Let’s Not Overhype Saquon Just Yet…

Regardless of your fandom, you should be excited to see Saquon Barkley play in the NFL. I shouldn’t be the only one watching his first regular season game against Jacksonville on Sept. 9th.

This man is building up so much hype for the New York Giants and for the newly-drafted NFL class. If one player can generate so much buzz about an entire season, it’s already very impressive.

Just look at his highlight reel from his career at Penn State and tell me he’s not going to be fun to watch.

Big play after big play, like clockwork.

Maybe it’s the media that has set big expectations for him or maybe it’s the Giants organization, being that they skipped on drafting a future franchise quarterback to develop behind Eli Manning. Now they’ll get to run the ball the way they’ve wanted to for years.

But us as fans are to blame as well; the amount of anticipation we expressed in the desperate waiting for Barkley’s entry into the league does seem a bit overwhelming. His Giants jersey is already the No. 1-selling on online pro shops everywhere.

Much of it is deserved after his career of tearing apart college defenses on the ground and occasionally in the air. But it’s a matter of if his maturity allows him to handle all the stresses.

Leave it to ESPN to add to the already-immense pressure.

The leading sports media outlet in the world listed Barkley as one of the best players under the age of 25, before he’s even played a single down…

These so-called “experts” are delusional. Listing Barkley rather than Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara (RB, New Orleans Saints) is a crime. Better yet, an absolute joke.

Yes, it’s no doubt he’ll be good, but ESPN is going the route of hyping up a soon-to-be New York hero. As Barstool Sports wrote, the media will always try to draw attention to the next big thing in the Big Apple.

“O’dell Beckham Jr. was supposed to be that guy. But due to a combination of his own mercurial nutjobbery, lack of postseason success and missing almost all of last year, that hasn’t panned out,” Jerry Thornton writes.

We all watched the same film, read the same reports, and we can all collectively say and agree that he has the greatest potential we’ve seen out of any draftee in years. But now’s not the time for rash assumptions.

The pressure has already built up enough on him. We shouldn’t continue to add to it other than wishing him the best. However, it is common when we see someone of so much skill and speed now competing with the big boys. Personally, I feel it’s a shame that Barkley got kind of sucked into all of that.

The New York Giants want to avoid seeing an overhyped bust just as much as the fans. Hopefully, he’ll conquer all expectations.

 

 

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Top 5 2018 CFB Offensive Prospects by Position

I’m not the only one counting down the days until college football begins, right?

A little less than a month away, there are a handful of players making waves and turning heads before the season gets underway. Many of them are aiming towards a national championship, but only a few are destined to be first round prospects in April’s NFL Draft. There’s a lot to prove and a lot of scouts to impress, so without further ado, here are five prospects from each position to look out for during the 2018 college football season.

Quarterbacks

(Note: so far, this is looking to be one of the weakest class of quarterbacks in years. There are hardly any standouts and will probably only be two drafted within the first round.)

1. Justin Herbert, Oregon

Scouts are already saying that Herbert has big-time potential, which is essential for Oregon if they want to get back to the top of the Pac-12 conference. Although he only played eight games last season, the now-junior completed 67-percent of his passes for 1,750 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. As a true freshman, he racked up 1,936 yards with 19 touchdowns and a 64-percent completion rate.

Strengths: Good size, strong arm, patience in the pocket, pass placement that leads receivers out of coverage, ability to pick up yards running

Weaknesses: Field vision

2. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Another quarterback entering his junior season, Stidham finished 2017 with 67-percent of passes completed, 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He steadily improved upon his struggles from the beginning of the year and rounded off the season by knocking off both undefeated Georgia and Alabama. Scouts have praised him for his potential as well saying he could end up being a high-first round pick if he stays consistent.

Strengths: high football IQ, good throwing mechanics including a quick release, vastly improved field vision against the rush, very mobile with excellent speed

Weaknesses: needs to fix side arm release, not that physically gifted compared to Herbert

3. Drew Lock, Missouri

Lock grabbed the media’s attention by setting an SEC single-season record for touchdown passes in 2017 with 43, while also completing 58-percent of his passes for 3,964 yards. Missouri has been known to be a lacking team over the past couple seasons. Lock turned that around in the last half of the year winning six straight games after the Tigers had a 1-5 start. Talk about a tear. He was very wise to return to Missouri before turning pro, because there are a lot of improvements to make.

Strengths: big-armed gunslinger with great ability to throw any pass, good size, tight window passing, downfield passing, mobility

Weaknesses: accuracy, field vision, prone to overthrow, a little too powerful, needs to be consistent with timing and anticipation

4. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State

An ankle injury in the Egg Bowl ended his season early, which probably helped him decide to return for his senior year. He amassed 29 total touchdowns with 14 of them rushing and 1,782 yards. However, his high interception total (11) doesn’t excite a lot of scouts, but as Dak Prescott’s successor, he has a lot to prove this season if he wants to compete in the most challenging conference in college football.

Strengths: pro size, breakaway speed, charisma

Weaknesses: accuracy, pocket passing, too many forced passes

5. Easton Stick, North Dakota State

A lot of media buzz has generated after three nice seasons with the Bison, and what a statement to make after Carson Wentz entered the NFL. Just look at his consistently improving season statistics:

Screenshot (2)

He unfortunately wasn’t listed on NFL team’s preseason watch lists with other first- through fourth-round projections. That could quickly change midway through the season.

Strengths: quality arm, mobility in and out of pocket, ability to make NFL throws

Weaknesses: needs to learn how to fit the ball in tight windows, connection with receivers, needs faster throwing motion

Running Backs

1. Bryce Love, Stanford

Currently getting a shocking comparison to Chris Johnson, Love is better than other smaller backs who have gone in the first round in the past (David Wilson, Jahvid Best, etc. At 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, he’s tough and extremely fast. If you need proof, watch the video and how his vision of the field sends him to the end zone in a matter of seconds. This early Heisman candidate is deadly, as he’s already putting up NFL- like numbers (8.1 yards per carry, 2,118 yards, 19 touchdowns).

2. Damien Harris, Alabama

Harris took a very long time to develop into a well-rounded back. Scouts has compared him to Doug Martin when he was a dominant runner in the NFL. With great vision, good contact balance, and strength, Harris has the potential to be elite, especially since he was Alabama’s leading rusher. In 2017, he averaged 7.4 yards per carry with 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s due to explode for even more this season.

3. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma

Anderson is now the next man up for the Sooners now that Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine have moved on to the NFL. The now-feature-back had an impressive 2017 season with 5.9 yards per carry for 960 yards and 11 touchdowns. While he is quick with a superb ability to get to the second level of the defense, he’ll need to develop better acceleration to burn defenders on his way to the end zone.

4. Mike Weber, Ohio State

Limited by a hamstring injury for a few games, Weber still took 96 carries for 608 yards with 10 touchdowns. He won the starting job to replace Ezekiel Elliott out of a group of highly recruited and talented backs. In his impressive debut season, he averaged six yards per carry for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns.

5. Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M

From his freshman year onward, Williams has looked like he’s got potential. The Aggies’ offensive line struggled, however, during his sophomore year and only totaled 575 yards on the ground. After getting a commitment out of the No. 1 offensive tackle out of high school, Kenyon Green, Williams will look to have an easier time boosting his draft stock. During his freshman year, he picked up 6.8 yards per carry with 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns.

Wide Receivers

1. A.J. Brown, Mississippi

The Ole Miss Rebels have had a hard time getting their swagger back over the past couple seasons, but A.J. Brown has been a standout on an offense that lost its starting quarterback to injury. He still managed to total 75 receptions for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brown is quick with polish and physicality and dangerous with the ball in his hands. With broken tackles left and right, he has tremendous yards-after-the-catch potential.

2. Ahmmon Richards, Miami

Brad Kaaya lacked the consistency to really show Richards’ true ability in 2016 and in 2017, he only played seven games because of a hamstring injury. He still displayed his play-making ability in his appearances, averaging 19.1 YPC. Here are his statistics from his previous two years:

2017: 24 catches, 439 yards, three touchdowns

2016: 49 catches, 934 yards, three touchdowns

3. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

Scouts are excited about the rise of this young projected 2nd rounder. If he stays healthy, he may go even earlier. In 2017, he displayed explosive speed and play-making ability with 15 receptions for 250 yards and three touchdowns. However, in the third game of the season, he broke a bone in his left leg. But after returning a kick for a touchdown in each of the two games prior, the Gamecocks knew they’d have him primed and ready for the following season.

4. N’Keal Harry, Arizona State

Poised to be the leading receiver for the Pac-12 conference this season, Harry was able to snag 73 passes for 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017. Scouts report him as a late first-rounder or an early second-round pick. I expect him to be picked late in the first round if he can find enough speed to separate from the pro-caliber cornerbacks on his routes.

5. Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

Very fast and an instant threat to score, Brown can practically catch a pass whenever he wants to. As a sophomore, he averaged 19.2 yards per catch for 1,095 yards on 57 catches with seven touchdowns. He needs to get stronger for the NFL, but his thin frame will do for now because of his explosiveness. Just needs to work on adding weight while maintaining his speed.

Tight Ends

1. Noah Fant, Iowa

To me, Iowa has become “TE University” in recent years after the amount of prospects they’ve produced; Fant can continue the trend after his breakout sophomore year, hauling in 28 passes for 486 yards and ten touchdowns. He can only get stronger and become a better blocker to climb up the draft boards. This kid is dangerous.

2. Caleb Wilson, UCLA

Wilson shined in the Bruins’ legendary comeback over Texas A&M, catching 15 passes for 208 yards. He was Josh Rosen’s most reliable receiving threat prior to a season-ending foot injury, therefore, his statistics don’t add up to much. However, scouts are eyeing him to be an early second-round weapon for the lucky NFL team that drafts him.

3. Kaden Smith, Stanford

Stanford is no stranger to producing great tight ends for the NFL, with most of them being solid blockers and productive receivers. Dalton Schultz is long gone and playing with the big boys professionally, so Smith should be seeing more playing time with the Cardinal. Look for him to build upon his resume after catching 23 passes for 414 yards with five touchdowns back in 2017.

4. Tyler Petite, USC

Although his college highlight reel has yet to be created, Petite had a great junior season with Sam Darnold at quarterback, catching 23 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns. But now it’s time to break in a new quarterback after making only minor contributions to the offense over his past three seasons. His blocking also needs to improve drastically before he can see himself as an early third round pick.

5. C.J. Conrad, Kentucky

Seeing something great come out of the Kentucky football program is surprising to me to say the least. But they have a stud in Conrad who, in 2017, caught 16 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, his season ended early because of a foot injury that needed surgery. Although there was limited opportunities for him to shine, he has a lot of upside to grow and build his draft stock this coming season.

Tackles

(disclaimer: some of the videos, if you choose to watch, won’t point out the linemen)

1. Jonah Williams, Alabama

Are you surprised an offensive tackle from Alabama is at the top of the list? Williams was a freshman when he earned a starting spot at right tackle for the Tide back in 2016. Now at left tackle in replacement of Cam Robinson, he’s reliable covering the blind side and very intuitive in the run game and pass protection. Williams’ size and speed will be very special for the NFL team that chooses him.

2. Trey Adams, Washington

Forced to return to the Huskies for his senior year after an ACL tear in October 2017, Adams is and will be a first round pick come April. He’s shown great range, quickness, athleticism, and agility after a far-from-flawless season opener against Rutgers. He was rated as one of the best pass protectors in 2016 and should be just as dominant once the season is in full swing.

3. Greg Little, Mississippi

Little showed big potential (see what I did there?) as a freshman starter for Ole Miss, but his sophomore year was lackluster at best. Scouts have reported that his recent gains of experience will make him elite as a junior in a conference full of highly-touted offensive linemen.

4. Bobby Evans, Oklahoma

Evans and Orlando Brown were a dangerous tag team last season with both of them covering the right and left ends of the pocket, respectively. He opened up a lot of holes in the run game and protected No. 1 overall Baker Mayfield diligently. Evans will be moving to the left side of the line this season and is projected to go within the first four rounds of the NFL Draft.

5. Michael Deiter, Wisconsin

The B1G Championship illustrated that Deiter needed to return to the Badgers in 2018, being constantly flustered by the skill of Ohio State’s defensive line. To put it in perspective, Nick Bosa made Deiter his “bitch” and showed him that there was a lot to work on with his technique. After replacing Ryan Ramczyk at left tackle in 2017, Deiter made a solid season with good size and athleticism. If he wants to be a first-round pick, he needs to get better leverage on the ground game.

Guards

1. Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama

Yes, yet another Crimson Tide lineman. Don’t act surprised.

Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris have this man to thank for opening up so many holes in the trenches. Pierschbacher has played both left guard and center for the Crimson Tide as a solid run blocker. This season will give him the opportunity to improve his pass blocking ability as Alabama will try to move him between guard and center.

2. Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin

Both Alabama and Wisconsin will have a lot of offensive linemen featured in the early rounds of this coming NFL Draft. Benzschawel adds to that list due to his bulky size with an ability to fire off the ball and generate the most important thing an interior lineman can do: push. His linear build does hurt him in retrospect, but he’ll beat you off the ball and make you regret lining up against him.

3. Alex Bars, Notre Dame

Although he has experience at right tackle for the Fighting Irish, Bars will be a better fit at inside guard this season and for his foreseeable future in the NFL. But head coach Brian Kelly and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn will have to make a decision whether he’ll be the right replacement for Quenton Nelson or Mike McGlinchey. Violent in the trenches, he pounces off the ball ready to attack like a proper interior lineman.

4. Michael Jordan, Ohio State

Bursting onto the season during his freshman year starting at guard, Jordan showed great improvement in 2017 as a sophomore. There’s a recent trend of interior linemen from the Buckeyes going in early rounds and he should be able to follow that, no questions asked. Jordan already has good size to go with his strength and athleticism. With a little bit more development, he’ll be able help the Ohio State offense dominate the B1G Conference.

5. Dru Samia, Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma backfield was fronted by some quality offensive linemen last season and Samia is one of them. After moving from right tackle his freshman year to right guard the following season, he provided steady pass protection and holes for running. All he needs to do is gain some size and strength and his frame will be perfect for the NFL.

Centers

1. Dalton Risner, Kansas State

Performing well on both the inside and outside of the o-line, the Wildcats’ coaching staff knows they have a shuffle piece in Risner to move around at their disposal. Simply put, he’s been reliable anywhere he’s put. However, for the NFL, moving back to center will be his best fit.

2. Connor McGovern, Penn State

As aforementioned, some of the best running threats we saw last season would be nothing without their interior linemen. By far, the best running back we’ve seen in years, Saquon Barkley, has this man to thank for making him look good. McGovern opened a lot of holes for him as a quality run blocker and will need to maintain consistency as a pass protector for quarterback Trace McSorley. Great height and arm length makes McGovern a great fit for an NFL center spot.

3. Jesse Burkett, Stanford

There’s a reason why Burkett is playing for Stanford: he’s a very smart blocker. Overall, he has the best ability out of every center to block up to the second level of the defense. Only a little bit of size, however, but he makes up for it with a good combination of skills and athleticism.

4. Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame

As one of the shortest centers in this upcoming draft, Mustipher (6-foot-2) would be rated higher if he were taller and had more length. His size does limit him in certain aspects, but he has proved to be an impressive blocker for Notre Dame. Steady in pass protection and aggressive in the trenches, Mustipher may be a huge surprise this season.

5. Jake Hanson, Oregon

Hanson had a good season in 2017 and is still questionable as an entry into this upcoming NFL Draft. Why? Maybe it’s because he still has some strength to develop and experience to gain as a well-rounded center. The decision is ultimately up to him when he feels ready. As a quality athlete with some quickness, Hanson should know what he has to work on and will grow as a dominant interior lineman.

 

#NeverDone

First off, I want to extend a massive congratulations to the city of Philadelphia and the Eagles organization on winning their first Lombardi trophy Sunday night. It was a long time coming, but they finally were able to take home their first Super Bowl win since… well, before the Super Bowl even existed.

Nobody can argue that both offenses did a miraculous job last night, making for historical numbers in combined total yardage. However, it all came down to who could torch the opposing defense, especially on third down where it all mattered.

The Eagles offense ran their RPO offense like I had never seen before. They were stellar. Whenever faced with a third down, they continued to come up big. Donnie Jones only had to punt once.

On the other side, the Patriots offense was running like they had all season. The big plays happened but it just wasn’t enough. In the end, the offensive line got tired and overwhelmed by the pass rush which caused Tom Brady to lose a fumble on an attempt to throw.

The better team won. What else is there to say?

But what does this mean for the Patriots now? They made so many big moves in the offseason and only some actually paid off. The addition of Brandin Cooks was by far one of the greatest transactions they could’ve made for the franchise. A deep threat receiver who made it a nightmare for defensive backs to cover. Losing him impacted the team’s performance significantly Sunday night.

And I will never understand why Malcolm Butler didn’t start on defense. Whatever the coaching decision was there, I feel that they’ll be reflecting on that for a long time. One thing that is for certain, you will never see him play another down for the Patriots ever again.

As for Tom Brady, he’ll have to wait for his next shot at history-making until next season. People can’t continue to argue that he isn’t the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football. He’s already proven that. He didn’t choke last night; he put up some of the best numbers by a losing quarterback in a Super Bowl. The postseason is where he shines the most, but his performance was not a determining factor in the final decision Sunday night.

I’m happy to see an organization like Philadelphia, who’s waited practically a lifetime to see their beloved team win their first significant championship since the AFL-NFL merger. That’s my sports-fan persona talking.

As for my diehard-Patriots-fan persona, I know this isn’t the end. Far from it. Knowing how much the organization has built up since the dawn of the millennium and how much they’ve already accomplished, everybody knows that they’ll be back and with a vengeance. A loss like this on such a grand stage will loom over Tom Brady’s head and the entire franchise like a storm cloud. The coaches and players will be picking apart every little thing in order to get back to the same place they were this season.

Every team needs improving, including the “evil empire” that is the New England Patriots.

Ever since the postseason began, the Patriots started a social media the social media hashtag “#NotDone” to show that there’s still more on their plate and that there’s a job that still needs to be done. I didn’t think that this was the right one to use. If you’re a team in the NFL, the goal isn’t to win just one championship; it’s to win several and to cement your legacy as one of the stoic franchises that football has ever seen. While the Patriots have already done this, their job is far from over.

They might be down and out right now, but the Patriots are #NeverDone.

We’ll be back…

Injuries Are Killing Football

This 2017 NFL season sucks.

I won’t lie, it has been interesting thus far, especially with the Rams and Jaguars being some of the league’s best right now,… but it still sucks.

Devastating, season-ending injuries have taken some of the best talent that we’ve seen over the past couple years. We get extremely excited to watch these players demonstrate these abilities and then watch all their season’s potential fall. While it’s painful for us to handle, I can’t imagine the grief that these stricken players go through.

For me, it all started when Julian Edelman was carted off to the locker room during a preseason game against the Lions. Hours later, it was revealed that he had suffered a non-contact ACL tear. All New England fans alike were heartbroken, especially after the amazing season he and his team just had.

Many wondered what would become of the Patriots and Tom Brady without one of their main weapons on offense. We chose to bite through the pain and keep moving forward. So far, the season has been very shaky for the Patriots, but it can only get better… hopefully.

But then the list of extremely talented, seriously injured players continued to grow from there. Now in Week Nine, the names are staggering:

QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, Carson Palmer
RBs: David Johnson, Dalvin Cook, Spencer Ware
WRs: Julian Edelman, O’Dell Beckham Jr., Allen Robinson
TEs: Greg Olsen
OTs: Joe Thomas, Jason Peters, Zach Strief, Joe Staley
OGs: Marshal Yanda, Mike Iupati
Cs: Ryan Kalil
DLs: JJ Watt, Stephon Tuitt, Solomon Thomas, Cliff Avril, Sharrif Floyd
LBs: Dont’a Hightower, Whiney Mercilus, Tamba Hali
DBs: Stephon Gilmore, Jason Verrett, Eric Berry, Malik Hooker
Ks: Dan Bailey

Looking at it from a glance, the list is compiled of names who’ve been decorated in the game of football. Major awards, conference standouts, Pro Bowlers, etc.

Personally, it killed me the most when David Johnson went down Week One because I picked him first overall in fantasy. My team hasn’t been the same ever since.

I think the worst it came to was this week when Deshaun Watson went down with an non-contact ACL tear in practice, just a day after the Astros won their first ever World Series. What a heartbreak for the city of Houston who had come off a major hurricane and had already lost their hero JJ Watt earlier in the year.

Watson is a rising star and his 19 touchdown passes lead the league – an impressive stat for a rookie that didn’t even start the season opener. He was well on his way to earning Rookie of the Year and the unfortunate injury halted that campaign.

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I look forward to seeing what he can accomplish next season.

But with all the injuries at the quarterback position, Colin Kaepernick still has not been contacted for a job, but that’s not the issue at hand.

The injuries might’ve done something to the “wow” factor of the game and the reason why we all tune in every Sunday in the fall. But it has done something to the postseason. Imagine what the playoffs will be like now; the NFC North is anybody’s without Aaron Rodgers and the Packers taking it every year, the Rams and Jaguars may get their first taste of playoffs in a while, and we’ll get to see if Tom Brady can pull it off again (I’m secretly hoping this happens).

10 Active NFL Players That Deserve to Win a Title

Winning the Lombardi Trophy should be the mindset of every single NFL player in the league; it signifies a team’s dominance and the effort they put into achieving this admirable feat. Unfortunately, in a league controlled by powerhouse teams that take up the Super Bowl spotlight, some players who have made a namesake for themselves have either never been able to win the big one, or ever be in one. It’s a shame that some of the game’s best athletes haven’t been able to get their hands on the championship trophy, despite their incredible work ethic and accomplishments. With that said, here are ten of the most elite, active NFL players that deserve to win a title:

10. Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer.png

Carson Palmer did not have the greatest start to a professional career coming off a Heisman award-winning season and being drafted first overall by the Bengals. He bounced back later in his career to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 with the Arizona Cardinals. For his sake, he does deserve some playoff glory for the hardships that he’s been through. For a man who has everything, it’s strange that he is partially defined for what he’s missing: a title.

9. Julius Peppers

julius peppers.jpg

Peppers hasn’t come as close to a Super Bowl win since he and the Panthers were dashed at the hands of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXVIII (how tragic). He is currently the Panthers’ all-time leader in sacks, forced fumbles, and blocked kicks. It’s extraordinary that a man drafted in 2002 is still a force to be reckoned with in the league today. His consistent level of play and upgrade to any defense has made for a great career that would be nicely capped off with a Super Bowl victory.

8. Frank Gore

Frank Gore

At 33 years old, Gore is a still a stud running back that is able to rack up 1,000 yard seasons when most backs his age are at home on the couch. This past season, his 1,025-yard total was the highest by any RB not named John Riggins or Walter Payton in year 12, making for his ninth 1,000-yard season. He did get close to a championship win with Harbaugh’s 49ers, but he won’t get anywhere close with the mending Colts. For a player about to head in to his 13th year, he’s been everything of what a championship player should be.

7. Antonio Gates

antonio gates

111 career touchdowns – tied for most ever by a tight end alongside Tony Gonzalez. 36 years old, more than 200 NFL games played, and Antonio Gates still doesn’t have a ring. He also earned three straight first-team All-Pro Honors from 2004 to 2006. In the direction the Chargers have taken their organization over the past couple years, Gates won’t be in the Super Bowl spotlight anytime soon, even after all work he’s put in to help his team win… or at least try to.

6. Joe Thomas

joe thomas

If you give this guy a championship, you might as well give his whole team one too, and they need one more than anything. Joe Thomas has played every snap at left tackle for the saddest team in the league, the Cleveland Browns. His only winning season was his rookie year, where the Browns went 10-6 surprisingly. The six-time first-team All-Pro has done his job extremely well at an elite level while his team has gone 38-106 since 2007. This guy deserves to win, but being the humble guy that he is, he’ll put the entire city of Cleveland first.

5. Eric Berry

eric-berry

This guy’s life could be a movie if some Hollywood studio decided to pick up his story. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late 2014 and going through chemotherapy treatment in the offseason, Berry came back for the 2015 season and was named a Pro Bowler, a first-team All-Pro, and AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year. That’s simply incredible. The Kansas City Chiefs just made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL with a franchise tag to go along with his monstrous contract. What would make his story more incredible, however, is if he was able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy to bring it all around full circle.

4. Julio Jones

julio jones.jpg.pngSo close, but yet so far. The Atlanta Falcons were by far the best team in the NFL last year, but fell flat and blew the biggest lead in Super Bowl history (Go Pats). Julio Jones is the best wide receiver in the game today and has done nothing to tarnish his reputation off the field. I think back to Stephen A. Smith’s rant about him on First Take back in February about how it’s all about actions with him, not words. Not to mention that he’s a one-man highlight reel (see catches he made in Super Bowl). If Jones and the Falcons win a championship in the next couple years, it’ll be rightfully deserved because of the enormous work ethic they all put into success. But against the Patriots, they might have to work on holding a lead better.

3. Jason Witten

jason wittenSure enough to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Witten is without question one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. Like Gronkowski, Witten is asked to block very often and is an every-down player. He currently ranks seventh all-time in tight end catches behind Tony Gonzalez. He even helps rookies adjust well to their new spots on the team (example: Dak Prescott completed 72 percent of his passes when targeting Witten). He’s a team player that can still perform at a high level. However, the Dallas Cowboys haven’t seen a Super Bowl appearance since the mid-1990’s. Witten won’t be touching any trophies soon if his team keeps on choking in the playoffs like they have in the recent past.

2. Adrian Peterson

adrian peterson

When healthy and available, Peterson has been a dominant player on any field he steps on. He’s also the last non-quarterback to win league MVP. He came close to breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, which was the main reason why the Vikings landed in the postseason in 2012. Unfortunately, he has missed a total of 28 games over the past three seasons and has developed a severe case of fumbilitis. Now with the Saints, his career is going in a different direction now that him and Mark Ingram will have to share backfield duties. His resume is all of what a championship player should be, but his lone NFC Championship appearance was not one to be remembered. Maybe he’ll help the Saints get back on top and then he’ll finally be able to add a Lombardi Trophy to his repertoire.

1. Larry Fitzgerald

larry

It hurts me that Fitz hasn’t won a championship yet. Fitzgerald will obviously waltz right into the Hall of Fame when eligible. But can he get a ring to walk in with? His best shot was back in Super Bowl XLIII where the Cardinals lost to the Steelers. He currently ranks third-all-time in receptions and led the league last season in that same category. Time is running out for him as he has already openly pondered retirement. As one of the most reliable wide receivers to ever lace up his cleats, Larry Fitzgerald deserves a championship that will make his career completely fulfilled.

Is Kaepernick a Good Fit Anywhere? Serious Question…

I probably don’t need to remind you of what happened during the preseason last year with Colin Kaepernick… but for all intents and purposes, it’s somewhat necessary when dealing with the situation at hand.

In 2016, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick gained national attention when he began kneeling in protest during the singing of the United States national anthem before the start of games, motivated by what he viewed as the oppression of black people and other non-white races in the U.S. His actions prompted a wide variety of responses, including additional athletes in the NFL and other U.S. sports leagues protesting the anthem in various ways. Others who didn’t agree with him would scrutinize him, including active soldiers and veterans alike.

kaepernick

Head coach Chip Kelly named Blaine Gabbert the starter over Kaepernick before Week 1. This wasn’t because of politics, but simply because Gabbert showed more promise over the, at the time, controversial quarterback making national headlines. Fast forward five weeks, and it was announced Kaepernick was given the starting job against the Buffalo Bills and it remained like that for the rest of the season. On October 13, it was announced that he and the 49ers restructured his contract, turning it into a two-year deal with a player option for the next season.

Kaepernick finished the season with decent numbers despite having no weapons on the offensive side. He racked up 2,241 passing yards, sixteen passing touchdowns, four interceptions and added 468 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. On March 3, 2017, he officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, an option as part of his restructured contract, therefore making him a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year.

So now he’s on the market and some teams may or may not feel indifferent about signing a quarterback with a specific political agenda.

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He wants to play, but so far no one has shown interest. The reason is due to two factors: his politics and the fact that he has a 59.8 completion percentage.

People are speaking out in support of Kaepernick that teams won’t sign him solely due to him speaking out against injustices against African-Americans in the United States. On the other hand, some people fail to see that no one wants a to sign a quarterback for whom you’d have to change the offense. Especially since he’s given up hope of being a starter for another team, signing a quarterback with 58 career starts isn’t exactly ideal for most teams.

It’s not a matter of politics that is keeping Kaepernick on the edge of his seat, waiting to be signed. It’s a matter of his playing ability and how he’s performed in the past, regardless of what he did pre-game on the sidelines. Granted he didn’t exactly have any offensive playmakers in the past couple years that could have helped him get better numbers. What’s important to remember is that this is not a matter of politics, but simply football.

Sports and politics have proven to not mix well and the league and its organizations are doing all that they can to remain out of the political spotlight. If a team were to sign him, then that spotlight is going to be cast on them, which is something they want to avoid.

A potential spot for Kaepernick could be Seattle since a system with a running quarterback fits the mold of what he does at the position. With only a couple more weeks until teams start OTA’s, Kaepernick is left to wait while other teams continue to stall signing him.

 

 

 

NFL Draft First Round Recap

For the first couple picks of the draft last night, I was only able to watch it on my phone between my legs while at my school’s Danceworks show (which was amazing by the way). I was blown away by a lot of the selections and moves that ultimately spelled out a team’s future for this upcoming season. Here are some of the major events throughout the night that made this first round so special:

  1. The Browns Draft an Army, But Will It Make a Difference?

Hey, at least they didn’t draft another QB… yet. It was obvious that DE Myles Garrett from Texas A&M was going to go first overall. However, their following picks were very surprising because of the big names they selected, trying to bring some life into an already dead team. For their 25th and 29th overall picks, the Browns selected two studs with safety Jabrill Peppers from Michigan and TE David Njoku from Miami. Will these big names help them though? Garrett will be a powerful force coming off the end of the line, but going up against an NFL, possibly all-pro, tackle is way different than embarrassing some far-from-standout offensive lineman. He will be explosive, yes, but he’ll need to prove himself if he wants to be the dominant force that he says he is. Peppers did it all in college, playing nine positions offensively and defensively. If he can help the Browns succeed, then it’s very vital that the Browns strategize their defense, or offense, around him once he finds his groove within the organization.

2. Bears Trade ONE PICK UP to Select Mitchell Trubisky

Instead of me talking about this pick, I’ll let some Bears fans express how they feel about this…

Last night, the Bears, who originally had the third overall pick, traded one pick up in order to take QB Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina. But why? The Niners didn’t even want him; they were going to select DE Solomon Thomas from Stanford regardless. And to top it off, they traded away multiple 2018 third round draft picks when they could end up needing those later on. After signing QB Mike Glennon to an absurd $15M contract, the Bears seem to really be banking on quarterbacks this season, which is understandable after watching Jay Cutler fall off a cliff these past couple seasons. The Bears surely needed a change, but was this the right approach?

3. Jaguars Add Another Name to Their Backfield with Leonard Fournette

Since I predicted this pick, I won’t dive in too deep with the analysis. The Jaguars need some help in their backfield since T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory don’t seem to be carrying the load. Fournette could surely help, but after a lackluster season, I’m very interested to see how he adjusts to a major NFL role.

4. Can the Panthers Bounce Back After a Shaky Season with McCaffrey?

I think this was the most surprising pick of the night other than Trubisky. I wasn’t expecting McCaffrey to go in this direction, but after taking about 30 seconds last night to reflect and think about it, it totally makes sense. The Panthers needed both a running back and a wide receiver; they got both in one pick. This Stanford stud fits the mold of a running back while also being the right size for a slot receiver. It’s a perfect match. Unless I’m proven wrong this coming season, the Panthers could get back up to an over .500 record like they did two seasons ago.

5. The CFP Champion Lands in Houston

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, who, three months ago, brought down the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Championship with two seconds left, was selected by the Houston Texans with the 12th overall pick. After giving away Brock Osweiler, who proved to not be worth the $72M they gave him, Houston saw that it was time to invest in a new quarterback that would help them be a major contender in not only their conference, but in the AFC South which, statistically, was the worst division in all of the NFL last year. Watson could definitely make a statement early if he and DeAndre Hopkins feel each other out during summer training and running routes after practice. And by the looks of it, that could happen very early…


6. The Eagles Find Someone to Match Legend Reggie White

There were a lot of fans who were very pleased by this pick when Philadelphia selected Tennessee All-American DE Derek Barnett. With the Volunteers, he broke the university’s career sack record of 32.0, which was formerly held by NFL legend Reggie White, who also played with the Eagles from 1985-92. If this isn’t something that has shades of destiny, I don’t know of anything else that could spell it out better. Many improvements need to be made to the Eagles, especially defensively, and this was a great start.

There are only six more rounds to go, but last night showed some impressive faces landing in spots where they could eventually make a difference. The Patriots won’t have a pick until early in the third round, and the 49ers are still looking to make a change since newly-appointed GM John Lynch took over. I’m very interested to see what else unfolds, especially since Florida State RB Dalvin Cook is still on the board. It’s anyone’s game, but it’s the most exciting time of the month for football.