horizontally on crossers and just to open up room underneath would help the other pass-catchers there a lot. Tre’Quan Smith has that long speed, but he hasn’t developed the way I thought he could.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Offensive line depth

No team in the league has shifted expectations more than these Bucs. It is not only about Tom Brady being brought in, but also Gronk coming out of retirement and some nice additions in the draft. When you look at their defense finishing 29th in the NFL in terms of points allowed, you certainly want to improve on that, but they quietly were the number one run-stopping unit in the league and they bring everybody back in their second season under Todd Bowles. They have all the players to take the next step, plus another chess piece in Minnesota Antoine Winfield Jr. as Bowles’ version of the Honeybadger, and they won’t be put in so many tough spots off turnovers by their offense, where the opposing team is in scoring range right away or these guys are just tired out. Their group of skill-position players on offense is up there with the best, so it’s really about protecting Brady. Now with Tristan Wirfs being drafted 13th overall to add to the mix, this starting five looks pretty strong. It will be between their 2018 third-rounder Alex Cappa and veteran Joe Haeg as well as about how much Wirfs can clean up his footwork in pass-protection – in a heavily shortened offseason program at the very least – who will be that second starter on the right side at guard or tackle. Either way, Tampa Bay should have one solid backup but I don’t know who they plan on being their seventh guy on gameday and I don’t believe a lot of people have even heard the names Brad Seaton, Zack Bailey or Aaron Stinnie before. I’m still very interested to see how much of a hybrid between Bruce Arians’ vertical passing offense and New England’s Erhardt-Perkins system – which allowed Brady to spread the defense out and create mismatches – this will be. No matter what, protecting the 43-year old legend is priority number one and you can’t be one injury away from having a liablity on the O-line potentially.


NFC West:


Arizona Cardinals – Secondary depth

The Cardinals went into the offseason with two major needs to make this Kliff Kingsbury offense work – a true number one receiver and a starting right tackle. A good month before the draft, it looked like they would have to decide on either one of the two with their eight overall pick. Instead they were able to package a bad contract of David Johnson and a second-round pick for superstar DeAndre Hopkins and I believe they found their starting tackle in the third round with Joshua Jones, who I had graded as a late first-rounder, which allowed them to select Clemson do-it-all defender Isaiah Simmons with that top ten pick. That’s about as good they could have hoped for and with beef added to the D-line on day three to compete in a run-heavy division, they can now address the 31st-ranked pass defense. I’m not totally sure about how they will utilize their corners. Patrick Peterson looked a little slow and old last season, but he should be a fixture for them. Last year’s second-round pick Byron Murphy out of Washington had some growing pains early on, but he was my CB1 in the draft and definitely showed fight as well as improvement throughout the season. The Cardinals also brought in veteran Robert Alford, so I could see them moving Murphy more into the slot. I’ve always loved Budda Baker as a little lighter version of Tyrann Mathieu and I still believe in one of their day three selection in last year’s draft in Deionte Thompson from Alabama, who only fell due to injury concerns, but has the range and feel to excel in a free safety role, if he can clean up his tackling a little bit. It will be interesting to see how exactly the Cards will utilize Simmons and another versatile first-round linebacker from in 2018 in Haason Reddick, but when it comes to true defensive backs, right now they probably rely on Jalen Thompson and the third-most popular Chris Jones in the NFL as their first backups in the secondary. That leaves something to be desired.

Los Angeles Rams – Edge rusher

To be honest, I’m a little concerned about these Rams. Acquiring Jalen Ramsey for two first-round picks is worth it for me, considering he could be the premiere corner in football for the next five years or so, and I like the players they selected in the draft in a vacuum, but since the regular season concluded, I’m not sure they got better at one single position. I think the combination of Darrell Henderson and second-rounder Cam Akers (Florida State) will be more effective than what they had in a banged up Todd Gurley and Florida’s Van Jefferson is an exquisite route-runner, who can produce right away – unlike Brandin Cooks, who simply hasn’t really been available. However, they lost a rangy linebacker in Corey Littleton and their top edge rusher in Dante Fowler through free agency, while not doing anything to improve the O-line. To replace Fowler, they brought in Leonard Floyd, who is a good Robin, but they don’t have a real Batman coming off the edge. In the third round of the draft they selected Terrell Lewis, who had top 50 talent, but he only had one full season with Alabama and I’m not sure if you can expect him to play all 16 games as a pro in 2020. Samson Ebukam has given the team some production and I liked their fifth-rounder out Oklahoma from a year ago in Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, but those guys might be more rotational pass-rushers. Maybe they hope for Jachai Polite to get his act together, but when you consider the Jets let him go early on after spending a day two pick of him and needing somebody on the edge desperately themselves, that is more of a shot in the dark. Obviously you have an elite player on the interior in Aaron Donald and he makes a lot of issues disappear, but nobody has really established himself on the edge for L.A. I also don’t know if Lirim Hajrullahu, who I had never heard before, can replace Greg Zuerlein at kicker.

San Francisco 49ers – Cornerback

Coming off a devastating Super Bowl loss, I believe the 49ers have done a really solid job retooling their roster. Trading away a team MVP in DeForest Buckner obviously hurts, but replacing him with a similar type of player with sky-high potential in Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina with that pick you just acquired and you pay him less than a fifth of the price, makes that much easier to swallow. Their other first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State) gives them any YAC weapon in place of Emmanuel Sanders and they basically got All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams for peanuts, with the retirement of Joe Staley pending. I’m not worried about the offense with Kyle Shanahan calling the shots, as long as Jimmy G can shake that fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Their defense was elite already last season, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still improve, especially when you looking at their secondary situation. Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon will all become free agents in 2021. Witherspoon is still so up-and-down with lackluster technique. I like Emmanuel Moseley as that second guy on the outside and Jason Verrett still is an X-factor here, because he was one of the rising stars early on in San Diego, but I feel like I haven’t seen him play in like five years. D.J. Reed is a really nice backup nickel and Dontae Johnson was a solid player for them in his first stint with San Francisco, but he has barely seen the field these last three years. As part as covering the slot goes, whether it’s putting Jaquiski Tartt down against bigger bodies in base sets, keeping K’Waun Williams at nickel and even a guy like Reed coming in off the bench, are all viable options, but in terms of true outside corners, you are looking at a 32-year old Richard Sherman and a battle of what are more backups on most rosters. The Niners are set for a while at several positions, but cornerback isn’t one of them.

Seattle Seahawks – Right tackle

I don’t understand how some people still think of the Seahawks as some kind of dominant defense. They finished last season 26th in the league in yards allowed and they gave up 20+ points in all but two games. I think they have issues at corner (depending on the status of recently acquired Quinton Dunbar) and without Jadeveon Clowney their pass-rush is underwhelming, with Bobby Wagner being the only elite player on that unit. However, they did go defense-heavy in the draft and I wouldn’t say they don’t have the bodies to compete, so I’m going back to the continual problem child. The Seahawks have ignored issues on the offensive line for years now and once again this time around I mocked a tackle to them in the first round. Instead they went with a surprise pick – as they always do – in Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks. They did select LSU guard Damien Lewis early in the third, but he was not nearly my top guy available at that point. They also cut long-time center Justin Britt and the powerful D.J. Fluker who has guard/tackle flexibility. So I certainly don’t believe they got better up front. B.J. Finney looks to slide in at center and in this offense without a ton of true drop-back passes Lewis at least competes for a starting guard spot, but Cedric Ogbuehi is still not the solution at right tackle. The Hawks went from one of the biggest liabilities at that spot in Germain Ifedi to a maybe even bigger one in Ogbuehi. In his two seasons as a starter in Cincinnati, the new acquired tackle was responsible for 14.5 sacks. These last two years he hasn’t been in the starting lineup and now faces the likes of Chandler Jones, Nick Bosa and others in the NFC West. That is a recipe for disaster. Maybe Seattle moves Ethan Pocic to right tackle if two other guys impress at those guard spots.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/05/19/biggest-remaining-needs-for-each-team-in-the-nfc-for-2020/

You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbcmXpqxxqI
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2020.06.03 23:48 hallach_halil Biggest remaining needs for each team in the NFC

The big free agency period and draft are now in the books, so we have reached what I like to call the “dark hole” of the offseason. You don’t have a lot of trades or signings going on and the biggest news are about teams changing their uniforms. However, what this part of the year allows me to do, is watch the film of some players I wasn’t really able to during the regular season and evaluate how teams are built.
I looked through the rosters of all 32 NFL organizations and tried to pin-point the one spot they could still use an upgrade at. That can be a very specific fit for their scheme, a true impact starter, depth at a certain position group or whatever. I tried to go through some of the areas of improvement I looked at, how they might have addressed some of them already and how I got to the conclusion of what their biggest need is.
You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube and I will put out my AFC version of this next week.

NFC North:


Chicago Bears – Strong safety

There are certainly question marks about Chicago’s offense, starting with the battle for the starting quarterback gig, but if the Bears are going to be in the mix for this division, they will have to dominate on defense once again. Looking at this unit last year, the D-line was hurting with Akiem Hicks out, but even when Roquan Smith missed time, Nick Kwiatkowski filled in nicely (earning himself a pretty good contract with the Raiders) and while they did lose Prince Amukara in free agency, I think 50th overall draft pick Jaylon Johnson is ready to step in and contribute right away. The one spot I still have questions about is strong safety. Chicago lost Adrian Amos last offseason and took a step back with Haha Clinton-Dix. They might be getting worse again. It just looked like a battle between Deon Bush, Jordan Lucas and maybe Kentrell Brice to pair up with Eddie Jackson. The Bears did sign Tashaun Gipson a good two weeks ago after the Texans let him go, but he will turn 30 in August and probably played the worst season of his career in 2019. While he did make 11 plays on the ball, his play in deep coverage was rather questionable and he missed 15 percent of his tackling attempts. Eddie Jackson is one of the elite safeties in the league and has the instincts and range to play single-high more, but as it stands, the Bears do want to run quite a few two-high safety looks and then be able to rotate them in kind of an interchangeable fashion. I’m not sure if you can expect that from Gipson, since he biggest issue come to daylight when he is put in space with great athletes, That’s one of the reason I was so annoyed with the Bears selecting Notre Dame tight-end Cole Kmet with their second-round pick in the draft, when Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. was on the board and would have been a perfect match here.

Detroit Lions – Punter

For a team that just had the third pick in the draft, the Lions have a pretty complete roster in my opinion. You can look at the guard position, since they did lose Graham Glasgow in free agency and Joe Dahl was sub-par in his only season as a starter, but I expect their third- and fourth-round picks in Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg to earn the two starting guard spots. Edge rusher has been a big need for them in recent years ever since Ziggy Ansah first got banged up, but they did invest heavily in Trey Flowers from New England last offseason and I think Julian Okwara could be an impactful edge player if they get him to play more consistently. And they now one of the better trios of corners when healthy. Instead I am looking at a specialist for them – more specifically the punter. Detroit lost Sam Martin to the Broncos in free agency, who paid the 30-year old just outside the top in average salary among the position. Now the Lions go into camp with a battle between Jack Fox, who was an undrafted free agent last year, and Arryn Sippos, who they pay over two million dollars a year coming over from the Australian Football League in 2018 and then averaging 44.0 yards per punt for Auburn over these last two seasons, When you look at the Lions’ draft, they want to play ball-control and win with their defense. They selected Georgia running back D’Andre Swift 35th overall to form a dynamic duo with the often-banged up Kerryon Johnson, whose touches they want to limit. You can question Matt Patricia paying everybody the Patriots can’t afford, but with Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon and others I see what he wants to build on defense. If that is the way you want to play, you need to be able to flip the field consistently and I just don’t know what to think of their punter situation.

Green Bay Packers – Z receiver

The Packers are coming off a 13-3 campaign and a trip to the NFC Championship. While they did get hammered in San Francisco and the win total was kind of fluky with an 8-1 record in one-score games, this team was in situation where it needed to add those couple of pieces to remain a contender. The defense finished top ten in points allowed for the first time since their Super Bowl season in 2010 and Aaron Jones was their first 1000-yard rushers since Eddie Lacy in 2014. Green Bay had the 30th overall pick in the draft and everybody had them going wide receiver at that stop, but instead they drafted Aaron Rodgers’ future replacement in Utah State’s Jordan Love. You can argue with me about how Rodgers’ play has fallen off recently and I don’t hate the range the rookie QB was selected in, but for them to actually use a fourth-round pick to trade up four spots and take him there, when you just extended your current franchise player for another four years, 134 million can certainly be questioned. Even worse – they didn’t select a single receiver among an all-time great class. The Packers have to hope for Rick Wagner to get to back form and replace Bryan Bulaga at right tackle and I also considered interior defensive line after the 49ers just steamrolled them in the NFC Championship game, but I still hold out hope for some of those young guys they have on their roster. Instead I come back to the receiver position and in particular, I am looking for a speed receiver, who can stretch the field and create space underneath on post and go-routes. Davante Adams is a bonafide stud, but nobody else has been able to establish themselves as the number two, while Allen Lazard and Equanimeous St. Brown would definitely benefit from more space being created. The one guy who has it all, but simply hasn’t been able to put it all together is Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Minnesota Vikings – Outside receiver

The Vikings did lose quite a few pieces this offseason with Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, their two starting corners and trading away Stefon Diggs, but they also just made the most selections in the draft ever (15) and have a lot of competition across the board now. Defensively they now have a lot of young corners they are looking for to develop and by bringing back Anthony Harris on the franchise tag, they still have one of the premiere safety tandems in the league. The D-line is a bit of a question mark with Griffen and Joseph out of the building. Ifeadi Odenigbo came on late in the season and Minnesota just signed Michael Pierce to a three-year deal, who might actually be an upgrade over Joseph at shade nose. Shemar Stephen played just over half the snaps last season and they other guys they have some other promising young players in Jaleel Johnson and Armon Watts, who have been learning behind those other guys. They also brought in some guys late on day three in the draft. So the bigger need at 3-tech would be for one of those candidates to emerge. I trust Mike Zimmer to fit those pieces together and look back at the offensive side of the ball. The Vikes are plugging 22nd overall pick Justin Jefferson from LSU in for Stefon Diggs, even if I think he did almost all of his damage from the slot. Contrary to popular belief, Adam Thielen actually lines up out wide more than in the slot, but what I like about these two guys is the fact they are kind of interchangeable. With the amount of 12 and 21 personnel they run, Minnesota only needs two receivers out there for about half the snaps, but I just believe they could use someone else who can play on the outside, since the depth chart behind them doesn’t blow anybody away and all those guys are better suited for an inside role as well.


NFC East:


Dallas Cowboys – Strong safety

Man, looking at this roster, this team is just so damn talented. The whole contract drama with Dak Prescott is certainly hanging over them like a dark cloud and the players still have to actually put it to the field, but they have all the pieces to compete for the NFC in theory. Offensively, they are still kind of re-grouping up front after the retirement of Travis Frederick, but they have added a lot of quality pieces in draft these last couple of year. Dallas is expecting Blake Jarwin to take a big step in his first season as a full-time starter, to go with a tremendous of trio of receivers, as they might run more 11 personnel than any other team in the league. While a large portion of their offensive production was empty calories and they did shrink in some big games, to me the defense is where they really need to improve. Their interior D-line rotation is outstanding and as long as they find someone outside of DeMarcus Lawrence who can stay focused, their pass-rush could be vicious. Depending on how Leighton Vander Esch has recovered from that neck surgery, they could once again have guys who can fly around on the second level. The loss of their top corner in Byron Jones definitely hurts, but their draft picks Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II certainly have all the talent to play there, to go with a big group of quality slot defenders. Instead I’m going back to the safety position. The coaches seem to love Xavier Woods at free safety, but I don’t think who they want to pair him up with long-term. Haha Clinton-Dix is an adequate starter, but he is really better suited in deep coverage and there is a reason he has been on three teams over the last two season, while being on a one-year deal with Dallas right now. With new DC Mike Nolan, the defense will not be as simplistic with single-high coverages, but you still a safety who can play closer to the line of scrimmage.

New York Giants – Edge rusher

The Giants went into this offseason with two major areas of improvement – protecting their young quarterback and getting after opposing ones. They finished bottom five in sacks and QB hits allowed, while nobody on the roster – since Marcus Golden wasn’t resigned (yet) – logged five sacks or more last season. Well, the Giants drafted Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall, selected another developmental tackle in Matt Peart (UConn) in the third round and one of my favorite guards in Shane Lemieux (Oregon) in the fourth. Big Blue did draft Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter last year and they selected four linebackers in late April, with two of them having outside flexibility, but they lost their leading sacker in Golden and they just don’t have that true dog up coming off the edge. I like the signing of Kyler Fackrell, who should take over at SAM with a healthy competition for that second spot on the outside, but who will come around the corner and put the heat on opposing quarterbacks consistently? Leonard Williams – who they acquired via trade mid-season and have put the franchise tag on – has some edge flexibility, but I just see a run-plugging beefy D-line that might not be able to get home with their pass-rush. I liked B.J. Hill coming out of N.C. State a couple of years ago with his ability to beat guards, one of their 2019 first-rounders Dexter Lawrence can definitely create push up the middle and Dalvin Tomlinson is excellent at setting up stunts and twists, to create opportunities for his teammates. However, when you look at all those great offensive tackles in the NFC East, I’m just not sure who the G-Men have to seriously threaten off the edge consistently. If they can bring back Golden or sign one of those other veterans out on the market, I would certainly feel better about them. Also because it would help a young room of guys at that position.

Philadelphia Eagles – SAM linebacker

I had the Eagles as NFC favorites coming into 2019, but after DeSean Jackson went down following a monster week one performance, that entire receiver room was split into pieces and they were desperate for speed. That’s why they selected TCU’s Jalen Reagor in the first round, traded for Marquise Goodwin and drafted Boise State’s John Hightower on day three. With those guys added to the best tight-end duo in the league, a breakout back like Miles Sanders going into year two and a strong O-line to support Carson Wentz, I really like this offense. Defensively, they traded for Darius Slay, who was a top ten corner for a long stretch until he was a little banged up last season and they signed Javon Hargreave to add to the interior D-line. However, that whole linebacker corp may not be a strength for them next season. I like T.J. Edwards as a thumping MIKE and Duke Riley when healthy and kept clean can make some plays from the weak-side, but then at SAM I certainly have question marks. Right now it looks like Nathan Gerry and Jatavis Brown could compete for that spot, but depending on how they want to use that position, I don’t see them putting either one over the tight-end to control the point of attack. The Eagles drafted Colorado’s Davion Taylor in third round, who I had as about my 20th-ranked linebacker. He was basically a big nickel in college and certainly is the kind of explosive athlete who can make some splash plays, but he was never really tagged with box duties and weighed in at under 230 pounds at the combine. Their fourth-rounder K’Von Wallace from Clemson is a natural fit in the slot, but Philly also lost Malcolm Jenkins in free agency. NFL teams play with 5+ DBs on the field over 70 percent of the snaps on average, but against heavy personnel this group of backers could be exposed, and the two LBs they would keep on the field on sub haven’t been true difference-makers in the league.

Washington Redskins – Slot receiver

There are some things Ron Rivera still has to figure out about this Washington defense, depending on the status of Reuben Foster at linebacker and how he wants to assemble the secondary, but with a defensive line that now has Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Montez Sweat and others, they are going to wreak some havoc. For this team it is really more about the offense and in particular what Dwayne Haskins can do in year two. His support system wasn’t great in 2019, with Adrian Peterson being their top back and their most productive receiver being third-round pick Terry McLaurin, who Haskins had just been throwing passes to at Ohio State and had an excellent rookie campaign considering the erratic QB play. While Trent Williams is now finally off the team, this year’s third-rounder Saahdiq Charles should at least be an upgrade over what they had last season and I like some of other guys they added. I would have definitely said tight-end here, but to get Thaddeus Moss as an undrafted free agent, who may not be the most dynamic pass-catcher, but is very reliable pass-catcher and an excellent in-line blocker, could fix that issue. Instead I’m looking more towards the receivers. I had last year’s sixth-rounder Kelvin Harmon ranked over guys like Patriots first-round pick N’Keal Harry and the Colts’ second-rounder Parris Campbell and then Washington got another one of my favorites this time around with Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden in the fourth round. What do all three of those guys have in common? – They did most of their damage on the outside in college. McLaurin has played some in the slot and could move inside on 11 personnel sets, but their best true slot receiver is Trey Quinn, who didn’t even crack the 200-yard mark last season and caught just one TD. I certainly believe they could use an upgrade there, in the mold of what Haskins had in his one year as a starter in college with the aforementioned Campbell, to get involved on jet sweeps, shallow crossers and other easy yardage plays.


NFC South:


Atlanta Falcons – WILL linebacker

The Falcons defense was a mess last season, with a mixture of bad play and miscommunication. With all the investments they made on the offensive line a year ago, they could completely focus on the defensive side of the ball. I first thought about edge rusher for Atlanta, because they lost Vic Beasley, who might have never lived up to his draft status outside of one abnormal 15.5-sack campaign, but was still a high-upside pass rusher when allowed to just go. However, I think Dante Fowler will be an upgrade and their first-rounder from 2017 in Takk McKinley has shown flashes. I certainly have questions about they interior, where I thought they would actually go if they found a partner to trade up with in the draft. Grady Jarrett is one of the best 3-techs in the league, but he has barely had help around him and actually had to line up in the A-gaps more than he would like to. The Falcons selected Auburn’s Marlon Davidson early on day two of the draft, who I think best fits shading the outside shoulder of guards as well, so maybe they plan on moving Jarrett inside even more. Davidson played a hybrid outside backer in college, so he could play some heavy end as well and then you possibly have Fowler at SAM with more Over looks. The other options on the inside are a run-stopping Tyler Davidson and Deadrin Senat, who has some potential. I think a more proven 1-tech would have been a good addition, but instead I’m focusing more on the second level of the defense. Deion Jones is a super-rangy MIKE, who can cover shifty backs one-on-one as well, but Atlanta lost his partner in crime in De’Vondre Campbell. They brought in Fresno State’s Mykal Walker early on day three of the draft, who lined up a lot on the edge in college and could potentially start on the strong-side for them, but they still need a WILL, who can take away cutback lanes in the run game and punish single receivers for catching simple slant routes.

Carolina Panthers – Right guard

You could maybe nit-pick at a spot or two on defense for the Panthers, but when you spend all seven of your draft picks on that side of the ball, you can’t really complain and we really still have to see how they put all those pieces together. Instead I’m looking at the offensive line, where they just traded away Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner for a fragile tackle in Russell Okung from the Chargers. I would strongly guess that this was more due to cap purposes, but after losing Andrew Norwell in free agency last year already – who in fairness has been a disappointment in Jacksonville so far – that group has gone from a strength to more of a concern. I could see Okung move inside in order to let their talented second-round pick from 2019 in Greg Little develop, but he looked pretty lost out there as a rookie. John Miller who projects to be the starter at left guard had a solid start to his career with Buffalo, but took a step back with a lackluster Bengals O-line last season and Dennis Daley is really more of a natural fit on the edge. With what they have on their roster right now, flipping Okung to the right side and moving Taylor Moton one spot to the inside, with Little being thrown in the fire again, would probably put their best five out on the field, but I think they would be best suited to add another interior O-lineman to at least add some competition. New QB Teddy Bridgewater finished dead-last among starting QBs in intended air yards last season. I still have to see how that meshes with those vertical targets the Panthers have in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and to some degree Curtis Samuel, who I personally believe Joe Brady will use more on slants and crossers underneath – his version of Justin Jefferson so to speak.

New Orleans Saints – Speed receiver

When I looked at this Saints roster in preparation for my 2020 mock draft, it was tough to find a true hole on the depth chart. The one position I thought they could address was MIKE linebacker, since their only LB on their roster with at least 30 percent of the snaps outside of Demario Davis is now gone, and I thought Patrick Queen would be a good fit in this pass-heavy division. Instead they went with my top-rated interior O-lineman in Cesar Ruiz before letting Larry Warford go, which is a little bit of a head-scratcher simply because they only got cheaper – not necessarily better. Still, I think third-rounder Zack Baun (Wisconsin) will start at SAM and I love their undrafted free agent Joe Bachie (Michigan State), who I believe could start at MIKE for them as a rookie and then be subbed off more on third downs possibly. Therefore I went back to the receiver position, which I thought was their biggest area of improvement before bringing in Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. Drew Brees may no longer throw the deep ball very effectively or want to at all, but you still need to somehow stretch the field and clear space. Michael Thomas broke the single season reception record because he is a physical possession-type receiver, who they heavily target on slants and crossing routes. Sanders once was a true deep threat, but he is now 33 years old and wins more with crafty route-running (even though he had a step on the defense for a potential game-winner in this past Super Bowl). So with Drew you may not be able to fully utilize that deep threat, but having somebody who can use that speed horizontally on crossers and just to open up room underneath would help the other pass-catchers there a lot. Tre’Quan Smith has that long speed, but he hasn’t developed the way I thought he could.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Offensive line depth

No team in the league has shifted expectations more than these Bucs. It is not only about Tom Brady being brought in, but also Gronk coming out of retirement and some nice additions in the draft. When you look at their defense finishing 29th in the NFL in terms of points allowed, you certainly want to improve on that, but they quietly were the number one run-stopping unit in the league and they bring everybody back in their second season under Todd Bowles. They have all the players to take the next step, plus another chess piece in Minnesota Antoine Winfield Jr. as Bowles’ version of the Honeybadger, and they won’t be put in so many tough spots off turnovers by their offense, where the opposing team is in scoring range right away or these guys are just tired out. Their group of skill-position players on offense is up there with the best, so it’s really about protecting Brady. Now with Tristan Wirfs being drafted 13th overall to add to the mix, this starting five looks pretty strong. It will be between their 2018 third-rounder Alex Cappa and veteran Joe Haeg as well as about how much Wirfs can clean up his footwork in pass-protection – in a heavily shortened offseason program at the very least – who will be that second starter on the right side at guard or tackle. Either way, Tampa Bay should have one solid backup but I don’t know who they plan on being their seventh guy on gameday and I don’t believe a lot of people have even heard the names Brad Seaton, Zack Bailey or Aaron Stinnie before. I’m still very interested to see how much of a hybrid between Bruce Arians’ vertical passing offense and New England’s Erhardt-Perkins system – which allowed Brady to spread the defense out and create mismatches – this will be. No matter what, protecting the 43-year old legend is priority number one and you can’t be one injury away from having a liablity on the O-line potentially.


NFC West:


Arizona Cardinals – Secondary depth

The Cardinals went into the offseason with two major needs to make this Kliff Kingsbury offense work – a true number one receiver and a starting right tackle. A good month before the draft, it looked like they would have to decide on either one of the two with their eight overall pick. Instead they were able to package a bad contract of David Johnson and a second-round pick for superstar DeAndre Hopkins and I believe they found their starting tackle in the third round with Joshua Jones, who I had graded as a late first-rounder, which allowed them to select Clemson do-it-all defender Isaiah Simmons with that top ten pick. That’s about as good they could have hoped for and with beef added to the D-line on day three to compete in a run-heavy division, they can now address the 31st-ranked pass defense. I’m not totally sure about how they will utilize their corners. Patrick Peterson looked a little slow and old last season, but he should be a fixture for them. Last year’s second-round pick Byron Murphy out of Washington had some growing pains early on, but he was my CB1 in the draft and definitely showed fight as well as improvement throughout the season. The Cardinals also brought in veteran Robert Alford, so I could see them moving Murphy more into the slot. I’ve always loved Budda Baker as a little lighter version of Tyrann Mathieu and I still believe in one of their day three selection in last year’s draft in Deionte Thompson from Alabama, who only fell due to injury concerns, but has the range and feel to excel in a free safety role, if he can clean up his tackling a little bit. It will be interesting to see how exactly the Cards will utilize Simmons and another versatile first-round linebacker from in 2018 in Haason Reddick, but when it comes to true defensive backs, right now they probably rely on Jalen Thompson and the third-most popular Chris Jones in the NFL as their first backups in the secondary. That leaves something to be desired.

Los Angeles Rams – Edge rusher

To be honest, I’m a little concerned about these Rams. Acquiring Jalen Ramsey for two first-round picks is worth it for me, considering he could be the premiere corner in football for the next five years or so, and I like the players they selected in the draft in a vacuum, but since the regular season concluded, I’m not sure they got better at one single position. I think the combination of Darrell Henderson and second-rounder Cam Akers (Florida State) will be more effective than what they had in a banged up Todd Gurley and Florida’s Van Jefferson is an exquisite route-runner, who can produce right away – unlike Brandin Cooks, who simply hasn’t really been available. However, they lost a rangy linebacker in Corey Littleton and their top edge rusher in Dante Fowler through free agency, while not doing anything to improve the O-line. To replace Fowler, they brought in Leonard Floyd, who is a good Robin, but they don’t have a real Batman coming off the edge. In the third round of the draft they selected Terrell Lewis, who had top 50 talent, but he only had one full season with Alabama and I’m not sure if you can expect him to play all 16 games as a pro in 2020. Samson Ebukam has given the team some production and I liked their fifth-rounder out Oklahoma from a year ago in Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, but those guys might be more rotational pass-rushers. Maybe they hope for Jachai Polite to get his act together, but when you consider the Jets let him go early on after spending a day two pick of him and needing somebody on the edge desperately themselves, that is more of a shot in the dark. Obviously you have an elite player on the interior in Aaron Donald and he makes a lot of issues disappear, but nobody has really established himself on the edge for L.A. I also don’t know if Lirim Hajrullahu, who I had never heard before, can replace Greg Zuerlein at kicker.

San Francisco 49ers – Cornerback

Coming off a devastating Super Bowl loss, I believe the 49ers have done a really solid job retooling their roster. Trading away a team MVP in DeForest Buckner obviously hurts, but replacing him with a similar type of player with sky-high potential in Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina with that pick you just acquired and you pay him less than a fifth of the price, makes that much easier to swallow. Their other first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State) gives them any YAC weapon in place of Emmanuel Sanders and they basically got All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams for peanuts, with the retirement of Joe Staley pending. I’m not worried about the offense with Kyle Shanahan calling the shots, as long as Jimmy G can shake that fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Their defense was elite already last season, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still improve, especially when you looking at their secondary situation. Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon will all become free agents in 2021. Witherspoon is still so up-and-down with lackluster technique. I like Emmanuel Moseley as that second guy on the outside and Jason Verrett still is an X-factor here, because he was one of the rising stars early on in San Diego, but I feel like I haven’t seen him play in like five years. D.J. Reed is a really nice backup nickel and Dontae Johnson was a solid player for them in his first stint with San Francisco, but he has barely seen the field these last three years. As part as covering the slot goes, whether it’s putting Jaquiski Tartt down against bigger bodies in base sets, keeping K’Waun Williams at nickel and even a guy like Reed coming in off the bench, are all viable options, but in terms of true outside corners, you are looking at a 32-year old Richard Sherman and a battle of what are more backups on most rosters. The Niners are set for a while at several positions, but cornerback isn’t one of them.

Seattle Seahawks – Right tackle

I don’t understand how some people still think of the Seahawks as some kind of dominant defense. They finished last season 26th in the league in yards allowed and they gave up 20+ points in all but two games. I think they have issues at corner (depending on the status of recently acquired Quinton Dunbar) and without Jadeveon Clowney their pass-rush is underwhelming, with Bobby Wagner being the only elite player on that unit. However, they did go defense-heavy in the draft and I wouldn’t say they don’t have the bodies to compete, so I’m going back to the continual problem child. The Seahawks have ignored issues on the offensive line for years now and once again this time around I mocked a tackle to them in the first round. Instead they went with a surprise pick – as they always do – in Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks. They did select LSU guard Damien Lewis early in the third, but he was not nearly my top guy available at that point. They also cut long-time center Justin Britt and the powerful D.J. Fluker who has guard/tackle flexibility. So I certainly don’t believe they got better up front. B.J. Finney looks to slide in at center and in this offense without a ton of true drop-back passes Lewis at least competes for a starting guard spot, but Cedric Ogbuehi is still not the solution at right tackle. The Hawks went from one of the biggest liabilities at that spot in Germain Ifedi to a maybe even bigger one in Ogbuehi. In his two seasons as a starter in Cincinnati, the new acquired tackle was responsible for 14.5 sacks. These last two years he hasn’t been in the starting lineup and now faces the likes of Chandler Jones, Nick Bosa and others in the NFC West. That is a recipe for disaster. Maybe Seattle moves Ethan Pocic to right tackle if two other guys impress at those guard spots.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/05/19/biggest-remaining-needs-for-each-team-in-the-nfc-for-2020/

You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbcmXpqxxqI
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2020.05.23 17:22 GodsGiftMatt Defending the Draft: New York Jets

Here below presented is the 2020 edition, Defending the Draft: New York Jets. I personally apologize for being tardy with having it posted a day later than it originally intended.
Season Review
Picking up from this point last year the 2019 season for the New York Jets could be described as an experimental and exploratory one of sorts. Having hired Adam Gase to be the next head coach of the franchise following him being relieved of his duties by AFC East divisional opponent the Miami Dolphins, the Jets went into the offseason with Gase and retained general manager Mike McCagnan as the two primary forces working together to shape the future of the franchise.
However, during the free agency period it was reported and ultimately revealed that Gase and McCagnan didn't see eye to eye on numerous decisions, most markedly the contract given to free agent acquisition running back Le'Veon Bell.
Despite the odd fit McCagnan maintained his role of GM throughout the draft process before ultimately it seemed that Gase steered his power into playing a significant part of McCagnan being relieved of his duties on May 15th.
After numerous reports and speculation that the man the Jets organization had their eye on was Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, whom Gase had worked with briefly previously during the 2015 season with the Chicago Bears, the franchise made him their new general manager on June 7th, agreeing to a six-year contract.
Prior to the start of the regular season expectations and predictions surrounding the 2019 New York Jets seemed somewhat reasonable around the fanbase with the thought that the team would be relatively competitive seemingly the thought of many.
Optimism surrounded the stars signed on each side of the ball having added a couple of key free agents in All-Pro players running back Le'Veon Bell and linebacker CJ Mosley.
A few foundational and formidable pieces returned on both sides of the ball with quarterback Sam Darnold entering his second year and season as the starter, along with offensive weapons wide receiver Robby Anderson and tight end Chris Herndon.
Defensively budding superstar safety Jamal Adams was coming off a Pro Bowl and entering his third season, while former top ten pick and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Leonard Williams remained and edge rusher Jordan Jenkins was getting fit to begin his fourth season as an established starter on the Jets defense.
Elsewhere, rookie defensive lineman and 2019 third overall pick Quinnen Williams and free agent addition wide receiver Jamison Crowder both began their first season with Gang Green, while previous free agent pickups in linebacker Avery Williamson and cornerback Trumaine Johnson were setting up for the second season with the Jets.
Before the regular season could begin the Jets were dealt a tough blow as second-year tight end Chris Herndon, who had established a solid rapport with Sam Darnold during their rookie season, was suspended four games due to having had a DWI during the off-season. Then the team saw its returning leading tackler, linebacker Avery Williamson go down with a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.
When the Jets were able to take the field for the start of the 2019 regular season, what seemingly got off to a good start, quickly shifted and turned sour on not only the first game but the first part of the season.
Having had a two possesion lead entering the fourth quarter, the Jets saw one of their two marquee free agent signings suffer what turned out to be a season-ending injury when CJ Mosley's groin became aggravated.
What was a 16-0 lead when Mosley went down ended up as a 17-16 loss to open the season at home against divisional opponent the Buffalo Bills.
If that weren't painful enough the Jets season seemingly was dealt a kiss of death a couple days later when it was revealed that Sam Darnold had contracted mono and would be out indefinitely.
In the following three weeks the Jets scored just two offensive touchdowns, becoming the first team in NFL history to start three different quarterbacks (Darnold, Trevor Siemian, Luke Falk) in the first 3 games of the season as they opened the season 0-4 with losses to the Browns, and then on the road against the Patriots and Eagles, that was sandwiched by an early Week 4 bye.
Following the 31-6 loss to Philadelphia, Sam Darnold was deemed healthy enough to return the following week against another NFC East opponent, as the Jets were scheduled to face the Dallas Cowboys at home.
Darnold's return proved to be right on time as Gang Green was able to earn its first win of the season, 24-22.
Unfortunately that win wouldn't be the signal of a stretch of success in the aftermath as the Jets were then ghosted against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football at home the following week by a score of 33-0. They then would drop their next two games on the road in Florida to the Jaguars and the then winless Miami Dolphins —the team’s first win coming against the man who had led them to their last win in Adam Gase.
Through eight games the Jets season was almost assuredly already over as far as playoff contention was concerned, sitting at 1-7.
Trade rumors surrounded star players Jamal Adams, Robby Anderson, and Leonard Williams, along with Le'Veon Bell having his name brought up as a player who could possibly be moved.
When the deadline arrived, only Williams would be moved as the Jets sent him to the locker room down the hall in a deal with the New York Giants.
The mention of Jamal Adams name in trade talks caused some commotion quickly as he expressed his frustration in being told that he was going to remain a — if not the — New York Jet with general manager Joe Douglas stating that while he wasn't openly shopping Adams he would do his due diligence in taking calls to see what offers were on the market.
Interestingly enough Adams did publicly state that if he were to be traded that he as someone who grew up in Dallas, would love to play for the Cowboys.
Numerous reports named the Dallas Cowboys as a team that had expressed legitimate interest in trading for the star safety, however Adams would remain with the Jets despite all the drama.
Sound familiar?.
With bragging rights on the line and a pride game staring them right in the face against the team they share a stadium with in the New York Giants, who entered the matchup at just 2-7 themseleves, the Jets stepped up and came away with an exciting 34-27 win over the cross-conference rival.
A superb defensvie team effort against star running back Saquon Barkley limited him to just 1 rushing yard on 13 carries as Jamal Adams led the way for his unit.
Garnering AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his outstanding performance, Adams totaled 9 tackles (8 solo), 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery as a result of one of his forced fumbles that he snatched away from Giants quarterback Daniel Jones for a 25-yard touchdown return.
The win against the Giants would be the beginning of a 3-game win streak as the Jets would go on to defeat fellow NFC East rookie starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the Redskins the following week on the road by a score of 34-17, before returning home the week after to handily beat the Oakland Raiders 34-3, who had entered the game on a hot streak and in playoff contention at 6-4.
With the most positive momentum they had on their side all season, inevitably the Jets went on the road and loss to an 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals team 22-6.
Gang Green would get back on track in the team's next game against the Dolphins, avenging their loss to them earlier in the season, winning by a score of 22-21. They'd then alternate that with a loss on Thursday Night Football during a short week, as they were deafeated on the road 42-21 by a red hot Baltimore Ravens team and soon-to-be NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, as Jamal Adams sat out with an injury.
Sitting at 5-9 with two games left in the season, the Jets would finish their 2019 campaign at 7-9 as they stymied the Steelers — who had Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges both take significant snaps — by a score of 16-13 at home.
Gang Green would then go on to complete their season on the road in Buffalo, beating the Bills by a score of 13-6 as they sat out numerous key players either entirely or throughout the majority of the game, having had secured a playoff spot already.
Offseason Outlook
With the offseason upon the Jets it was obvious there was a need for additions and upgrades at numerous spots across the depth chart on both sides of the ball.
A few unrestricted free agents threatened the depth and talent at certain positions that stood to be addressed already anyway with key players such as Robby Anderson and Jordan Jenkins available on the open market.
Other contributors in offensive tackles Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell, as well as cornerback Trumaine Johnson seemed unlikely to return.
Meanwhile numerous other players who saw a significant amount of snaps on the field for the Jets in 2019 futures were also up in the air including offensive lineman Alex Lewis, cornerback Brian Poole, punter Lachlan Edwards, cornerback Arthur Maulet, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, linebacker James Burgess, linebacker Brandon Copeland, linebacker Neville Hewitt, and defensive back Daryl Roberts.
Focusing on addressing the offensive line through numerous acquisitions Joe Douglas went to work. Though he didn't sign a big name offensive lineman in free agency such as Jack Conklin, he did reel in some serviceable, if not steady players on low-risk, reasonable deals.
Most notably the Jets were able to add former Denver Broncos centeguard Connor McGovern, while also picking up tackle George Fant who was with Seattle, as well as former Carolina Panthers guard/center Greg Van Roten.
Douglas also re-signed guard Alex Lewis, who was the first player he acquired when on the job last season in a minor trade with the Ravens, and was one of the solid players along the Jets offensive line last season that struggled throughout 2019.
Elsewhere, in the secondary the Jets cut Trumaine Johnson and Daryl Roberts, while re-signing Arthur Maulet and Brian Poole, in addition to quickly picking up former Indianapolis starting cornerback Pierre Desir, who was waived by the Colts.
They'd also make a move on the day of the draft to acquire another former Colts starting corner in Quincy Wilson, who Douglas was able to get in return for a 6th round pick.
Meanwhile, the top name of interest in free agency for the Jets, Robby Anderson, would agree to a deal with Carolina Panthers to reunite with his college coach Matt Rhule. In response Gang Green went out and got Breshad Perriman, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to agree to a free agent deal. The team also had previously picked up former first round pick of the Redskins Josh Doctson early in the free agency period to address the receiver position.
Along the defensive front seven the Jets brought back Jordan Jenkins, James Burgess, Neville Hewitt, and also signed linebacker Patrick Onswuasor, previously having played for the Balimore Ravens.
At the start of the draft the Jets needs seemed to be (in no particular order) at wide receiver, cornerback, edge rusher, and along the offensive line, both at tackle and along the interior.
Draft Pick Profile
(Round 1, Pick 11) Mekhi Becton, OT (Lousiville)
While GM Joe Douglas did his due diligence in overhauling the offensive line in free agency through multiple additions, it still seemed likely that he'd look to address the unit and specficiallly the tackle position early in the draft, especially with four highly-regarded tackle prospects that seemed likely to go in the top half of the first round. Still reports of the team having interest in taking one the top wide receivers also passed the sniff test.
When it came time for the Jets to be on the clock and with offensive tackle prospects Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills— selected with pick right before the Jets — off the board and each of the wide receivers still available, the Jets made the call for Mekhi Becton, the most physically imposing man in the draft.
At 6'7, 364 pounds Becton stock was brought into focus when he ran a eye-popping 5.1 40-yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine at his unbelievable size.
Maintaining high-quality movement skills in any direction, Becton also plays the part of his size as a big, strong, powerful, and dominant blocker.
Accentuated by his 35 5/8" arms and 10 3/4" hands, the Jets 2020 first round pick is capable of keeping his balance while supplying power, looking to piledrive those in his way while on the move.
His ability to create the momentum to reach the second level and move up and out on the perimeter without a problem are prominent traits to have for someone at that size and allow him to clear space for ball-carriers like few others in the NFL currently can.
In pass protection, Becton's nimble feet, long arms, and powerful hands make it almost impossible to win a rep against him one-on-one as he can move seemingly effortlessly to mirror pass rushers and control them with his length and strength to keep opponents at bay.
His power also proves to be a positive when at the line of scrimmage where he can simply throw guys out of the club when he is able to get a good punch, while still typically having success at steering opponents even when his technique isn't totally perfect.
Not only does Becton bring size that you can't teach for the position, his demeanor to be dominant and downright nasty as often as possible is indicative of what you like to see out of an offensive lineman.
At the least, Becton should be able to establish himself as a serviceable, if not solid starting offensive tackle. But should he put it all together or even come close through continued development, it is likely he'll become the most effective offensive tackle in this draft class and one that could become the most dominant player at his position en route to multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections.
Becton will likely immediately slot into one of the starting tackle spots and presumably become the Jets left tackle and protector of the blindside of Sam Darnold for years to come.
(Round 2, Pick 59) Denzel Mims, WR (Baylor)
Initially when the Jets second round selection came up at the 48th pick, there were plenty of fans favoring Denzel Mims in hopes that he'd be the one whose name was called when the commissioner announced the pick.
However, it was announced at the time that the Jets had traded the pick to Seattle to move down to the 59th pick and acquire the 101st pick in the process.
Call it luck, playing the board like a lord, or a combination of both, but when it was time for general manager Joe Douglas to make the selection with the 59th pick, Mims was still available and then went from wearing the green of the Baylor Bears to that of the New York Jets.
A fast and physical receiver with above-average size at the wide receiver position (6’3, 207, 4.37), Mims followed a successful senior season with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and then at the combine which saw his stock begin to soar to the point where he began receiving considerable conversations as a potential first round pick.
Capable of releasing off the line of scrimmage and getting into his route without being redirected more often than not, Mims is usually more strong than sharp at the stem of his routes, but does his best work towards the end of the snap utilizing his strength to gain separation, to go along with his plus body control and strong hands that allow him to make some tough and low-probablity receptions.
His speed makes him a threat downfield, but he is often most impressive making contested catches and against tight coverage along the sideline and in the red zone.
Mims also is an asset as a blocker who can use his reach (33 7/8") to land his hands on opposing cornerbacks and lock-in to control them once in motion.
Overall, Mims will come to the Jets likely receiving snaps as one of the top three receivers on the roster. Should the organization and coaching staff decide to be patient in bringing Mims along, it is still likely that he'll receive a considerable amount of snaps and compete to break into the top three receivers (effectively starters) during his rookie season and be a solid contributor.
While he'll need to continue to develop his fluidity as a route runner to become a consistent target at the next level, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Mims be one of the team's leaders in yards per reception and in receiving touchdowns during his rookie season.
(Round 3, Pick 68) Ashtyn Davis, DB (California)
A natural, above-average athlete, the Jets made Davis the first of their two 3rd round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Having earned a scholarship in track and field to attend California, where he won the 2017 PAC-12 meet in the 110-meter hurdles, Davis walked onto the football team where he became a consistent contributor on both defense and special teams for four straight seasons.
Beginning his career at cornerback before settling in at safety he also saw the field as a return man and gunner in coverage. His speed and athleticism showed up on film and in testing during the pre-draft process.
Capable of playing over the top in single-high coverage, Davis exhibits the ability to range from the middle of the field over to the sideline and break on passes, while also being sure to contest throws down the seam and having the trust in his speed to undercut passes that he knows he can make a play on.
Though he won't be described as the biggest hitter at the safety position, Davis does an admirable job at 6'1, 202 pounds to make an impact as a tackler when the opportunity presents itself and is far from afraid to come up and make contact, willing to throw his body around .
His speed and footwork are fine attributes to possess when playing in the secondary and allow him to be considered an option over the slot, a spot where he played some in college.
Davis covers more like a corner playing safety than he does a safety that is unsure of himself in man to man or hesitant in coverage.
His consistent high energy and effort should allow him to be a positive on special teams immediately, especially given his background there in college.
Beyond that it seems probable that he'll receive considerable amount of snaps on the defense in 3 safety/sub-packages, nickel and dime situations.
With rumors surrounding both starting safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, it may be sooner than later that Davis arrives at the top of the depth chart.
(Round 3, Pick 79) Jabari Zuniga, ED (Florida)
One year after selecting former Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite in the 3rd round under then GM Mike McCagnan, ironically the new Jets GM Joe Douglas decided to take a dip in the swamp down in Gainseville during the third round of this year’s draft choosing edge rusher Jabari Zuniga.
A no nonsense type of pass rusher whose style is best described at converting speed into power, Zuniga stands a strong, strapping, and sculpted 6'3, 264 pounds with 32 7/8" arms and large hands at 10 3/8".
Though he isn't bendy around and off the edge, Zuniga exhibits plenty explosiveness in his get off. His quickness at the snap is a strength and he has the ability to be physical with his hand usage to then disengage and track down plays in pursuit with his pro-ready run and chase ability along the line of scrimmage.
Zuniga was deployed at different spots across the defensive line and didn't look out of place when asked to reduce down inside and rush from over the guard where his athletic traits allowed him to take advantage of heavier, slower offensive lineman along the interior.
When he was healthy during his time at Florida Zuniga produced in each of his seasons on the field and got off to a strong start last year before suffering an ankle injury that caused him to miss more than half the season.
He definitely stands to benefit by becoming more refined in his technique and plan of attack as a pass rusher to consistently get pressure on the passer, but offers more athleticism and explosiveness than just about any edge rusher currently on the Jets roster.
With that being said, Zuniga has more than enough tools to work with in order to come in and have an instant impact as a rotational/situational player who could provide depth across different spots along the front seven depending on the package being played at the time.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the former Florida Gator tally double-digit pressures and shoot into opponents backfields for a few TFLs during his rookie season, provided he remains healthy.
(Round 4, Pick 120) La'Mical Perine, RB (Florida)
With the first of what turned out to be three 4th round picks the Jets went back-to-back in picking players from the Florida program as they selected La'Mical Perine.
A steady contributor in each of his four seasons on the field for the Gators, Perine led the team in rushing during the last three of those years in what was more a solid than standout career in Gainseville.
Best described as a more effective than flashy type of back, the cousin of NFL running back Semaje Perine and linebacker Myles Jack is a no frills, north-south style of ball-carrier who prefers to plant his foot in the ground, make one cut and go.
Perine has no problem in putting his hands on the back of his offensive lineman to guide him through the grass, but will also plow into a crowd of bodies to take whatever is there to be had without hesitation.
While he lacks shiftiness or speed at the second level, the stout 5'11, 216 pound back runs with power and purpose, punishing opponents who attempt to arm tackle and throw their body lazily at his legs.
Moreover, Perine has proven to be a sound pass catcher out of the backfield, though similar to his rushing style, his receiving ability could be said to be more sturdy than smooth.
He likely won't break many runs past 15-20 yards or turn a screen into a score from outside the red zone, but can be counted upon to come up successful in short yardage situations and catch a checkdown to keep a drive alive.
It seemed likely that Perine would be the primary back to spell starter Le'Veon Bell, until the Jets recently signed long-time NFL vet and one of the league’s all-time leading rushers, Frank Gore.
Now with Gore in the fold, it can be tough to envision Perine getting playing time past a play here or there.
However, with his rugged style of play Perine could potentially earn some snaps on special teams and with the unpredictability of running back's health throughout the season it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get an opportunity to take a few carries during his rookie year similar to former running back Elijah McGuire a few seasons ago.
(Round 4, Pick 125) James Morgan, QB (Florida International)
Following the beginning of the 2019 season that saw the Jets be forced to use three different starting quartertbacks and four in total during the first 3 games, it seems as though that thought resonated with the front office when preparing for the draft.
With one of the picks they received in a deal with the Patriots that saw them flip the 101st pick they had previously been provided by the Seattle Seahawks, the Jets decided to draft quarterback James Morgan.
Morgan saw his stock rise during and in the aftermath of the East-West Shrine Game where he reportedly impressed scouts and player personnel in the practice sessions and while in interviews with teams. Ultimately, his presence and ability as a prototype, pro-style pocket passer at the position made Joe Douglas and the Jets comfortable enough to select the redshirt senior as the seventh quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft (Burrow, Tagovailoa, Herbert, Love, Hurts, Eason), ahead of Jake Fromm.
A kid who grew up near Green Bay rooting for the Packers and idolizing Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, Morgan began his college careeer at Bowling Green where he started 13 of 19 games he played in during two seasons on the field before transferring to Florida International for his last two years of eligibility.
Standing 6'4, 230 pounds, Morgan exhibits the arm strength and aptitude to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball with palpable velocity and zip on his passes, having the trust in his arm to fit throws into tight coverage/windows in the short to intermediate parts of the field.
While he does lack modern-day mobility and escapability at the position, Morgan does tend to get the ball out of his hands quickly and isn't afraid to stand and take a hit while delivering the ball downfield.
Morgan will come to the Jets older than starter Sam Darnold and should develop during his rookie season to be groomed for the backup job in time with the now recent signing of QB Joe Flacco.
(Round 4, Pick 129) Cameron Clarke, OL (Charlotte)
With another one of the picks they acquired in the deal that saw them ship the 101st pick to the Patriots, Joe Douglas went back to his roots along the offensive line and selected another player who participated in the East-West Shrine Game in Cameron Clarke of Charlotte.
A left tackle during his career at Charlotte, Clarke comes to the NFL with a likely move to the other side a possibility, if not most likely converting inside to guard where his traits seem to be best suited at the next level.
Impactful with his punch the 6'4, 308 pound offensive lineman has a combination of long arms (34 1/8") and large hands (11") that make for tantalizing traits to work with as an offensive lineman and a demeanor that is well-suited for to play his part in the trenches.
Supported by solid character and commitment, Clarke had an impressive college career as a 3-year starter, 2-time captain, team offensive MVP, and 1st team all-conference performer.
When he is able to place his punch on his opponents pads Clarke can move and turn his target with natural strength that is supported by his physical stature.
While his lateral agility and ability to redirect lack some swiftness, projecting him most probably to the interior of the offensive line, he did play on an island plenty in pass protection during his college career and displayed consistent effort in attempting to stay with his blocks.
Clarke's coming out party could be considered to have come against Clemson this past season where he performed positively, exhibiting many of the attributes previously mentioned as it relates to his physical profile.
There are still some refinement in terms of technique that Clarke will likely have to encounter before he can comfortably be put on the field as a starter at the NFL-level, yet he should provide positive depth at guard along with Alex Lewis, Greg Van Roten, and potentially become the next Jets drafted and groomed starter at the position similar to Brian Winters who seems to be in his last days with Gang Green.
(Round 5, Pick 158) Bryce Hall, CB (Virginia)
Arguably the Jets best value pick during the 2020 NFL Draft, they were able to select cornerback Bryce Hall with the 158th pick. Hall entered the 2019 season seen as a potential first round prospect and likely top 100 pick following his return from 2018 when he led the FBS-level with 22 pass breakups.
A lengthy corner at 6'1, 202 pounds and 32 1/4" arms, Hall had his senior year cut short and draft stock dip after having suffered a broken ankle six games into the season that required him having surgery.
Nonetheless, when on the field Hall excelled at combining his length with his eyes and instincts to make plays on the ball.
Capable of using his reach to remain in phase with the release of a receiver, Hall can be dangerous when able to squat on and squash short routes from either press or off coverage.
While he does lack in long speed and fluidity in his footwork from time to time that could allow receivers to create separation downfield, Hall is at his best when utilized in zone coverage and able to keep his eyes on the QB.
When he sees what's in front of him and is able to diagnose the different routes in his area is what allows him to breaks on throws and have his length show up in making plays on the ball and contest catches that other cornerbacks often can't.
Hall will come to the Jets having to compete for time on the perimeter at the cornerback position with a few former Colts on the roster including Pierre Desir, Arthur Maulet, Quincy Wilson, and Nate Hairston. He'll also likely find himself fighting for time on the field with second-year player Blessuan Austin who similar to Hall was taken on Day 3 of the draft following a season-ending injury, before getting onto the field in the latter part of the regular season and earning significant snaps down the stretch of his rookie season.
(Round 6, Pick 191) Braden Mann, P (Texas A&M)
Anytime a team uses one of its draft picks to select a kicker or punter the choice is sure to receive some commentary, if not criticism from fans. Yet, with Braden Mann the Jets may have gotten a steal in the sixth round selecting arguably the most impressive punter in college football the past couple of years.
A 2-time All-American and the 2018 Ray Guy Award winner (college football's top punter), Mann was a marksman with his punting abilities for Texas A&M, both booming and directing punts into places that made it difficult for opponents offenses to turn around and score, often changing fields for the Aggies.
Mann set a CFB record in 2018 when he averaged 51 yards per punt and during the last two seasons had 45 of his 107 punts land inside the 20, with 21 fair catches, and just one being blocked.
More than just a positive when projecting the ball into the air, Mann also gives effort and is effective in coverage as he gathered 11 total tackles over the last two seasons, including 10 solo.
Additionally, he also spent time steadying the duties in kickoff as he collected 55 touchbacks on 76 kicks in 2016 and then 57 out of 80 in 2018.
Stopping short of saying he'll immediately estbalish himself as one of the few best punters in the NFL, he should prove to be a worthwhile investment instantaneously as an asset who can help establish positive field position for the defense to work with on a regular basis.
Notable Undrafted Free Agents, w/ reported signing bonus
Lawrence Cager, WR (Georgia) $57,500
A big, pyhsical receiver at 6'5, 220 pounds, Cager began his career at Miami (FL) before spending one season at Georgia as a grad transfer. More an effective pass catcher than a elusive route runner, Cager could provide a potential sizable target to be taken advantage of in the absence of Quincy Enunwa as a possession/red zone receiver. In 2018 with Miami (FL) Cager collected 21 catches for 374 yards (17.8 ypc) and 6 TDs before recording 33 receptions and 476 yards (14.4) with 4 TDs in 8 games last season with Georgia. Injuries plagued Cager’s college career and progress as a prospect, though should he remain healthy and stay on the field prior to the start of the season he’ll have a legitimate shot at securing a spot on the active roster.
George Campbell, WR (West Virgnia) $2,500
A raw, physically gifted pass catcher at 6'4, 185 pounds, Campbell came to college having been ranked the #1 overall wide receiver in high school. After spending four seasons at Florida State, where he had two end due to a core muscle injury, he spent his final year as a grad trasnfer at West Virginia. During his lone season with the Mountaineers he caught 19 passes for 469 yards (24.7 per), and led the team with 7 touchdown receptions. Campbell could turn some heads with his sub 4.4 speed, which could also bode well on special teams, but is unrefined and still needs to make significant strides as a route runner. High hopes would have Campbell potentially become the next Robby Anderson, as a raw, speedster at wide receiver that relished the opportunity presented to him as an UDFA.
Shyheim Carter, DB (Alabama) $72,000
Carter started his college career at safety but settled into playing primarily the nickel position or "star" spot in Alabama's defense. Displaying definite traits to be successful in the slot, Carter tackles well, will use his hands to routinely shed receivers blocks and/or redirect their routes and remain engaged with the quarteback's eyes while being able to assess the routes developing around him in his area. In 24 games over the last two seasons at Alabama the 5'10, 194 pound defensive back totaled 86 tackles (46 solo), 6 for loss, 3 interceptions, 2 returned for TDs, 17 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles.
Jared Hilbers, OT (Washington) $62,000
A potential swing tackle, Hilbers started plenty of games at both left and right tackle during his last couple of seasons in college at Washington. While he was a bit overshadowed at times on the Huskies' offensive line at tackle by 2019 first round pick Kaleb McGary and fellow UDFA Trey Adams, Hilbers was the most consistent in taking the field and performing at a positive level. He graded 25th out of 398 tackles in college football according to Pro Football Focus during the 2019 season. A quality athlete who starred as a high school basketball player before picking up football midway through high school, Hilbers ran the 40-yard dash in 5.06 seconds, as well as the 3-cone in 7.56 seconds at 6'7, 316 pounds. Noted for his run blocking ability, Hilbers does well in showing both solid functional strength and steady movement skills as an offensive lineman to create space for ball carriers.
Bryce Huff, ED (Memphis) $90,000
One of the most disruptive pass rushers in college footbal last season, Huff was 4th in the country with 64 total pressures. At 6'2, 255 pounds he proved to be productive from both a traditional three point stance and as a standup rusher, playing with high effort and energy off the edge. Huff’s ability to utilize his natural leverage to his advantage shows itself as he tends to knife past opposing offensive lineman, slicing his way into the backfield. During the 2019 season he tallied 52 tackles (33 solo), 15.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, a season after having 49 tackles (35 solo), 19 for loss, and 9.5 sacks.
Lamar Jackson, CB (Nebraska) $27,500
A big corner at 6'2, 208 pounds the former Cornhusker does well in press coverage, keeping wide receivers at bay with his 32 1/4" arms. Jackson preferred method of coverage is to impose his physicality at the line of scrimmage and lock in on a receiver from the snap. His eye discipline in coverage is a plus as he tends to remain aware of where the quarterback is anticipating to pass and makes plenty of plays on the ball when he is the targeted defender. During his senior season in 12 games, Jackson compiled 40 tackles (30 solo), 4.5 for loss, 1 sack, 3 interceptions, 12 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery, and 2 forced fumbles.
Javelin Guidry, CB (Utah) $47,000
A key contributor to a Utah defense that ranked as one of the top in the country, Guidry spent 386 snaps in the slot last season which is where he projects to play in the NFL. A 5'9, 191 pound corner, Guidry turned heads when he ran a 4.29 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. His pure speed shows with his ability to stick smaller, quicker receivers, but he is also quick to come up and make a tackle on bigger skilled position players and has experience on special teams as a gunner. Last season Guidry came away with 48 tackles (36 solo), 6 pass breakups, and 1 interception.
Roster Projection (53-Man Roster)
QB: (2) *Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco
RB: (3) *Le'Veon Bell, Frank Gore, La'Mical Perine
FB: (1) Trevon Wesco
WR: (6) *Jamison Crowder, *Denzel Mims, *Breshad Perriman, Josh Doctson, Vycint Smith, Lawrence Cager
TE: (3) *Ryan Griffin, Chris Herndon, Daniel Brown
OT: (4) *Mekhi Becton, *George Fant, Chuma Edoga, Jared Hilbers
OL: (5) *Connor McGovern, *Brian Winters, *Alex Lewis, Greg Van Roten, Cameron Clarke
DL: (6) *Steve McClendon, *Quinnen Williams, *Henry Anderson, Foley Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips
ED: (4) *Jordan Jenkins, Jabari Zuniga, Tarell Basham, Bryce Huff
LB: (5) *CJ Mosley, *Neville Hewitt, James Burgess, Blake Cashman, Patrick Onwusaor
CB: (6) *Pierre Desir, *Blessuan Austin, *Brian Poole, Quincy Wilson, Arthur Maulet, Nate Hairston
DB: (5) *Jamal Adams, *Marcus Maye, Ashtyn Davis, Matthias Farley, Shyheim Carter
K/P: (2) Sam Ficken, Braden Mann
LS: (1) Thomas Hennessy
2020 Season Predictions (8-8, 3rd in AFC East)
Week 1: Sun, Sep 13 @ Bills (W)
Week 2: Sun, Sep 20 vs 49ers (L)
Week 3: Sun, Sep 27 @ Colts (W)
Week 4: Thu, Oct 1 vs Broncos (W)
Week 5: Sun, Oct 11 vs Cardinals (W)
Week 6: Sun, Oct 18 @ Chargers (L)
Week 7: Sun, Oct 25 vs Bills (L)
Week 8: Sun, Nov 1 @ Chiefs (L)
Week 9: Mon, Nov 9 vs Patriots (W)
Week 10: Sun, Nov 15 @ Dolphins (L)
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Sun, Nov 29 vs Dolphins (W)
Week 13: Sun, Dec 6 vs Raiders (W)
Week 14: Sun, Dec 13 @ Seahawks (L)
Week 15: Sun, Dec 20 @ Rams (L)
Week 16: Sun, Dec 27 @ Browns (W)
Week 17: Sun, Jan 3 @ Patriots (L)
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2020.05.23 15:00 s810 Old Austin Tales - Lost Airports of the Late 1940s

Sorry to do a wall of text post for two weeks in a row but there are no photos on the internet of the subjects of today's post. This one has been stewing in me for a while and I have to get it off my chest.
There is an old internet site, about as old as Google, called Abandoned and Little Known Airfields. For this area, the website divides the old airports into those on the East side and those on the West. You can see names like Haile Airport and University Airport and their locations, also Penn Field and Austin Municipal (Mueller). Also various airports in the surrounding area. But come to find out that this site isn't complete!
One of the lost airports that isn't on the list was east of where Penn Field was in World War I, southeast of St. Edwards University on the eastern side of South Congress where I-35 crosses today. It was called St. Edwards Airport or Austin Aero Service. The other was called Aero-Tel Airport and was somewhere off of 183 in what today is the northwest part of town. Both were started during WWII and both gone by 1950 for different reasons.
I first read about these airports in a book I've mentioned here quite a bit called Austin, Cleared for Takeoff Aviators, Businessmen, and the Growth of an American City by Kenneth B. Ragsdale. This is an amazing book so full of little known facts and stories about the early age of the airplane in Austin. I've copied a great deal from it here before but for the purposes of today's tale I'm going to take the liberty of copying another snippet from Chapter Six. Getting right to it:
Enacted by Congress as the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly referred to as the G.I. Bill of Rights, that legislation provided unemployment benefits, hospitalization, funding for schooling and technical training, and low-interest loans to purchase homes, farms, and small businesses. The bill’s educational provisions were sufficiently broad to include most fields of endeavor, including aviation. The Veterans Administration, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, designed a flight training program to enable returning servicemen, both with or without previous flight training, to earn a living in aviation. The G.I. Bill proved to be another major economic boost for aviation, especially for the fixed base (airport) operators. Participating FBOs negotiated individual contracts with the Veterans Administration, outlining specific courses of study, with the relative cost of each.
The approved curriculum included four flight courses: Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Flight Instructor, and Instrument Rating. The Certificate of Charges included 65-horsepower aircraft, dual instruction at $10 per hour; solo practice, $8 per hour; aircraft over 145-horsephower, dual instruction, $18 per hour, solo practice, $15 per hour; ground school instruction for all courses, $0.70 per hour. Each course had a minimum and maximum completion time allowable. The minimum time for the Commercial Pilot Course was 288 hours; the maximum, 308 hours. The maximum cost could not exceed $1,781.10 When the government launched the G.I. flight training program in 1946, it appeared to reconfirm what most people in aviation already believed—in postwar America, practically everyone would own an airplane. And furthermore, the financial benefits available to the FBOs spelled opportunity for many young pilots hoping to enter the aviation business.
It was, however, the established Austin FBOs—Ragsdale Flying Service, Browning Aerial Service, and the Haile Airport—that first began flight instruction under the new G.I. program. Others would follow. William D. Pfeil, a former flight instructor at Ragsdale Flying Service, was the first local pilot to embark on that new venture; he simply moved across the airport and set up business as Austin Flying Service in the new west side hangar. His advertising campaign addressed what many perceived as the new era of aviation: “Never Too Young to Fly. Don’t Wait. Learn to Fly Now. Be Ready to Take Advantage of the Many Opportunities that will be Afforded Both the Commercial and Sportsman Pilot After the War.”
Pfeil’s promotion apparently reached a receptive audience; on December 31, 1945, he reported income for five part-time employees. However, the success Pfeil anticipated was not immediately forthcoming. By March 31, 1946, his staff had dwindled to two; Mary Waurine “Ziggy” Hunter, his flight instructor, was top earner at $576.58. Pfeil realized if he was to remain in the aviation business he needed two things—an infusion of cash and experienced business management. He found both in James B. Cain. Cain had learned to fly in the CPT program at Schreiner Junior College in Kerrville, Texas. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in 1942, with a major in engineering and a minor in business administration, he joined Ragsdale Flying Service as a flight instructor in the navy V-5 program.
Later Cain transferred to active duty, became a navy educational officer, retired in March 1946, and returned to Austin hoping for a career in aviation. On learning that Pfeil was an operating Austin FBO, he discussed the business with Pfeil, and they foresaw how, with their combined resources, Austin Flying Service would prosper under their joint guidance. The benefits appeared obvious. Both had commercial instructor’s ratings and wide experience in flight training, and both came from fairly affluent backgrounds. And so, in April 1946, with high expectations, Cain and Pfeil joined forces in the Austin Flying Service. They made immediate changes. First, they renegotiated their lease, which afforded the company more space for ground school classes. After surveying the company’s refurbished facility, they made another executive decision. “We looked at each other and decided, ‘Gee, you gotta have airplanes to fly,’” Cain recalled, “and we didn’t have any airplanes.” In order to purchase the flight training equipment, the partners established a loan at The Fidelity State Bank of Austin, committing Cain’s stock as security. With that loan—and there would be others—they purchased two tandem Interstate “Cadets” for flight training. “We had good business, and surprisingly, we got some students,” Cain added. “And we kept getting more students.”
Next, the partners began expanding their services. They added a ground school, began offering complete aircraft and engine repair service, and developed an aircraft sales program. The Houston-area Ercoupe distributor agreed to “floor plan” his aircraft with Austin Flying Service. As the first Ercoupe dealer in Central Texas, Cain launched an innovative sales program for an equally innovative aircraft. The all-metal, twin-tail Ercoupe was one of the first commercial aircraft to employ a tricycle landing gear and the first (and only) plane controlled by a single wheel, similar to the steering wheel on an automobile. Training time averaged about five hours, but it was the safety factor that made the craft most appealing: the Ercoupe was certified “incapable of spinning” by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. With the standard model selling for less than three thousand dollars, Cain envisioned the University of Texas student body as a potentially fertile and unexploited sales target. To showcase the new craft, he leased a vacant lot one block west of the University campus, which he enhanced with flood lights, recorded music, and a pretty coed seated in the silver metal Ercoupe. Although the display attracted a lot of attention, there was no student rush to purchase airplanes. The company did, however, sell some Ercoupes, which prompted them to negotiate for the Bellanca and Luscombe dealerships to compete with Ragsdale Flying Service’s Cessnas.
But success had its downside; the city continued to raise the rent on the hangar at Mueller. At that point the partners made another critical decision; they abandoned Mueller and established their own airport. On May 21, 1946, they purchased fifty-four acres on Burnet Road (now Research Boulevard) northwest of Austin, for $500 per acre. They made a small down payment with manageable monthly payments. And in order to provide adequate space for two 2,000-foot runways, the company leased an additional one hundred acres north of the original tract. Their site possessed a distinct advantage; it was located beyond development, well north of the Austin city limits. Cain and Pfeil also changed the name of the firm; Aero-Tel reflected Cain’s vision of the future. Cain foresaw aviation assuming a greater role in business and industry in postwar America. He envisioned the postwar business executive traveling in his personal aircraft and landing at private airports that provided on-site hotel accommodations, conference facilities, automobile rentals, plus aircraft service.
Construction on the site began on July 1, 1946. The company erected two hangars, a small office building, and a classroom for ground school instruction, but slated a hotel facility for future development. The partners financed the major construction with bank loans, although they did much of the work themselves. Accounts for services they could not provide themselves they resolved by offering flying lessons as compensation. Cost cutting became a way of life. Needing metal for hangar construction, Cain ordered 39,100 pounds of corrugated sheet metal from the War Assets Administration, and to further reduce costs, Cain learned to weld. In February 1947, the company engaged E. B. Sneed, owner of Special Equipment Company, to grade two runways, which were surfaced with gravel and caliche. The cost, $1,755.51, cited in a promissory note, was subsequently covered by teaching Sneed to fly. To house their original flight equipment, the partners purchased a 40x 28ft Quonset hut for $4,133.68, with $2,668 as down payment and $1,465.68 due upon completion. In maximizing use of the restricted quarters, they parked the airplanes tilted nose-down on a five-gallon can covered with a cushion to prevent propeller damage.
By September 1946, Aero-Tel Airport was fully operative, offering government-approved flight instruction, complete aircraft and engine repair service, plus airplane storage. The company was soon doing good business; with the Ercoupe and Luscombe dealerships they competed with Ragsdale’s Cessnas, and with the Bellancas they developed a charter service. “We also had a sub-dealership with Aeronca, and were buying, renovating, and reselling military surplus airplanes,” Cain said. “We were selling airplanes all around the country.” And a growing number of students were finding their way to the Burnet Road airport for flight instruction.
The company’s training fleet consisted of ten aircraft, which included a Piper J-5 “Cub,” Aeronca “Champion,” Luscombe “Silvaire,” plus a war surplus Stearman PT-17 and a Vultee BT-13A. Only three of the aircraft were of pre–World War II design. And things were going to get better. On October 3, 1946, the partners received an Amended Approval of Veterans Administration authorization, changing the location of the operation from Austin Mueller airport to Aero-Tel Airport. In December, the comppany expanded its sales department to include a Culver dealership; CIT financed the purchase of the first demonstrator. Before year’s end the Aeronautical Engineering Department of the University of Texas launched a flight training program and contracted with Aero-Tel to provide the instruction. The University subsequently purchased five new Piper J3-C Cubs for the program, which were also based at Aero-Tel. The company had definitely entered the success mode; January 1, 1947, assets totaled $76,257.13. One month later that figure reached $170,982.47. With assets came a larger staff; the company engaged a receptionist and an accountant, paying the latter with flying lessons.
A large portion of the company’s income came from dealing in surplus military aircraft, an operation in which Pfeil exhibited special interest. It was that special interest that eventually forged a change in company ownership. When Pfeil’s expenditures exceeded what Cain considered sound business judgment, he offered to purchase Pfeil’s interest in the company. On February 4, 1947, both partners signed the document terminating the partnership, which provided Pfeil “a certain sum of money.” Continuing alone at the helm of Aero-Tel, Cain looked forward to an optimistic future. On March 24, 1947, the company reported twenty-five G.I. students, who had flown 216:10 hours, yielding $1,875.67.21 That income was destined to continue. On May 9, the Veterans Administration informed Cain his contract would be extended through June 30, 1948. The following month the War Department designated Aero-Tel as the training site for Officers Reserve Corps liaison pilots to maintain proficiency. The contract authorized six pilots to fly four hours per month at eight dollars per hour at government expense.
That income helped replenish the company’s coffers. On August 11, Aero-Tel received $960 from the War Department for 120 hours of solo flying. The G.I. veterans, however, remained the company’s more constant income source. Between April 1 and September 30, 1947, Aero-Tel received $21,181.83, “for tuition, supplies, equipment, etc., furnished beneficiaries of the Veterans Administration.” VA payments, however, constituted less than half of Aero-Tel’s income. During the year the company’s deposits totaled $47,270.82. There were, however, major expenses. For the period April 2, 1947, through February 20, 1948, the company borrowed $20,685 from The Fidelity State Bank of Austin, which was repaid on schedule.22 Attempting to further broaden his income base, Cain leased the Taylor, Texas, airport, assigned an employee there, and launched a satellite FBO operation. After some six months, difficulties encountered with the city government prompted him to abandon that project. He then leased the Smithville airport, which he operated successfully for about a year. By the end of 1947, G.I. enrollment had begun to decline, with only nine students enrolled in the commercial pilot course. The downward trend continued. The following year bank deposits dropped almost 50 percent, from $47,270.82 to $27,440.28. Note payments also declined. With Veterans Administration vouchers no longer available as loan security, Cain was forced to turn to his personal resources to keep the company solvent.
On March 24, 1948, he gave The Fidelity State Bank five hundred shares of West Ohio Gas Company stock as loan collateral, valued at $5,000.23 Cain was also preoccupied with other matters, an airplane crash, in particular. While instructing a student in a Stearman PT-17, the engine lost power on takeoff. As the aircraft approached the southern boundary of the field, Cain faced a critical decision: should he attempt to fly over or under the utility lines. He made the wrong choice; the wheels of the aircraft became entangled in the power lines, dragging down two utility poles, and thrusting the ailing craft nose first into the middle of Burnet Road. In the final seconds before the crash, Cain cut the ignition switch, avoiding a fire. It was, however, Cain’s previous handiwork that actually saved the two pilots. A few days before the crash, he had installed a thick layer of foam across the instrument panel. “If I hadn’t done that it probably would have killed us both,” Cain explained. “I hit that thing so hard [in the crash] that my fingers went through the aluminum panel.” Employing a military training practice, Cain encouraged his student to get in another aircraft immediately and fly a short while to regain his confidence. “He flew for about thirty minutes, landed, got out, and said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’” There was, however, no tomorrow; the student never returned.
For Cain, the crash represented a double tragedy; he had lost both an airplane and a student at a time he could ill afford to lose either. After some two years as an FBO, Cain began to reassess his role in aviation; Aero-Tel was not fulfilling his hopes for the future. He had achieved a measure of success, but a portion of that success came from temporary institutional sources. And by early 1948, when it appeared the G.I. funding for flight training was nearing an end, Cain’s great uncle and surrogate father, C. H. Coleman, wrote him on February 25, inquiring about “the 200Million cut in G.I. ‘Training-For-Fun.’” Coleman, suggesting that Cain abandon the project, added further, “If you could sell the land with all of your equipment of approximately $60,000, it would be a good thing; the value of the land itself would help sell the equipment.” Although Cain had created substantial indebtedness in establishing the business, he was not ready to abandon the project. He did, however, sell some unneeded training craft to meet his immediate obligations; by April 15, he had reduced his inventory to only four aircraft valued at $8,780.86. With both student traffic and airplane sales declining, Cain began to reassess his economic position. On June 2, 1948, he negotiated a one-year lease with the University of Texas to operate the University’s Flight Training Program. The rent was three hundred dollars per month. Cain still had the use of the facility, plus a guaranteed income.
Change, however, was in the offing; following the death of his uncle in April 1949, Cain began commuting almost weekly to Athens, Texas, to help settle his uncle’s estate. In view of his ongoing responsibilities in Athens, he accepted a year’s extension on the University’s lease. However, after evaluating his responsibilities, Cain liquidated his remaining inventory, and in January 1950 established permanent residence in Athens. After August 1949, Aero-Tel Airport was no longer listed in the classified section of the Austin telephone directory. James B. Cain’s determination to carve a niche for himself in aviation’s future was shared by many other young pilots leaving military service.
Okay let me stop here for a moment. There are ads for Aero-Tel in the Statesman archive. There is also a photo of the display plane they set up as a marketing gimmick at 24th and Rio Grande. Notice how it says the airport is located on "Burnet Hi-way". I think this means today's 183. Dr. Ragsdale called it "Burnet Road/Research Blvd." in his book but as we all know, Research Blvd. is 183. I have seen other references to the route we now know as 183, previously State Hwy. 29, being called The Burnet Highway but I think people started calling the same route The Jollyville Road at some point around the same time. It gets even more complicated when you consider that the old route 29 once followed the current route of Airport Blvd. At any rate I can't say for sure where this airport was located, and it doesn't appear on any old maps that I can find. Considering the topography of the land around that part of North Austin, I would guesstimate it would have to have been somewhere east of the Balcones fault line where the grade of the land is more flat and less rocky. Perhaps it was somewhere around where Burnet Road crosses 183 but that's total speculation on my part. It couldn't have been too far east and still be described as "northwest", also because University Airport was already located near where N.Lamar meets Airport Blvd today. Strong clues where it might have been come from this 1948 Statesman report about a grass fire which destroyed one of Aero-tel airplane. If anyone here wants to take a guess where it was I'm eager to hear it.
And so now we move on to the second of the lost airports not covered on the website. This was St. Edwards airport, the home of a company called Austin Aero Service. And unlike the previous place the location is well known. Not a trace is left today.
At approximately the same time Cain purchased the Burnet Road property to establish Aero-Tel, Charles Quist, a recently discharged Air Force pilot, launched a similar operation some ten miles south, near St. Edward’s University. The two had much in common. Long before Quist was discharged from the Air Force in January 1946, he also had decided to continue in aviation. The G.I. Bill seemed to offer that opportunity, not as a student, but as a contracting FBO. But first he needed a base of operations. With Ragsdale well established at Mueller, and Browning and Haile operating from their individual fields, Quist examined several sites in South Austin and decided on a sixty-seven-acre tract owned by St. Edward’s University. The rent, one dollar per acre per month, seemed reasonable. Construction began immediately; Quist graded two sod runways (the longest was 2,000 feet), built a hangar, and on May 26, 1946, acquired his first airplane, a twoplace Interstate “Cadet.” Austin Aero Service, Inc. began as a family endeavor. Mary Catherine Quist, Charles’ sister and a former World War II WASP pilot, joined her brother in the operation; she contributed five hundred dollars, as did their parents. With a three-thousand-dollar investment, the company began operations with two war surplus PT-23s. The Quist family business subsequently grew into a partnership. Shortly after establishment of the field, popular Austin aviatrix Mary Waurine (Ziggy) Hunter joined the firm. She contributed no funding but had wide experience in aviation, especially as a flight instructor. They were soon joined by another returning veteran, Bruce Hallock, a former navy PBY pilot who also wanted to be in “the flying business.” Hallock contributed some funding, plus two airplanes. With an abundance of students, Austin Aero Service prospered from the beginning. In addition to the G.I. trainees, Quist developed a cooperative student-training program with St. Edward’s University, in which students received university credit for flight training. The individual students paid for the instruction: six dollars per hour solo and eight dollars dual. That was in addition to the ten dollars per hour the company received for the G.I. instruction. And as the student body grew, so did the training fleet. At one time the company owned or operated fifteen airplanes. Quist later acquired dealerships for both Aeronca and Luscombe airplanes. In addition, Hallock developed a charter business with his two Stinsons—Dallas and back, for fifty dollars. The future looked bright. “We were receiving $8 per hour training G.I.s,” Hallock recalled. “With gasoline at twenty cents a gallon, we were making money.” There were, however, blemishes on Austin Aero Service’s record of operation. Mary Catherine lost one student, a G.I. who violated a cardinal rule in flight training—“You don’t buzz.” On his first solo flight, he, unfortunately, violated that rule. He “buzzed” his mother’s house, lost control of the airplane, and crashed and burned in the street in front of her house. The company also lost another airplane in Mexico. Bruce Hallock developed a profitable import business, flying fresh lobster from Belize, British Honduras, to San Antonio, Texas, where the Gunter Hotel purchased five hundred pounds each week at sixty cents per pound. On one return flight, while using Charles Quist’s Aeronca “Sedan,” the airplane developed engine trouble and Hallock made an emergency landing on a private airport in Tampico, Mexico. With Hallock unable to continue the flight to Austin, Quist and a mechanic flew down to Tampico in another airplane, a Stinson, to replace a damaged piston. After making the necessary repairs, Quist elected to fly the Aeronca back to Austin himself. However, taking off from Tampico, the engine quit, and he crash-landed into a building belonging to a railroad company. Quist sustained serious injuries, including a broken leg, facial lacerations, and a severely scarred left hand. But that’s when his troubles really began.
Admitted first to a PEMEX hospital, Quist was refused treatment, other than first aid, because it was a company hospital. The main hospital in Tampico also refused treatment since the accident occurred outside its service area. When taken to another hospital, an inept attendant placed his broken leg in a cast without setting it, bandaged his face, and sutured his lacerated hand. And the worst was yet to come. Quist discovered he was in deep trouble with both the Mexican government and the railroad company, and was placed under house arrest in a Tampico hotel. Learning that “they wanted a lot of money,” he hastened his exit from Mexico by first bribing the hotel manager, and later the airport guard placed on his Stinson. Accompanied by his mechanic, Quist quickly took off, headed for Brownsville, Texas, refueled, and later that day landed at St. Edward’s Airport. He abandoned the crashed Aeronca “Sedan” in Mexico, and never returned.33 In retrospect, the Mexico crash appears as a harbinger of change. Mary Catherine had married and left the company. Charles purchased Hunter’s interest in 1947 and, shortly after the Tampico crash, acquired Hallock’s interest. The company, nevertheless, enjoyed some four years of profitable operation, with income generated from two primary sources—the G.I. Bill and St. Edward’s University students. “When the G.I. Bill ran out, we finally ran out of qualified students,” Hallock remembered. “The business just kinda dried up in the late 1940s.34 Charles Quist was more specific: “I shut it down, liquidated the business, and sold the training fleet, some airplanes for as little as $400. Had a lot of assets but no money.” He, nevertheless, maintained a positive assessment of his four-year tenure at St. Edward’s Airport. “We taught a lot of students to fly,” Quist recalled, “helped others to launch a career in aviation, and for a while made some money.” 35 But most important of all, in addition to creating Austin Aero Service, he and Hallock were able to fulfill their post–World War II ambitions— they remained in aviation. Quist later joined the Air National Guard, advanced to the rank of colonel, and became commander of the 149th Fighter Group at Kelly Air Force Base. Hallock joined the Chance-Vought Corporation as a flight test engineer and later became staff pilot for the University of Texas Applied Research Laboratory, flying a Douglas DC-3 in the research and development of missile guidance systems. Nothing remains today of St. Edward’s Airport or the Austin Aero Service. Construction of Interstate Highway 35 in the 1950s bisected the landing field; the parking lot of the Internal Revenue Service now occupies what was once a portion of the north-south runway.
Austin Aero Service has a checkered history which the book barely gets into. After a crash in May of 1947, Ziggy Hunter left to take a job with the State. Things started to turn around when they were able to get a high profile contract with the Statesman for newspaper delivery to outlying Hill Country regions. The Civil Air Patrol organized an air show at the St. Edward Airport in the summer of 1949 and then the next news about them was one of the partners taking off with a plane and a car to Arizona after running out on the leases.
I'm already way long but there you have the full story as I can find it. I might as well go for the gold and post an epilogue for this post from the next part of the book. This is only one small chapter in a much larger story and if anyone here is interested in the topic I highly recommend picking up the book. It's available in e-book form on the library website for free!
The closure of two privately owned and operated airports within the span of two years, while individually significant, was also symbolic of even greater changes that were occurring in postwar Austin. The city had entered an aggressive growth pattern. The decade of the 1940s brought 44,529 new citizens into the city; by 1950, more than 5,000 were arriving annually. That influx of humanity created a demand for new middle-class housing. As developers began searching for building sites north and northeast of the city, they were drawn instinctively to the unoccupied expanses of other private airports.
On March 12, 1948, Ella Campbell conveyed to L. L. McCandless, president of McCandless Homes, Inc., 29.15 acres, thereby creating the Skyview Addition, an area then occupied by the Haile Airport. By the end of 1950, Doc Haile had sold his remaining aircraft and terminated operations. Haile’s tenure at 5600 Avenue F, however, was predetermined long before Ella Campbell sold the property to McCandless. In November 1947, when the author purchased his first Austin home at 5414 Avenue F, two blocks south of the Haile Airport, he inquired about the noise factor. His realtor, Glen E. Lewis, reassured him, “Don’t worry. Doc’s gotta go. That land’s too valuable to land airplanes on.” Lewis, unknowingly, had articulated the metaphor for Austin airport controversy for the next half-century. Appreciating land values were indeed changing the face of Austin. As the city spread steadily northward, University Airport became the next target for development. The Brownings’ move to Mueller in September 1946 marked the last permanent occupancy at University Airport. On July 21, 1952, Webb Ruff and Myrtle N. Ruff deeded 22.98 acres to the Northway Crest Development Company, Inc., creating the Northway Crest subdivision. Thus, within the scope of some two years, all four of Austin’s original private airports had closed, leaving the city with a single, municipally owned landing facility. It would be there the two surviving FBOs, Ragsdale Flying Service and Browning Aerial Service, would continue their role as regional leaders in the field of general aviation. The economics of these transactions appeared to invalidate most people’s vision of the postwar aviation boom. Returning servicemen accorded higher priority to owning a home, getting an education, raising a family, and earning a livelihood within the traditional job markets. The airplane manufacturers were also forced to recognize the realities of the aviation marketplace.
...
No UNT archive Bonus Pics today. Many are already on the previously linked website. But have some Bonus Articles about the great aviatrix named Ziggy Hunter, simply because she was a badass.
Bonus Article #1 - Women love to fly! - August 1, 1945
Bonus Article #2 - Texas Wing of Women Flyers photos - September 27, 1942
Bonus Article #3 - Texas Aeronautics Commission shows off new plane - February 11, 1948
Bonus Article #4 - One Day Flight Soloist Can't Drive - July 21, 1945
Bonus Article #5 - Female Flying Pioneer Still In Clouds - October 12, 1986
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2020.05.22 16:14 hallach_halil My ten favorite games on the 2020 NFL schedule

The NFL schedule finally came out and it is time to discuss it. To be honest, this kind of came at me as a bit of surprise until a few days before it happened, just because of how COVID-19 threw the timeline off, but it is here now. We don’t know for sure how everything will look like – if we even seen all 16 games, if some of them may be postponed or whatever, but I tried to look at the schedule as it is set right now and point out my favorite matchups to watch.
I look at certain coaching staffs facing each other, rematches from last season, historic significance to some degree and of course individual players going up against each other. There are so many great quarterback matchups this year and I don’t want to hear any of that bullcrap about how quarterbacks don’t play versus each other, but rather against the respective defenses – you see them go back and forth trying to put points on the board and their play simply is the biggest factor in the outcome of the game. I tried to pick ten out of 256 total games that stick out to me the most and I already have circled on my calendar, plus I have quite a few honorable mentions before I get into the actual list.


Honorable mentions:


Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints (Week 3 – SNF 8:20)
Why I considered it: Pretty obvious one here. You have Aaron Rodgers versus Drew Brees, who have battled for league MVP in multiple years, and these are two teams that both went 13-3 last season. This year, even though both teams have tight competition to defend their division crown, the result of this matchup could have influence on the playoff seeding ultimately, also in terms of tie-breakers.
Why I left it off: First of all, I would have liked this game to be a little later in the year – which is a theme throughout the schedule. More importantly, this is a matchup I remembered as a more glorious one. We actually haven’t seen them go up against each other since 2014 and that was a 21-point victory for the Saints.

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers (Week 9 – TNF 8:20)
Why I considered it: The Packers are seeking revenge after they were blown out by a combined score of 74-28 in their two matchups against the eventual NFC champs. Can the Packers run defense finally slow down that bludgeoning ground attack of the Niners? Can Aaron Rodgers make big plays versus this stingy defense?
Why I left it off: We saw this story twice now – When San Francisco gets rolling and the Packers can’t match them physically, these games become very one-sided. Green Bay didn’t give Rodgers any help in terms of wide receivers this offseason and they didn’t add any beef to their D-line. I’m not looking for potential blowouts.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins (Week 13 – 1:00)
Why I considered it: These are two rebuilding teams and while the Dolphins are certainly ahead in that process, at that point of the season both of them will want to ensure they aren’t picking in the top five again. More importantly however, this could be the rematch between Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, which we saw last season in a 46-41 shootout between LSU and Alabama.
Why I left it off: First and foremost, both these teams could be pretty bad once again, as Vegas has their OveUnder at 5.5 and 6 respectively – two of the five worst marks. In addition, we don’t even know for sure if Tua will be playing at that point, as Miami may want to redshirt him a full year.

Kansas City Chiefs @ New Orleans Saints (Week 15 – 4:25)
Why I considered it: Unless they find a way to meet each other in the Super Bowl, this is basically the only time we will see Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees battle it out. Both these offenses should rank in top five at that point of the season and secure their spot in the seedings of either conference. It will be interesting to see how much interior pressure the Chiefs defense can put on Brees, while that retooled Saints secondary will try to stick with KC’s track team of pass-catchers.
Why I left it off: Pretty simple. I think there are three better games the Chiefs will be part of than an interconference matchup without any tie-breaker implications, when you have another great game right after it on Sunday Night and week 16 & 17 filled with so many meaningful division clashes. It hurt not putting this game up there, but I just couldn’t quite fit it in.

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys (Week 15 – SNF 8:20)
Why I considered it: This is just a classic playoff rivalry from the 80s and 90s renewed. While these teams were not on the same level last season, they have two of the most talented rosters in the entire league. Kyle Shanahan is the game’s premiere all-around offensive mind, while we have yet to see how Mike McCarthy has changed his approach in a year out of the league, after being labelled an uncreative play-caller. To me this may come down to how much Dallas’ defense can improve from 2019.
Why I left it off: These teams can absolutely put points on the board, but the Niners had one of the elite defenses last season, while the Cowboys could not stop anybody when they needed and they lost Byron Jones and Robert Quinn. While Dak Prescott & company did put up big numbers in 2019, they also struggle to score in big spots and I can’t give them the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 16 – 1:00)
Why I considered it: I really don’t know why the schedule-makers didn’t have more confidence in this matchup to make this a 1 pm kickoff. You obviously have the two remaining quarterbacks from that 2004 draft class going up against each other, with Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, but you also have what many consider the best offensive line going up against the best defensive line in football.
Why I left it off: Do we really know Big Ben will be healthy in week 16? Are we sure Rivers can rebound from a horrendous 2019 campaign? I personally see them both as part of the playoff picture for now, but there are some question marks surrounding these teams and we aren’t guaranteed a matchup between two contenders.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (Week 16 – 4:25)
Why I considered it: These games just seem to always decide the winner of the NFC East and last season we had everything line up to perfectly to determine who will make the playoffs and who won’t. Vegas has them both sitting at 9.5 wins and I believe it will be a tight race for the division crown, with both teams having reloaded.
Why I left it off: As always, this should be an intriguing game with high stakes, but when was the last time one of these matchups was actually a quality watch? When I look at the history of this series in recent years, either one of the teams always seems to come out flat. In the seven matchups over the last three years plus, only two games have been decided by fewer than seven points.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers (Week 17 – 4:25)
Why I considered it: This was one of the best series we saw in all of 2019. In week 10 we had overtime field goal drama in a 27-24 win for the Hawks and in week 17 they came a couple of inches short on a goal-line stop in Seattle to win the Niners the West and the conference’s number one seed. Russell Wilson against that defense is just a pleasure to watch.
Why I left it off: I personally just don’t believe this game will decide the winner of the NFC West. I feel like I underrate the Seahawks every single year and am amazed at the rabbits Russ pulls out of his hat to will this team to double-digit wins, but unless Jadeveon Clowney comes back, I just don’t believe in their defense and their O-line only got worse. I’m much more interested in the up-start Cardinals.


The top ten:


10. Week 16 (MNF) – Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Week 16, Monday Night football with everybody watching, you have a team that hasn’t been in that primetime slot much over the last 20 years going to an organization that has dominated not only them, but pretty much the entire league during that stretch. Since 2001, when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, they have lost to Buffalo just four of the 34 times they have met, while in the two most recent ones Tom Brady was suspended and played only one half in a meaningless game respectively. Even without Brady, the Patriots are slight favorites to win the division as for right now according to Vegas odds, with Bill Belichick and “Stid the Kid”. I have plenty of questions about this New England team, but they should still be around the .500-mark at the very least and Buffalo is fighting some demons. A lot of this will be about how Josh Allen can mature in year three, because he has shown stretches of brilliance, but he also tossed three picks in their first matchup versus New England last year before he got knocked out and he made some stupid decisions late in the second half of their Wildcard game in Houston. GM Brandon Beane has surrounded the young signal-caller with more weapons via the Stefon Diggs trade and in the draft, after his receivers were plastered last season by those Patriots DBs. On the other side you have a first-year starter going up one of the most well-coached defenses in the league under Sean McDermott, which gave them some trouble already and has now retooled as well. Can the Bills snatch the crown off the head of Belichick and possibly mark the end of that dynasty he has sustained over the last two decades at Gilette Stadium?

9. Week 11 (TNF) – Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks

The NFC West might be the most intriguing division in football. You have the reigning champs in the 49ers who have that mantra of a Super Bowl hangover looming over them, the Seahawks being a couple of inches away from winning the West and looking to take that next step, the Rams trying to recapture what catapulted them to an NFC title just a couple of years ago and the Cardinals entering year two with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray, looking to revolutionize the league. This was an interesting series last season, as the Seahawks stomped them 27-10 in week four in Arizona, but then the Cardinals came back in week 16 and gave their high-flying divisional foes a reality check in form of a 27-13 upset. You have Russell Wilson versus Kyler Murray, who are often compared to each other and I believe could both be part of the MVP race. They will be going up against somewhat questionable defenses, ranking bottom ten in both yards and points allowed respectively. The Cardinals I thought really improved on that side of the ball, with number eight overall Isaiah Simmons as an incredible chess piece and a lot of beef on the D-line day three, after struggling to stop the run last season. They Seahawks did go defense-heavy in the draft, but they also likely lost their second-best player in Jadeveon Clowney. With DeAndre Hopkins added to the mix, the Cards could give that secondary a lot of trouble, while I could see Simmons spy on Russ quite a bit to take away those scramble plays with his ridiculous closing speed. You obviously still have the 49ers as reigning division champs, but this could kind of be a passing of the torch for that second team competing for the West.

8. Week 16 (FNS) – Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints

First of all, this is a Friday night special on Christmas Day – so I already love an extra day of football. There have only been ten games on a Friday since the league merger in 1970, so that is something unique and it kicks off an awesome NFL weekend. Even better – this is actually great matchup. The Saints are seeking revenge after two ugly playoff exits on the hands on the Vikings. They did win their regular season meeting in 2018, but we all remember the “Minneapolis Miracle” and the Kyle Rudolph push-off controversy in overtime of their most recent Wildcard meeting. In that game you saw Mike Zimmer put Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen over the Saints guards and make Drew Brees uncomfortable with that interior pressure, while you could argue that Taysom Hill was the best player on the field that day. Well, Griffen is still a free agent and it looks like the Vikes are counting on some young D-linemen to recreate his production. Hill on the other hand just signed maybe the biggest contract ever for a QB3 on the depth chart, but that probably also means Sean Payton could utilize his skill-set even more in 2020. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the offensive mastermind and Drew will try to slice up that inexperienced secondary with basically three new starters at the corner spots, with Mike Hughes really being the only one with any experience to speak of (45.7 percent of the snaps in 2020). Another thing I’ll be looking at are Minnesota’s personnel groupings. The Vikings used 12 or 21 personnel on 53 percent of the offensive snaps last season (second-most in the entire league) and the teams that gave New Orleans trouble last season, were the ones that could run those sets.

7. Week 10 (4:25) – San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints

Man, that might have been the best matchup all of last season. The 49ers went into the Superdome tied with the home team at 10-2 and the game delivered what it promised. While San Francisco’s defense had been wreaking havoc for pretty much the entire year, this duel was about two offensive masterminds in Kyle Shanahan and Sean Payton trying to best each other with creative designs and trick plays, but also some great individual performances, highlight by George Kittle literally dragging three defenders to set up the game-winning field goal. We got to see reverses, wide receiver passes and even fullbacks playing option QB. What stood out to me about the Niners offense in last year’s matchup was how often Shanahan found ways to open up the middle of the field for Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel, while routinely created favorable matchups for Michael Thomas, working against Ahkello Witherspoon & company. Jimmy G also had his best game of the season and he will have to defeat some demons this year after not being able to come through at the end of the Super Bowl. Coming off a devastating loss in the Super Bowl, the Niners seem hungry to get back there, as they have basically replaced all the players they lost this offseason. The Saints have a bitter taste in their mouths themselves, after exiting in the first round of the playoffs on the hands of the Vikings. Many people thought these were the top two teams in the NFC last season and it looked like they might be on pace to meet in the conference championship. This will be a huge test for both of them and a potential preview of this year’s playoffs. For the Niners it is nice to head into their bye week right after that.

6. Week 12 (4:25) – Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While the Patriots-Chiefs matchups these last two seasons to me were more about Bill Belichick playing chess against Patrick Mahomes, you can’t deny that Brady-Mahomes is a very intriguing storyline and we are lucky that the year Brady finally leaves New England, we still get this battle of all-time legend and young phenom. Brady & New England came away with the victory in their two showdowns in 2018, including an epic AFC Championship, but last year it was the Chiefs trying to avoid the comeback. Brady went 19-36 for under 200 yards and one TD compared to one pick against KC’s defense. Obviously the Bucs are a completely different team however. While the Patriots were devoid of talent at the wide receiver position last season, Brady now has what may be the premiere duo with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, to go with a talented group of tight-ends, which now includes his old buddy Rob Gronkowski. While the Tampa Bay defense wasn’t even comparable to New England’s last season, as they ranked 29th compared to first respectively, I think this may be an underrated unit. They pretty clearly finished number one versus the run and they bring back everybody from last season now at full strength in their second year under DC Todd Bowles. While Tyrann Mathieu looks to be a thorn in the sight of Brady, the Bucs might found their version of that player in the second round of the draft in Antoine Winfield Jr., to surprise Mahomes & company. I think Bowles could use him in a multitude of ways, similar to what he had in Jamal Adams with the Jets. I also love the matchup of two of the most aggressive play-callers on offense going up against two creative defensive coordinators trying to give them different looks to decipher.

5. Week 12 (Thanksgiving) – Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

This AFC North clash has been one of the great rivalries in the league over the last decade plus, It doesn’t quite feel like these two teams are in the same tier right now with the Ravens earning the number one overall seed in the entire playoffs at 14-2, while the Steelers lost their final three games of the season to take away hope for that final Wildcard spot due to the worst quarterback play in the league. However, Ben Roethlisberger returns from injury and if he is back to his usual self, there is a lot to like about this team. Their defense is elite, with a ferocious pass rush, a dynamic young linebacker in Devin Bush and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Minkah Fitzpatrick really brought that secondary around when he came over from Miami. They will have to play at their best to slow down reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and that downhill rushing attack the Ravens present. Offensively the Steelers still have one of the better O-lines in the league, some interesting young backs and several talented receivers around Juju Smith-Schuster. They will be challenged by what I think is the premiere trio of cornerbacks and Baltimore has retooled that D-line with Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to keep first-round Patrick Queen from LSU clean to run around and make plays. Lamar did have his worst game of the season at Heinz Field, but the Ravens still pulled off the W in overtime thanks to nothing in the passing game from Mason Rudolph. Baltimore has added some quick-strike weapons around the reigning MVP, while Pittsburgh also goes from incapable backups to a Hall of Fame-level QB. The Ravens should certainly be considered the favorites, but the Steelers could make some noise this year. To get such a physical, scrappy brawl to finish up Thanksgiving is better than any sweet potato pie.

4. Week 9 (SNF) – New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You could be looking at this matchup in week one already and it will be very interesting to see Tom Brady for the first time in that Bruce Arians offense, but I think their rematch in the middle of the season will make for an even better game. Both teams will have caught their rhythm at that point and we have a better idea of who they are. The Bucs already were the number one passing offense and ranked third in points scored, but thanks to Jameis Winston’s famous 30 interceptions, they only finished 7-9. While Brady won’t push the ball down the field quite the same way, the offense should be much more successful in situational football, as they lost just two games by more than one score (one thanks to a pick-six). Even outside the quarterback position, their offense improved. However, the Saints did reload themselves in terms of their defensive backfield and receiving crew. Obviously the quarterbacks will be the main attraction, but I also love seeing that elite Saints O-line trying to create holes against last year’s top-ranked run defense as well as reigning sack leader Shaqil Barrett & JPP rushing against their stud tackles. With all the moves both teams have made in free agency and the draft, I just see them as double-digit win squads, which will be right there in the mix for the NFC. Whoever manages to sweep the series or if they tie it up here, that will have huge stakes in the race for the South and who needs to go on the road in the playoffs. It will also be interesting to see how the surrounding games will influence this matchup. The Saints will be coming off a trip to Chicago and host San Francisco the following week. For the Bucs on the other hand this is right in-between more manageable trips to New York and Carolina.

3. Week 13 (SNF) – Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

I really believe these Broncos-Chiefs matchups will be some of the best on the entire schedule. Yes, I might be a little higher on Denver than most people coming into 2020, but when you look at this roster, they are going to surprise some people with how good they actually are. That group of skill-players is so damn talented now with wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler via the draft and they really upgraded the interior of the offensive line with free agent Graham Glasgow and LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry. The Broncos D gave Patrick Mahomes some trouble in 2018 and they could be even better this year. Yes, they lost Chris Harris and Derek Wolfe, but they also acquired Jurrell Casey, A.J. Bouye and some interesting rookies, while getting back Bradley Chubb from injury, who looked to be in line for a monster season. The Chiefs on the other hand kind of try to run it back, with 20 of last year’s 22 starters being brought back. Both these teams have so much firepower and it will all come down to how much Drew Lock can grow in his second year in the league. If he can take that next step like a Carson Wentz did in year two, look out for these Broncos. The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs for a reason, but I could see Denver seriously challenge them for the AFC West. This will be a huge clash to kick off December and the Broncos will look to make a statement to the league as they travel to Arrowhead and try to prove they are for real. And both squads will leave it all out there, as the Broncos go into their bye after the game and the Chiefs host the Jets and Panthers the two following weeks.

2. Week 6 (4:25) – Green Bay Packers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Very seldom have we gotten the treat of Aaron Rodgers versus Tom Brady. We have actually only see them go up against each other twice in their careers, with Rodgers taking over in 2008 and missing their meeting two years later. The Packers got the best of the Patriots in Green Bay in 2014 and the home-team equaled evened the series in Foxborough. Now in the NFC, Brady is looking to win those battles against other great quarterbacks without Belichick coaching the defense. While one team has done everything to make things as comfortable as possible for the incoming legend, the other one just drafted the eventual replacement of their 36-year old star and didn’t select a single receiver in a historically great class. Brady definitely has the upper hand in terms of weapons around him and we could see Rodgers get upset in that game if his receivers outside of Davante Adams don’t show up. With a film junkie like Brady, Packers DC Mike Pettine will have to get away from of the tendencies he showed last season in certain down & distances and against certain personnel packages, to not see them get taken advantage of. The Bucs massive front on the other hand likely won’t allow Matt LaFleur to get his zone-rushing attack going, putting more pressure back on the quarterback. However, Tampa also has a very young secondary, that could receive a lesson from the uber-talented Rodgers. A lot of this will depend on if Green Bay’s Smith Brothers can influence Brady and if anybody outside of Kenny Clark emerges for them to push the pocket on the inside. The one advantage Green Bay will have is the fact they are coming off a bye at that point, while Tampa is in the middle of a three-out-of-four game road stretch.

1. Week 3 (MNF) – Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

Only a couple of weeks into the season, we get to see the AFC Championship that never was last year. Baltimore was riding high at a league-best 14-2 record, but suffered a disappointing loss to the Titans in the Divisional Round. Kansas City on the other hand needed to some help down the stretch to finish second behind the Ravens for the conference’s number two seed and went all the way to a Lombardi trophy. Once again this year, this could absolutely be a preview of the AFC title game, with both teams locked and loaded. You have the two most recent league MVPs battling it out. Patrick Mahomes stands at 2-0 versus Lamar Jackson. This time around the Chiefs travel to M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens have lost just once over these last one-and-a-half seasons with their dynamic young QB at the helm. Kansas City’s defense really turned it on late last season with timely stops and takeaways. That’s what cost Baltimore a chance at the AFC title, as they were stopped twice on fourth-and-one by Tennessee after being almost perfect in those spots over the course of the regular season and they turned the ball over three times in that matchup. I don’t think that was an appropriate representation of the Ravens offense and I didn’t think Lamar had a horrible game, as several of his passes were badly dropped. They have added some game-breakers around him in the draft, but KC’s first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire could be the X-factor as well, because he will give them more of a physical presence in the run game and help them convert in crucial situations. This matchup should give us an idea early on who the conference’s front-runner could be. Can Mahomes pull a rabbit out of his hat once again, even though the Ravens are all over him with those different pressure looks, or can Lamar put his stamp on that series?
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2020.05.15 16:35 hallach_halil My ten favorite games on the 2020 NFL schedule

The NFL schedule finally came out and it is time to discuss it. To be honest, this kind of came at me as a bit of surprise until a few days before it happened, just because of how COVID-19 threw the timeline off, but it is here now. We don’t know for sure how everything will look like – if we even seen all 16 games, if some of them may be postponed or whatever, but I tried to look at the schedule as it is set right now and point out my favorite matchups to watch.
I look at certain coaching staffs facing each other, rematches from last season, historic significance to some degree and of course individual players going up against each other. There are so many great quarterback matchups this year and I don’t want to hear any of that bullcrap about how quarterbacks don’t play versus each other, but rather against the respective defenses – you see them go back and forth trying to put points on the board and their play simply is the biggest factor in the outcome of the game. I tried to pick ten out of 256 total games that stick out to me the most and I already have circled on my calendar, plus I have quite a few honorable mentions before I get into the actual list.


Honorable mentions:


Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints (Week 3 – SNF 8:20)
Why I considered it: Pretty obvious one here. You have Aaron Rodgers versus Drew Brees, who have battled for league MVP in multiple years, and these are two teams that both went 13-3 last season. This year, even though both teams have tight competition to defend their division crown, the result of this matchup could have influence on the playoff seeding ultimately, also in terms of tie-breakers.
Why I left it off: First of all, I would have liked this game to be a little later in the year – which is a theme throughout the schedule. More importantly, this is a matchup I remembered as a more glorious one. We actually haven’t seen them go up against each other since 2014 and that was a 21-point victory for the Saints.

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers (Week 9 – TNF 8:20)
Why I considered it: The Packers are seeking revenge after they were blown out by a combined score of 74-28 in their two matchups against the eventual NFC champs. Can the Packers run defense finally slow down that bludgeoning ground attack of the Niners? Can Aaron Rodgers make big plays versus this stingy defense?
Why I left it off: We saw this story twice now – When San Francisco gets rolling and the Packers can’t match them physically, these games become very one-sided. Green Bay didn’t give Rodgers any help in terms of wide receivers this offseason and they didn’t add any beef to their D-line. I’m not looking for potential blowouts.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins (Week 13 – 1:00)
Why I considered it: These are two rebuilding teams and while the Dolphins are certainly ahead in that process, at that point of the season both of them will want to ensure they aren’t picking in the top five again. More importantly however, this could be the rematch between Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, which we saw last season in a 46-41 shootout between LSU and Alabama.
Why I left it off: First and foremost, both these teams could be pretty bad once again, as Vegas has their OveUnder at 5.5 and 6 respectively – two of the five worst marks. In addition, we don’t even know for sure if Tua will be playing at that point, as Miami may want to redshirt him a full year.

Kansas City Chiefs @ New Orleans Saints (Week 15 – 4:25)
Why I considered it: Unless they find a way to meet each other in the Super Bowl, this is basically the only time we will see Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees battle it out. Both these offenses should rank in top five at that point of the season and secure their spot in the seedings of either conference. It will be interesting to see how much interior pressure the Chiefs defense can put on Brees, while that retooled Saints secondary will try to stick with KC’s track team of pass-catchers.
Why I left it off: Pretty simple. I think there are three better games the Chiefs will be part of than an interconference matchup without any tie-breaker implications, when you have another great game right after it on Sunday Night and week 16 & 17 filled with so many meaningful division clashes. It hurt not putting this game up there, but I just couldn’t quite fit it in.

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys (Week 15 – SNF 8:20)
Why I considered it: This is just a classic playoff rivalry from the 80s and 90s renewed. While these teams were not on the same level last season, they have two of the most talented rosters in the entire league. Kyle Shanahan is the game’s premiere all-around offensive mind, while we have yet to see how Mike McCarthy has changed his approach in a year out of the league, after being labelled an uncreative play-caller. To me this may come down to how much Dallas’ defense can improve from 2019.
Why I left it off: These teams can absolutely put points on the board, but the Niners had one of the elite defenses last season, while the Cowboys could not stop anybody when they needed and they lost Byron Jones and Robert Quinn. While Dak Prescott & company did put up big numbers in 2019, they also struggle to score in big spots and I can’t give them the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 16 – 1:00)
Why I considered it: I really don’t know why the schedule-makers didn’t have more confidence in this matchup to make this a 1 pm kickoff. You obviously have the two remaining quarterbacks from that 2004 draft class going up against each other, with Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, but you also have what many consider the best offensive line going up against the best defensive line in football.
Why I left it off: Do we really know Big Ben will be healthy in week 16? Are we sure Rivers can rebound from a horrendous 2019 campaign? I personally see them both as part of the playoff picture for now, but there are some question marks surrounding these teams and we aren’t guaranteed a matchup between two contenders.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (Week 16 – 4:25)
Why I considered it: These games just seem to always decide the winner of the NFC East and last season we had everything line up to perfectly to determine who will make the playoffs and who won’t. Vegas has them both sitting at 9.5 wins and I believe it will be a tight race for the division crown, with both teams having reloaded.
Why I left it off: As always, this should be an intriguing game with high stakes, but when was the last time one of these matchups was actually a quality watch? When I look at the history of this series in recent years, either one of the teams always seems to come out flat. In the seven matchups over the last three years plus, only two games have been decided by fewer than seven points.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers (Week 17 – 4:25)
Why I considered it: This was one of the best series we saw in all of 2019. In week 10 we had overtime field goal drama in a 27-24 win for the Hawks and in week 17 they came a couple of inches short on a goal-line stop in Seattle to win the Niners the West and the conference’s number one seed. Russell Wilson against that defense is just a pleasure to watch.
Why I left it off: I personally just don’t believe this game will decide the winner of the NFC West. I feel like I underrate the Seahawks every single year and am amazed at the rabbits Russ pulls out of his hat to will this team to double-digit wins, but unless Jadeveon Clowney comes back, I just don’t believe in their defense and their O-line only got worse. I’m much more interested in the up-start Cardinals.


The top ten:


10. Week 16 (MNF) – Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Week 16, Monday Night football with everybody watching, you have a team that hasn’t been in that primetime slot much over the last 20 years going to an organization that has dominated not only them, but pretty much the entire league during that stretch. Since 2001, when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, they have lost to Buffalo just four of the 34 times they have met, while in the two most recent ones Tom Brady was suspended and played only one half in a meaningless game respectively. Even without Brady, the Patriots are slight favorites to win the division as for right now according to Vegas odds, with Bill Belichick and “Stid the Kid”. I have plenty of questions about this New England team, but they should still be around the .500-mark at the very least and Buffalo is fighting some demons. A lot of this will be about how Josh Allen can mature in year three, because he has shown stretches of brilliance, but he also tossed three picks in their first matchup versus New England last year before he got knocked out and he made some stupid decisions late in the second half of their Wildcard game in Houston. GM Brandon Beane has surrounded the young signal-caller with more weapons via the Stefon Diggs trade and in the draft, after his receivers were plastered last season by those Patriots DBs. On the other side you have a first-year starter going up one of the most well-coached defenses in the league under Sean McDermott, which gave them some trouble already and has now retooled as well. Can the Bills snatch the crown off the head of Belichick and possibly mark the end of that dynasty he has sustained over the last two decades at Gilette Stadium?

9. Week 11 (TNF) – Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks

The NFC West might be the most intriguing division in football. You have the reigning champs in the 49ers who have that mantra of a Super Bowl hangover looming over them, the Seahawks being a couple of inches away from winning the West and looking to take that next step, the Rams trying to recapture what catapulted them to an NFC title just a couple of years ago and the Cardinals entering year two with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray, looking to revolutionize the league. This was an interesting series last season, as the Seahawks stomped them 27-10 in week four in Arizona, but then the Cardinals came back in week 16 and gave their high-flying divisional foes a reality check in form of a 27-13 upset. You have Russell Wilson versus Kyler Murray, who are often compared to each other and I believe could both be part of the MVP race. They will be going up against somewhat questionable defenses, ranking bottom ten in both yards and points allowed respectively. The Cardinals I thought really improved on that side of the ball, with number eight overall Isaiah Simmons as an incredible chess piece and a lot of beef on the D-line day three, after struggling to stop the run last season. They Seahawks did go defense-heavy in the draft, but they also likely lost their second-best player in Jadeveon Clowney. With DeAndre Hopkins added to the mix, the Cards could give that secondary a lot of trouble, while I could see Simmons spy on Russ quite a bit to take away those scramble plays with his ridiculous closing speed. You obviously still have the 49ers as reigning division champs, but this could kind of be a passing of the torch for that second team competing for the West.

8. Week 16 (FNS) – Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints

First of all, this is a Friday night special on Christmas Day – so I already love an extra day of football. There have only been ten games on a Friday since the league merger in 1970, so that is something unique and it kicks off an awesome NFL weekend. Even better – this is actually great matchup. The Saints are seeking revenge after two ugly playoff exits on the hands on the Vikings. They did win their regular season meeting in 2018, but we all remember the “Minneapolis Miracle” and the Kyle Rudolph push-off controversy in overtime of their most recent Wildcard meeting. In that game you saw Mike Zimmer put Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen over the Saints guards and make Drew Brees uncomfortable with that interior pressure, while you could argue that Taysom Hill was the best player on the field that day. Well, Griffen is still a free agent and it looks like the Vikes are counting on some young D-linemen to recreate his production. Hill on the other hand just signed maybe the biggest contract ever for a QB3 on the depth chart, but that probably also means Sean Payton could utilize his skill-set even more in 2020. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the offensive mastermind and Drew will try to slice up that inexperienced secondary with basically three new starters at the corner spots, with Mike Hughes really being the only one with any experience to speak of (45.7 percent of the snaps in 2020). Another thing I’ll be looking at are Minnesota’s personnel groupings. The Vikings used 12 or 21 personnel on 53 percent of the offensive snaps last season (second-most in the entire league) and the teams that gave New Orleans trouble last season, were the ones that could run those sets.

7. Week 10 (4:25) – San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints

Man, that might have been the best matchup all of last season. The 49ers went into the Superdome tied with the home team at 10-2 and the game delivered what it promised. While San Francisco’s defense had been wreaking havoc for pretty much the entire year, this duel was about two offensive masterminds in Kyle Shanahan and Sean Payton trying to best each other with creative designs and trick plays, but also some great individual performances, highlight by George Kittle literally dragging three defenders to set up the game-winning field goal. We got to see reverses, wide receiver passes and even fullbacks playing option QB. What stood out to me about the Niners offense in last year’s matchup was how often Shanahan found ways to open up the middle of the field for Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel, while routinely created favorable matchups for Michael Thomas, working against Ahkello Witherspoon & company. Jimmy G also had his best game of the season and he will have to defeat some demons this year after not being able to come through at the end of the Super Bowl. Coming off a devastating loss in the Super Bowl, the Niners seem hungry to get back there, as they have basically replaced all the players they lost this offseason. The Saints have a bitter taste in their mouths themselves, after exiting in the first round of the playoffs on the hands of the Vikings. Many people thought these were the top two teams in the NFC last season and it looked like they might be on pace to meet in the conference championship. This will be a huge test for both of them and a potential preview of this year’s playoffs. For the Niners it is nice to head into their bye week right after that.

6. Week 12 (4:25) – Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While the Patriots-Chiefs matchups these last two seasons to me were more about Bill Belichick playing chess against Patrick Mahomes, you can’t deny that Brady-Mahomes is a very intriguing storyline and we are lucky that the year Brady finally leaves New England, we still get this battle of all-time legend and young phenom. Brady & New England came away with the victory in their two showdowns in 2018, including an epic AFC Championship, but last year it was the Chiefs trying to avoid the comeback. Brady went 19-36 for under 200 yards and one TD compared to one pick against KC’s defense. Obviously the Bucs are a completely different team however. While the Patriots were devoid of talent at the wide receiver position last season, Brady now has what may be the premiere duo with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, to go with a talented group of tight-ends, which now includes his old buddy Rob Gronkowski. While the Tampa Bay defense wasn’t even comparable to New England’s last season, as they ranked 29th compared to first respectively, I think this may be an underrated unit. They pretty clearly finished number one versus the run and they bring back everybody from last season now at full strength in their second year under DC Todd Bowles. While Tyrann Mathieu looks to be a thorn in the sight of Brady, the Bucs might found their version of that player in the second round of the draft in Antoine Winfield Jr., to surprise Mahomes & company. I think Bowles could use him in a multitude of ways, similar to what he had in Jamal Adams with the Jets. I also love the matchup of two of the most aggressive play-callers on offense going up against two creative defensive coordinators trying to give them different looks to decipher.

5. Week 12 (Thanksgiving) – Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

This AFC North clash has been one of the great rivalries in the league over the last decade plus, It doesn’t quite feel like these two teams are in the same tier right now with the Ravens earning the number one overall seed in the entire playoffs at 14-2, while the Steelers lost their final three games of the season to take away hope for that final Wildcard spot due to the worst quarterback play in the league. However, Ben Roethlisberger returns from injury and if he is back to his usual self, there is a lot to like about this team. Their defense is elite, with a ferocious pass rush, a dynamic young linebacker in Devin Bush and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Minkah Fitzpatrick really brought that secondary around when he came over from Miami. They will have to play at their best to slow down reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and that downhill rushing attack the Ravens present. Offensively the Steelers still have one of the better O-lines in the league, some interesting young backs and several talented receivers around Juju Smith-Schuster. They will be challenged by what I think is the premiere trio of cornerbacks and Baltimore has retooled that D-line with Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to keep first-round Patrick Queen from LSU clean to run around and make plays. Lamar did have his worst game of the season at Heinz Field, but the Ravens still pulled off the W in overtime thanks to nothing in the passing game from Mason Rudolph. Baltimore has added some quick-strike weapons around the reigning MVP, while Pittsburgh also goes from incapable backups to a Hall of Fame-level QB. The Ravens should certainly be considered the favorites, but the Steelers could make some noise this year. To get such a physical, scrappy brawl to finish up Thanksgiving is better than any sweet potato pie.

4. Week 9 (SNF) – New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You could be looking at this matchup in week one already and it will be very interesting to see Tom Brady for the first time in that Bruce Arians offense, but I think their rematch in the middle of the season will make for an even better game. Both teams will have caught their rhythm at that point and we have a better idea of who they are. The Bucs already were the number one passing offense and ranked third in points scored, but thanks to Jameis Winston’s famous 30 interceptions, they only finished 7-9. While Brady won’t push the ball down the field quite the same way, the offense should be much more successful in situational football, as they lost just two games by more than one score (one thanks to a pick-six). Even outside the quarterback position, their offense improved. However, the Saints did reload themselves in terms of their defensive backfield and receiving crew. Obviously the quarterbacks will be the main attraction, but I also love seeing that elite Saints O-line trying to create holes against last year’s top-ranked run defense as well as reigning sack leader Shaqil Barrett & JPP rushing against their stud tackles. With all the moves both teams have made in free agency and the draft, I just see them as double-digit win squads, which will be right there in the mix for the NFC. Whoever manages to sweep the series or if they tie it up here, that will have huge stakes in the race for the South and who needs to go on the road in the playoffs. It will also be interesting to see how the surrounding games will influence this matchup. The Saints will be coming off a trip to Chicago and host San Francisco the following week. For the Bucs on the other hand this is right in-between more manageable trips to New York and Carolina.

3. Week 13 (SNF) – Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

I really believe these Broncos-Chiefs matchups will be some of the best on the entire schedule. Yes, I might be a little higher on Denver than most people coming into 2020, but when you look at this roster, they are going to surprise some people with how good they actually are. That group of skill-players is so damn talented now with wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler via the draft and they really upgraded the interior of the offensive line with free agent Graham Glasgow and LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry. The Broncos D gave Patrick Mahomes some trouble in 2018 and they could be even better this year. Yes, they lost Chris Harris and Derek Wolfe, but they also acquired Jurrell Casey, A.J. Bouye and some interesting rookies, while getting back Bradley Chubb from injury, who looked to be in line for a monster season. The Chiefs on the other hand kind of try to run it back, with 20 of last year’s 22 starters being brought back. Both these teams have so much firepower and it will all come down to how much Drew Lock can grow in his second year in the league. If he can take that next step like a Carson Wentz did in year two, look out for these Broncos. The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs for a reason, but I could see Denver seriously challenge them for the AFC West. This will be a huge clash to kick off December and the Broncos will look to make a statement to the league as they travel to Arrowhead and try to prove they are for real. And both squads will leave it all out there, as the Broncos go into their bye after the game and the Chiefs host the Jets and Panthers the two following weeks.

2. Week 6 (4:25) – Green Bay Packers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Very seldom have we gotten the treat of Aaron Rodgers versus Tom Brady. We have actually only see them go up against each other twice in their careers, with Rodgers taking over in 2008 and missing their meeting two years later. The Packers got the best of the Patriots in Green Bay in 2014 and the home-team equaled evened the series in Foxborough. Now in the NFC, Brady is looking to win those battles against other great quarterbacks without Belichick coaching the defense. While one team has done everything to make things as comfortable as possible for the incoming legend, the other one just drafted the eventual replacement of their 36-year old star and didn’t select a single receiver in a historically great class. Brady definitely has the upper hand in terms of weapons around him and we could see Rodgers get upset in that game if his receivers outside of Davante Adams don’t show up. With a film junkie like Brady, Packers DC Mike Pettine will have to get away from of the tendencies he showed last season in certain down & distances and against certain personnel packages, to not see them get taken advantage of. The Bucs massive front on the other hand likely won’t allow Matt LaFleur to get his zone-rushing attack going, putting more pressure back on the quarterback. However, Tampa also has a very young secondary, that could receive a lesson from the uber-talented Rodgers. A lot of this will depend on if Green Bay’s Smith Brothers can influence Brady and if anybody outside of Kenny Clark emerges for them to push the pocket on the inside. The one advantage Green Bay will have is the fact they are coming off a bye at that point, while Tampa is in the middle of a three-out-of-four game road stretch.

1. Week 3 (MNF) – Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

Only a couple of weeks into the season, we get to see the AFC Championship that never was last year. Baltimore was riding high at a league-best 14-2 record, but suffered a disappointing loss to the Titans in the Divisional Round. Kansas City on the other hand needed to some help down the stretch to finish second behind the Ravens for the conference’s number two seed and went all the way to a Lombardi trophy. Once again this year, this could absolutely be a preview of the AFC title game, with both teams locked and loaded. You have the two most recent league MVPs battling it out. Patrick Mahomes stands at 2-0 versus Lamar Jackson. This time around the Chiefs travel to M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens have lost just once over these last one-and-a-half seasons with their dynamic young QB at the helm. Kansas City’s defense really turned it on late last season with timely stops and takeaways. That’s what cost Baltimore a chance at the AFC title, as they were stopped twice on fourth-and-one by Tennessee after being almost perfect in those spots over the course of the regular season and they turned the ball over three times in that matchup. I don’t think that was an appropriate representation of the Ravens offense and I didn’t think Lamar had a horrible game, as several of his passes were badly dropped. They have added some game-breakers around him in the draft, but KC’s first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire could be the X-factor as well, because he will give them more of a physical presence in the run game and help them convert in crucial situations. This matchup should give us an idea early on who the conference’s front-runner could be. Can Mahomes pull a rabbit out of his hat once again, even though the Ravens are all over him with those different pressure looks, or can Lamar put his stamp on that series?


If you enjoyed the content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/05/13/my-ten-favorite-games-on-the-2020-nfl-schedule/
You can also listen to the breakdown on my Youtube channel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVC6XDGxEV8
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2020.04.30 03:49 LionTigerWings Jahlani Tavai - In Hindsight, Did We Make The Right Pick?

This pick was highly criticized by some and many called it a reach. 1 year later, do you guys like the pick?
Here is the SI joint draft grades released shortly after the draft for the rest of the 2nd.
  1. Detroit Lions: LB Jahlani Tavai
Stemming from his Patriots roots, Matt Patricia prefers big, thumping linebackers. He has one in Christian Jones, but Jones is average on the field in a contract year—hence the selection of Tavai. What will be interesting is whether Tavai’s arrival impacts where the explosive but somewhat inconsistent 2017 first-round linebacker Jarrad Davis plays.
GRADE: C+
  1. Green Bay Packers: C Elgton Jenkins
Jenkins—who has a nice combination of size, power and length—is probably more of a guard than a center, though he can play both. In Green Bay he will play right guard—the recently signed Billy Turner, who is coming off a stellar season in Miami and just signed for $28M over four years ($9M guaranteed), will play right tackle, where Bryan Bulaga has battled wear and tear and is in a contract year. Don't be surprised if Jenkins learns from the bench initially.
GRADE: B
  1. New England Patriots (via Rams via Falcons): CB Joejuan Williams
The Patriots draft a cover corner in the second round almost every year. With J.C. Jackson emerging as a stellar No. 2 opposite All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, they have no immediate need here, especially given that Patrick Chung often mans the slot. It’s too early to dump 2018 second-rounder Duke Dawson and there’s a lot to like about undrafted fourth-year pro Jonathan Jones, who surprisingly moved to safety in the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick must simply love Williams, because the Pats don’t NEED him and may not even have an active roster spot for him on some Sundays this year. The MMQB’s Albert Breer mocked Williams to the Patriots, saying “Bill Belichick is always looking ahead, and he mentioned in his pre-draft press conference the need to match up with bigger receivers and athletic tight ends. The Patriots have had Patrick Chung in that role for a while.” That could be Williams’s role in the future.
GRADE: C
  1. Cleveland Browns (via Colts via Redskins): CB Greedy Williams
Denzel Ward is a budding star, but T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell are both up-and-down No. 2/No. 3 corners. To stabilize things and add depth, the Browns tapped a long, speedy playmaker in Williams. Transitional movement can be a bit of an issue with Williams, so he might not be able to match every style of receiver. But Ward typically takes the smaller, quicker guys, and Williams has the body to compete with the bigger guys.
GRADE: B
  1. Seattle Seahawks (via Carolina Panthers): S Marquise Blair
Blair is touted for his downhill style and aggression. He won’t have much pressure on him, as Tedric Thompson can man the free safety spot, while the grossly underrated Bradley McDougald can handle strong safety. He played both two-deep and single-high concepts in college.
GRADE: C+
  1. New Orleans Saints (via Miami Dolphins): C Erik McCoy
Simple as this: Veteran center Max Unger abruptly retired and the Saints are unwilling to be weak inside. With Drew Brees at QB, the integrity of the interior pocket is as critical as anything. Scouts believe McCoy can assume a starting job right away. He is a crafty technician who has the movement skills to execute man blocks and zone blocks.
GRADE: A
  1. Indianapolis Colts (via Cleveland Browns): EDGE Ben Banogu
Banogu adds value to an important position in Indy’s zone-oriented scheme. The team can’t count on getting away with a feeble pass rush again in 2019 like they did for much of ’18. Adding ex-Chief Justin Houston in what’s likely a 30-snaps-a-game role was a good first step, but they still needed this second step, especially since the jury is out on last year’s second-round defensive ends, Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis. Stunts and D-line slants are critical to Indy’s pass rush approach, so Banogu’s success will be largely determined by how well he can move at angles.
GRADE: B
  1. Minnesota Vikings: TE Irv Smith Jr.
Kyle Rudolph is a sturdy professional tight end, but with limited twitch and very little speed or quickness, you can’t design much for him. His production comes only within the context of the scheme. The hope is Smith can change that. New offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski has coached tight ends and will have creative ways to feature the position.
GRADE: B+
  1. Tennessee Titans: WR A.J. Brown
With Corey Davis emerging as a featured weapon in Tennessee’s new Rams-style scheme last year and Adam Humphries getting big money to handle the slot, Brown’s arrival gives the Titans a steady all-around puzzle piece to build into their multi-receiver route combinations. It also ensures that speedster Taywan Taylor will play strictly a specialty role, which betters suits him.
GRADE: A-
  1. Bengals (via Broncos via Steelers): TE Drew Sample
This pick addresses a position of need for the Bengals, since Tyler Kroft is now a Bill, injury-prone Tyler Eifert is on a one-year contract and C.J. Uzomah is a backup. Sample is perceived as more of a blocker than a receiver, though a team doesn’t take a tight end in Round 2 if it’s not confident that he can do both. In new head coach Zac Taylor’s scheme, Sample’s on-the-move blocking prowess will be key.
GRADE: B-
  1. Philadelphia Eagles (via Ravens): RB Miles Sanders
In 2017 Philly had a deep backfield and the NFL’s most expansive ground game. That changed last year, and now we’re seeing the correction. Jordan Howard, an excellent all-around zone runner, was acquired for a conditional sixth round pick that can rise to a fifth. And he’ll eventually take a back seat to Sanders, a smooth, patient three-down back who has the lateral agility to create his own space.
GRADE: A
  1. Houston Texans (via Seahawks): CB Lonnie Johnson
Houston’s deficiencies in outside coverage were costly in the playoff loss to Indianapolis. Johnson is a long-bodied raw talent who will often be asked to play to safety help, which sounds liberating but can be challenging depending on the offensive design. If he doesn’t pick things up quickly, he’s still of value, since corners Bradley Roby and Johnathan Joseph are in contract years. Also, Aaron Colvin is under contract for three more years but can be cut for $6.75M savings after next season, which means Houston could lose all three starting corners next offseason.
GRADE: C+
  1. Houston Texans: T Max Scharping
From Houston’s side of things, the analysis for first-round pick Tytus Howard can essentially be applied here, with the additional note that the Texans now have an insurance policy at a position of dire need. Both men will make the roster (obviously), the question is how soon can both start?
GRADE: B-
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (via Rams via Patriots via Bears): WR Mecole Hardman
And, tacitly, THERE’S the Chiefs’ answer to the Tyreek Hill problem. It’s an important answer because this offense was built predominantly around Hill’s unique talent. It’s unfair to expect any player to provide what Hill provides (provided), but stylistically, Hardman can stretch the field and stress the defense in multiple ways.
GRADE: B
  1. Philadelphia Eagles: JJ Arcega-Whiteside
A steady possession target is just the thing for an Eagles offense that found its much-needed speed in free agent signing DeSean Jackson but was looking for receiver depth and a possible replacement for Nelson Agholor, who has long been rumored to be on the trading block (and whose contract expires after this year).
GRADE: B
  1. Dallas Cowboys: DT Trysten Hill
The Cowboys emphasize initial quickness off the snap more than almost any team, as it’s key to their gap-penetrating scheme and the slants and stunts that define their four-man rush concepts. Hill is raw but has that good first step. Dallas only needs him to play 20 or so snaps a game, as he’ll fill the spot left by dedicated pot smoker David Irving.
GRADE: C+
  1. Indianapolis Colts: WR Parris Campbell
Campbell is a fast, multidimensional playmaker who can be plugged into a gadget role and expand Indy’s offensive designs. If he builds on the route-running improvement that he teased in the pre-draft process, he could be a serviceable starter if Chester Rogers and Devin Funchess hit free agency next year.
GRADE: B+
  1. Los Angeles Chargers: S Nasir Adderley
Adderley will predominantly play centerfield in Los Angeles’s single-high, Seahawks-style scheme, allowing bourgeoning superstar Derwin James to play the box. But given Adderly’s potential versatility and James’s unbridled versatility, it could soon be time for the Chargers to expand and diversify that scheme.
GRADE: A-
  1. Kansas City Chiefs: S Taylor Rapp
The Rams could be shifting to more dime packages, as they’re thin at inside linebacker and now deep at safety, with the rookie likely to play behind John Johnson and Eric Weddle. Rapp plays faster than he timed in the pre-draft process, and will likely become a versatile piece in a Rams scheme that’s slated to expand in 2019.
GRADE: A-
  1. Arizona Cardinals (via Dolphins via Saints): WR Andy Isabella
We don’t know exactly what Kliff Kingsbury’s system will entail in the NFL, but presumably it will feature quick-strike passes. In that case, run-after-catch becomes critical, and shifty players who can create their own space are worth their weight in gold. This is a great value … the only downside is it essentially came at the cost of the QB the team traded up to No. 10 for last year. We’ll do the Cards a favor and grade this pick in a vacuum, not factoring in the Josh Rosen sacrifice.
GRADE: B+
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (via Rams): S Juan Thornhill
Expensive new safety Tyrann Mathieu is versatile … which means the Chiefs needed to find another versatile safety—and with Daniel Sorensen being mostly a dime linebacker, Kansas City looked in the draft. Thornhill, like Mathieu, can play both safety spots, as well as slot in nickel and linebacker in dime.
GRADE: A
  1. Seattle Seahawks (via New England Patriots): WR D.K. Metcalf
D.K. Metcalf’s lack of route running diversity and refinement caused him to freefall like no receiver in recent draft memory. Fortunately, he landed in a perfect situation. Russell Wilson is a superb deep ball thrower and Metcalf can stretch the field. And Metcalf’s route running is less of an issue given how often Wilson goes off-schedule. Plus, Metcalf’s big body will be valuable on Wilson’s trademark sandlot plays.
GRADE: A+
https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/04/26/nfl-draft-2019-second-third-round-grades-analysis-news
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2020.04.29 16:02 hallach_halil Biggest winners and losers, steals and reaches from the draft

As I do every year, I wanted to give an extensive recap of what happened over those three days. However, I don’t like handing out grades, because they don’t encapsulate the real value of a pick in my opinion. Instead I wanted to identify some of the biggest winners and losers, steals and reaches coming out of the draft. Yet, I didn’t only look at the different clubs, but I also included certain players and how it affected them.


Biggest winners and losers:


Winner – Drew Lock

Nobody received more help around him over the draft than Denver’s sophomore quarterback. First, the Broncos decided to stay put at number 15 and still got their guy in my number one receiver Jerry Jeudy. The Alabama standout is a perfect complement to Courtland Sutton, as they can move the rookie around and create easy completions for Lock to the savvy route-runner. Then they came back in the second round and added a jitterbug like Penn State’s K.J. Hamler, who can take your breath away with his ability to eat up cushions and is tough to put a hand on with the ball in his hands. Late on day two, the Broncos landed an absolute steal in LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry, who was my 35th overall prospect in the draft and should immediately compete for the starting spot at right guard next to recently acquired Graham Glasgow. And then early in the fourth round they selected Missouri tight-end Albert Okwuegbunam, who can be used in a similar fashion as last year’s first-round pick Noah Fant, as a seam-stretcher and flexed out wide in some capacity. Using an ace set with both those TEs on either end of the O-line and letting them streak downfield with a big-bodied receiver like Sutton breaking inside underneath should be a scary sight. And that red-zone personnel is towering over defenses. Combine that receiving corp with a much-improved offensive line and an excellent duo of running backs with Philip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon and they are pretty close to rivaling the fire power of Kansas City on offense. The Broncos also nailed their other picks with the long and physical Iowa corner Michael Ojemudia, an explosive penetrator on the interior D-line in Arkansas’ McTelvin Agim, a mobile linebacker who is slippery working around blocks and brings some thump at collisions in Wake Forest's Justin Strnad, a technically sound edge rusher in North Dakota STate's Derrek Tuszka and a guy in Fresno State guard Netane Muti, who can add some competition, if he can finally stay healthy, since when he was on the field his natural power and mean-streak really stood out.

Loser – Tyrod Taylor

You could put the L.A. Chargers here altogether, but let’s just talk about Tyrod. His first four years in the league he backed up Joe Flacco in Baltimore, then he was brought in to be Rex Ryan’s starting quarterback in Buffalo, where he did play like an above-average QB for three seasons, really taking care of the ball. In 2017 when Sean McDermott was brought in as the head coach, it became clear that Taylor’s conservative style of play wasn’t even for them, as they (falsely) threw rookie Nathan Peterman out there, who famously tossed five interceptions in the first half of their game against the Chargers. While the veteran signal-caller did start the rest of the season and almost won a playoff game against Jacksonville, the Bills decided to go a different route and ultimately drafted Josh Allen. Tyrod went on to sign with the Browns and earned the starting gig, until he lost his job three weeks into the season to number one overall pick Baker Mayfield – which absolutely was the right move. Last offseason he decided to sign with the Chargers to back up Philip Rivers and with the long-time idol being let go, it finally looked like a team really wanted Taylor, especially with head coach Anthony Lynn saying he is their guy. Well, I think the Chargers had to settle for Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick because of the top two quarterbacks being off the board and I think he is not ready to start, but you know how things work out with guys being selected in the top ten. Tyrod has one of the best rosters around him, but as soon as the offense stalls – and it will because he tends to take his eyes down when the rush gets to him and L.A. did not select a single offensive lineman – people will be calling for Herbert to get out on the field. I also really like the potential of OU linebacker Kenneth Murray, but I disagree the strategy of trading back up into the first round in exchange for both their picks on day two, which they really need in terms of adding depth.

Winner – New York Jets

There’s only maybe three or four draft classes that I would put ahead of what Joe Douglas and Adam Gase put together. They started things out with the massive Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton, who will immensely upgrade their zone rushing attack and has the agile feet to develop into an excellent pass-protector down the road, and then they came back in the second round and grab Baylor wideout Denzel Mims, after trading down with the Seahawks for a late third-round pick, who should immediately jump in as their starting X receiver and should improve one of the worst red-zone offenses in the league right away. Those two picks should make Sam Darnold very happy as well. With the 68th overall selection they bring in Cal safety Ashtyn Davis, who I had already penciled in as a second-rounder and can legitimately line up at nickel day one because he has the hips and electric change-of-direction skills for it, but also the range for a true single-high free safety in case they want to let Marcus Maye leave in free agency next year. That additional third-rounder they picked up was used on Florida’s Jabari Zuniga, who Gregg Williams can groom into an explosive edge rusher with inside flexibility in sub-packages. I liked some other guys better than Lamical Perine, who they selected with their first pick of day three, but in that zone-heavy rushing attack he is a pretty good fit, and spending number 125 on FIU quarterback James Morgan was somewhat surprising, but people around the league were pretty high on him as a developmental player, who they could swap for some picks down the road. After those two, they grabbed Charlotte OT Cameron Clarke, who actually has some of that Mekhi Becton quality of torqueing pads and finishing defenders on the ground in the run game, who could move inside at the next level, and then Virginia’s Bryce Hall in the fifth round could turn out to be one of the biggest steals in the draft due to some injury concerns, as a smart corner with great ball-skills. Since you spend sixth-round picks on special team contributors anyway, I can’t hate grabbing the best one in punter Braden Mann from Texas A&M either.

Loser – Seattle Seahawks

John Schneider and those guys in the Pacific Northwest do this every year – they take somebody in the first round who nobody values as highly, they pick some guys they like more than others in the middle rounds and then they bail themselves out to some degree later on day three. I thought they overdrafted players with each of their first-round picks. Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks is a downhill linebacker who people around the league seemed to like quite a bit and the Hawks see as a free-flowing player, but I had him ranked as a third-rounder because he struggles to deal with blocks and doesn’t show great awareness in zone coverage. Considering the Ravens scooped up LSU’s Patrick Queen a pick later, who I thought was a top-20 prospect, makes matters even worse. Then to trade up 11 spots in the second round and giving up a third-rounder to select Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor, who isn’t very technically sound with his hands and is kind of predictable with his rush, doesn’t make too much sense to me either, since I have their fifth-round pick Alton Robinson from Syracuse a spot ahead of him in my edge rankings actually. And with an early third-round selection they bring in LSU guard Damien Lewis, who is a powerful run-blocker and some of his agility concerns won’t come to light as much in their run-heavy offense, but you just had to look at the guy one spot next to him in center Lloyd Cushenberry, who I think actually is a much better player and I had as my 35th overall prospect. As usual Seattle softens the blow on day three with guys like the big-bodied and sure-handed Stanford tight-end Colby Parkinson, an excellent passing down back in Miami’s DeeJay Dallas, the aforementioned Robinson, a speedster in Florida receiver Freddie Swain, who can contribute for them in the return game, and a seam-stretching big slot/flex tight-end in LSU’s Stephen Sullivan, but some of the picks they make early on are just confusing, no matter how much they seem to value their personal meetings with those guys.

Winner – Tua Tagovailoa

With the way the Dolphins 2019 offseason went and how they built their roster, it didn’t look like they would be in position to compete at a high level, but after getting blown out by the Ravens and trading away left tackle Laremy Tunsil, fans started making those “Tank for Tua” signs and it ultimately materialized. This past week especially, reports started coming out about how the Alabama quarterback could slide leading up to Thursday. In the end however, Tua was the pick at number five overall and while there is obviously a lot of risk due to injury concerns, I think this was the right call, because he can be one of the premiere passers in the league if he can stay healthy. Yes, going one spot later to a talented Chargers roster would have been nice as well, but I believe Miami might be building something special here, because Brian Flores is setting the tone for a culture that is slowly adding the pieces to the puzzle and has already shown a lot of fight in wins over the playoff-seeking Eagles and at New England in week 17 to cost the Patriots a bye week. And after fielding one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, the Dolphins also made it a priority to put protect their new signal-caller whenever he’s ready. While overrated to me, they added a very talented tackle in USC’s Austin Jackson at number 18, one of my favorites in Louisiana’s pancake machine Robert Hunt early in the second round and the massive Georgia guard Solomon Kindley with the fifth pick on day three. Miami also brought in former 49ers running back Matt Breida in exchange for a fifth-round pick. The rest of their picks was invested into defense and a long-snapper, before grabbing Navy QB/RB/WR Malcolm Perry. He should be an interesting gadget player if he makes the roster, who can do some wildcat quarterback stuff and take the pressure off Tua. Ryan Fitzpatzrick will still most likely start and his play should determine when they throw the rookie QB out there, who is still working back to 100 percent. Tua is set up to succeed long-term.

Loser – AFC defenses going up against the Chiefs

Well, you already had to feel kind of sorry for whoever is out there trying to run with all those track stars streaking down the field and the most talented passers I have seen in my life, but this just added a different dimension. The Chiefs only drafted two offensive players over the weekend, with one of them being TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang, who I like a lot but should be a backup in year one for the most, but like I correctly predicted in my one and only mock draft, they selecting LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with that final pick in the first round and they might have doomed the entire AFC with that. I know CEH was only my number-five ranked back and he was 51 overall on my board, but as we got closer to the actual draft, I thought about moving him up a few spots because I really like the floor he presents as a player and he is just perfect for that Kansas City offense. The former Tigers’ RB gives the Chiefs a physical presence in the ground game, with the low center of gravity and contact balance to bounce or spin off tacklers for yards after contact, but most importantly runs with an enormous chip on his shoulder. However, he is much more than just a bruiser. Edwards-Helaire probably has the best start-stop quickness in the entire draft to attack one edge of a blocker and force linebackers behind the action to overcommit and he can make guys miss in the backfield with jukes and spins to escape from traffic. He also caught the most passes of any draft-eligible RB and gives them another option in the passing game. Just think about the way defenders have to chase all those speedy receivers down the field or on crossing routes and now when they are already tired, they have to come up and tackle this guy catching a check-down? Nobody will want to get in his way and I can already promise you he will convert some crucial third downs by sheer will to extend drives.

Winner – Jerry Jones

Nobody might have had a better time just sitting back and getting his guys in the draft than the head of America’s Team on his yacht. I did not really study their seventh-round pick in quarterback Ben DiNucci from James Madison other than the FCS Championship game, but every pick before that to me was at or above value for the Cowboys. Wide receiver might not have been the biggest need for this team in the first round, but did you really think Jerry Jones was going to pass on a star receiver from Oklahoma like Ceedee Lamb if he fell to them at 17? Not only did that just create one of the premiere receiver trios in the league, but it also prevented the division rival Eagles from getting my number eight overall prospect, as they reportedly tried to move up one spot ahead of them with Atlanta. Then Jerry selected another standout from the nearby Sooners in defensive tackle Neville Gallimore in the third round, who I had in the 40s and only strengthens an already excellent rotation on the interior and two long, physical press corners in Alabama’s Trevon Diggs and more of a small-school guy like Tulsa’s Reggie Robinson. If the latter reaches his potential, you could have those two guys on the outside and move Chidobe Awuzie into the slot, where he excelled at in college. This makes Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis your fourth and fifth CBs respectively and gives you the opportunity of letting them go if you don’t have the money to pay them. With Dallas’ first pick on day three they selected Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz, who looked like the top interior offensive linemen just a year ago but fell due to injury concerns and the related decline in play last season, which helps with the recent retirement of another former Badger center in Travis Frederick. And then with the final pick of the fifth round to grab Utah’s Bradlee Anae, who I had as my 67th overall prospect is just outstanding. That guy is a man out there on the field, who can set the edge in the run game and give you production as a pass-rusher right away.

Loser – New England Patriots

Who am I to question the madness behind Bill Belichick and that Patriots organization, right? Bill has managed that roster exceptionally well and that’s why that run continued until the one constant in Tom Brady left this offseason. However, you can objectively look at their last three or four draft classes and question some of the selections they have made. In the last four years the first players they have selected are named like this: N’Keal Harry, Isaiah Wynn, Derek Rivers and Cyrus Jones. None of them have made major impacts for the team and there are only three sure-fire starters from that entire stretch. This year once again I would put their draft class near the bottom, even if I like some of the players the selected. As they like to do, they traded out of the first round for the Chargers two picks on the second day, which is something I can definitely get behind, but I’m not sure about what they did with them. At 37th overall they select Lenoir Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger, who is an explosive athlete with the size to drop into the box possibly and I had ranked as a mid-day two prospect, but he doesn’t strike me as the type of anticipatory player BB would covet and I had better players at safety and WILL linebacker ahead of him depending on where they want to play Dugger. I’m a big fan of Joshua Uche, who they selected later in the second, but they had to give up a third-rounder in a trade-up, where that pick they gave away ended up being Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison, who actually is that kind of big, thumping linebacker they usually like to have on the field. Edge defender Anfernee Jennings from Alabama in the third looks more like your typical Patriot, but he isn’t a very dynamic player and then the Pats invested two more third-rounders into tight-ends Devin Asiasi (UCLA) and Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech). I actually loved Asiasi as a potential target in the 100-range and Keene certainly has upside as an underutilized pass-catcher after putting in good work as a blocker, but once again they traded up for the latter who might have gone in the sixth round if they hadn’t grabbed him. And no, I didn’t study the Marshall kicker from round five or hear his name called – ever.

Winner – The analytics-based Cleveland Browns front office

Man, the Browns just killed the draft. As much fun as you could make of their front office, with some of the talk about how their analytics team overviews the gameplans and after just hiring Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski to take over the head coaching position, who was coming off a ten-point showing versus San Francisco in the Divisional Round and a lot of the offensive success was thanks to Gary Kubiak, you have to applaud them for the draft class they just put together. They selected my number four prospect at tenth overall in Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., who is an aggressive run-blocker and technically sound pass-protector, and then they brought in my 29th-ranked prospect at 45 overall in LSU safety Grant Delpit, who has incredible range and can do a lot of things for you if you move him into the slot. With those two they complete the transition from a poor offensive last season to one of the top front-fives in the league combined with the signing of former Titans right tackle Jack Conklin and a true single-high free safety to make life easier on their young corners, if Delpit can just clean up his tackling a little bit. I actually don’t love their two third-round picks Jordan Elliott and Jacob Phillips, but I have to acknowledge that the Missouri D-tackle has a lot of talent, even though I thought he was overhyped when watching the tape. However, I really like those day three picks, starting with John Mackey award winner Harrison Bryant (FAU) adding to that tight-end room as a target to pull away from defenders off play-action, slipping underneath the formation into the flats off split zone plays or getting behind linebackers. My favorite one might be Washington’s Nick Harris, who is super-mobile center with excellent lateral agility and is a perfect fit for that zone-heavy rushing attack Stefanski ran in Minnesota last year, who could take over in the middle with a potential out on J.C. Tretter in 2021. And then Michigan receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones in sixth is just crazy. I had a third-round grade on him as well, as a very explosive and talented pass-catcher, who never actually produced the way he is capable of because of quarterback play.

Loser – Aaron Rodgers

There weren’t a lot of mock drafts out there that didn’t have Green Bay selecting a pass-catcher in the first round and I actually had them going with Baylor’s Denzel Mims at 30th overall in my own. However, instead of getting the veteran quarterback some much-needed help at receiver, you draft his replacement in Jordan Love? Rodgers has to be pissed with GM Brian Gutekunst and that front-office. The Packers are coming off a bad loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, but when you look at their two matchups last season, it was Raheem Mostert and those other backs for San Francisco running all over the defense, while all the receivers for the Pack were blanketed on the other side. So even going with an interior D-linemen would have been more towards the liking of Green Bay’s signal-caller. In fact they did not select a single receiver in a historically great draft at the position that had 36 of them hear their names called. In the second round, Green Bay selected Boston College’s A.J. Dillon as massive running back in the mold of what Matt LaFleur had in Derrick Henry as the Titans’ offensive coordinator, but not only was he a definite day three prospect to me, but he also was pretty much a non-factor in the passing game at Boston College. I like Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara quite a bit – who they selected in the third round – and I see how he could be their version of Kyle Juszczyk since he played that H-back role for the Bearcats, showing great effort as a blocker and ability to put hands on people in space, but once again, I would think Rodgers would have rather had somebody like Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, who went a full round later. In the sixth round, Green Bay picked up three offensive linemen and I think Michigan’s Jon Runyan can actually make an impact early on if you move him inside, but none of those guys really move the needle in terms of the immediate help for a team looking to compete for the NFC. While I hope this lights a fire under Rodgers and he raises his level of play after what you may call a couple of down-years, this draft does not give their signal-caller a lot of help.

Winner – Jonathan Taylor

I’m sure Taylor would have loved to hear his name called in the first round, but in the end this may be the best situation he could have found himself in. He will be running behind what I think is the best offensive line in football for the Colts. Indy does run quite a bit of zone, where they will allow Taylor to make that one cut and get upfield, but they also run a lot of power schemes, where the running back can really build up momentum exploding through a wide open hole. Insert a 225-pound bowling ball like Taylor with a ton of explosiveness and 4.39 speed and this becomes a scary sight. Marlon Mack is a nice back and he has had a lot of success in that system, but unless Taylor’s fumbling problems remain such a big problem, the rookie should become their true workhorse in 2020. Only four teams ran the ball more than the Colts did last season and while Taylor still has to establish himself as a third-down back – especially with Nyheim Hines already there – with Philip Rivers under center those guys will catch a lot of check-downs when you look at how often the quarterback relied on Austin Ekeler last year. Considering all of that, Taylor is my early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Add one of my favorite wideouts in the draft USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. earlier in the second round to the mix with one of the better receivers in the league when healthy in T.Y. Hilton, last year’s second-rounder Parris Campbell, who could be used more on jet sweeps, quick screens and slants to bind defenders and the Wisconsin RB has some help around him. He will also love tight-end Jack Doyle as an excellent run-blocker and there are some other solid receivers on the roster. With the selection of Washington’s Jacob Eason, who is in a great situation himself thanks to being able to sit at least a year, they could be set at quarterback for the future as well, if they can develop the strong-armed kid.

Loser – Anybody in that Bears tight-end room

Before Chicago released Trey Burton about a week before the draft, they had the most expensive group of tight-ends in the league after paying Jimmy Graham 16 million dollars over the next two years, despite looking like a shell of himself recently. Adam Shaheen was a second-round pick out of Ashland just three years ago and he has only caught 26 passes since then. Last season it was actually J.P. Holtz who led the Bears tight-ends with 91 receiving yards. So you understand why you would want to upgrade that position, but they just haven’t done it in a way that I would like to see in terms of building a roster. Second-round pick Cole Kmet out of Notre Dame looks like the clear-cut starter and best all-around option, because he can execute a multitude of blocking techniques and has upside as a pass-catcher. So he is the one guy in this conversation that you can classify as a winner. Still, the Bears now have ten(!) tight-ends on the roster currently, when most teams only carry three on gamedays. Kmet is certainly an upgrade and I thought he was the second-best prospect at the position, but staying put at 43 when you actually need more mid-round picks to address a position that you already spent money on is kind of a head-scratcher. When you look at the guys who went a few picks like later, like Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield, who would have been a great fit next to Eddie Jackson, or Penn State receiver K.J. Hamler, who would have given them a true deep threat and could create easy yardage. Then you look at my TE1 Adam Trautman out of Dayton going 105th overall and you really question the value of that selection, when you probably would have gotten Kmet if you had traded back about ten spots. When you look at the other guys in that TE room, Graham won’t get a chance to revive his career probably as more of a red-zone target and even if two of the other guys make the roster, they will likely have to settle for run-down duties in heavy personnel.

Winner – Baltimore Ravens

When Ozzie Newsome – who is not only a Hall of Fame tight-end but also a Hall of Fame executive – decided to retire a couple of years and Eric DeCosta took over the general manager duties, it was fair to assume the quality of their front office might take a small step backwards, but it just hasn’t. No matter who runs their draft, every damn year they knock it out of the park and with pretty much every pick you go like “that’s so Ravens”. Whether it was being patient with their first round pick and seeing three linebackers selected ahead of their selection, until they picked up the dynamic LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, grabbing a physical, explosive running back in Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins (my RB2) or then trading back with New England to now have four picks in the third round with how much talent they knew would be there. Interior D-line wasn’t an immediate need, but Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike is a super flexible and explosive kid with a lot of room to grow being part of that group, while he wasn’t rated my best available receiver, Texas’ Devin Duvernay is an excellent addition to that offense, because of what he can do as a slant or bubble option on their RPOs and then Ohio State’s Malik Harrison is another great fit as a downhill MIKE next to first-rounder Queen at WILL. With their first pick on day three, John Harbaugh brought in one of his brother’s standouts in Michigan guard Ben Bredeson, who could immediately replace an all-time great in Marshal Yanda, James Proche in the sixth was of one the best receivers in the country last season at SMU and then in the seventh to grab a really smart and instinctive safety in Iowa’s Geno Stone just puts the cherry at the top. Yeah I wasn’t too high on Tyre Phillips or Broderick Washington, but there’s really nothing that comes to mind for this draft class other than “that’s so Ravens”.

Loser – Anthony Gordon

This is the only actual draft prospect on my list of biggest losers and it’s easy to understand why he made it – he didn’t hear his name called at all. Gordon transferred from junior college in 2018 and lost out to Gardner Minshew in the battle for the starting spot under center, before taking over last season. In his one year as a starter, all he did was complete 493 of 689(!) passes for 5579 yards and 48 touchdowns compared to 16 INTs. Like it is every year (until now when Mike Leach left the program), a lot of the production for the Wazzu quarterbacks is due to that Air Raid system and Gordon doesn’t blow anybody away physically, but when you look at him as a pure player, I think he is pretty good. He might not have a huge arm, but it is more than adequate. He is not a great athlete, but he can really buy time inside the pocket. And he is way too loose with the ball, but that is something that can be corrected. I really like the way he puts the ball to where receivers don’t have to break stride, setting those guys up for nice YAC opportunities. The former Cougars signal-caller was my eight-ranked quarterback and I thought he could be a target early on day three, especially with how weak this class is after the top four – and to me even more the top two. Overall, 13 quarterbacks were selected through three days and Gordon surprisingly wasn’t one of them. I know he only put out one year of tape and he is far from a perfect prospect, but he has to be frustrated to not have anybody call him after finishing second only to number one overall pick Joe Burrow in both passing yards and touchdowns last season. The Seahawks have since then signed him as an undrafted free agent and they should have an excellent backup with no other QB on the roster other than Russ, but I think Gordon deserves a chance to at least compete somewhere.

Winner – Saquon Barkley & Daniel Jones

You know what? Let’s give Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge some credit here. The Giants GM deserves some credit here for doing what he was supposed to after surprising everybody by selecting quarterback Daniel Jones out of Duke a year ago and going against what the analytics say by going with a running second overall in superstar Saquon Barkley – protect his investments. While I did have Georgia's Andrew Thomas as my fourth offensive tackle, I still thought he was a top ten prospect and he can immediately jump in at right tackle (even though I would have preferred them to move back a little and grab one of the OTs). In the third round the G-Men selected in a developmental tackle I really like in UConn’s Matt Peart, who should be ready to take over on the right side when the team ultimately replaces Nate Solder at left tackle with Thomas. And then to come back early on day three and selecting another top 100 prospect for me in a road-grading guard like Oregon’s Shane Lemieux, who was a high-quality starter for 52 games with the Ducks, just put them at another level. If Big Blue can move the rookie or Kevin Zeitler to the center spot, they can put their best five out there – which is now pretty strong all of a sudden. Saquon should have a lot more room to work with a great zone-blocking O-line in front of him, while their quarterback should not get killed back there, if he also learns to get rid of the ball when nothing is there downfield. Gettleman had one of the best overall drafts I can remember from him. While he is still way too stuck in his thoughts about just using the draft picks he has and grabbing whoever is there, instead of operating the board, he did select my top-rated safety in Alabama’s Xavier McKinney and a day-one starter at nickel in UCLA’s Darnay Holmes to upgrade that secondary. He spent four of his final five picks on that poor linebacker group, with two of them having outside flexibility.

Loser – Fantasy football owners

This is somewhat of an off-the-board pick here. For me the draft is always somewhat of a grueling process when I get to watching prospects in the 300-400 range, who probably won’t even be selected, but there are also guys that you get excited about and it gives you an edge in fantasy football, because I have already seen all these guys on tape and can kind of project how they could be used. However, this year more than I can remember in a while, a lot of things have become kind of murky seeing what happened in the draft. So many running back committees have been formed, when you look at Detroit pairing Kerryon Johnson up with D’Andre Swift, Cam Akers now building a one-two punch with Darrell Henderson in L.A. most likely, J.K. Dobbins being thrown in the mix with all those guys in Baltimore, A.J. Dillon joining the backfield with a rising star in Aaron Jones in Green Bay and a few other situations. It will be tough to figure out how all those touches are going to split once the regular season rolls around. We also saw a bunch of receiving corps being upgraded with several weapons to spread the wealth between. Overall there were 36 receivers selected in those three days, with multiple teams selecting more than just one pass-catcher, and there are even some guys I like who didn’t hear their names called. I will have fun going through the depth charts of every team and trying to decipher who is worth a look, but for the casual fan this might be headache. I also think this could lead to some shifts in which positions are being invested in more. I usually don’t draft a quarterback in the single-digit rounds, but could we see the top quarterback rise a little? Or will there be more emphasis on the elite tight-ends? We will see.

Winner – Buffalo Bills

I don’t believe anything the Bills did over the weekend will blow anybody away, but Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott once again had a really solid draft. Before we talk about any of the actual picks they made, we have to look at Stefon Diggs as their first-round pick in a trade with the Vikings. This was a great class of wide receivers, but when you look at LSU’s Justin Jefferson actually being the pick for Minnesota with that 22nd overall selection, Diggs is a better fit for Buffalo as more of a vertical threat. When they actually were on the clock on day two, the Bills selected Iowa's A.J. Epenesa at pick 54, after I thought he would have been a nice target at their original first-round spot. The Iowa defensive linemen was born to play for the Bills it feels like, with the excellent hand-usage and power to give them a piece up front, who can slide inside on sub-packages. Then Utah running back Zack Moss is the perfect bruising type of runner to complement Devin Singletary, UCF receiver Gabriel Davis is a deep ball specialist perfect to pair up with Josh Allen’s big arm while Oregon State's Isaiah Hodgins is more of a big-bodied contested catch guy, who can bail the quarterback out when he puts the ball up for grabs. Fifth-round QB Jake Fromm from Georgia might be the polar opposite of Allen physically and the kind of risk-averse style of play, but he excels in the quick-game, which the Bills quietly have gone more to with that 11 personnel, up-temp offense. He should be a high-quality backup, they might be able to deal for some draft capital down the road. While I don’t necessarily advocate drafting kickers and I didn’t study the class to much, I know that Tyler Bass has a LEG and could immediately replace Stephen Hauschka, who has converted less than 80 percent of his field-goal attempts in each of the last two years. I’m also a fan of the feisty Pitt corner Dane Jackson, who they picked up in the seventh round and he could actually compete for the starting nickel spot with Taron Johnson potentially. So maybe nothing spectacular, but a rock-solid class.


Other drafts I liked:

Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers

Other questionable draft classes:

Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Las Vegas Raiders


Biggest reaches and steals are in the comments!


If you enjoyed the content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/04/28/recapping-the-2020-nfl-draft/

You can also listen to the whole breakdown in video format - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxFFDMcBN8I
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2020.04.21 04:09 swagtitan101 2020 NFL Mock Draft (4 Days Till)

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
  1. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
  1. Miami Dolphins* - Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
  1. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
  1. Detroit Lions* - Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
  1. Los Angeles Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
  1. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
  1. Arizona Cardinals – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
  1. Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers* - Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
  1. Las Vegas Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
  1. San Francisco 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
  1. New York Jets* – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
  1. Denver Broncos - Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
  1. Atlanta Falcons – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
  1. Dallas Cowboys – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
  1. Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
  1. Las Vegas Raiders – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
  1. New Orleans Saints* - Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
  1. Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
  2. Philadelphia needs a WR, and they need one bad. Desean Jackson is past his best years, and Alshon Jeffrey has been the subject of many trade rumors recently. I think the Eagles end up taking Justin Jefferson, the LSU wide out, who enjoyed a monstrous breakout year, even with Ja’Marr Chase playing on the opposite side of him. Jefferson was a great route runner for the Tigers, and also won many jump ball plays last season. I think he will be the WR2 to start in Philly, but will definitely become the WR1 by his 2nd season in the league.
  3. Minnesota Vikings – Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
  1. Seattle Seahawks* - K’Lavon Chaisson, LB, LSU
  1. Jacksonville Jaguars* - Grant Delpit, S, LSU
  1. Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
  1. Detroit Lions* - Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
  1. New England Patriots* – Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
  1. Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
  1. Tennessee Titans – K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
  1. Green Bay Packers – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
  1. Atlanta Falcons* - Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
  1. Kansas City Chiefs – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
I will probably make a 7 round mock right before the draft begins Thursday. I hope you enjoyed reading this one!
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2020.04.11 23:46 TheyCallMeParlayPete 2020 NFL Mock Draft Round 1

1.1 - Bengals - Joe Burrow - QB LSU
The top rated QB in the draft goes number 1 overall to a team that has been stuck in neutral for a while. There’s buzz that the Dolphins are still interested in trading up to secure Burrow, but I don’t think the Bengals will budge. Let it be known I think Tua should at least be in the conversation for this pick.
1.2 - Redskins - Chase Young - EDGE Ohio State
Probably the best player in the draft, the Redskins fall in to a lucky situation as they snag Young at #2 overall. There’s a chance a QB needy team looks to move up to this pick to have their pick after Burrow, but I think the game changing ability of Young will be too much.
1.3 - Lions - Jeffrey Okudah - CB Ohio State
After trading away Darius Slay, the already weak Lions secondary is in desperate need of talent on the back end. Okudah could be a true lockdown corner, and Matt Patricia will most likely be too enticed at the idea of taking away an opponents top receiver to pass on him. Keep you eye on Detroit as a possible trade back candidate, with the QB needy Dolphins, Chargers, Jaguars and Raiders all looming within the top 12.
1.4 - Giants - Isaiah Simmons - DEFENSE Clemson
Unfortunately for the Giants, I think pick 4 is the outside looking in, in terms of trade interest for QB needy teams. In an ideal world, the Giants move back a few picks and select Simmons or a top OT. In this mock - staying at 1.4, Simmons is the pick. While OT is a huge need for this team (isn’t it always?), Simmons could be a true superstaanchor for a defense that has struggled for 3 consecutive seasons.
1.5 - Dolphins - Tua Tagovailoa - QB Alabama
The consensus #1 overall pick heading in to the 2019-20 season, Tua has fallen a bit on draft boards due to a hip injury sustained late in his final season at Alabama. I think it just makes too much sense for Miami here to roll the dice, and hope he makes a full recovery. If he does, you’ve landed a franchise QB for years to come, and if he doesn’t, Miami can always reset in a future draft. It’d be better to take Tua here and miss, than it would be to pass on him and watch as he becomes an all-pro.
1.6 - Chargers - Justin Herbert - QB Oregon
With no other real option on the roster (Tyrod Taylor?) the Chargers will most likely take a QB with their top 10 pick to build for the future. Herbert has long been touted as a top QB prospect, and the Chargers are getting a good value on him at 1.6. It’s possible management is still eyeing a free agent, i.e. Cam Newton or Jameis Winston - and if that’s the case I’d expect them to go OL here.
1.7 - Panthers - Derrick Brown - DT Auburn
New DC Phil Snow has said he wants to be “multiple” on defense, meaning they will run a blend of 3-4 and 4-3 defensive fronts. Brown can occupy the interior of the DL in both schemes, and will provide great run stopping ability right away. He is just an average pass rusher for an interior DL (12 sacks in 4 seasons at Auburn), but he does create pressure in the backfield, as he led Auburn in tackles for loss at 11.5 in 2019.
1.8 - Cardinals - Andrew Thoms - OT Georgia
There are potentially 4 cornerstone tackles in this draft, and for a team like the Cardinals who need help all over the OL, taking one of them at 1.8 makes sense. There’s definitely debate surrounding who the best OT prospect is, but Thomas is as technically sound as they come, and can be a plug in starter at OT from day 1.
1.9 - Jaguars - CJ Henderson - CB Florida
It feels like a lifetime since the Jaguars were just 1 quarter away from going to the Super Bowl, but that was only 2 years ago! Things have really fallen apart in Jacksonville since that season, and the team is in the midst of rebuilding it’s once stellar defense, as well as searching for a franchise QB. They start with defense here, selecting CJ Henderson out of Florida, to fill the void left by the Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye trades.
1.10 - Browns - Mekhi Becton - OT Louisville
The Browns were stuck in neutral all last season, and a big reason for that was the amount of time Baker Mayfield spent on his back. The team invested heavily in Jack Conklin in the offseason, but the OL could still use help. Enter Becton, the 6’7 physical freak who ran a 5.10 40 at the combine - Becton is raw, but has physical traits that not many posses.
1.11 - Jets - Jedrick Wills - OT Alabama
The Jets already focused the majority of their offseason rebuilding both the starting spots, and depth along the offensive line, but that doesn’t mean they will shy away from taking Wills here. They are still looking for an anchor for the group, who can lock down the LT spot and protect franchise QB Sam Darnold’s blindside - and Wills fits the bill.
1.12 - Raiders - Jerry Jeudy - WR Alabama
While the Raiders are still faced with a question mark at the QB position, adding an extra weapon to their young core can only help. Enter Jeudy, who has long been on the radar of NFL teams, and has gone for double digit receiving TDs and over 1,100 yards receiving in each of the last two seasons.
1.13 - 49ers (Via Colts) - CeeDee Lamb - WR Oklahoma
The 49ers fell just short of winning the Super Bowl in 2019, but they find themselves back within the top 13 picks after a trade with the Colts. They look to add to their passing attack here by snagging Oklahoma stud CeeDee Lamb - who will replace the departed Emmanuel Sanders, and grow alongside young cornerstones George Kittle and Deebo Samuel.
1.14 - Buccaneers - Tristan Wirfs - OT Iowa
Wirfs is the last of the “Big 4” OT’s to go in this Mock Draft 1.0, with the Buccaneers scooping him up here at 14. The Bucs are definitely in win now mode, after moving on from former #1 overall pick Jameis Winston, and signing Tom Brady to call the shots on their offense. Wirfs will likely start from day one at RT, but can become a franchise LT down the road.
1.15 - Broncos - Henry Ruggs - WR Alabama
Ruggs becomes the third and final WR to go in the top 15, and the Alabama product will slide in alongside young pass catchers Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant in the mile high city. Ruggs is an absolute burner who can stretch out opposing defenses, and give another option to young signal caller Drew Lock.
1.16 - Falcons - Kristian Fulton - CB LSU
With the departure of Desmond Trufant, the Falcons lack depth and talent at the cornerback position. They go with the best CB remaining here in the middle of the 1st round, scooping LSU CB Kristian Fulton - slotting him in as a day 1 starter.
1.17 - Cowboys - Javon Kinlaw - DT South Carolina
Dallas let CB Byron Jones go in free agency and I think they could be looking for a corner at this pick, but in this situation Kinlaw is too talented a player to pass up. Kinlaw is right in the same ballpark as #7 overall pick Derrick Brown as a disruptor in the trenches. Kinlaw will add to an already stacked Dallas front 7, and they will need to address the secondary in the later rounds.
1.18 - Dolphins (Via Steelers) - Josh Jones - OT Houston
Miami used their first pick to address the QB position with Tua, and now they use their 2nd of 3 first round picks on an OT. Jones has been gradually moving up big boards, and with the premium on OT in this league, I fully expect him to go within the 1st round. Jones played predominately at Left Tackle at Houston, and will compete for the starting LT job in Miami immediately.
1.19 - Raiders (Via Bears) - Kenneth Murray - LB Oklahoma
The Raiders continue to lack any sort of identity on defense since the Khalil Mack trade, and they use one of the picks netted in the deal to scoop LB Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma. Murray is a sideline to sideline LB who is a sure tackler, and can cover a lot of ground quickly on defense. Murray moved his draft stock in to the mid-1st round after his stellar combine.
1.20 - Jaguars (Via Rams) - K’Lavon Chaisson - EDGE LSU
The Jaguars continue to rebuild their defense with the 20th overall pick, that they acquired in the Jalen Ramsey trade with the Rams, by selecting LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson is the next best pure edge rusher in the class behind Chase Young, compiling 6.5 sacks for the champion Tigers in 2019. He will mostly be used as a rotational edge rusher to start, but with currently rostered DE Yannick Ngakoue having one foot out the door, it won’t be long before Chaisson is an every week starter.
1.21 - Eagles - Jalen Reagor - WR TCU
The Eagles won the NFC East in 2019 despite never really having any real weapons at WR on the field. They add the blazing fast Reagor here, who cements his place as a top 5 WR prospect in this class with his 4.22 40 yard dash, recorded during his pro-day. Reagor only had 611 yards and 5 TDs in 2019, but that was more due to shoddy QB play than anything else.
1.22 - Vikings (Via Bills) - Trevon Diggs - CB Alabama
The Vikings find themselves on the clock at pick 22 after a trade involving disgruntled WR Stefon Diggs. Ironically, it’s Digg’s younger brother Trevon who is the pick here for the Vikings. Diggs has the size and speed to match up with number one WRs in the NFL, and the Vikings defense is in need of some more talent within the secondary.
1.23 - Patriots - AJ Espenesa - EDGE Iowa
Once touted as a top 15 pick, Espenesa has fallen down draft boards, with his lackluster combine performance. Despite this, the production is unarguable, as Espenesa racked up 11.5 sacks in 2019 alone - tied for 8th best in the country. With the departure of Tom Brady, I still expect the Patriots to go the FA route with QB, rather than select one in the first round, so they bolster their already stout defense here with Espenesa.
1.24 - Saints - Jordan Love - QB Utah State
The Saints head in to the year as a Super Bowl contender and their team does not have that many immediate holes to fill. As a result, I think the Saints will consider using this pick to build for their future, and select Jordan Love out of Utah State. The coaching staff has proven through Teddy Bridgewater that they can build up a backup QB in to starter, and they will use what time they have left with Drew Brees to do the same for Love.
1.25 - Vikings - Justin Jefferson - WR LSU
The Vikings are quickly back on the clock at 25 to use their own selection, and they choose to address the vacancy left by the aforementioned Diggs here by selecting WR Justin Jefferson out of LSU. Jefferson had a monster 2019 with Joe Burrow, tallying 111 catches, for 1,540 yards and 18 TDs - he’ll slide in immediately as a starter opposite Adam Thielen.
1.26 - Dolphins (Via Texans) - Jonathan Taylor - RB Wisconsin
The Dolphins head back to the podium for a third time in the 1st round, and select another game changing offensive layer to put alongside Tua. Taylor is the most highly coveted RB in this class, and the Dolphins select him here with a few picks remaining in the first round. Taylor has been a monster throughout his time at Wisconsin, and showed what a physical freak he is at the combine as well. With the additions on defense they made through free agency, and if Tua can make an immediate impact, the Dolphins may find themselves in a position to compete for a playoff spot in 2020.
1.27 - Seahawks - Ross Blacklock - DL TCU
Blacklock is an interesting prospect because he had a strong 2019 with 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks, but lost all of 2018 to injury. There is an element of mystery surrounding him, but his high level of production, albeit for just one season, combined with his strong combine performance and athletic profile is enough to entice the Seahawks here. Pete Carroll and his group have been able to identify defensive diamonds in the rough before, and they hope they have another one here in Blacklock.
1.28 - Ravens - Patrick Queen - LB LSU
The Ravens were favorites to make a deep run in the 2019 playoffs but were beaten by a fairly predictable Titans offense, and headed home early. They have already strengthened their defense this offseason by retaining all of their key free agents, and also adding stud DL Calais Campbell. Now they add a leader in the middle of the field in Queen, who can both help against the run and the pass at the LB position.
1.29 - Titans - Jon Greenard - OLB Florida
Speaking of the Titans, Tennessee fell just short of reaching the Super Bowl in 2019/20, falling to the eventual champion Chiefs in the AFC title game. This team will look very similar in 2020 as it did in 2019, and I think they can afford to use this pick on a home run type prospect - enter Jon Greenard. Greenard missed all of 2018 with injury, but exploded in 2019 to the tune of 9.5 sacks, 50 tackles and 3 forced fumbles. Greenard doesn’t have a lot to point to outside of 2019, and has some injury history which makes him a riskier pick, but if he pans out he could be a dominant edge rusher.
1.30 - Packers - Laviska Shenault - WR Colorado
Green Bay again could not play their way to the super bowl under Aaron Rogers, and the team has not played in the big game since the 2010-11 season. Some of Rodgers luster has worn off, and he isn’t able to turn every WR in to a game breaker like he used to. As a result, they use the 30th overall selection to add an offensive weapon in Shenault to the mix. Shenault is a WR, but he is almost like a more dynamic Ty Montgomery, a player that can attack a defense from the outside, slot, and backfield.
1.31 - 49ers - Austin Jackson - OT USC
Back on the clock for the second time the 49ers again go offense, selecting offensive tackle Austin Jackson out of USC. Jackson is a mammoth of a man, at 6’5, 322, and can serve as a swing tackle for the defending NFC Champions in 2020. The 49ers offensive tackle’s are strong for now, but things could sour quickly with veteran Joe Staley turning 36 heading in to this season. They use this pick to prepare for the future, and groom Jackson to be the LT of the future.
1.32 - Chiefs - Damon Arnette - CB Ohio State
The defending Super Bowl Champion Chiefs will most likely go defense with this 32nd pick, as offensively they have a slew of weapons, including the best weapon in the NFL, QB Patrick Mahomes. They use the final selection of the 2020 Draft to scoop CB Damon Arnette out of Ohio State, who may be undervalued by many teams while somewhat living in the shadow of teammate Jeffery Okudah. Arnette will likely compete for a day 1 starting job with the departure of Kendall Fuller in free agency.
submitted by TheyCallMeParlayPete to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]


2020.04.06 08:23 jmbagay My First No-Trade One Round 2020 NFL Mock Draft with Analysis

Before I introduce this mock draft, I just want to take a moment and write an ode to probably the greatest WrestleMania moment of all time. The Firefly Funhouse Match was probably the most fun and investment I've had in a wrestling segment ever. Seeing the callbacks to the careers of both John Cena and Bray Wyatt over the past 15-plus years, it was fan service to pro wrestling fans done right. Now that is out of my chest, this is my first mock draft of 2020. After a weird time it is for everyone in the world right now, I'm honestly glad that a lot of us are still safe in these troubling times. In the past, I would have been more proactive in churning these out, but life works in mysterious ways, as someone who is about to finish school and hopefully put his sports management degree into use really soon. As this is my first mock draft of the year, I welcome all constructive or harsh criticism to any selection of this mock draft, as I know there are many POVs of where teams can go when it's time for the draft. I hope you all take your time to read through this and hope that all of you stay safe through these interesting times in our world today.
1.1. CIN: QB Joe Burrow (LSU)
Originality. Right?
1.2. WSH: EDGE Chase Young (Ohio State)
This is also new. Wow.
1.3. DET: CB Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State)
This is the draft selection where the first trade can and most likely will happen for a top QB for any QB needy team, as Detroit needs as many players as they can get. However, in this no-trade mock, Jeffrey Okudah is an absolute baller at CB and will be the most sought-after DB prospect since Jalen Ramsey. Okudah will be a big part in giving the worst pass defense in the entire league from a year ago something to build upon in 2020.
1.4. NYG: OT Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
If Detroit does not change the course of how many teams’ big boards can really shake up. Dave Gettleman is not afraid of selecting players with high upsides and no better offensive lineman prospect fits that bill than Mekhi Becton. He is a borderline monster at 6’7” and 369 pounds with the size, length, and fluidity that any offensive line coach wants and desires at the next level.
1.5. MIA: QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Since last off-season, many fans and executives alike jotted down Miami as the prime landing spot for Tua Tagovailoa, the once heralded top prospect for the 2020 draft class. However, things played out differently for both Miami and Tua, as the Dolphins avoided the top selection, and Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending injury that cut his storied career in Alabama short. However, despite injuries, we should not forget why he was the number one prospect before the course of 2019, as his dynamic dual-threat play and accuracy during big moments will still have him become a top five prospect at the end of the day.
1.6. LAC: QB Justin Herbert (Oregon)
The Chargers have cut ties with Phillip Rivers and it will be known as one of the biggest wastes of a prime QB talent when he retires. However, it’s time to find the future of the LA franchise. If we’re talking about the best project QBs in the draft, look no further than Justin Herbert. At 6’6” and almost 230 pounds, he has the size, arm, and mobility that teams should want to develop, as his main concern coming out of school was his consistency. However, if the Chargers take their time, they’ll have their next Phillip Rivers for the next 15 years.
1.7. CAR: LB Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
While it seems like a lifetime ago, Luke Kuechly decided to end his NFL Career earlier than many anticipated. In this mock draft, they get to replace him with one of the most electric defensive prospects in a long time. You can move Isaiah Simmons around anywhere from any LB position, a blitzing SS, or even at slot CB. The Carolina Panthers should rush to the podium if he’s available at 7, if the big board falls in place toward this direction.
1.8. ARZ: OT Jedrick Wills (Alabama)
When anyone looks at Arizona’s offseason, they will all look at the massive coupe that seems baffling when you think about it more and more. They got a top three WR in DeAndre Hopkins without sacrificing top draft capital, as well as shedding the contract of now oft-injured David Johnson in the process. This was a position where many would put down Ceedee Lamb in the past due to his history with Kyler Murray. However, with DHop on the roster now, they do not necessarily need to take another WR especially with all the draft capital they used on WR in the last draft. Jedrick Wills might be the best pass protector in the entire class and will provide Arizona a tackle for the foreseeable future.
1.9. JAX: WR Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had one of the most polarizing offseasons in the NFL. From the announcement of playing two home games in London to the supposed firesale of the last remnants of the Sacksonville team that took the Jags to the AFC Championship, is it fair to say that this is a rebuild? However, with many more questions than answers for the Jags, it’s time to start building around Gardner Minshew, and there may be no better WR in this class than Jerry Jeudy. His route running is unlike any other receiver in this draft class and it gives the Jags offense another weapon for an offense that could be exciting to watch in 2020.
1.10. CLE: OT Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
One of the issues coming into the offseason for the Cleveland Browns was pass protection, as Baker Mayfield was sacked 40 times last season. Even after the addition of Jack Conklin to the right side of the offensive line, there still needs to be better protection to Mayfield’s blindside. Tristan Wirfs fits the bill to what Cleveland needs, as his power at the line of scrimmage is what NFL teams desire. Wirfs has had 3.5 years of starting offensive line experience and he can be a plug and play OT day one.
1.11. NYJ: WR Ceedee Lamb (Oklahoma)
After losing Robby Anderson to the Panthers in free agency, the Jets are lacking sure-fire weapons with their top wide receivers are Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder, and Breshan Perriman. Ceedee Lamb gives Sam Darnold a weapon he should be salivating over, as his ability to go up and get the ball is the best out of the entire draft class. In a division that could be wide open in 2020, getting Darnold a true number one target can make his life easier for the foreseeable future.
1.12. LV: CB CJ Henderson (Florida)
The Las Vegas Raiders have to face Patrick Mahomes twice a season, and they also host a pass defense that allowed the eighth most pass yards in the entire league in 2019. CJ Henderson might be the cleanest man coverage corner in the entire class, as his athleticism would make Al Davis proud. His athleticism along his size and length will give the Raiders a building block for a defense that needs to form an identity to compete in the AFC West once again.
1.13. SF (via IND): IDL Derrick Brown (Auburn)
After trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts, the 49ers would love for the big board to fall in this direction with an immediate replacement in Derrick Brown. Probably one of the safest picks in the entire class, his mix of size, power, and explosiveness off the line of scrimmage just makes a dangerous defense even stronger, as it gives the 49ers another potential all-pro talent as the big board falls in their favor in this mock draft.
1.14. TB: OT Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
It’s been repeated over and over again as time goes on, but it does not seem right to see Tom Brady in red and pewter. It seems like a gamble to rely on a 43 year-old QB to give the Bucs their first postseason appearance since 2008, but if anyone can do it, it will be Touchdown Tom. Why not give him as much help he needs as the Bucs allowed 47 sacks last season, fifth most in the league in 2019. Andrew Thomas has the pedigree and the power to be a mainstay in Tampa for the next decade. The three-year starter at LT for the Bulldogs will give the Bucs some much needed talent at offensive line.
1.15. DEN: WR Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
Is it a cop out to listen to the many reports about a team falling in love with a certain prospect since the NFL Combine in February? With flashes of promise for the future, Drew Lock only has Courtland Sutton to throw to at the WR position, at the current moment. Giving him a weapon that is one of the fastest WRs we will see in a while, Ruggs gives the Broncos another dimension and the perfect compliment to Sutton, as a home run play waiting to happen.
1.16. ATL: CB Kristian Fulton (LSU)
The Atlanta Falcons have had a lot of moving pieces this offseason, from releasing guys like Desmond Trufant, Devonta Freeman, and Vic Beasley and adding names like Dante Fowler, Hayden Hurst, and Todd Gurley (If they ever announce the transaction) to their roster. While replacing Beasley with Fowler along with Freeman to Gurley, there’s a giant hole in the secondary now, and they should not look further than Kristian Fulton, who’s press cover skills will leave Dan Quinn wanting to run up to the podium.
1.17. DAL: S Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
After a disappointing collapse from where it seemed like no one could stop the Cowboys early on, better competition put them back to earth with another season missing the playoffs. With everything still up in the air about Dak Prescott, who knows where Dallas will be in 2020? However, with the addition of Xavier McKinney, it should help a secondary that just lost Byron Jones to Miami. His versatility is only matched up by Isaiah Simmons, but he can be just as good moving around as a S or a LB. Xavier McKinney can do it all and would be beloved by Cowboys fans for years to come.
1.18. MIA (via PIT): OT Josh Jones (Houston)
In 2019, the Dolphins allowed 57 sacks last season, more than any other team in the league. If the Dolphins find their franchise guy in Tua Tagovailoa, you cannot risk the chance for getting him hurt as soon as he gets into the league. Josh Jones was a four year starter in school and has all the athleticism in the world to help create a building block around protecting whoever is in the backfield for the foreseeable future.
1.19. LV (via CHI): WR Justin Jefferson (LSU)
Another major concern for the Raiders going into 2020 is the receiving core and as it currently stands, it’s highlighted by Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfroe, Zay Jones, and Nelson Agholor. Justin Jefferson was Joe Burrow’s go-to target in LSU’s historic 2019 season and there was a reason why it ended up with a national championship. Jefferson’s ball skills are only comparable to Ceedee Lamb in this entire draft class, and he can move around outside or the slot to give the Raiders a dynamic target that’s been needed since they traded away Amari Cooper to Dallas.
1.20. JAX (via LAR): IDL Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)
In what would be considered as a slide to many, Javon Kinlaw’s floor in this draft is here at #20. After losing the Mayor of Sacksonville, Calais Campbell, there’s now a giant hole inside the Jags defensive line in 2020. Javon Kinlaw’s speed and power out of the line of scrimmage would give the Jags something to smile about in hopes of developing the next Chris Jones or the former one half of the Jaguars Twin Towers Marcus Stroud, as TheDraftNetwork’s Joe Marino compared him to.
1.21. PHI: WR Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State)
The Philadelphia Eagles may have turned one of the most uninspiring secondaries in the NFL to one of the best in a short amount of time, as they traded for Darius Slay, added Nickell Robey-Coleman and moved Jalen Mills to S. However, on the opposite side of the ball, they are still looking for another consistent target for Carson Wentz to catch the football. Brandon Aiyuk would give the Eagles offense a whole other level of big play ability as Aiyuk can make things happen after the catch. The Eagles would have the most dangerous inside receiving duo with Aiyuk and Zack Ertz and would create nightmares for teams to gameplan week in and week out.
1.22. MIN (via BUF): EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU)
In what would be considered another surprising fall in this draft class. K’Lavon Chiasson would come in immediately to replace the departing veteran Everson Griffen. Chiasson’s explosiveness off the line of scrimmage would compliment well in the league, despite the lack of production in school. The physical gifts and skill set Chiasson would bring to the table would be too much for Minnesota to pass on at this stage of the draft.
1.23. NE: IOL Lloyd Cushenberry III (LSU)
Is the Patriots future QB in this draft class? After the historic career of Tom Brady leads him to Tampa, there is now a gigantic hole at the position in Foxborough. However, in this mock, New England decides to fix up another issue that plagued them in 2019, and that was interior offensive line play. Llyod Cushenberry III would give New England their C for years to come. His body control and quickness at the line of scrimmage would be something teams will salivate over, and help him be the first interior offensive linemen to be taken in this mock draft.
1.24. NO: LB Patrick Queen (LSU)
In another disappointing way to end the 2019 season, the hours are ticking on Drew Brees career, as this could be another spot for his replacement to be taken. However, the Saints also lack talent in the back three of the front seven for the team’s 4-3 defense. They should look down the road to Baton Rouge and select Queen, as his athleticism and explosiveness would be needed at the middle of the defense for the Saints.
1.25. MIN: CB Jeff Gladney (TCU)
Another hole for the Vikings to fix would be finding a replacement for Xavier Rhodes, who came off a very disappointing 2019 in the secondary. Jeff Gladney would be an ideal replacement for the Vikings secondary, as his ability to thrive in both man and zone coverage would give Mike Zimmer another nice building block to a secondary that needs to be retooled going up against WRs like Davante Adams, Kevin Golliday, and Allen Robinson.
1.26. MIA (via HOU): S Antoine Winfield Jr. (Minnesota)
With their third pick in the first round, Miami should go with a prospect that has some football IQ and pedigree after their mismanagement of Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary. No other S fits the bill in this case with Antoine Winfield Jr., as his father, Antoine Winfield Sr., was a three-time Pro Bowler himself as a CB. As a S however, Winfield Jr.’s ability to accurately time the correct moments to chase players down and lay explosive hits to the opposing offense would give Miami a much needed force to be reckoned with.
1.27. SEA: EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)
With the questions still surrounding the destination of Jadeveon Clowney, there would be a massive hole in the Seattle pass rush if he decides to go to another team in 2020. Yetur Gross-Matos is a high-ceiling prospect that would fit what the Seahawks would look for in an EDGE rusher, possessing the natural explosiveness and length they could polish to create another great pass rusher to a defense that needs to create pressure playing the likes of Jimmy Garroppolo, Kyler Murray, and Jared Goff for many years to come.
1.28. BAL: LB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
In probably a more disappointing exit to the postseason than the Saints, the Baltimore Ravens were exposed by an unstoppable monster in the name of Derrick Henry, as they struggled to tackle and slow him down, as it was a slow and painful death to end an impressive MVP season from their QB Lamar Jackson. Even after adding Calais Campbell from the Jaguars, they need help at the back four of their 3-4 front seven, as Kenneth Murray in the middle of their defense would give the team much needed athleticism, range, and physicality at the LB spot since the departure of CJ Mosley.
1.29. TEN: OT Lucas Niang (TCU)
The Tennessee Titans wasted no time in the offseason after their astonishing run to the AFC Championship game in 2019. They gave Ryan Tannehill a massive payday after leading the team to some of their best QB play in a while, as well as giving the franchise tag to Derrick Henry, who always seems unstoppable from November towards the end of the season. After losing Jack Conklin to the Browns, there is a major hole at the right side of the offensive line and that could be fixed immediately with the addition of Lucas Niang. The massive 6’7” and almost 330 pound Horned Frog has the size and athleticism that the Titans would desire for their power run offense.
1.30. GB: TE Brycen Hopkins (Purdue)
How many years does Aaron Rodgers have left in the tank? The NFL’s resident Bad Man will be 37 by the time the 2020 season is over and the many years of shots and missed opportunities will continue to shadow a career of a future Hall of Famer that’s somehow garnered only one Super Bowl victory. Giving Aaron Rodgers another valuable weapon should top the priorities for the Packers in this draft and they should give Brycen Hopkins a go at 30, as his phenomenal route running at the middle of the field would really complement the vertical abilities of Davante Adams for the offense.
1.31. SF: WR Denzel Mims (Baylor)
In one of the main reasons why the Niners could not get the job done in the Super Bowl last season, they did not have enough firepower once Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle were all shut down for the majority of the game. Denzel Mims would give San Francisco a WR that can go up and win as many 50-50 balls he desires, as his physicality will compliment well to the dangerous RAC abilities of Samuel and Kittle bring to the offense already.
1.32. KC: RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia)
In what could be the beginning of a terrifying dynasty, the Kansas City Chiefs host an offense that’s led by the most electric QB in NFL history in Patrick Mahomes. (Is it a stretch to say that about an upcoming fourth year player in the NFL?) In what would be an act of indulgence for the most dangerous offense in the NFL, D’Andre Swift would give the Chiefs another huge weapon for Kansas City. As a force either running or catching the football out of the backfield, the Chiefs would stabilize their RB depth chart and fill in the void Kareem Hunt left a couple of seasons prior.
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2020.04.04 22:49 Pacififlex First Round Mock Draft (1.0)

This is my first mock draft. Looking for some feedback, as I am no self-proclaimed expert.
My strategy was to place emphasis on overall quality of player first, and team positional need second. I also tried to predict some trades, because there are some that happen (and surprise us) every year.
1 Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
No surprises here. The best QB in the draft goes to the team who has clearly conveyed they are going to take a QB.
2 Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, OSU
Arguably the best player in the draft, Young plays at the one position that the Redskins don't need help with. They'll have to be content with him, however, as the other QB-needy teams behind them don't see a compelling reason to give up the capital required for No. 2. Meanwhile, Ron Rivera & co. stick with Haskins for at least one more year.
3 Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, OSU
Similar situation to Washington -- ideally, they'd trade back, but no suitors are found. The Lions take another premium player, but for them, it is at a position of dire need.
4 New York Giants: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Isaiah Simmons is a great athlete, but Gettleman must protect his young QB at all costs. Wirfs makes for a great pick. Admittedly, any of the top-mark OTs could go here -- in my eyes, at least three are interchangeable depending on an FO's opinion.
5 Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins fulfill the Tank for Tua prophecy in an obvious choice given the selections before them and positional need. Tua is my #2 QB in this class, and I think he'll be a great QB in the league for years to come.
6 Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
He's a controversial prospect, but let's not overthink this one. The Chargers moved on from Rivers and have made a minimal effort to fill that position in free agency. It's clear they are looking to draft a QB, but I'm not sure they care whether its Tagovailoa or Herbert. Therefore, Herbert is the pick here.
7 Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Look, the guy is a top-5 talent that gets pushed back a bit thanks to the run on QBs. He doesn't get past 7.
8 Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Young, talented QB? Check. Excellent WR corps? Check. Play-making RB? Check. Offensive line is both the logical choice and the best player available -- Wills is a great pick for Keim and Kliff.
9 Denver Broncos (from JAX): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Trade alert! Jacksonville has too many holes on defense to fill (as the media has heavily noted recently) for one pick to suffice. They make the move back as Elway gets tunnel vision on a stud wideout for his QB of the future, where they would have been otherwise out of range to grab him. Welcome to Denver, Jeudy.
10 Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
I'm no NFL scout, so my disclaimer on OTs applies here again -- the top four tackles could go in any order. Simmons may tempt the Browns, who have holes on defense, but they're going to take the best OL remaining at 10.
11 New York Jets: Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Non-Jets fans, can you name even two WRs on this team? They're among the squads Elway was looking to jump, and rightfully so. That's okay for them, though, as Lamb and Jeudy are neck and neck as prospects.
12 Las Vegas Raiders: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
WR is a clear need, and Ruggs III is still an option for LV. But Mayock loves his Clemson guys, and Simmons is among the best of them to come out in recent years. His inflated value following a standout combine will have some surprised that he falls out of the top 10, but his slide continues no further.
13 San Francisco 49ers: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
Bye bye Buckner, hello Kinlaw. An absolute beast in the trenches, Kinlaw replaces for the 49ers what once was lost.
14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Tampa Tom can't survive long without extra help. The last premium offensive lineman comes off the board here in a perfect need-meets-talent matchup.
15 Jacksonville Jaguars (from DEN): K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The defensive rebuild now begins for Jacksonville, and they are pleased to take one of the best players in the entire draft at 15. Chaisson will have to work on his play against the run, but for a team who let Calais Campbell walk, this is a necessary addition.
16 Philadelphia Eagles (from ATL): Henry Ruggs III
Another big trade! It's no secret Philadelphia needs a wideout. They'll jump 4 other teams who would have been tempted by the Alabama prospect to take him for themselves. No one is happier than Wentz.
17 Dallas Cowboys: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The Cowboys knew what they were doing when they signed Amari Cooper and let Byron Jones walk. With one of the most talented rosters in the entire league, DB is one of their weak spots, and Henderson can step right in as a day 1 starter.
18 Miami Dolphins: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Dolphins could go O-line here, but one look at the remaining prospects says they are not the best value at 18. Instead, a nice weapon is waiting for their young QB.
19 Las Vegas Raiders: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Look, I don't love the pick either. But thanks to the Eagles' trade up, Vegas is left having to reach. They absolutely must address WR in an early round, and here Mayock takes the best one remaining.
20 Jacksonville Jaguars: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Another much-needed piece to building back up that defense. Fulton provides a spark on the back end, and just like that, it's starting to look like Sacksonville could be back soon.
21 Atlanta Falcons (from PHI): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Safety isn't as big a need as corner is for the Falcons, but McKinney is in my eyes the best DB left by at least a head. Everyone knows the offense isn't the problem in Atlanta -- Dan Quinn can use McKinney that his defense might not be a problem either.
22 Minnesota Vikings: AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Talent meets need. Epenesa can be a strong force off one side of the line, replacing Everson Griffen for the Vikings. The duo of Epenesa and Danielle Hunter will be a force to be reckoned with.
23 New England Patriots: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
There's no doubt, the Patriots have some holes at the linebacker position following this offseason. Queen is an athletic specimen, and Belichick could get creative in the ways he is used.
24 Miami Dolphins (from NO): Austin Jackson, OT, USC
New Orleans safely moves down after not finding a great value for their positions of need. Enter: Miami, who uses a small portion of their draft assortment to make sure they get some much needed protection for Tua.
25 Minnesota Vikings: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Another hole on defense filled for Minnesota. They have to be happy with the way this draft has gone for them, given their pick positions. Gladney may not be as good as Fulton or Okudah, but he remains a solid pick for a team that would like to be able to trust their defense a bit more.
26 Tennessee Titans (from NO [from MIA]) Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Saints, in a similar position as before, trade back once more to accumulate more picks for life after Brees.
At this point in time, Clowney has not signed with either the Titans or the Seahawks. Tennessee takes matters into their own hands and leap-frogs Seattle, ensuring they get their guy. Gross-Matos is a monster addition for Vrabel's defense.
27 Indianapolis Colts (from SEA): Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Joke's on the Titans, because the Seahawks were morally obligated to trade backward anyway. This year, their trade suitor is the Colts, who intend on being too competitive to land Fields and Lawrence in next year's draft. They opt to take Love instead, who can learn under Rivers.
28 Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Ravens may have won the draft lottery here. Murray is the definition of a physical specimen, and the type of strong-nosed linebacker that Baltimore has been missing. It's a match made in heaven -- except for the rest of the AFC North.
29 New Orleans (from TEN): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Finally, the pick is made for New Orleans, and it's a respectable one. Mims can work well opposite Michael Thomas, providing a second option for Brees or whoever else the Saints are thinking about for the future.
30 Green Bay Packers: Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin
No first-round wide receivers are remaining here. Instead, Packers take the best player available and keep Baun home in Wisconsin. He's a smart, versatile player that could take up a number of roles on their defense.
31 San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The 49ers are reloading for another Super Bowl run, taking their stab at the best remaining defensive back. Delpit will undoubtedly provide a boost to what is probably the weakest unit on the team, although some are higher on him as a prospect than others.
32 Kansas City Chiefs: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
The Chiefs could go any number of directions here, but with the best interior o-lineman sitting at 32, and the cupboard relatively bare in other positions of need (namely, DB), Ruiz makes sense.
submitted by Pacififlex to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]


2020.03.28 12:00 drummerguy555 u/drummerguy555 & u/sbe003's COLLAB 2020 Mock Draft 28/3

Introduction

Hey everyone!
Over the last 3 days, Aussie fans u/sbe003 and I have used our extra time from #stayinghome to put together a mock draft with trades and write-ups for every team. We each took 16 teams and have spent quite a bit of time putting thought behind every pick. Just to be clear, this is what WE would do, NOT what we think will happen. So without further ado, here is the mock:
u/drummerguy555 & u/sbe003 COLLAB Mock Draft 28/3
Below are the write-ups for every team, explaining in-depth why we made every decision we did. Tell us what teams did the best, the worst and any other thoughts you have. I hope you all enjoy and stay safe!

Arizona Cardinals

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.08: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
3.72: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
After winning free agency by taking advantage of “The Teapot” (yes, that is really Bill O’Brien’s nickname), the Cardinals now have a killer WR1 on their team meaning taking the BPA available at a position of relative need is probably the best strategy. In this world, Brown fell to 8 and he will definitely help this Cardinals d-line.
The Cardinals also leave this draft with a solid corner in Jaylon Johnson who adds a quality body to that poor secondary.

Atlanta Falcons

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.16: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, Auburn
2.47: Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
3.78: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
Kinlaw falls to the Falcons at 16 and will be a great piece for that defensive line. Hunter Bryant is my favorite TE in this class and along with the newly-acquired Hayden Hurst, will try to fill the major hole that Hooper left behind in this offense. Malik Harrison is a solid Day 2 LB that this poor LB core could desperately use.

Baltimore Ravens

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.28: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
2.55: Marlon Davidson, EDGE, Auburn
2.60: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
3.92: Matt Hennessy, IOL, Temple
3.106: Bryce Huff, EDGE, Memphis
Baltimore is in need of a true slot receiver to give Lamar some throwing options, this is where K.J. Hamler comes in as a speedy slot guy with great hands. Marlon Davidson is another Day 2 favorite of mine, he can play both DT and EDGE at a very high level. Okwara was the BPA available for this team with few holes. Hennessey could provide an option at guard following Yanda’s retirement and Huff plays EXTREMELY physical football on tape - exactly what the Ravens look for in players to develop.

Buffalo Bills

GM: u/sbe003
2.54: Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State
3.86: Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa
Not a lot to say for Buffalo given a lot of their early-round selections were given up to acquire Stefon Diggs. In saying that, with Buffalo’s two picks I selected Willie Gay Jr. and Michael Ojemudia. Gay is an extremely athletic prospect who plays with urgency and has the ceiling to develop into an every-down option. He is someone who can strengthen Buffalo’s already quite strong linebacking core and provide a replacement for recently retired Lorenzo Alexander. With Buffalo’s third-round pick I selected Michael Ojemudia. Buffalo doesn’t really have a notable CB outside of Tre White. While Ojemudia may not make an immediate impact, he has the tools and traits to develop into an adequate year 2/3 starter.

Carolina Panthers

GM: u/sbe003
1.07: Isaiah Simmons, Def. Weapon, Clemson
2.38: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
3.69: Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama
Carolina is a team with no identity at the moment, with the early retirement of Luke Kuechly and the departure of familiar faces Cam Newton and Greg Olsen, the Panthers are a rebuilding team. With that being said, I picked Isaiah Simmons with Carolina’s first-round pick. Simmons is a physical freak and a player who could probably play any position on defense if he wanted to. Simmons can come in day 1 and make an immediate impact in filling the Kuechly shaped hole left in that defense. With the second and third-round picks I turned more to the trenches. I took Austin Jackson with Carolina’s second pick. A decent lineman out of USC who could develop into a nice piece for Carolina in years to come. With the third pick, I took Raekwon Davis, a DT who can help depth on Carolina’s D-line and fit in as a good rotational piece on the interior.

Chicago Bears

GM: u/sbe003
2.43: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
2.50: Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
With Chicago giving not only a lot of last year’s draft capital but also a lot of this year’s draft capital to acquire the services of Khalil Mack I was only left with 2 second-round picks. I’d like to thank the Lions GM for choosing to draft Lynn Bowden, which meant Brandon Aiyuk fell right into my lap 3 picks later. Aiyuk provides a much-needed WR2 for Mitch Trubisky and serves as someone who can complement Allen Robinson quite well. While there are still some inconsistencies with his route technique and hands, Aiyuk brings an exciting skillset to the table and big-play ability, something which the Bears seemed to lack last year. With the second pick for the Bears, I selected Curtis Weaver. Someone with a high football IQ and provides Chicago with another talented player on that stacked front 7.

Cincinnati Bengals

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.01: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2.33: Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
After securing Joe Burrow, I took Ruiz with the Bengals as he is definitely the best IOL prospect in this class and is a nice piece to have for protecting Burrow and helping Mixon. Hall is a very underrated prospect that will help this ailing defense.

Cleveland Browns

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.10: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
2.41: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
3.74: Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida
3.97: Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida
It was the best tackle available for me here and luckily it happened to be my favorite tackle in this class, Andrew Thomas. Thomas has been a victim of over-analyzing and overthinking in my opinion - his technique and polish make him extremely pro-ready. He will fit in well in Cleveland as a Day 1 starter.
Continuing to bolster this o-line in the hopes of enabling this stacked offense to unlock its full potential, I took Lucas Niang who is an extremely athletic tackle with lots of upside.
BPA for the next two picks happened to be a pair of Edges from Florida in Jonathan Greenard (in love with his arms/length) and Jabari Zuniga who will give this d-line some quality depth.

Dallas Cowboys

GM: u/sbe003
TRADE: 1.17 for 1.20, 3.73
1.20: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
2.51: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
3.73: Nick Harris, IOL, Washington
3.82: Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
With Dallas’ pick, I selected LSU CB Kristian Fulton. The obvious successor to Byron Jones, Fulton has smooth feet, fluid hips, refined technique, tremendous awareness and the physicality needed to become a shutdown corner in the NFL. With the second pick, I took S Antoine Winfield Jr. from Minnesota. His 2017 and 2018 campaigns were marred by injury. However, when we got to see him throughout the 2019 season, simply put he was dominant. Winfield is a highly aggressive, urgent football player and has the upside to become an impact starter in Dallas.
With Dallas’ third and fourth picks I went with IOL Nick Harris and WR Bryan Edwards. While Harris probably can’t replace Travis Fredericks, he provides depth at IOL and could be a starting option with a bit of time. Edwards provides Dak Prescott with another strong option and added depth to a receivers room that lost Randall Cobb to free agency.

Denver Broncos

GM: u/sbe003
1.15: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
2.46: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
3.77: Jordan Elliott, IDL, Missouri
3.83: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
3.95: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
I was really hoping Henry Ruggs fell to pick 15 but unfortunately the Eagles decided to step in and make pick 15 just a little bit harder. I wasn’t really willing to reach on a receiver at 15 and there weren't any trade back options so with the Broncos’ first-round pick I decided to address CB given the recent departure of Chris Harris Jr. to the division rival Chargers. With pick 15 I selected C.J. Henderson. Henderson has size, length, fluidity, quickness, speed and coverage instincts give him a chance to be a top corner that is tasked with shutting down the opposition's top receiver, someone who can become the No. 1 corner on that Denver depth chart.
With the Broncos’ second pick I decided to address WR and take Tee Higgins. Personally, I don’t buy into Higgins’ late 1stround projections. However, when he was still on the board midway through the 2nd I had to take him. He has excellent ball skills, hands and the ability to position himself favorably to win at the catch point. His concentration and body control are highly impressive.
With the third, fourth and fifth picks, I addressed IDL, OT and LB. Positions that the Broncos could improve and Trey Adams, Jordan Elliot and Akeem Davis-Gaither could all develop into viable starters/rotation players.

Detroit Lions

GM: u/drummerguy555
TRADE: 1.03 for 1.05, 1.18, 3,70
1.05: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
1.18: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
TRADE: 2.35 for 2.40, 3.90
2.40: Lynn Bowden Jr., WR, Kentucky
3.67: Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU
3.70: Noah Igbinoghehe, CB, Auburn
3.85: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
3.90: Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
There’s a lot to break down here:
The Lions trade back and still get their guy. Okudah is the latest product of Ohio State’s secondary which has given birth to some outstanding players like Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward, Eli Apple among others and Okudah just might be the best of them. Epenesa is another underrated prospect in my opinion and getting him at 18 is great value.
Yeah, you read that right. Lynn f*cking Bowden Jr. in the 2nd round. The true swiss-army knife player is one of the most dynamic players to come out in a while and I think come draft day teams will be very interested in him, shooting him up boards. The Lions could use the playmaking ability and versatility as a WRB/QB/CB? for Wildcat formation, end-arounds, sweeps, etc. He will find a home as a Taysom Hill-like gadget player with loads more speed but lacking in the throwing department. Besides, after trading back the Lions can afford to be a little risky here.
As far as the rest of the draft, Cushenberry is a nice piece for that interior o-line, Igbinoghene will help their secondary, Edwards-Helaire provides a versatile and reliable three-down back with great value towards the end of the 3rd round and Dye is certainly a startable player with a great ceiling.

Green Bay Packers

GM: u/sbe003
TRADE: 1.23 for 1.30, 4.136, 2021 GB 2nd
1.23: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
2.62: Jacob Eason, QB, Washington\
3.94: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
The Packers need to give Aaron Rodgers more weapons. It was abundantly obvious after the last 2 seasons that Rodgers simply doesn’t trust any of his receivers outside of Davante Adams. Hence with the Packer’s first-round pick I selected Jalen Reagor. Reagor is a dynamic football player with blazing speed and rapid acceleration that makes him a big-play threat in the passing game. He’s creative, explosive and an overall speed mismatch, providing Aaron Rodgers with a much needed no2 receiver.
With the Packer’s second pick I selected Jacob Eason. Yes, Jacob Eason the quarterback out of Washington. Looking back on it, not sure if this was the smartest pick now that I realize Rodgers still has at least 4 years left in Green Bay. However, Eason does have a big arm and with some grooming could become a polished starter that could take over from Aaron Rodgers if the opportunity presents itself and that’s a big if. With the packer’s third pick I selected OT Isaiah Wilson, someone who could provide a replacement to Bryan Bulaga.

Houston Texans

GM: u/sbe003
TRADE: 2.35 for 2.40, 3.90
2.35: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
2.57: Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
Houston wasn’t in the best position to really do anything in this draft. Wonder why Bill O’Brien? Either way, with the minimal draft capital I had, I selected WR Denzel Mims and EDGE Bradlee Anae. Mims has the upside to start and be a highly productive weapon for an NFL offense given his natural athleticism, physicality and good catch radius. While he is nowhere near a replacement for Deandre Hopkins he does provide some small amount of compensation. With the second pick, I took Bradlee Anae, who could become a viable starter on that somewhat formidable D-Line.

Indianapolis Colts

GM: u/drummerguy555
2.34: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
2.44: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
2.75: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
With their first pick at 34, Laviska Shenault falls to them giving Rivers a shifty playmaker to use. While many have dropped Dantzler down their boards after his combine performance, I still believe he is a very good option for a second-round corner based on his excellent tape from Mississippi State. Finally, Rivers is only here for a year so Fromm can sit and learn behind the hall of famer for a year before getting his shot. He is my QB5 and I think he could work very well in Indy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

GM: u/sbe003
TRADE: 1.09 for 1.23, 3.98, 4.25, 2020 NE 1st
TRADE: 1.17 for 1.20, 3.73
1.17: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
TRADE: 1.23 for 1.30, 4.136, 2021 GB 2nd
1.30: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
2.42: Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma
3.98: Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Jacksonville had quite a lot of draft capital in this year’s draft thanks to the Jalen Ramsey that sent him to L.A. Jacksonville saw a lot of trading action in the first round. First trading back with the Patriots, sending pick 9 to New England in exchange for pick 23, a 2021 1st, pick 98 and pick 125. I then traded up with the cowboys to acquire K’Lavon Chaisson who has a toolbox that is overflowing with explosive burst, freaky bend and a motor that never runs idle. His foundation to work from in terms of developing his pass rush skill set is rare and he provides another edge rusher to complement Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue.
With Jacksonville's second 1st round pick, I again traded back, this time with Green Bay. At pick 30 I selected Trevon Diggs who excels in press and zone coverage and profiles as a nice starting boundary corner. While he may not be ‘the guy’ to replace Jalen Ramsey, he certainly provides some much-needed help to a depleted secondary. With Jacksonville’s 3rd pick I selected DT Neville Gallimore, a big man who could provide a replacement for Calais Campbell on that D-Line. Safety Ashytn Davis was the 4th pick for Jacksonville, again someone who could help bolster that depleted secondary.

Kansas City Chiefs

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.32: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
2.63: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
3.96: Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
The reigning super bowl champs solidify their LB core with Patrick Queen, the speedy defender from LSU. Dobbins falls all the way to 63 where the Chiefs pick him up to get a workhorse back for years to come. Finally, this WR adds another speedster in Devin Duvernay (Kyler Murray’s cousin) who will open yet another option for Mahomes.

Las Vegas Raiders

GM: u/sbe003
1.12: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
1.19: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
3.80: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
3.81: Ben Bartch, OT, Houston
3.91: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
Still feels a bit weird to say the Las Vegas Raiders but either way, with Las Vegas’ first 1stround pick I selected CeeDee Lamb. Lamb profiles as No. 1 wide receiver at the next level that can be the focal point of the passing attack. He’s a threat at all levels of the field with great body control, ball skills, hands and instincts and provides Derek Carr or whichever QB Gruden decides to use with a No. 1 wide receiver in a receiver room that leaves a bit to be desired.
With the second 1st round pick I selected Grant Delpit out of LSU. Delpit brings a lot to the table and he projects favorably to becoming a high-impact safety in the NFL. He’s versatile, physical, urgent, smart, athletic and his skill set is perfect for matching up against the pace and space present in today’s NFL offenses and provides Las Vegas with someone to start at the Free Safety spot across from last year’s 1st round pick Jonathan Abram.
With Las Vegas’ third pick I selected Jalen Hurts. I’m not entirely convinced John Gruden wants to keep Derek Carr around much longer and I think Hurts might be his guy. Whether Hurts would become the starting QB within a year or two is a complete mystery but his play at Oklahoma this past year was exceptional and he provides a good dual-threat skillset. With Las Vegas’ last two picks in round 3, I chose OT Ben Bartch and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones with both players providing more depth on offense for Gruden and the Raiders.

Los Angeles Chargers

GM: u/sbe003
1.06: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
2.37: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
3.71: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
With the Chargers officially breaking up with Phillip Rivers over the summer, they have been in search of a new franchise QB and while for now they claim Tyrod Taylor will be the starter going into the 2020 season I’m not really convinced by that. So with the Chargers first pick I chose QB Justin Herbert. Herbert has every physical gift desirable in a quarterback prospect. His peaks are incredibly exciting and his starting point for his NFL career is at a good place given his improvements from 2018 to 2019. Herbert could be L.A’s new franchise QB and maybe this time the Chargers can actually get to a Super Bowl?
With the Charger’s second and third picks I selected CB Jeff Gladney and WR Chase Claypool. Looking back on the Gladney pick, I’m not necessarily annoyed but I realize CB is less of a need currently given the recent signing of Chris Harris Jr. However, Gladney is a versatile cornerback whose skill set in man coverage is really exciting. His rapid footwork, smooth hips, physicality, speed and route mirroring skills make him a dynamic option in man, soft press and off-man coverage, providing the Chargers with a more long term option at CB. Chase Claypool provides a big physical red-zone target for Justin Herbert and should have a good role in that offense alongside Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry.

Los Angeles Rams

GM: u/drummerguy555
2.52: Matthew Peart, OT, UConn
3.84: Zack Moss, RB, Utah
3.104: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
The Rams take Matthew Peart with their first selection, a beast of a human who needs time to develop but has massive upside. Luckily, Andrew Whitworth won’t be around forever but he does have time to mentor Peart into an excellent tackle for when he’s gone.
With Gurley released, the Rams backfield has become somewhat of a mystery, by taking Moss here, the Rams get a do-it-all back for a cheap price. Moss has become one of my favorite running backs in this class and will fit well in a Rams scheme that uses RB’s fairly regularly. Finally, with the loss of Cory Littleton in free agency to the Raiders, the Rams take Jordyn Brooks to give them some LB depth.

Miami Dolphins

GM: u/drummerguy555
TRADE: 1.03 for 1.05, 1.18, 3.70
1.03: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
1.26: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
2.39: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
2.56: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Miami traded up to take my QB1 in this class, Tua Tagovailoa. The rebuilding Miami has put together an excellent coaching staff, lots of young talent and added solid franchise players in free agency. Securing their QB for the future is the next step and Tua is a great fit to sit behind Fitzmagic (the only player over 30 on the Dolphins) and learn for a bit. While Miami did pay a steep price, it is for a top 3 pick and rights to a special talent at QB.
At 26, Miami needs to protect Tua and Josh Jones is a great fit - he’s big but surprisingly nimble with decent technique. In the first of Miami’s 2nd round selections, I took the first running back off the board, D’Andre Swift, who fell all the way to 39. Swift can rush, catch, block - all really, really well. A good 3 down back is a rookie QB’s best friend and that’s the type of support Swift will provide. With the 56th pick, I went BPA with Terrell Lewis. He’s a nice piece in building this defense for the future. Hopefully, these picks serve as a fundamental step in creating the New Miami Patriots, oops I mean Dolphins.

Minnesota Vikings

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.22: Ross Blacklock, IDL, TCU
1.25: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
2.58: Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
3.89: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
3.105: Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
With the 22nd pick, Minnesota took TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. Blacklock has quickly become one of my favorite prospects in this draft and I’ve written on this sub lately about how much he excites me. Minnesota secures a quality starter for a decade here.
Another sleeper of mine (and quite a few others) is A.J. Terell who the Vikings selected at 25 to bolster their aging secondary. Luckily now, the Vikings have got rid of the literal piece of burnt toast that was Xavier Rhodes (PFF’s 112th ranked corner out of 115 - 2020 Pro Bowler LMFAO). In his place Terrell’s ultra-competitive spirit and mental toughness will fit in well and along with Harrison Smith, will return this secondary back into one of the NFL’s elite.
At 58, the Vikings grab Prince Tega Wanogho who will definitely help the Vikings struggles at o-line. With 89, I continued to support their secondary with Jeremy Chinn who will provide a quality body in that safety room. To finish off, I took Florida’s Van Jefferson for some speed to go along with Thielen.

New England Patriots

GM: u/drummerguy555
TRADE: 1.09 for 1.23, 3.98, 4.25, 2020 NE 1st
1.09: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
3.87: Nick Coe, EDGE, Auburn
3.100: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Many will not agree with the moves I made with the Patriots which is fine, this is just what I would do. I think the Patriots have a few options but all of them include getting a new QB whether that be Cam, Love, Fromm or Lawrence (these are the ones I think are good fits in NE) - they can’t waste this still excellent roster with Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham at QB. They all have their benefits - Cam could return to an MVP level and revitalize this Patriots offense, Fromm is very similar to Brady in playstyle and therefore will fit seamlessly into this system as a Day 1 starter and Lawrence is my favorite prospect since Luck. However, I think the Patriots window is still very open and I would like to see them make moves to compete this year. That’s why I have them trading up to the 9th pick to select Jordan Love. He has one of the nicest throwing motions I’ve ever seen and true MVP potential. His dual-threat ability will bring some life into this offense and put the Patriots in a great position to retain the AFC East and compete for another Super Bowl.
With the 87th pick, I have the Patriots taking Nick Coe from Auburn. With experience all over the d-line at Auburn, I’m sure Belichick will find a way to utilize his talents. Finally, the Patriots still need a TE after Gronk’s retirement and Kmet’s athleticism makes him a great value pick at pick 100.

New Orleans Saints

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.24: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
3.88: Evan Weaver, LB, California
While Emmanuel Sanders is the best receiver they’ve had line up across from Michael Thomas since Brandin Cooks, in all honesty, I don’t think he’s the answer there - more of a solid WR3 then a WR2. So with the 24th pick, I took the local kid Justin Jefferson who is basically a fresher and quicker Emmanuel Sanders. This gives the Saints an elite WR core that any secondary will have an extremely tough time covering.
With pick 88, I took Evan Weaver, an underrated LB from Cal that will provide an option in the future for this aging LB core. Hopefully, this draft is enough to get the Saints over the hump and send Brees off with another ring.

New York Giants

GM: u/sbe003
1.04: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
TRADE: 1.31 for 2.36, 3.99, 5.150
1.31: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
With New York’s first pick I toyed with the idea of taking Isaiah Simmons. However, Daniel Jones, Dave Gettleman’s golden boy needs to be protected. The Giants O-Line is subpar, so with New York’s first selection, I took Tristan Wirfs, someone who was an incredibly high riser after a dominant combine performance. Wirfs is a powerful man with impressive mobility that should make him an asset in the run game and out in space and has the upside to become one of the better offensive linemen in the game. He’ll most likely slot in at right tackle but could also swing over to the interior and play guard.
With New York’s second pick, I chose to trade up with the 49ers to pick 31. With this pick, I selected S Xavier McKinney. McKinney is a versatile defensive back that can fill multiple roles at a high level for an NFL defense. Whether it’s deep zones, man coverage from the slot or lining up close to the line of scrimmage, McKinney can execute. He showcases good processing speed, functional athleticism and the size needed to perform. He can bolster New York’s awful secondary and become a starting safety in New York for years to come.

New York Jets

GM: u/drummerguy555
1.11: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
2.48: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
3.68: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
3.79: Joshua Uche, EDGE, Michigan
For me, the O-line is by far the biggest need for the Jets and while I usually believe in BPA, the Jets really, really need o-line help. That’s why the Jets pass on Jeudy and Lamb at 11 and take the best RT in this class, Jedrick Wills. A little raw but with great athleticism, he will protect Darnold for many years to come.
At 48, I continued to support this O-line with Ezra Cleveland - the athletic freak from Boise State. With the highest relative pSPARQ percentile of any prospect at this year’s combine, I went back to his tape to find a prospect with surprisingly good technique. Hopefully, he will develop into a great tackle to go along with Wills and give the Jets a solid start at rebuilding this o-line.
At 68, I decided to address WR with Tyler Johnson who gives Darnold a nice option outside and with 79 I went BPA with Joshua Uche off the edge.

Philadelphia Eagles

GM: u/drummerguy555
TRADE: 1.14 for 1.21, 3.103, 2021 PHI 2nd
1.14: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
2.53: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
With corner finally sorted out after missing out on Ramsey, the eagles can focus on building their WR core. In the few games Desean Jackson played, we saw how beneficial it is to Carson Wentz and this offense when there’s a speedy deep threat on the field. That’s why I’m trading up to 14 with the Eagles to select the lightning-quick Henry Ruggs II, sniping the Broncos in the process.
The Eagles decided to let 3-time pro bowler Malcolm Jenkins go leaving a hole in their coverage unit. Selecting Kyle Dugger at 53 solves this problem as the huge but speedy safety from Lenoir Rhyne can fly around the field for the Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers

GM: u/drummerguy555
2.49: Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State
3.102: Khalid Kareem, EDGE, Notre Dame
I decided to take Netane Muti with pick 49 whose athleticism and versatility help protect Big Ben and support whoever is running the ball in Pittsburgh. With pick 102, I went BPA with Khalid Kareem off the edge to give the Steelers some options on the d-line.

San Francisco 49ers

GM: u/sbe003
1.13: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
TRADE: 1.31 for 2.36, 3.99, 5.150
2.36: Tyler Biadasz, IOL, Wisconsin
3.99: Leki Fotu, IDL, Utah
With San Fran’s first pick I selected WR Jerry Jeudy. Trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts was a move that I didn’t necessarily like but it was the right move to make and if San Fran can land Jerry Jeudy in the draft it will almost certainly make up for the loss of Buckner. Jeudy projects as a true No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL that a passing game can be funneled through. Alabama lined him up all across the formation and he features the versatility to do the same in the NFL and not restrict the offensive scheme. One can only imagine what kinds of things Kyle Shanahan might get up to with Jerry Jeudy in his offense.
With the Niner’s second pick I traded out of pick 31 and picked up picks 36, 99 and 150 from the Giants. With pick 36 I took IOL Tyler Biadasz. I really thought about taking CB here but I figured with a team that revolved so heavily around the run, the interior offensive line was really lacking. Biadasz is a powerful run blocker and a wall in pass protection. He’s outstanding on the move and his football intelligence shines. He is someone that will anchor the Niners' offensive line for years to come. With the third pick, I selected DT Leki Fotu, who provides even more depth to that still monstrous defensive line even with the loss of DeForest Buckner.

Seattle Seahawks

GM: u/sbe003
1.27: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
2.59: Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin
2.64: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
3.101: Shane Lemieux, IOL, Oregon
With the Seahawks I went pretty much all defense, helping to rebuild that unit to mirror at least some remnant of its former Legion of Boom moniker. With Seattle’s first pick I selected Yetur Gross-Matos. Gross-Matos has every quality needed to become a dynamic pass rusher and run defender at the next level. His blend of burst, length, size, power and fluidity is impressive and his deployment of his traits leads to disruptive moments. He can provide a more dominant presence on a defensive line that lost a few pieces to free agency.
With the next 2 picks, I went back to defense selecting CB Damon Arnette and EDGE Zach Baun. Both players provide good depth and could develop into nice rotational pieces. I do believe of the two, Baun could develop into a very nice starter and one who could fill in at linebacker for Jadeveon Clowney who may or may not be returning to Seattle nobody really knows at this point. I selected IOL Shane Lemieux with the Seahawks fourth pick. Again, for a team that is very run-heavy they lost a lot of key pieces on the O-Line through free agency, Lemieux can help depth on the O-Line and be a potential starter at guard for the Seahawks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

GM: u/sbe003
TRADE: 1.14 for 1.21, 3.103, 2021 PHI 2nd
1.21: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
2.45: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
3.76: Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M
3.103: Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
Tampa Bay got their guy. Tom Brady is coming to Tampa for the next 2 years and possibly beyond. Whether he stays after those two years who knows? However, with that in mind, Tampa Bay needs to protect Brady and give him a defense which he can somewhat rely on. With Tampa’s first pick I took Mekhi Becton. I traded down with the Eagles as the top 3 tackle prospects I wanted were all gone by 14. However, Becton was still available at pick 21. A massive man, Becton has the playing strength expected for a man of his stature which he combines with a maulers mentality that leads to gaping holes in the run game. In pass protection, Becton has smoother feet than expected and tremendous length that helps him maintain the width of the pocket. Becton is sure to be a solid starter on the O-Line helping Tom Brady and that non-existent run game. Speaking of the run game, with Tampa’s second pick I took RB Jonathan Taylor. Ronald Jones ain’t it chief. Taylor can come in day 1 and be the bell-cow back in Arians’ offense. He averaged over 2,000 years a season at Wisconsin and has a rare blend of size, burst and power. Taylor is someone who is sure to succeed in the Bruce Arians system. With Tampa’s next 2 picks I selected DT Justin Madubuike and EDGE Darrell Taylor. Two prospects that can shore up Tampa’s front seven and become good starters in the near future.

Tennessee Titans

GM: u/sbe003
1.29: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
2.61: Jack Driscoll, OT, Auburn
3.93: Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA
With the Titans' first pick, I decided to go with the best player available and select LB Kenneth Murray. Murray is a tone-setter on the second level, he’s an urgent, aggressive and physical defender with outstanding range. He plays with an unrelenting motor and flies all over the field in pursuit. With the Titans second pick, I selected OT Jack Driscoll. Driscoll is a decent tackle coming out of Auburn with outstanding technique but lacking in athleticism and could provide as a solid replacement for Jack Conklin. With the Titans third pick I selected CB Darnay Holmes. He provides solid depth to a bit of a lackluster corner group, whether Holmes would really make an impact as a starter is hard to say.

Washington Redskins

GM: u/sbe003
1.02: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
3.66: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
With the 2nd overall selection, there have been grumblings coming out of Washington that they’d be picking a QB, I don’t really buy it and I’d prefer if Haskins didn’t turn into Josh Rosen 2.0. So with Washington’s first pick, I made the obvious selection of DE Chase Young. Do I really need to say a lot about this pick? Young is a beast. He profiles as an instant impact edge defender with the upside to become one of the NFL's most prolific defensive playmakers. He’s polished, powerful, athletic and features every desirable physical trait needed to excel in the NFL.
With Washington’s second pick I selected Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman was pretty good at USC. He has a massive catch radius and features a long, stocky frame with outstanding hands. He’s physical in everything he does and defensive backs will be challenged with his blend of size, strength and ball skills. He could provide Washington with a solid No. 2 receiver for Haskins, who outside of Terry McLaurin doesn’t really have a lot of weapons.

Thanks for reading (however much of the 6100 words you did). We had a great time making this and can't wait for the draft! :)
submitted by drummerguy555 to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]


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