jimmy garoppolo

NFL worst to first candidates for 2018

The NFL is wildly popular in America for many reasons. One of the biggest is that it is the only mainstream American sport where it is not all that uncommon for a team to go from really bad to really good in a very short amount of time. The Super Bowl champion Eagles as well as the Jaguars finished at the bottom of their respective divisions in 2016 before winning them last year.

Also, it is not like teams like the Bills and Saints were on everyone’s radar as far as contending last year either. Still, the worst to first turnaround is most impressive. There are three teams with a realistic shot at doing what the Eagles and Jags did last year.

Denver Broncos: The AFC West is pretty unique headed in to 2018. It is not difficult to imagine any one of the four teams winning it, or finishing last. A lot depends on whether or not two-time defending division champion Kansas City misses a beat in the transition to Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. The former first-round pick is basically a rookie apart from a throwaway start at the end of last season.

The addition of Case Keenum gives the Broncos some long-sought and much-needed stability at the quarterback position. Even if he regresses closer to the player he was prior to last year in Minnesota, he is certainly an upgrade over what Denver put on the field at that spot last year. Only Cleveland had more turnovers than the Broncos in 2017. A quarterback carousel was not the only reason for this but was certainly the biggest factor.

Bradley Chubb

Photo: milehighreport.com

If Keenum only raises the turnover numbers to the middle of the pack, Denver will be a much better football team in 2018. A defense that was top five in both rushing and passing yards allowed last year got younger and hungrier with the addition of Bradley Chubb up front and the departure of Aqib Talib at the back end.

The Broncos also spent another offseason taking a big swing at improving the offensive line. They are counting on veterans to stay healthy and youngsters to improve. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas saw their production drop off last year, but Keenum showed last year he can get the ball to talented wide receivers. With the improvements made and the question marks that surround their division rivals, the Broncos could be in for a very quick turnaround.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are going to win the NFC West this year. They won five games in a row once midseason acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo was inserted as the starting quarterback to finish out the season. This included defeating three playoff teams. The most impressive showing was putting up 40+ points on a Jacksonville defense that carried that team to within an eyelash of the Super Bowl.

Everyone has been singing the praises of the Rams all offseason long. However, the Jared Goff/Sean McVay offense took everyone by surprise last year. Whenever that happens, defensive coordinators always adjust the next year. Then, the offense either readjusts or never gets back to where it was. The same thing happened with the Wildcat offense in Miami as well as the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys. The Wildcat vanished almost as quickly as it appeared and this year will be the moment of truth for Prescott as an NFL quarterback.

For the Rams, this is the year where the offense regresses a little bit. We will see what Goff and McVay come up with in 2019. Los Angeles added some very splashy names on defense.

However, when you put that many strong personalities on one side of the ball, it is going to backfire. Los Angeles is a horrible place for guys like Talib and Marcus Peters to go. Their previous teams could not wait to unload them and it wasn’t because they are not good football players. To think those guys are going to be on their best behavior in Los Angeles is just plain dumb.

Seattle’s roster is a complete mess outside of Russell Wilson and Arizona is starting over as a franchise. Neither team will be a factor in the division race. San Francisco’s roster outside of Garoppolo is not full of household names.

The former Tom Brady understudy completed 67% of his passes and went 5-0 as a starter for a team that had won one game without him. Imagine what the 49ers can do with an entire off-season to build around their franchise quarterback.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven to be one of the league’s finest quarterback gurus in recent years. What those two are capable of doing together is flat out scary. The small sample size for Garoppolo is worrisome, but his toughest challenge should be being thrown on the field with last year’s awful team. He passed with flying colors.

 

Houston Texans: This one probably has the most ifs attached to it, but it is very intriguing. Prior to getting injured last year, then rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson had Houston looking like Super Bowl contenders. He threw 16 touchdown passes in one month and went toe to toe with Brady and Wilson on the road.

DeShaun Watson

Photo: slate.com

Blake Bortles is still Blake Bortles. If the Jacksonville defense is even slightly less dominant than it was last year, that team will take a step back. Tennessee has similar limitations at quarterback with Marcus Mariota. You can only go so far ranked 23rd in pass yards per game.

If Watson can stay healthy on offense along with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on defense, it is sure going to be fun to see what this team is truly capable of. The Colts are capable of a similar turnaround in the same division if Andrew Luck stays healthy.

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NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

With the NFL Draft beginning later today, all of the rumors of the the last few months will finally be shown to be either true or false. Today we cut through the noise and misdirection employed by many of the NFL’s teams and give a reasonable summary of some things to expect in this upcoming draft. To be more specific, who could slide and become a bargain, and who could be selected earlier than expected?

Sliders

Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen is the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft, playing in three separate pro-style offenses at UCLA. He knows much of the terminology used in the NFL as a result.

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

Josh Rosen (Photo from AP)

However, with Sam Darnold the likely first overall pick in the draft and Baker Mayfield looking like he may have jumped up to be the second quarterback selected, Rosen could be left in a bit of a free fall. In addition to all of this, if a team becomes enamored with Josh Allen, he could be selected before Rosen. Therefore, it is not out of the question that he could fall all the way until the Miami Dolphins take him at the 11th pick.

Look for a team like Arizona to trade up to 10th to get ahead of the Dolphins if Rosen does slide. Overall, a slide on draft day might work out in Rosen’s favor. This is because he could end up on a team with a much higher talent level. For example, the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are much better than a team like the New York Jets.

Antonio Callaway

News recently broke about Callaway testing positive for marijuana in his combine drug test. Callaway was considered a high upside day-2 pick. However, now he could be a late-round pick or even undrafted.

Callaway has the talent of a first-round prospect. This is offset by the fact that he has a poor reputation. He has already faced significant concerns off the field regarding a sexual assault allegation and drug misdemeanor charges. Although he was eventually cleared of wrongdoing in the sexual assault case, many people worry because the investigator looking into the incident was also a Gators football booster.

Callaway should still be selected. An NFL team would be hard-pressed to overlook the talent of a prospect who, minus the character concerns, could have been a day-1 selection.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick is a very talented defensive back. The issue that could cause him to slide is that teams may value Derwin James over Fitzpatrick. This is because James is more athletic and versatile. This is supported by the fact that Fitzpatrick may have been a little overhyped as a top-10 lock, especially when not many teams in the top 10 are looking for a defensive back. There also may be a rush for quarterbacks in the top 10, forcing top prospects at other positions to slide back.

Risers

Josh Sweat

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

Josh Sweat (Photo from Glenn Beil of USA Today)

Pass rushers are valued at a premium in the NFL. The only position considered more important by evaluators is quarterback.

Josh Sweat went to Florida State as a five-star prospect and has all the athletic tools to become a dominant pass rusher. He stands at 6-foot-5 with long arms and a 4.53 40 time, which projects well for his ability at the next level. Main concerns about Sweat are his thin frame and injury history.

If we have learned anything in the last few drafts, it is that teams are willing to overlook some problems. Recent years of the draft have shown us many teams reach for a guy whose potential they believe in. In 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Marcus Smith in the end of the first round despite his thin frame. In last year’s draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Taco Charlton at the end of the first round regardless of concerns about him. This year could be similar with Josh Sweat sneaking into the end of the first round.

Baker Mayfield

Over the last few weeks, we have seen Heisman winner Baker Mayfield rise from being projected in the mid to late teens. Now he is seen as a potential top-five pick. Originally, many thought he would not be selected early due to his size and character concerns. However, rumors have recently surfaced that Mayfield was being considered by the Browns at first overall. Plus, many well-informed insiders have been projecting him to be drafted in the top five or top 10.

Courtland Sutton

Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley has been considered the top receiver in this year’s draft for the most part. After a middling combine performance that failed to build hype, concern has been voiced about Ridley’s size and athleticism.

In addition, Courtland Sutton had a very nice combine performance and has prototypical size at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds. This means that he could rise up and surprise as the first receiver selected in the NFL draft. He has even been endorsed by the all-time best receiver Jerry Rice through a tweet on April 23.

Justin Reid

NFL Draft Day sliders and risers

Justin Reid at the NFL Combine. (Photo by Pats Pulpit)

Reid is an athletic playmaker at the safety position. He is able to play a center fielder type role as well as cover the slot. He could actually be the best center fielding safety in this whole draft.

Teams will see this, and a team who needs a cover safety as opposed to an enforcer type box safety could draft him towards the end of the first. At that point in the draft, many teams are looking to grab players they think will not last through the beginning of the second round. Teams to look out for are the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

In the end, just like every year, this draft is sure to have some major surprises that no one saw coming. It will be interesting to see who will rise and fall this year.

 

Featured image from Yahoo Sports

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NFL draft trades

Intriguing NFL draft-day trades

All the waiting and anticipation is almost over. Only one more day until the 2018 NFL Draft begins and all our questions are answered. That is why today, we will be listing some potential NFL Draft trades that you should look out for once the draft comes around.

Denver Broncos trade the fifth overall pick to the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins or Arizona Cardinals

NFL draft trades

Four of the quarterbacks projected to go in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. (Photo from Sporting News)

All of these teams could trade up to draft their signal caller of the future, especially if Josh Rosen from UCLA or Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma are still available, as at least one should be. The Buffalo Bills possess the 12th and 22nd picks in this year’s first round, which is very valuable ammunition. Those firsts and a second or two could make this trade very persuasive for the Broncos.

Conversely, maybe the Dolphins or Cardinals first rounders this year and next will be considered more valuable. They could feel this way because the chances of the Dolphins or Cardinals having a first-round pick lower than 22nd next year are pretty likely.

In the end, it probably depends on how Denver feels about the prospects in this year’s draft versus next years.

Philadelphia Eagles trade the 32nd pick for a couple of day-2 selections

The Philadelphia Eagles lack a selection in the second and third rounds. This, compiled with the fact that teams often like to trade into the end of the first round, means that there will most likely be suitors should the Eagles want to trade back. Teams like to trade into the last spot because it secures the extra fifth-year option in the rookie contracts of the player they draft. Therefore, if a player a team loves is left on the board at 32nd, they could be tempted to make the trade.

In addition, Philadelphia has the luxury of not having large holes on their roster, which means they can draft the best player available. Therefore, if the Eagles have similar grades on a few prospects at 32nd, it would not be surprising for them to trade away the pick and add some picks later on in the draft.

New England Patriots trade up for Lamar Jackson

NFL Draft trades

Lamar Jackson (Photo from Chowder and Champions)

After Lamar Jackson’s visit with New England  it was reported that the Patriots were intrigued and impressed by the former Louisville quarterback. That being said, it would not be surprising if the Patriots move up a few spots to secure Jackson. The Patriots have two first-round selections and two second-round picks, so if he is still on the board into the teens, New England could move up to draft him.

The Baltimore Ravens trade back, potentially with the Patriots

The Ravens have the 16th pick in the draft. This position lines up very well with where Lamar Jackson is expected to be drafted. The Ravens, on the other hand, have holes at the playmaking positions on offense. Due to the potential flood of quarterbacks selected early in the draft, much of the offensive skill players could slide. This means that Baltimore could trade down and gain some additional draft capital while still being able to take a premier wide receiver like Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore or Courtland Sutton at New England’s 23rd pick.

Philadelphia Eagles trade Mychal Kendricks on day 2 for a pick in the third or fourth round

NFL draft trades

Mychal Kendricks and Jalen Mills celebrating. (Photo by Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Mychal Kendricks had a bounce-back year last season. That means this could finally be the year this trade happens. Kendricks filled in admirably for Jordan Hicks, who was lost for last season with an Achilles tear. A team could have interest in Kendricks to fill a weakside linebacker role for a second-day selection.

Kendricks has two years left on his contract, both with a cap hit of around $8 million. That is pretty expensive, which limits his value as a trade chip. However, a  team trading a third or fourth for the speedy linebacker is not out of the question.

New York Giants trade left tackle Ereck Flowers for a late-round draft pick

Ereck Flowers has been largely a disappointment after being selected ninth overall by the Giants in 2015. The Giants signed left tackle Nate Solder this year and are expected to trade Flowers. A trade could be the best option for both the team and Flowers, who could benefit from a fresh start. A team could be interested enough to part with a late draft pick because he still has the athleticism that made him a top-10 selection in 2015.

 

Featured image from Russell Report

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Detroit Lions Schedule Prediction

2018 Detroit Lions schedule predictions

Well, it’s official, the NFL schedules have been released! Fans are busy planning which games they will attend and predicting ways for their team to make the playoffs. If predicting these games were possible, there would be no need to play the games. In the NFL, there are too many factors to consider when predicting who will win games. Injuries are unpredictable and often will reveal the character of a team. Additionally, the chemistry within the locker room will dictate how well these teams perform. Chemistry is affected by many things like, the personality of the coaching staff, new players melding together with returners, and the amount of trust built between the players and staff. Without further ado, here is the Detroit Lions schedule predictions for the 2018 season.

New York Jets – Week 1 – September 10, 2018 – Home (1-0)

The Detroit Lions start the 2018 season on primetime, Monday Night Football, at Ford Field. With the New York Jets coming to town, this figures to be a very winnable game for the Lions. The Jets finished in the bottom quarter of the league last season. However, they present a tough physical challenge, which should provide insight into Matt Patricia’s coaching style.

Lions win, 27-17

San Francisco 49ers – Week 2 – September 16, 2018 – Away (2-0)

Traveling out west in week two should be a great early season test of a road trip. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded midseason to San Francisco. He took the reigns of a team that was 1-10. He started the final five games of the regular season, earning a 5-0 record. They beat the Titans, Jaguars and Rams in weeks 15, 16, and 17 respectively, all three teams participated in the playoffs. This will be a very close game and a hard-fought road win for the Lions.

Lions win, 24-21

New England Patriots – Week 3 – September 23, 2018 – Home (3-0)

Matt Patricia is reunited with his old team, this time on opposite sides of the field. Will he be able to prove his ability to outcoach his mentor and longtime head coach, Bill Belichick? The good news for the Lions is they get the Patriots early in the year where they tend to struggle. Another bonus, the game is in primetime on Sunday Night Football and is going to be played in Detroit. The uncertainty hanging over the Patriots organization also leads to New England having a slow start, as they did last year.

Lions win, 31-27

Dallas Cowboys – Week 4 – September 30, 2018 – Away (3-1)

Dallas comes off a down year, largely due to the suspension of Zeke Elliott looks to rebound and should challenge Philadelphia for the division crown this year. This is a road game for the Lions and it is always tough to play down in Jerry’s World.

Lions lose, 27-21

Green Bay Packers – Week 5 – October 7, 2018 – Home (4-1)

After sweeping the Packers last season, Detroit needs to set the tone for this season by continuing their win streak against the hated Packers. Green Bay currently appears to be the third best team in the division as they let Rodgers’ top target and friend Jordy Nelson walk and have serious question marks on the offensive line. They have serious needs on both sides of the ball and if they can’t protect Aaron Rodgers, their season will be short lived yet again. The Lions take care of business at home against the Pack, finishing the first 5 games with a 4-1 record.

Lions win, 34-27

Bye – Week 6

Miami Dolphins – Week 7 – October 21, 2018 – Away (5-1)

Detroit Lions Schedule Predictions

Photo: Andrew Weber

After the strong start to their season, the Lions travel to Miami to play the Dolphins. Miami is in a rebuilding year of sorts after trading away Jarvis Landry and still searching for their franchise quarterback. They also released Ndamukong Suh and look to have a tough year ahead where they will be fighting to finish third in their division.

Lions win, 31-10

Seattle Seahawks – Week 8 – October 28, 2018 – Home (6-1)

The Seahawks are looking like a new team and it will be interesting to see how they rebound from losing some of their star players. Michael Bennett is now in Philly and Richard Sherman is with division rival, San Francisco. On offense, Jimmy Graham is in Green Bay and Paul Richardson signed with the Redskins. If they are not able to replace these players, they will be an average team. Also, the Lions get them at home.

Lions win, 20-17

Minnesota Vikings – Week 9 – November 4, 2018 – Away (6-2)

This will be a major challenge for the Lions heading to NFC runner-up Minnesota. However, they did win on the road against the Vikings last year, 14-7. With Kirk Cousins in town, the Vikings believe they have their franchise quarterback and have gone all-in on winning a Super Bowl. Dalvin Cook will return from injury as well and if he can run with the potential he showed last season, they will be a serious contender once again.

Lions lose, 28-17

Chicago Bears – Week 10 – November 11, 2018 – Away (7-2)

Detroit Lions Schedule Predictions

Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press

The Chicago Bears finished at the bottom of the division last year and are expected to struggle again this year. They have a young quarterback and it will be intriguing to see Trubisky’s development. Will he develop into a top-level quarterback or has he already reached his ceiling? Even though this is on the road and it is tough to win in the Windy City, Detroit still wins.

Lions win, 34-20

Carolina Panthers – Week 11 – November 18, 2018 – Home (7-3)

After losing to the Panthers last season, the Lions have a chance at revenge. Cam Newton and McCaffrey continue to develop chemistry and this will be a big game for both teams. The Lions will drop one here to the Panthers and look to rebound on Thanksgiving Day.

Lions lose, 31-24

Chicago Bears – Week 12 – November 22, 2018 – Home (8-3)

Thanksgiving Day games for Detroit Lions is a great tradition and Stafford tends to play well on Thanksgiving. He currently holds the record for most passing yards in Thanksgiving Day games over his career. Lions win this easily.

Lions win, 38-13

LA Rams – Week 13 – December 2, 2018 – Home (8-4)

The Rams are one of the most improved teams on paper. They added Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and Ndamukong Suh to their defense. They also acquire Brandin Cooks on offense from New England. This team appears to be a front-runner for the NFC title. Thankfully, the Lions have them at home and it should prove a lot about the team as the playoffs draw near.

Lions lose, 27-17

Arizona Cardinals – Week 14 – December 9, 2018 – Away (9-4)

After a tough week against the Rams, the Lions have three of the final four games on the road. The Cardinals are moving forward with Sam Bradford and could select a QB in next week’s draft. It’s hard to project how they will be, due to that uncertainty they appear to be a big underdog in this game. With QB questions looming as well as the return of David Johnson after injury, Detroit is able to pull this one out on the road.

Lions win, 28-13

Buffalo Bills – Week 15 – December 16, 2018 – Away (9-5)

Playing on the road in the NFL is always a challenge. Add to that the fact it is in a cold weather city in December and we have a recipe for a loss in upstate New York. This also could be a trap game as the Lions mentally prepare for the “Battle for the North” in the final two weeks.

Lions lose, 17-10

Minnesota Vikings – Week 16 – December 23, 2018 – Home (10-5)

The Lions are in prime position to make a push for the playoffs and that will start with a home win against the Vikings.

Lions win, 21-17

Green Bay Packers – Week 17 – December 30, 2018 – Away (10-6)

Detroit Lions Schedule Prediction

GREEN BAY, WI – NOVEMBER 06: at Lambeau Field on November 6, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Week 17 could very well decide the division but playing at Lambeau Field in late December is a challenge for any team, even more so for a team that plays home games indoors. Ultimately, eight months away from the game with no knowledge of the condition of the teams, the home-field edge goes to Green Bay.

Lions lose, 27-24

Recap

Overall, the season starts out with some big challenges and the entire season appears to be a difficult road. The Lions have the second toughest in the league. The final three games will prove tough and could make or break the season. Week 15 at the Buffalo Bills will be a cold outdoors game in the middle of December. Then, to end the season against the other two division contending teams could ultimately decide who wins the NFC North.

Based on these projections the Lions finish the season 10-6 which would put them in position to challenge for the division championship, at least a wildcard spot in the playoffs. This would be a great outcome and finish to the season. The Lions record could really end up anywhere from 6-10 to 12-4. There are six games on the schedule that are toss-ups and are nearly impossible to predict. No matter how it turns out, it will be interesting to see how the team responds to Patricia’s coaching. Can Detroit have a quick turnaround with a first-time head coach like the Rams did last season with McVay? Lions fans certainly hope so!

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2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

Best fits for top 2018 NFL quarterback prospects: Part II

Welcome to the second of a two part series examining the best fits for the top six quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. You can check out the first part here. Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph go under the microscope this time around.

Playing matchmaker is a little tougher with these three. They are likely to go later in the first round, or perhaps even early in the second, but trades are always possible, especially in that part of the draft.

Baker Mayfield: Arizona Cardinals 

Carson Palmer is retired. No one is mistaking Mike Glennon for a franchise quarterback. Sadly, it is not a matter of if Sam Bradford will get hurt again, but when. Arizona is the most quarterback needy team in the entire draft.

Mayfield’s roughness around the edges is well documented on and off the field. Being drafted to a locker room with veterans like Larry Fitzgerald would go a long way towards smoothing out Mayfield’s character flaws.

On the field, the Cardinals have no long-term quarterback plan, even if Bradford makes it through 2018 healthy. They need one. Mayfield is a legitimate duel threat, but the numbers say he would much rather throw. He never averaged more than 3.2 yards per carry in college. Defense in the Big 12 is bad, but it is not hard to see why there is great intrigue around the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at the next level. He threw 81 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions in his last two years of college.

Other than being a tick too short, He has all the stats and physical attributes NFL people look for. There is more than enough there to ignore the concerns over his arrest and less than sportsmanlike behavior on the field. His ability to ad lib when plays break down should also serve him well if he is thrown on the field as a rookie.

Picking at No. 15, Arizona’s quarterback options are somewhat limited without a trade, but there is some talent on the roster. Mayfield’s upside in a situation like the Cardinals is endless.

Lamar Jackson: Buffalo Bills 

This was the toughest prospect to pair with a team. Any quarterback who weighs just over 200 pounds and has 655 rushing attempts in three years of college football is going to have a short and painful NFL career, unless their game is retooled through coaching. Concerns about size and running too much aside, Jackson’s college numbers and pure athleticism are going to earn him a long look in the NFL.

In Buffalo, AJ McCarron is there on a two-year deal to keep the team competitive while it searches for long-term quarterback. Early returns on the Nathan Peterman experiment have been disastrous. Even though Buffalo could not wait to get rid of him, Tyrod Taylor did lead Buffalo to the playoffs last year. Taylor is a decent pro comparison for Jackson, so the coaching staff would be well-suited to coach him.

The former Heisman Trophy winner going to Buffalo makes sense in terms of both need and draft position. Jackson’s college production shows that he is capable of learning how to become an NFL pocket passer.

Mason Rudolph: New England Patriots

Whether he realizes it or not, Tom Brady is 40 years old. With Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, the Patriots have no plan for Brady’s successor. Recent reports have New England taking a shine to Jackson. However, it is hard to imagine Bill Belichick taking a chance on an undersized quarterback who some would argue is a better runner than thrower.

2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

(Photo from zambio.com)

Rudolph is the all-time leading passer at Oklahoma State. He specializes in the vertical passing game that dominates the NFL landscape today. 10 percent of his dropbacks in college resulted in at least a 25-yard completion. Rudolph needs a little polishing to go from Oklahoma State’s gun-slinging offense to the NFL.

New England is the perfect place for him to get that. He can learn from Brady for a while. Then he can either succeed him or get a big payday somewhere else like other Patriot backup quarterbacks have done. Regardless of which quarterback ends up there, New England is an ideal spot. Rudolph is the best fit.

More than just the six teams mentioned in these two articles could be in the quarterback market early in the draft. New Orleans, Denver and Miami could all be additional players in the market for rookie signal callers. With so many teams potentially needing quarterbacks, some of the prospects ranked seventh and lower in the quarterback class will eventually be asked to make an impact as well.

 

Featured image from clutchpoints.com

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NFL Draft

Redrafting the 2017 NFL Draft

With all this commotion about the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, it seems like the perfect time to look back at last year’s first round and see how much has changed.

1st Overall, Cleveland Browns – Deshaun Watson, QB 

Actual pick – Myles Garrett, DE

After an invigorating seven games where Deshaun Watson set the football world on fire he deserves to be the first quarterback taken. Leading the NFL in touchdowns with 19 through 7 games while playing as a rookie is no small feat, in fact, it’s almost unheard of.

2nd Overall, Chicago Bears – Myles Garrett, DE

Actual pick – Mitch Trubisky, QB

With no quarterbacks worthy of the second overall pick left, the Chicago Bears settle for the best player available and take the most talented player in the draft. Garrett was limited last year by injuries but when he was on the field he showed the special talent that made him first overall last year. He had seven sacks and a forced fumble in just 11 games played last season.

3rd Overall, San Francisco 49ers – Alvin Kamara, RB  

NFL Draft

Alvin Kamara splits two Green Bay defenders for a big gain. Photo by Sports Illustrated

 

Actual pick – Solomon Thomas

Sure, this is early for a running back, but with Alvin Kamara in the fold it opens up a lot of options for Kyle Shanahan to exploit in his offensive attack. Kamara had 1,500 yards from scrimmage while spliting time with Mark Ingram and as the year progressed he appeared to take the mantle of starter from Ingram as well.

4th Overall, Jacksonville Jaguars – Patrick Mahomes, QB

Actual pick – Leonard Fournette, RB

Yes, I know that Leonard Fournette had a great year and rushed for over 1000 yards. However, he was injured for three games and this seems like the perfect time for a team loaded with talent to grab a very talented quarterback to compete with and later replace Blake Bortles.

5th Overall, Tennessee Titans – Juju Smith-Schuster, WR

Actual pick – Corey Davis, WR

Worries about Juju Smith-Schuster’s long speed are no longer a problem after he was shown to be a blazer last season, even scoring a 97 yard touchdown where he outran the whole Lions’ defense. He would step in and make an immediate impact for the Titans.

6th Overall, New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB

Actual pick – Jamal Adams, S

The Jets get the best corner in the draft with the sixth pick, Lattimore, a lockdown corner who will help sure up the Jets defense for a long time. Lattimore was a big part of the reason the Saints defense jumped from 31st to 10th in scoring defense and 32nd to 15th in passing yards allowed. He could have a similar impact with the Jets.

7th Overall, Los Angeles Chargers – Jamal Adams, S

Actual pick –  Mike Williams, WR

The Chargers needed a safety and luckily the best one fell into their lap at 7th overall. Adams is a safety that you can keep single back or move him up into the box and either way he will make an impact.

8th Overall, Carolina Panthers – Dalvin Cook, RB

Actual pick – Christian McCaffrey, RB

Cook had a very promising rookie season for the Vikings until his season-ending injury. Cook looks to be the best running back left in this draft in terms of running and catching out of the backfield. Some would say that Kareem Hunt belongs here but I believe Dalvin Cook has a higher ceiling. He would provide the Panther’s offense with what they thought they were getting when they drafted Christian McCaffrey.

9th Overall, Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Ramczyk, OT

Actual pick – John Ross, WR

The Bengals deal with their biggest problem on offense by drafting a big guy to help them win in the trenches. Ramczyk would shore up a line that was terribly leaky last season which caused many of their offensive issues. They allowed 40 sacks last season and had the second worst rushing attack in all of football last season. With most of the issues coming from the offensive tackle position it makes this pick easy.

10th Overall, Kansas City Chiefs – Mitch Trubisky, QB

Actual pick – Patrick Mahomes, QB

The Chiefs wouldn’t have traded up for anything else, they still need a rookie to develop behind Alex Smith and they get theirs in Trubisky. He had some promising moments in his first year as a starter, but clearly still needs the right situation to thrive. Andy Reid is a play calling magician and a quarterback whisperer if he cant make Trubisky work, no one can.

11th Overall, New Orleans Saints – Tre’Davious White, CB

Actual pick – Marshon Lattimore, CB

The New Orleans Saints needed defensive help and with Lattimore off the board, they grab the next best corner in White. Rated by Pro Football Focus as the second best corner in the league last year, the Saints are getting some serious value.

12th Overall, Houston Texans – O.J. Howard, TE

Actual pick – DeShaun Watson, QB

With all the potential quarterbacks worthy of a first-round pick gone, the Houston Texans go with someone who will help out the running and the passing game in O.J. Howard.

13th Overall, Arizona Cardinals – Corey Davis, WR

Actual pick – Haason Reddick, LB

The Cardinals finally find someone to pair up with the great Larry Fitzgerald to create a truly dominant receiving duo. Davis struggled with injuries in year one but started to come on towards the end of the season. Year two will be a more accurate measure of where he is developmentally, he lands here with the Cardinals based on potential.

14th Overall, Philadelphia Eagles – Derek Barnett, DE 

NFL Draft

Derek Barnett sacks Dak Prescott. Photo by Hunter Martin

Actual pick – Derek Barnett, DE

Barnett was the right choice for this team. That, coupled with the fact that there are no glaring needs on Philadelphia’s roster make Barnett the perfect choice. Edge rushers are the second most important position on the team and with Barnett in line for an even bigger role in 2018 this pick seems like a huge success.

15th Overall, Indianapolis Colts – Cam Robinson, OT

Actual pick – Malik Hooker, S

The Colts are a team with many holes, none of them as poor as the offensive line, which is truly offensive to football fans. They draft Robinson and he can help keep whoever is quarterbacking the Colts (hopefully Andrew Luck) safe for years to come.

16th Overall, Baltimore Ravens – Cooper Kupp, WR

Actual pick – Marlon Humphrey, DB

It feels like the Ravens haven’t had a competent receiving corps in years, drafting Cooper Kupp to play with Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace might give them the firepower they need on offense. Kupp had 865 yards and 5 touchdowns as a rookie and really helped elevate the Rams recieving corps.

17th Overall, Washington Redskins – Kareem Hunt, RB

Actual pick – Jonathan Allen, DE

Hunt would add a new layer to the Redskins already multifaceted approach. He might just be the piece that could have made the Redskins’ offense elite. Hunt finished with almost 1800 yards from scrimmage on the season as the focal point of the Chiefs attack and earned the rushing title with 1327 yards in his rookie season.

18th Overall, Tennessee Titans – Rueben Foster, LB

Actual pick – Adoree’ Jackson, CB

A crazy athlete that also fills an important need in the Titans defense. Foster would step in and be an immediate starter in Tennessee’s defense. His range is his biggest asset and would help a Titans defense that struggled with its linebacking corps in 2017. His only downside has been off the field issues.

19th Overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Solomon Thomas, DL

Actual pick – O.J. Howard, TE

A slightly below than expected season performance from Thomas causes him to slip until here. That being said, the Buccaneers would run this pick up to the table. The talent and potential have made him a top-five prospect and he fills a need on Tampa’s desolate defensive line.

20th Overall, Denver Broncos – Malik Hooker, S

Actual pick – Garrett Bolles, OT

The Broncos look to keep their defense at the top of it’s game with this pick, which truly solidifies Denver’s defense. Hooker is a safety with incredible range, he has the ability to truly shut down the middle of a football field.

21st Overall, Detroit Lions – Christian McCaffrey, RB

Actual pick – Jarrad Davis, LB

The Lions need a running back. The last time a running back rushed for 100 yards on the Detroit Lions was Reggie Bush on Thanksgiving, in 2013! Lion’s fans know this after hearing it in pretty much every game last season. McCaffrey is a good pick at 21st overall and although he made less of an impact than expected in year one he still has the talent that made him the eighth overall pick last year.

22nd Overall, Miami Dolphins – Haason Reddick, LB 

Actual pick – Charles Harris, DE

Reddick is a really good player who would get some playing time almost immediately in Miami, they definitely need him. After playing defensive end in college he gained attention by showing that he can also be an inside linebacker in the NFL. He would be a great fit for the Dolphins with their need for both a pass rusher and a linebacker.

23rd Overall, New York Giants – Garrett Bolles, OT

Actual pick – Evan Engram, TE

The Giants take steps to help out Eli Manning by drafting an offensive lineman. Needs meet best player available again.

24th Overall, Oakland Raiders – Gareon Conley, CB

Actual pick – Gareon Conley, CB

The Oakland Raiders had a huge hole at cornerback, Conley is a over 6 feet tall and showed immense potential in his time at Ohio State. The Raiders wouldn’t let this opportunity slip by.

25th Overall, Cleveland Browns – John Ross, WR

Actual pick – Jabrill Peppers, S

Ross did not have a good first year in the NFL but he will surely develop in year two and his speed is a huge asset. After all he does have the fastest 40 yard dash at the combine ever. The Cleveland Browns seem like the team that would draft him here.

26th Overall, Atlanta Falcons – Takkarist McKinley, DE

Actual pick – Takkarist McKinley, DE

The Falcons made the right pick as far as I’m concerned, McKinley looked good last year and seems to fit the scheme well.

27th Overall, Buffalo Bills – Jonathon Allen, DE

Actual pick – Tre’Davious White, CB

Jonathan Allen slipped on draft day because of health concerns, now he’s slipping again because of them. Jonathon Allen looked good last year but how long can he stay healthy? You can’t make an impact if you’re not on the field.

28th Overall, Dallas Cowboys – T.J. Watt, OLB

Actual pick – Taco Charlton

T.J. Watt showed explosion at times last year, I just don’t believe he was as consistent as I would have liked, but, despite that, and his size concerns, he rose two spots. The Cowboys were disappointed by Taco Charlton last year they wouldn’t be disappointed with this pick. I believe Watt could be an effective pass rusher for the Cowboys.

29th Overall, Cleveland Browns – Marlon Humphrey, DB

Actual pick – Deshone Kizer, QB

Marlon Humphrey is a big, fast, and strong corner. His biggest question mark was his ball skills but his two interceptions last season in Baltimore showed that it probably will not be too much of a problem.

30th Overall, Pittsburgh Steelers – Shaquill Griffin, DB

Actual pick – T.J. Watt, OLB

Shaquill Griffin showed off some real potential in his rookie season earning himself the corner spot opposite Richard Sherman. He would be a great asset for Pittsburgh to have as they reshape their defense.

31st Overall, San Francisco 49ers – Evan Engram, TE

Actual pick – Rueben Foster, LB

Engram is not the best at blocking, but he is a good reciever, with good hands and good speed for a tight end. Exactly the kind of player coach Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch would want to add to his team.

32nd Overall, New Orleans Saints – Marcus Williams, S 

NFL Draft

Marcus Williams misses a tackle in the NFC Championship game. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Actual pick – Ryan Ramczyk, OT

Williams has shown to be a great fit in the Saint’s defense, a good tackler who makes good decisions (except that one play in the NFC divisional round). Why not take the same guy since he worked out so well.

 

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Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is a few weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

The Cardinals, like a few other NFL franchises, regressed in 2018 due to injuries. It started in game one when David Johnson suffered a broken wrist. The 2017 season ended with 17 players missing at least two games by being placed on injured reserve. Arizona, despite all these injuries, still managed to win 8 games and this franchise will have it’s fair share of challenges heading into the 2018 season.

Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft Profile

Photo Courtesy of; NFL Draft Diamonds

Before his injury, it was apparent that this offense was going to run through David Johnson. In 2016, Johnson scored 20 total touchdowns and just over 2,000 all-purpose yards.

This offense finished the 2017 season 25th and 22nd in points and yards respectively. Carson Palmer’s injury led to more instability in offensive production (unless you’re Larry Fitzgerald).

Sadly, the Cardinals have not signed a viable bridge quarterback. While Sam Bradford is talented, it’s proven that he will struggle to play all 16 regular season games. To compete in the NFC West, the Cardinals will have to add another quarterback as an insurance policy.

Defensively, the Cardinals finished 19th and sixth in points and yards allowed respectively. This unit was in the middle of the pack for creating turnovers, tied for 16th; however, they were incredibly good on third down. The Cardinals only allowed opposing offenses to convert 35.7 percent of their third downs.

The best word to describe this defense is “solid”. Meaning, they have talent in key positions. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden can rush the passer off the edge. Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker and the newly acquired Bene’ Benwikere round out a good secondary, assuming Tyvon Branch and Antoine Bethea return healthy. There are a few positions they should look to upgrade, but with only a few picks in this year’s draft, the Cardinals will have to nail their selections.

Picks and Needs

The Cardinals are in a precarious position. They are one of the few NFC franchises without their quarterback of the future. With only four picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cardinals need to add as many impact players as possible.

First Round (1): 15

Second Round (1): 47

Third Round (1): 79

Fourth Round (0):

Fifth Round (1): 143

Sixth Round (0):

Seventh Round (0):

Offensive Needs

Tackle: If you plan on having Sam Bradford as your starter, you need to protect him. Andre Smith is slated to start at right tackle since Jared Veldheer has been shipped to Denver. His play has steadily declined since 2014. an upgrade at the tackle position would benefit both Sam Bradford, and David Johnson.

Quarterback: It doesn’t appear that the Cardinals have the ammunition, or the intestinal fortitude to move up and claim one of the top-tier quarterbacks. It’s likely they will have to spend one of their later picks on a developmental prospect and keep their fingers crossed that Bradford’s health holds up.

Wide Receiver: Despite what his continued ability to amaze us, Larry Fitzgerald won’t play forever. He likely has two more seasons at most of being the most productive receiver on this team. The Cardinals need to take advantage of his remaining years and bring in a potential heir to Fitzgerald. His work ethic and attitude are rare, valuable assets that could be passed to a young wideout.

Defensive Needs

Linebacker: The Cardinals front seven of their 3-4 defense is solid. However, there is one flaw. By playing Deone Buchanon, a former safety at inside linebacker, they aren’t stout physically against the run. Hassan Reddick’s snap count decreased as the season went on, signaling he wasn’t adjusting as well to the NFL game. The Cardinals should consider a true inside linebacker with size and experience.

Targets

The prospects in this section are ones that the Cardinals will likely be able to select and are assuming their draft position(s) are not changing.

First Round

Pick No. 15: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft Profile

Photo Courtesy; Indiana Sports Coverage

The Cardinals, if they stay put, can secure the best tackle in the draft. McGlinchey is a well-rounded, experienced and polished player at left tackle.

That is if Arizona decides to play him there. McGlinchey has experience at both tackle positions and would be a great pick to protect Sam Bradford, as well as elevate David Johnson in 2018.

If they decide to go in a different direction, the Cardinals could select Rashaan Evans from Alabama.

While this might seem like a reach, he would step in and start from day one. His experience, size, and athleticism would anchor the middle of this defense. This would let Hasson Reddick focus on rushing the passer more, as opposed to being an inside run stopper.

Overall, McGlinchey makes the most sense for the Cardinals at the 15th selection given their quarterback situation.

Second Round

Pick No. 47: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Sam Bradford has proven he can’t stay healthy for a full season, and he’s only under contract for two years. Rudolph would provide Arizona with quality depth at the quarterback decision. He would also have time to develop, which he needs, and work on some issues. Rudolph is unique in the sense that NFL teams don’t have a consensus on where he should be drafted. Some teams have him as a second-round pick, and others have him as a fifth-round pick. Because Arizona doesn’t have a plan past Bradford, it’s likely they take a chance on him in the second round.

Third Round

Pick No. 79: Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt

Deone Buchanon doesn’t have the size of a normal inside linebacker, and Hasson Reddick’s more natural position is that of an outside pass rusher. Burks would fill a need and serve as a good value in the third round of the draft.

Conclusion

The Arizona Cardinals are in a tough spot. They will have to nail their draft picks and stay healthy to keep pace with the Rams, Seahawks, and the surging 49ers.

Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Baltimore Ravens 2018 NFL Draft profile.

 

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Richard Sherman: A crusader? Or a clown?

This offseason has already seen the making of a memorable one for history. Big crazy trades and free agent signing has set an overcast in the journey to the upcoming NFL Draft. One signing, in particular, would be the San Francisco 49ers acquisition of Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman. Sherman, whose season was cut short after an Achilles injury in week 8, agreed to a contract worth up to $39.15 million dollars for three years, three days before free agency opened up. But there has been some controversy surrounding the deal itself and Sherman’s role in it. It is reported that Sherman himself handled the negotiations without the representation of an agent.

Some questions now have surfaced to why Richard Sherman would go this route and the future of players handling their own affairs pertaining to contracts. Some see this as the future of the league while others see this as Richard Sherman’s ego getting in front of his talent once again. Sherman has been critical of how agents operate and encourages a path for players to be more proactive in these areas. However, the same can be said about the team he signed to minutes after he was released, comprised a deal that many have criticized.

The Contract

First, let’s talk about the contract. Richard Sherman has signed a deal that is worth $39.15 million dollars. The key word is “worth”. Most NFL contracts, like other sports and management positions, are worth a dollar amount. Most of the money to be earned is tied up in incentives, bonuses and allowances. Sherman’s deal includes $3 million dollars in full guarantees, $7 million in practical guarantees and up to $9 million in earnings baring injury during the 2018 season.

In an offseason where the value of individual prospects and a team’s desire to certain prospects have set an unprecedented amount of money for their acquisitions, this deal doesn’t seem to make much sense. This could be a fault towards Sherman who essentially worked out the deal himself. This contract is purely based on Sherman’s ability to stay healthy and perform at a high level.  However, this opens a door for other players. Sherman, who is also a Stanford grad, is a key player in the NFLPA and knows how the business works. If players are to take the same route, they too might be able to capture some control in the debating process.

Pros

Players ultimately have all the power. They decide whether to take deals or leave hem on the table. Agents look to give them the best deal possible. In return, this could leave the player losing the ability to play for a favorable destination. Not saying that players aren’t sitting at the negotiation table but what Richard Sherman did, extends the amount power a player has.

Because of this, the player is able to negotiate a deal that they might feel is good for them. Most agents meet with teams with a hardline offer and it doesn’t really dip or bend from there. Plus with the ability of players to sit out, this pretty much twists the hands of management into submission. Most teams now have tried to stay away from hardline offers as they have led to some of the worst deals. Kirk Cousins suffered from franchise tag-itis because of The Washington Redskins horrible deal with Albert Haynesworth. As other teams have been ultimately forced to give in to player demands. If players want to take slashes in their guaranteed money in favor of being placed with the team that they desire to be on, then they should have that power.

Negative

What makes this deal seem sour is the subject at hand, Richard Sherman. Richard Sherman anchored one of the best defenses in five years that led to two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title. With the right defense, Richard Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in the National Football League. With that being said he should be paid accordingly to his value. Looking at this contract, it seems that he is selling himself a bit short. For example, as an analogy, Richard Sherman believes he should get $10 million dollars a year. Team A is willing to give him $10 million dollars and Team B is willing to give him $15 million dollars.

Your value isn’t the price tag that you put on yourself but rather how much someone is willing to pay. Despite his wishes, Richard Sherman is worth $15 million dollars in actuality. In comparison to the deal made in reality, Sherman would never see those $15 million dollars. If he never talks to Team B, it would be impossible. The idea of him not talking to other teams is quite depressing. He would never fully exercise the potential of the deal. This could be a downside for players who really want to play for a particular team and might be blindsided by their “wants” when they should focus on what should be owed to them.

The Future

At the end of the day, Richard Sherman has to accept or decline a deal. This particular deal is what he wanted and it is what he got. Other players in the future may not be so lucky. Determining a players’ value really depends on a broad spectrum. It’s not a discussion with a team who only really seems to benefit themselves and not the player. Despite this, a lawyer never acts as a legal representation for himself and a doctor doesn’t examine herself.

Agents are there to work out a deal. They know more about the process and are able to twist numbers and squeeze out the best deal possible. If that means shelving off between 1.5% to 4% in earnings so be it, there is no such things as a free lunch. In the future, negotiations should be left to agents as most believe that one would never let Sherman walk away with that deal. Sherman’s deal isn’t bad at all for other cornerbacks.

However, for an all-pro player, that gravitates a brand presence and is arguably the best cornerback in the league, it’s a terrible one. This contract is a deal for players that are on the cusp of proving themselves. For Sherman, he doesn’t have to. Despite suffering an injury and turning 30 years old in a matter of days, Richard Sherman has already proved his worth. A contract suited for someone who hasn’t is deplorable in his situation.

Fortunately, Richard Sherman got the deal he wanted. He went to the team he wanted and is in the best situation for himself. He’s happy and everyone should. More than likely, the deal will mature to be a wise one. It also might open the doors for other players to follow. On the other hand, if it flops, it would be a disaster and cemented as “pulling a Richard Sherman”. Who knows? Only time will tell.

 

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Players that found a new home

Mar. 17, 2018 By: Joshua Robinson

 

There has been a lot of commotion about many key players in the NFL that are being traded right now because of their contract being released. Some have found new homes, and some are still on the market. Some teams also agreed to stay with the team they’ve been playing with. Teams are still negotiating about different deals they will give to different players.

Here are a few key free agents that have found a new home.

Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman NFL

Richard Sherman returning an interception
(WTHR)

As you all know, Cornerback Richard Sherman is recovering from a torn achilles that ended his 2107-18 season. On Friday, Mar. 9th, the Seattle Seahawks released the seven year veteran. It has been a rumor for two days prior to this event, but it was hard to believe. One of the key players on the Legion of Boom has found a new home, and it didn’t take long

Richard Sherman agreed to a three-year $39 million contract with the San Fransisco 49ers the next day. This is a huge gain for the Niners and also a huge bonus for the seven year vet, which topped his $11 million that Seattle was offering. When Sherman is fully recovered and is 100%, he will be back to the fierce, lockdown corner as before. He has been a key player to Seattle’s defense throughout his whole NFL career. Sherman helped lead the Seahawks to Super Bowl 48 on Feb. 2, 2014. He also has a career high of 32 interceptions, 367 tackles, and 99 pass deflections.

Tyrann Matthieu

Tyrann Matthieu has also been the main topic this past week as well since he became a free agent. He has been struggling during his five years in the NFL due to his past injuries. Three of his seasons had ended with him being on the injury reserved list. The Arizona Cardinals tried to get the young safety to take a pay cut. He declined the offer, and they’d cut him loose on Wednesday. But it didn’t take long for the Honey Badger to find a new home as well.

Tyrann Mathieu NFL

Tyrann Mathieu
(Sports Illustrated)

On Friday, Mar. 16, Matthieu had agreed to a one year contract with the Houston Texans. There, he will become a huge addition to the team’s, young, rebuilding defense, along with former defensive MVP, JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowny, and cornerback Kareem Jackson. With Matthieu being a versatile defensive back, he will be a huge help to the Texans.

 

Michael Crabtree

The Oakland Raiders had released wide receiver Michael Crabtree on Thursday due to his attitude problems. Mar. 15. The day after, the Baltimore Ravens had signed him to a three year $21 million contract. Baltimore has been low on their receiving core this year. Crabtree will be a key receiver to the Raven’s offense due to his high level of experience and his red zone skills. He is also a quick route runner and can make good separation. He will also work well with former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, John Brown, who will also become a key receiver to the offense.

Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson
(Sports Illustrated)

The Raiders might have lost Crabtree, but they gained another dangerous weapon to their offense. Free agent wide receiver, Jordy Nelson signed a two year $15 million contract with Oakland. Nelson was a ten year veteran of the Green Bay Packers, leading his team to a Super Bowl win in 2010. He was one Aaron Rodger’s best options to throw to in the passing game. He was able to stretch out into open field, becoming a huge threat in the red zone. Along with Amari Cooper, Nelson would be a huge help on the Raiders’ offense.

 

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins struck gold by becoming the Minnesota Vikings new quarterback. He not only attained a spot on a new team, he is getting paid a lot of money while doing it.Cousins had been the quarterback for the Washington Redskins for over six years. The Redskins, at first, were paying him $44 million for the past two years, but Cousins had lost interest. The Vikings offered Cousins an $84 million deal that is guaranteed fully. This is one of the richest contract in NFL history. By doing this, this makes him the first quarterback to sign a multi year guaranteed contract, and he is also the highest paid player in the history of the NFL.

Kirk Cousins
(The Viking Age)

Cousins is one of the NFL”s top 10 quarterbacks since 2015. He has a total of 16,206 passing yards and 99 touchdowns for his whole career. Cousins would be a great leader to the Vikings’ offense, for he also has dangerous receiving threats that he can throw to. He also has Dalvin Cook signed up alongside with him in the backfield.

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Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks

The Arizona Cardinals are at risk of becoming a laughing stock again

The offseason quarterback derby has settled as much as it is going to before the NFL draft. The franchise history of the Arizona Cardinals is far from glorious. However, they have spent most of the last decade as a competitive franchise that has gotten to the playoffs and done damage on occasion.

Still, this offseason has suddenly left them in danger of returning to laughing-stock territory for a couple reasons.

No long-term plan at quarterback 

When Carson Palmer retired earlier this offseason, Arizona had zero quarterbacks on the roster. Going by that metric, this free agency signing period has been a smashing success for the Cardinals.

In reality, Mike Glennon is a career journeyman who barely lasted a month before being replaced by then rookie Mitch Trubisky in Chicago last year. Also, Sam Bradford has put up decent numbers in his career including 101 touchdown passes to just 57 interceptions. Despite that, he has never led a team to the playoffs and has only been healthy enough to start all 16 games in a season twice.

By all accounts except his own, Bradford’s knees are in bad shape. He has had two ACL tears as well as an additional procedure last season. It made the news wires when Bradford passed his physical last week. Usually, that only happens if a guy fails a physical. That should tell you a lot.

Even if it is just for a year, handing the keys to your franchise over to either one of these guys is not only risky, but also close to plain stupid. The Vikings, Browns, Jets, Broncos and Bills have all addressed the quarterback position this offseason. Some have added a quarterback. Some are in position to draft one. Some are clearly doing both. There is no way plans will work out for all of these teams, but at least you can see the plan beyond this year.

Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks

Photo from NFL.com

Meanwhile, Arizona only has the fragile Bradford for one year to go with Glennon for two. Glennon has just nine starts in the last four years. Logic would dictate that means Arizona needs to draft a quarterback early. However, being at pick No. 15, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield will all almost certainly be gone by the time the Cardinals are on the clock.

 

That leaves them with two options: trade up to get one of those guys, or reach for someone like Mason Rudolph. Neither option is particularly good. The Cardinals would have no negotiating leverage with another team on draft day, but there is no such thing as too steep a price for long-term stability at quarterback in the NFL. Either option would be helped out greatly by Glennon or Bradford panning out, but that is iffy at best.

The rest of Arizona’s roster is not terrible. A healthy David Johnson is something just about every team would kill to have in the backfield, Larry Fitzgerald is ageless and Patrick Peterson is now the leader of a defense that looks a little different, but should still be pretty good in 2018.

Even so, if you don’t have good quarterback play, the rest of your roster does not matter. A bunch of losses are in your future. Just ask last year’s Denver Broncos.

An unstable future at quarterback is not the only thing that has the Cardinals organization in a delicate spot.

The NFC West is loaded

The biggest key to any NFL team preforming well is playing well within the division. This will be a challenge for Arizona no matter who their quarterback is in 2018 and beyond.

Seattle is in the midst of overhauling its roster and Arizona has played the Seahawks well in recent years, but Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks on the planet. It was him and him alone that kept the Seahawks in it until the very end of the regular season last year. If Wilson needs to, he can carry this franchise again. The defense is certainly not better in terms of name value, but getting younger in the secondary might actually be a good thing.

Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks

Photo from azcardinals.com

Then there are the 49ers and Rams. The Rams were reborn last year as rookie head coach Sean McVay and his high-powered offense took the league by storm. Los Angeles also acquired Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. As volatile as those two can sometimes be, that cornerback tandem is sure to give every offense in the league a hard time.

San Francisco ended the season on a five-game winning streak after Jimmy Garoppolo was inserted as the starting quarterback. There is no reason to think that won’t carry over.

Playing these three teams twice a year with Bradford, Glennon or a rookie is setting rookie head coach Steve Wilks up to fail. The Cardinals should have been more aggressive for guys like Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum. Drafting a quarterback will likely result in some growing pains for the Cardinals, but it is now their only chance at having a clear long-term direction for the foreseeable future.

 

Featured image from usatoday.com

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