Category: NFL

2020 NFL Draft Recap: AFC South

Houston Texans

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 40 Overall – Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU – One could easily argue Blacklock should have gone in the first round, so always good to see a team without a first-round pick get first round value. Blacklock will not be a run-stuffing plugger like they once had in Vince Wilfork, instead he will more often line up over a guard and work to get after the QB, and interior pass rush is becoming more and more important in today’s NFL.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 90 Overall – Jonathan Greenard, Edge, Florida – The value here isn’t poor and there really wasn’t a better edge rusher available at the time, but seeing guys like Bradlee Anae, Curtis Weaver, and Khalid Kareem fall to round five, the Texans would have been off going corner in this spot as I feel there was better value there at the time.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 126 Overall – Charlie Heck, OT, North Carolina – A Heck of a pick here (see what I did there?) The Texans have had plenty of trouble keeping Deshaun Watson upright in recent years, so adding depth to the O-line was definitely a need. Heck will likely never be a starter, but he can fill in at either tackle as a backup and be serviceable in the role.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Scottie Phillips, RB, Ole Miss – David Johnson is not the RB he once was, and Duke Johnson is purely a third down back and the RB depth chart is pretty barren after that for the Texans. This should open up a real opportunity for Phillips to earn a spot on the roster, and potentially as the primary backup to David Johnson. He was not a main target in the passing game in Oxford, but he has good enough hands to catch the ball and he is a big play back if he can get the edge.

Indianapolis Colts

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 34 Overall – Michael Pittman, WR, USC – Watching the draft I immediately gained a soft spot for Pittman as they flashed him in his youth football jersey for the SCVAA Warriors, which happened to be the same organization I played for when I was a kid. After that, I looked at the player and the Colts may finally have a valid option opposite T.Y. Hilton. He was incredibly productive at USC, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, and the bloodlines that come from his father having played 11 seasons in the NFL. Another receiver who would garner first round consideration in another draft, but the depth this year assured he fell to round two.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 41 Overall – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin – Looking at the highlights and numbers there is little doubt Taylor would be a favorite pick for the Colts, but the fumbles are too big a concern. He touched the ball more than 300 times in three consecutive seasons and averaged 5 fumbles a season. This means he is a turnover risk every time he touches the ball and he has as much wear and tear as any RB to enter the draft in recent memory, a recipe for disaster.

Day Three Sleeper: Round  4, Pick 122 Overall – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington – With the addition of Eason, the Colts may have the deepest QB room in all of the NFL as they now have Philip Rivers as the starter and Jacoby Brissett as the backup. I fully expected Eason to go on day two of the draft and was shocked to see him still on the board here for the Colts. He is big, potentially too big given recent history at the position, standing 6’6” and with a massive arm. His big problems are inconsistency, but the Colts should have a well above average backup QB and potentially someone who develops in to a quality starter.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch:  Rodrigo Blankenship, K, Georgia – The Colts had trouble at kicker a season ago as Adam Vinatieri finally started to look his age. Enter the goggle wearing star from Georgia, Rodrigo Blankenship. He may be remembered mostly for his miss against South Carolina, and he had three kicks blocked, but he was 6/9 from 50+ and made 92.7% of his kicks inside 40.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 42 Overall – Lavishka Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado – I really liked the first three selections by the Jaguars, as C.J. Henderson could become a lock down corner, and K’Lavon Chaisson will slide in as an immediate starter as an edge backer opposite Myles Jack. With Shenault though, the Jags get a multi-faceted playmaker who can score anytime he touches the ball and get do just that via a deep route, bubble screen, or even carrying the ball. He is my early favorite to be my top rookie in fantasy leagues this season.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 73 Overall – DaVon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State – As big a body as there is at DT in the draft, there was little doubt a team would fall in love with Hamilton, but not sure he is worth a third rounder. He only started for Ohio State one season and is athletic for a guy weighing in at 320 lbs., but he isn’t really a run stuffer, and he isn’t really a pass rusher. Overall, he is a guy that is good at a lot, but great at nothing, so the upside is rather limited.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 137 Overall – Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State – I nearly went with fifth round selection Collin Johnson here, but I feel Scott has the quicker path to impact. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine and came away with seven picks in 30 college games, including more than a pass defended a game. If he was a 6’ corner, he would have been day two pick if he had more prototypical size but being just 5’9” he is likely best suited as a slot corner in the NFL.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: J.R. Reed, S, Georgia – The Jaguars have actually had a very good UDFA class, but none are expected to shine brighter than Reed. Many had him as an early day three selection, instead he goes undrafted and the Jags were quick to sign him up. He is a smart safety and has the ball skills you expect as the son of former NFL receiver Jake Reed. He can go get the ball in the air and will be able to cover tight ends one-on-one.

Tennessee Titans

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 61 Overall – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU – I had Fulton as a first-round pick, but he goes near the end of round two. He has the perfect size at 6’ and 195 lbs. while running a 4.46 40-yard dash. There is some concern about the makeup as he was suspended all of 2017 after falsifying a specimen for a drug test, otherwise he would have more tape and likely been a sure fire round one selection.

Least Favorite Pick: None – The Titans didn’t have a phenomenal draft, but I don’t feel they missed with any pick. Darrynton Evans is going to be a really good change of pace option for Derrick Henry, and their first-round pick of Isaiah Wilson should slide right in at right tackle.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 7, Pick 224 Overall – Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii – Good athleticism, quality touch, looks off defenders well equals a seventh round pick that should be able to earn a spot as a long term backup in the league. His deep ball needs plenty of work, but an athletic game manager isn’t the worst thing to have as QB depth.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Kobe Smith, DT, South Carolina – Often overshadowed by teammate Javon Kinlaw, Smith was the less sexy run stuffer to Kinlaw’s pass rushing acumen. Smith won’t be a guy who gets after the passer but is a guy who can play on early down to help stuff the run. He will never be a stand out star, but he is just the kind of ancillary piece a team needs to stay competitive.

2020 NFL Draft Recap: AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Favorite Pick: All from the first two days – Seriously, what the heck do the Ravens do to ensure the right players fall to them every draft? Patrick Queen was the best LB in the draft for me, LB was the biggest need for the Ravens, and he falls right in their lap. Next round they go ahead and grab J.K Dobbins to start working with Mark Ingram and should be the featured back by the end of the season. Then Justin Madubuike slips to them as a DT that fits the Ravens way perfectly. Devin Duvernay is easily a second-round talent but, due to the depth in WR this year, falls to the end of round three and will be able to be a quality second receiver across Hollywood Brown. Malik Harrison is a quality player and basically just gravy for the Ravens in round three.

Least Favorite Pick: None – Seriously, I could try and make a case for Malik Harrison, but I would just be blowing smoke, so I am gonna say I did not have a least favorite pick for the Ravens.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 7, Pick 219 Overall – Geno Stone, S, Iowa – James Proche in the end of round six is another guy to keep an eye on and he easily could have been a selection on day two, but I am going deeper sleeper than that. Nothing about him is prototypical, but he is an intelligent center fielding safety that the Ravens will almost certainly get the most out of.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah – The Ravens brought in Trace McSorley a season ago as a sixth-round pick and, despite being inactive most regular season games, he balled out in the preseason. Now they bring in Tyler Huntley to add to the QB room, but he has the athleticism to potentially shift to WR. I thought he was a draftable guy based purely on athleticism, although the he is quite skinny which is a concern and the time it takes to let the ball loose may be what prevents him from sticking at QB.

Cincinnati Bengals

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 1 Overall – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – Burrow was set to go first overall for months and it came to fruition despite reports of the Dolphins making a real push to trade up. Burrow has possibly the greatest single season in college football history and pulled off the rare feat of Heisman Trophy winner, National Champion, and first overall pick all within the same year. If there is a knock it is the fact he was little more than average in seasons prior, but there is no arguing what he did in 2019.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 65 Overall – Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming – I didn’t dislike this pick, but I didn’t love it either and you can’t argue with Joe Burrow at the top of the draft and Tee Higgins at the top of round two. Zack Baun was still on the board when the Bengals selected Wilson and I don’t think there is much argument that Wilson is a better prospect. Given the new CBA rules, a diluted urine sample doesn’t have the same impact it once did, so that should not have prevented the Bengals from selecting Baun.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 147 Overall – Khalid Hareem, Edge, Notre Dame – Kareem was never a dominant pass rusher at Notre Dame and that won’t be what the Bengals are looking for from him despite his size being that of a traditional edge rusher. Instead, he will be the kind of guy who lines up on the right tackle and stuffs him in his place allowing the second level to come up and stop the run. He is first and second down depth, and quality value at this point in the draft.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: None – Again, I am not going to force a name I don’t believe in. The Bengals had a quality draft, but they haven’t brought in much talent thus far in UDFA. Not a knock, it is still somewhat early, just none that I see as worthy of calling out.

Cleveland Browns

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 44 Overall – Grant Delpit, S, LSU – A throwback strong safety, Delpit is a downhill defender looking for the big hit to dislodge the football in the passing game and can stop a running back in the open field. His final season at LSU was hampered by injuries after a stellar 2018. Had he repeated what he did a season ago, he would have been a first-round pick, so grabbing him in round two is a great grab for Cleveland.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 10 Overall – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama – Said it in regards to the Jets first round selection, I don’t dislike Jedrick Wills, I just love Tristan Wirfs. Wills’ size screams for a potential move down to guard at some point in the future but he will probably be the week one left tackle, something I just feel there were better plug and play options at this spot.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 115 Overall – Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic – The Browns have no shortage in pass catching TEs as they bring back David Njoku, signed Austin Hooper, and now draft Harrison Bryant. Bryant will be the clear cut third option at tight end this season but could have a breakout sophomore campaign if they cut ties with Njoku. Unlike Njoku, Bryant is a quality blocker and will bring a multi-dimensional skill set to the club.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Kevin Davidson, QB, Princeton – Anytime there is an Ivy League QB added in UDFA it is worthy of keeping an eye on. Davidson did not see the field much his first three seasons but broke out in his senior year. He is an intelligent QB, not just because he is an Ivy Leaguer, with good touch and accuracy in short to intermediate throws. He does not have a big arm and struggles with the deep ball, so a trip to the practice squad is most likely for Davidson.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 49 Overall – Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame – it seems you could really highlight any team that took a WR in this draft and call it a favorite pick or a day three sleeper simply based on the depth at the position this year. Claypool fell right around where he should have been drafted, but you can make the argument to take him in round one, so the Steelers first pick coming in round two and getting Claypool is good value. He is a big body pass catcher that just missed a 4.40-flat 40-yard dash. Full package at receiver that should be a quality number two or three option.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 102 Overall – Alex Highsmith, Edge, Charlotte – Highsmith was productive in the Sun Belt, but he does not have great size or strength, making him primarily a third down edge rusher. Taking him on day three may have made him a sleeper, but on day two ahead of guys like Bradlee Anae and Curtis Weaver I just don’t like the pick.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 4, Pick 135 Overall – Kevin Dotson, G, Louisiana – Dotson was seen by more scouts than would typically be at a Rajin’ Cajun game thanks to fellow line-mate Robert Hunt, but Dotson made the most of the exposure. He is a punishing run blocker who regularly took care of the first level defenders and moved onto the second level. He will be a two position backup to start, but could easily be a starting guard by 2021.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Josiah Coatney, DT, Ole Miss – It wasn’t much of a surprise to see Coatney go undrafted, but he has landed in a great spot for his game. He has ideal size for a DT but can get knocked back too easily and does not excel in pass rush. Overall, he will really have to battle to make the team and will likely start on a practice squad, but I anticipate enough development to stick around and see some playing time over the next few seasons.

2020 NFL Draft Recap: AFC East

I will be running through each team’s draft highighting my favorite and least favorite picks (typically from days one or two) and a day three sleeper to keep an eye on. I will also feature my favorite undrafted free agent signing for each team. 

 

Buffalo Bills

Favorite Pick: Round 3, Pick 86 Overall – Zack Moss, RB, Utah – I really liked the selection of A.J. Epenesa in round two, but I think Moss will be the one we look back on as the best pick. As much as I like Devin Singletary, a fellow third round selection just a season ago, I believe Moss will become a true committee back along with him. The combo will give the Bills a very good two-headed monster in the backfield, while I believe Epenesa will open the season as a true backup.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 4, Pick 128 Overall – Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF – Typically my least favorite will be somebody from the first three rounds, but the Bills only had two picks in those rounds and I liked them both. I don’t have a real issue with Davis, I just didn’t feel he was the top WR on the board at the time, and he certainly was not a position of need given the fact they traded for Stefon Diggs. I feel they would have been better suited going after a position of need with Troy Dye or Bryce Hall.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 167 Overall – Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia – Fromm is certainly not an immediate need of the Bills, but Matt Barkley got starts when Josh Allen was out a season ago and another QB to battle for the backup gig is never a bad idea. Fromm’s biggest knock is a lack of arm strength and heading to the AFC East where three of the four teams are in environments that have adverse weather is not ideal, Fromm is exactly what you want from a backup. A smart QB with a winning pedigree, a solid selection.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Trey Adams, OT, Washington – One of the best offensive lineman to go undrafted, Adams has a real shot to make the Bills team. He stands 6’8” and weighs in at 318 lbs., he has to prototypical size for a tackle, although he does not use his body ideally, often playing smaller than his size.  He has plenty of athleticism, so he may be best suited to play guard despite his length.

Miami Dolphins

Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 5 Overall – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama – The Dolphins came into the season “Tanking for Tua”, end up with a winning record over the final 9 games of the season, and still land Tua. The injuries are an obvious concern but, by all accounts, nobody throws a better ball that Tua and he does not have to start this season since they have Fitz-Magic on the roster. I loved the fact they added a trio of blockers to go ahead of him, and Raekwon Davis is a quality run stuffer, but the player this draft will be known for is Tua.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 30 Overall – Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn – Putting aside the fact few had Igbinoghene as the top corner on the board at the time, it was one of the few positions the Dolphins actually didn’t need help at. Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are well paid and top tier corners, while the safety position needs help as does the linebacking and receiving groups.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 164 Overall – Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State – I actually really liked the Dolphins draft as a whole, and I easily could have chosen Solomon Kindley as a bruising guard, or Malcolm Perry for the intrigue of the QB turned WR from Navy, but I wound up going Weaver here. I had Weaver as a day two selection and actually like him better than the end the Dolphins also selected ten spots ahead of him, Jason Stowbridge. Weaver got after the QB and was very productive for Boise who should be a situational pass rusher with success for the Dolphins.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Kirk Merritt, WR, Arkansas State – An absolute physical freak, guy can jump out of the building and has great strength. He ran track at Oregon before transferring out to the JuCo levels and heading to Arkansas State. He is still raw but has a real shot to make the club as a special teamer who can return kicks and the speed/strength combo to be a quality gunner on kickoff and punt teams.

New England Patriots

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 37 Overall – Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne – I would have loved to see the Patriots take Yetur Gross-Matos here, a player who went one spot later, but they wound up getting two quality edge rushers so that wound up working out for them. Dugger is a guy I struggled with ahead of the draft because, as a D-II player, I saw practically no tape on him. After the draft, having spoken with many about the pick, I am officially sold. He plays tough downhill like a strong safety but can go get the ball like a traditional free safety. Overall, the perfect fit for the Patriots defense.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 5, Pick 159 Overall – Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall – I never come away from the draft really liking what the Patriots did, and for the most part that is the case yet again. I did not get the two TEs they took at the end of Round 3 as I felt there were better available, I had a list 750 names deep with me at the draft and they Patriots managed to select someone not on that list in Cassh Malula in the sixth, but Rohrwasser was a special kind of miss. Not only was it the first kicker off the board, granted it was a need, it comes out after he has an anti-government tattoo with some, well, questionable ties.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 6, Pick 182 Overall – Mike Onwenu, G, Michigan – Standing 6’3” and weighing in at 344 lbs., there is no denying Onwenu is a massive human being. Add to that 26 reps on the bench and a knack for pancaking defenders in run blocking, the Patriots may have stolen a future league average starter in round 6.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State – The Patriots surprised many by going through the entire draft without selecting a singe QB, so it is no surprise they landed on of the top undrafted guys at the position.  The fact he never completed 60% of his passes and often missed hitting receivers in stride is a real concern, but there is plenty of arm strength and ability to slide around the pocket to buy time.

New York Jets

Favorite Pick: Round 2, Pick 59 Overall – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor – Baylor got a lot of air time this season given their undefeated run before seeing Oklahoma twice, and every time you put on a Baylor ballgame, Mims was making plays. He has good size, a sub-4..40 40, and can block. In another draft he is a first-round receiver but depth at the position caused him to fall to the back end of round two in this draft.

Least Favorite Pick: Round 1, Pick 11 Overall – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville – This is the start of what will be a trend for me, essentially marking any tackle not named Tristan Wirfs as a least favorite pick. I actually like Becton a lot and think he will be a quality player; I just don’t think he was anywhere close to the best available.

Day Three Sleeper: Round 5, Pick 158 Overall – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia – Hall went back to Virginia for another year to try and become a first-round selection, but instead he slides to the fifth. This was undoubtedly one of the top needs for the Jets, and they get a guy who was once a no-brainer day two selection mid-way through day three, this decision was easy for me.

Undrafted Free Agent to Watch: Lamar Jackson, CB, Nebraska – Yes, there are now two Lamar Jackson’s in the NFL, although this one will never be the star the QB in Baltimore is. I was actually quite surprised Jackson did not get drafted, as there were some that saw him as a potential day two selection. He is a big corner, standing 6’2”, and may eventually have to move to safety as he is very good with the ball in the air but can be beat by quick receivers. If he moved to free safety, his size and ability to get after contestable balls could make him a multiple year contributor to the Jets secondary.

 

2020 3 Round NFL Mock Draft

Rnd.

Pick #

NFL team

Player

Pos.

College

1

1

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow

QB

LSU

1

2

Washington Redskins

Chase Young

Edge

Ohio State

1

3

Detroit Lions

Jeff Okudah

CB

Ohio State

1

4

New York Giants

Tristan Wirfs

OT

Iowa

1

5

Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa

QB

Alabama

1

6

Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert

QB

Oregon

1

7

Carolina Panthers

Isaiah Simmons

LB

Clemson

1

8

Arizona Cardinals

Jedrick Wills Jr.

OT

Alabama

1

9

Jacksonville Jaguars

Javon Kinlaw

DT

South Carolina

1

10

Cleveland Browns

Derrick Brown

DT

Auburn

1

11

New York Jets

Andrew Thomas

OT

Georgia

1

12

Las Vegas Raiders

CeeDee Lamb

WR

Oklahoma

1

13

San Francisco 49ers

Jerry Jeudy

WR

Alabama

1

14

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mekhi Becton

OT

Louisville

1

15

Denver Broncos

Henry Ruggs III

WR

Alabama

1

16

Atlanta Falcons

C.J. Henderson

CB

Florida

1

17

Dallas Cowboys

K’Lavon Chaisson

Edge

LSU

1

18

Miami Dolphins

Austin Jackson

OT

USC

1

19

Las Vegas Raiders

Jordan Love

QB

Utah State

1

20

Jacksonville Jaguars

Xavier McKinney

S

Alabama

1

21

Philadelphia Eagles

Justin Jefferson

WR

LSU

1

22

Minnesota Vikings

A.J. Terrell

CB

Clemson

1

23

New England Patriots

Yetur Gross-Matos

Edge

Penn State

1

24

New Orleans Saints

Patrick Queen

LB

LSU

1

25

Minnesota Vikings

Tee Higgins

WR

Clemson

1

26

Miami Dolphins

D’Andrew Swift

RB

Georgia

1

27

Seattle Seahawks

A.J. Epenesa

Edge

Iowa

1

28

Baltimore Ravens

Kenneth Murray

LB

Oklahoma

1

29

Tennessee Titans

Joshua Jones

OT

Houston

1

30

Green Bay Packers

Laviska Shenault Jr.

WR

Colorado

1

31

San Francisco 49ers

Ross Blalock

DT

TCU

1

32

Kansas City Chiefs

J.K. Dobbins

RB

Ohio State

2

33

Cincinnati Bengals

Zack Baun

LB

Wisconsin

2

34

Indianapolis Colts

Denzel Mims

WR

Baylor

2

35

Detroit Lions

Neville Gallimore

DT

Oklahoma

2

36

New York Giants

Grant Delpit

S

LSU

2

37

Los Angeles Chargers

Trevon Diggs

CB

Alabama

2

38

Carolina Panthers

Jalen Hurts

QB

Oklahoma

2

39

Miami Dolphins

Brandon Aiyuk

WR

Arizona State

2

40

Houston Texans

Justin Madubuike

DT

Texas A&M

2

41

Cleveland Browns

Antoine Winfield Jr.

S

Minnesota

2

42

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacob Eason

QB

Washington

2

43

Chicago Bears

Kristian Fulton

CB

LSU

2

44

Indianapolis Colts

Cole Kmet

TE

Notre Dame

2

45

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jonathan Taylor

RB

Wisconsin

2

46

Denver Broncos

Jeff Gladney

CB

TCU

2

47

Atlanta Falcons

Terrell Lewis

Edge

Alabama

2

48

New York Jets

Michael Pittman Jr.

WR

USC

2

49

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ezra Cleveland

OT

Boise State

2

50

Chicago Bears

Terrell Burgess

S

Utah

2

51

Dallas Cowboys

Jaylon Johnson

CB

Utah

2

52

Los Angeles Rams

Cesar Ruiz

C

Michigan

2

53

Philadelphia Eagles

Damon Arnette

CB

Ohio State

2

54

Buffalo Bills

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

RB

LSU

2

55

Baltimore Ravens

Jalen Reagnor

WR

TCU

2

56

Miami Dolphins

Ashtyn Davis

S

Cal

2

57

Houston Texans

Curtis Weaver

Edge

Boise State

2

58

Minnesota Vikings

Josh Uche

Edge

Michigan

2

59

Seattle Seahawks

Isaiah Wilson

OT

Georgia

2

60

Baltimore Ravens

Robert Hunt

OG

Louisiana

2

61

Tennessee Titans

Marlon Davidson

DE

Auburn

2

62

Green Bay Packers

Adam Trautman

TE

Dayton

2

63

Kansas City Chiefs

Noah Igbinoghene

CB

Auburn

2

64

Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Johnson

WR

Minnesota

3

65

Cincinnati Bengals

KJ Hamler

WR

Penn State

3

66

Washington Redskins

Lloyd Cusheberry III

C

LSU

3

67

Detroit Lions

Julian Okwara

Edge

Notre Dame

3

68

New York Jets

Nick Harris

C

Washington

3

69

Carolina Panthers

Jordan Elliot

DT

Missouri

3

70

Miami Dolphins

Lucas Niang

OT

TCU

3

71

Los Angeles Chargers

Cam Akers

RB

Florida State

3

72

Arizona Cardinals

Akeem Davis-Gaither

LB

Appalachian State

3

73

Jacksonville Jaguars

Cameron Dantzler

CB

Mississippi State

3

74

Cleveland Browns

Prince Tega Wanogho

OT

Auburn

3

75

Indianapolis Colts

Jake Fromm

QB

Georgia

3

76

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bryce Hall

CB

Virginia

3

77

Denver Broncos

Tyler Biadasz

C

Wisconsin

3

78

Atlanta Falcons

Zack Moss

RB

Utah

3

79

New York Jets

Bradlee Anae

Edge

Utah

3

80

Las Vegas Raiders

Jeremy Chinn

S

Southern Illinois

3

81

Las Vegas Raiders

Devin Duvernay

WR

Texas

3

82

Dallas Cowboys

Jared Pickney

TE

Vanderbilt

3

83

Denver Broncos

Troy Dye

LB

Oregon

3

84

Los Angeles Rams

Jonathan Greenard

Edge

Florida

3

85

Detroit Lions

Jonah Jackson

OG

Ohio State

3

86

Buffalo Bills

Troy Pride Jr.

CB

Notre Dame

3

87

New England Patriots

Chase Claypool

WR

Notre Dame

3

88

New Orleans Saints

Donovan Peoples-Jones

WR

Michigan

3

89

Minnesota Vikings

Matt Hennessy

C

Temple

3

90

Houston Texans

Netane Muti

OG

Fresno State

3

91

Las Vegas Raiders

Amik Robertson

CB

Louisiana Tech

3

92

Baltimore Ravens

Lamical Perine

RB

Florida

3

93

Tennessee Titans

Hunter Bryant

TE

Washington

3

94

Green Bay Packers

Malik Harrison

LB

Ohio State

3

95

Denver Broncos

Matt Peart

OT

Connecticut

3

96

Kansas City Chiefs

Jack Driscoll

OG

Auburn

3

97

Cleveland Browns

Willie Gay Jr.

LB

Mississippi State

3

98

New England Patriots

Nate Stanley

QB

Iowa

3

99

New York Giants

Khalid Kareem

Edge

Notre Dame

3

100

New England Patriots

Albert Okwuegbunam

TE

Missouri

3

101

Seattle Seahawks

Raekwon Davis

DT

Alabama

3

102

Pittsburgh Steelers

Davon Hamilton

DT

Ohio State

3

103

Philadelphia Eagles

Anfernee Jennings

Edge

Alabama

3

104

Los Angeles Rams

Michael Ojemudia

CB

Iowa

3

105

Minnesota Vikings

Alex Taylor

OT

South Carolina State

3

106

Baltimore Ravens

Jabari Zuniga

Edge

Florida

Predicting the NFL Season

AFC

North

WLT

Div

Steelers

12-4

4-2

Ravens

10-6

4-2

Browns

10-6

3-3

Bengals

3-13

1-5

 

South

WLT

Div

Texans

10-6

4-2

Jaguars

8-8

3-3

Titans

7-9

3-3

Colts

7-9

2-4

 

 

East

WLT

Div

Patriots

12-4

6-0

Dolphins

6-10

3-3

Bills

4-12

2-4

Jets

2-14

1-5

 

West

WLT

Div

Chiefs

12-4

5-1

Chargers

12-4

4-2

Raiders

5-11

2-4

Broncos

5-11

1-5

   


 

    NFC

North

WLT

Div

Packers

12-4

3-3

Vikings

10-6

4-2

Bears

10-6

4-2

Lions

3-13

1-5

 

South

WLT

Div

Falcons

12-4

4-2

Saints

12-4

4-2

Panthers

11-5

4-2

Buccaneers

5-11

0-6

 

 

East

WLT

Div

Eagles

11-5

5-1

Cowboys

10-6

5-1

Redskins

3-13

1-5

Giants

2-14

1-5

 

West

WLT

Div

Rams

14-2

5-1

Seahawks

9-7

4-2

49ers

5-11

2-4

Cardinals

2-14

1-5

 

Super Bowl: Chiefs over Rams

2019 NFL Mock Draft

1. Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray – QB – Oklahoma
2. San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa – DE – Ohio State
3. New York Jets – Quinnen Williams – DT – Alabama
4. Oakland Raiders – Drew Lock – QB – Missouri
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devin White – ILB – LSU
6. New York Giants – Dwayne Haskins – QB – Ohio State
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Hockenson – TE – Iowa
8. Detroit Lions – Josh Allen – OLB – Kentucky
9. Buffalo Bills – Ed Oliver – DT – Houston
10. Denver Broncos – Devin Bush – ILB – Michigan
11. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonah Williams – OT – Alabama
12. Green Bay Packers – Noah Fant – TE – Iowa
13. Miami Dolphins – Christian Wilkins – DT – Clemson
14. Atlanta Falcons – Cody Ford – OT – Oklahoma
15. Washington Redskins – Chris Lindstrom – G – Boston College
16. Carolina Panthers – Jawaan Taylor – OT – Florida
17. New York Giants – Brian Burns – OLB/DE – Florida State
18. Minnesota Vikings – Erik McCoy – G/C – Texas A&M
19. Tennessee Titans – Rashan Gary – DE – Michigan
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Greedy Williams – CB – LSU
21. Seattle Seahawks – Montez Sweat – DE – Mississippi State
22. Baltimore Ravens – Garrett Bradbury – G/C – NC State
23. Houston Texans – Josh Jacobs – RB – Alabama
24. Oakland Raiders – Hollywood Brown – WR – Oklahoma
25. Philadelphia Eagles – Darnell Savage Jr. – S – Maryland
26. Indianapolis Colts – Jeffery Simmons – DT – Mississippi State
27. Oakland Raiders – Clelin Ferrel – DE – Clemson
28. Los Angeles Chargers – Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson
29. Seattle Seahawks  – Byron Murphy – CB – Washington
30. Green Bay Packers – Johnathan Abram – S – Mississippi State
31. Los Angeles Rams – Andrew Dillard – OT – Washington State
32. New England Patriots – Daniel Jones – QB – Duke

The Good, Bad, and Confusing of NFL Moves

We aren’t even a week into the new league year, but already there have been a ton of moves that will help shape the 2018 NFL season. Here is a quick take on the teams I feel have gotten better, worse, and completely confused.

Better

Chicago Bears – They have parted ways with Mike Glennon after giving the reigns over to Mitch Trubisky and brought in two solid backups. I feel like the idea of Chase Daniel is better than the quarterback Chase Daniel, but he is now in Chicago to be the primary backup and will land high on many people’s lists of top backups in the league. Time will tell if Tyler Bray will make the team, but he is another backup with experience.  The Bears are where highly thought of college receivers go to die, so it is about time they sign a big time receiver, and Allen Robinson gives Trubisky a real number one target. Add Prince Amukamara, Aaron Lyncch, Sam Acho,  and resign Kyle Fuller, and the defense gets a boost as well.

Green Bay Packers – Getting DeShone Kizer as the new backup to Aaron Rodgers is an upgrade, Muhammad Wilkerson for just $5M is all upside, and Jimmy Graham gives Rodgers a scary weapon at tight end. Will be interesting to see how the loss of Jody Nelson will impact the team.

Kansas City Chiefs – They dealt away Alex Smith to make room for Patrick Mahomes and brought in a stud receiver for him in Sammy Watkins. Kendall Fuller will take the place of the departed headache in Marcus Peters, while they also add linebacker Anthony Hitchens to an already solid defense.

Los Angeles Rams – Speaking of Marcus Peters, he is now in LA with the Rams, along with new acquisition Aqib Talib improve the Rams secondary, although they did lose talent up front.

Oakland Raiders – Goodbye Michael Crabtree, make room for Jordy Nelson. In addition to adding a reliable receiver, they are taking their chances on former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin.

San Francisco 49ers – There won’t be a move that goes further under the radar than the 49ers signing Weston Richburg. He takes over as center along side two underperforming first round guards in Laken Tomlinson and Josh Garnett, making the raw talent in front of Jimmy Garappolo something that could become elite. They replace the departed Carlos Hyde with Jerick McKinnon and were the winners in the rush to get Richard Sherman after he was released.

Tennessee Titans – The Titans had DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, two backs that run very similarly, but now part ways with Murray and bring in Dion Lewis who will serve as an excellent change of pace back and easy underneath target for Marcus Mariota. They also spend the money get Malcolm Butler as corner, and word is they will allow him to play.

Worse

Dallas Cowboys – Ready for the list of new players the Cowboys have brought in this season? Ok, here it goes:

 

Did you miss it? Yeah, they haven’t brought in anyone of note, their big signing has been the re-signing of their long snapper. Meanwhile they have said goodbye to Anthony Hitchens, Keith Smith will no longer be in at fullback, and Orland Scandrick has been released. Not a good sign for the Cowboys.

New England Patriots – Ok, maybe my fandom is getting in the way here, but I am not one to say “they always lose talent and somehow win the division”. I am one to say “you just traded Jimmy G for practically nothing after sending off Jacoby Brissett in the preseason, who is gonna be the QB of the future?” Add to that the departure of Julian Edelman (I don’t care if he didn’t play last year, he is still the best receiver the team had) and replace him with the always underwhelming Cordarrelle Patterson? Oh, and we already touched on the fact that Dion Lewis and Malcom Butler are gone.

Confused

Arizona Cardinals – Let’s face it, this tweet perfectly sums up the signing of Sam Braford.

 

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But they also sign Mike Glennon, one who we at The Stain have long been fans of. You also bring back Larry Fitzgerald but lose the Brown brothers, John and Jaron (not really brothers).

Cleveland Browns – Ok, you have picks one and four in the draft and seem to be debating between quarterback and running back…so you trade for Tyrod Taylor and sign Carlos Hyde? I am confused. You trade for Jarvis Landry, a very good WR, but you are going to have to give him a very large contract as he is currently under the franchise tag.

New York Jets – The Jets resigned Josh McCown and went out and brought in Teddy Bridgewater, which would be a solid QB room for a team who just might be a few good pieces away from being respectable…so they go out and trade away their 6th overall pick along with picks 37 and 49 and a second next year to jump up to three where they will no doubt add a QB? What a mess.

Snake-bitten Sam

Quick, apart from the position they play(ed), what do Tim Tebow, Jimmy Claussen, Colt McCoy, Mike Kafka, John Skelton, and Rusty Smith have in common with Sam Bradford?

If you said that they were the next 6 quarterbacks drafted following Bradford in the 2010 NFL draft, you would be correct. More on this later.

Any time a quarterback is taken with the first overall pick in the draft, the standard of Face of the Franchise is, either fairly or unfairly, bestowed upon that man. Sam Bradford was no different. From the moment his name was the first one read in 2010, he was going to change the fortunes of one of the most moribund franchises in all of professional sports. Apart from a three year period at the turn of the millennium, the Rams…well, they were awful.

Plagued by brutally inept leadership that consistently assembled rosters permeated by sub-professional level “talent,” failure was unavoidable. Bradford was the turning point, however. His on-field excellence was matched only by his spotless character. And with his Abercrombie model looks, the whole face of the franchise thing could literally be taken…well, literally.

If there were concerns about Bradford, they were about a shoulder injury that ended his junior and final season at Oklahoma, and kept him from participating at the combine. To date since then, it has never been an issue.

Being the first overall pick in any sport’s draft is both a blessing and a curse. Ultimately, you end up being a smashing success or a dismal failure, a “bust” if you will. There isn’t any middle ground. When I make this argument to people, for some reason they always point to Eli Manning as the example of why I’m wrong – the “other” Manning is the perfect example of the middle ground for a first overall pick. I argue back that two Super Bowl rings means smashing success unequivocally. Eli is hardly the most skilled quarterback of the last 20 years – his predecessor as top pick was the more talented and two Super Bowls lighter Carson Palmer, for example – but his status as big game leader is beyond reproach.  

The Rams brought in respected veteran AJ Feeley to both challenge Bradford for the starting gig as a rookie, but more to help the young quarterback become accustomed to life as an NFL player. Bradford played well enough to earn the starting job and it appeared a star was born.  Key word, “appeared.”

Those of us who have been Rams fans for the last few decades (guilty!) have a complex. An old work buddy of mine who was a huge Rams fan from the pre-Kurt Warner days used to truly (I think) believe that God had it in for the Rams. For the purposes of this article, and also for the purpose that it was actually his name and I’m too lazy to come up with a pseudonym for him, we’ll call him Chris. Chris once speculated to me that someone would have to sell their soul to reverse the cosmic law that forever and for always, the Rams would suck. Then, something strange happened. The heaven-ordered moratorium on competent personnel decisions was briefly lifted. They traded for the awesome multi-purpose back Marshall Faulk, signed Trent Green, a quality free agent quarterback from Washington, drafted promising receiver Torrey Holt, and things were looking up. Then, a single cheap shot by Rodney Harrison in preseason game number three changed everything. Shortly thereafter, the news became public: Trent Green’s season was over due to a knee injury.

“We’re f*****.”

That was the email I got from Chris, except that the little stars weren’t little stars. They were, in fact, letters of the alphabet. I don’t think I need to explain which ones.

The rest of that season of course was historic. Who knew that Kurt Warner would come in and play Hall of Fame level football?

Bradford won the offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, and a franchise devoid of any hope for the better part of a decade had some. The Rams even had a chance to back into the playoffs with a final week win in Seattle. Now, these Seahawks weren’t anywhere near the juggernaut that today’s squad is, but still a beast of an opponent at home.

The Seahawks ended up beating the Rams that day, 16-6, but three pivotal plays shaped the game. Two beautifully thrown bombs by Bradford, one down the middle and another down the left sideline, to rookie Danario Alexander, and a late key third down strike to tight end Daniel Fells. The normally sure-handed Alexander let both passes go right through his hands, and Fells allowed the ball to carom from right between the numbers on the front of his jersey harmlessly to the ground. Both plays to Alexander could have gone for 50 or more yards, and the play to Fells would have kept a critical late drive alive. And to be clear, all three of these passes were throws that an NFL receiver should catch 90% or more of the time. 

As frustrating as the loss was, there was a curious lack of foreboding among Rams fans. We had a young stud quarterback, we nearly made the playoffs, and things could only get better. Chris and I had long since lost touch, but I imagined that even he remained cautiously optimistic. Little did any of us know that the Seahawks game was only the beginning of, with a nod to Lemony Snickett, a lengthy series of unfortunate events for Bradford.

We’re not even talking about the injuries yet. Regular season, 2011, Game 1 against the Eagles. On the Rams’ first series, Steven Jackson thundered through the entire Philly defense for a long touchdown run. It was also his last contribution to the game as he pulled quad muscle on the run. Jackson frequently pulled muscles in the early part of seasons, leading one to believe he bit his thumb at the time-honored practice of stretching, but that’s neither here nor there. On the subsequent possession, Bradford threw a long strike to a wide open Lance Kendricks who could have waltzed into the end zone with all the urgency of molasses in January, had he only remembered the minor detail of actually catching the perfectly thrown ball.

Week 2 against the Giants, the teams were close until the game turned on a third down play deep in Giants territory where Bradford threw a lateral pass to a wide open Cadillac Williams. Williams dropped the well-thrown ball, and then inexplicably didn’t make any attempt to recover it, allowing the Giants to return it for a touchdown. Game, set, match.

The play of Bradford and his surrounding cast only deteriorated from there, culminating in a catastrophic high ankle sprain in week 7 against the Cowboys. This injury not only ruined the rest of 2011 for Bradford, it never quite healed right and cost him valuable mobility for all of 2012 – essentially making him a sitting duck for opposing defenses which penetrated the Rams’ putrid offensive line with minimal effort and remarkable ease. It’s worth noting, however, that Bradford managed to lead the Rams to seven wins in spite of terrible pass protection, and the fact that he now was working under his third offensive coordinator in three years, the appallingly incompetent Brian Schottenheimer.

2013 looked to be the first season since his rookie campaign that offered a glimpse of what a healthy Bradford may be capable of, though any real chances of a prosperous year were scuttled by a comically cataclysmic attempt at installing something resembling a spread passing attack, which ultimately spread only despair. After a particularly horrifying display at home against the 49rs, where a shell-shocked and panicky Bradford was desperately and aimlessly heaving passes in the face of a relentless San Francisco pass rush,  coach Jeff Fisher came to his senses and went to an uninventive but not calamitous power run approach behind bruising rookie Zac Stacy. Bradford’s play and that of the team improved, but giving the other teams in the stacked NFC West a four week head start is too much to overcome. Oh, and there was that whole ACL tear thing against Carolina in week 8 too.

The Bradford story for 2014 is a short one. It ended in the preseason with another ACL tear.

What is my point, you may be thinking? Well, with the trade earlier this week of Bradford to the Eagles for fellow quarterback Nick Foles, an era came to an end. It’s weird to call something that lasted just five short years an era, but it was. Bradford’s time with the Rams was a saga of unfulfilled potential and abysmal luck. It also leaves unanswered questions. Now that Bradford has been freed from any curse there might be over the Rams, as well as the lofty expectations that come along with being an obscenely overpaid quarterback before you ever even take a single NFL snap (he’s still obscenely overpaid if accomplishment is used as a barometer for what salary should be, but it’s in a new city), will he finally become the superstar that people thought he would? Or, is it just him? Remember those six guys I mentioned at the beginning? Maybe Bradford only seemed to be as good as he was in college because of who his contemporaries were. I’m among the dwindling crowd that still thinks Tim Tebow deserves to be employed as a quarterback, though probably not a starter, somewhere in the NFL. He has a playoff win to his credit (he threw for three hundred yards that game!!!!) ((though much of it came on the final play…)) (((shut up, voice in my head!!!))) and his career win-loss numbers are far from terrible. But apart from him, nobody in that crowd has accomplished anything of note in the NFL.

What do I think? Well, I think the good Lord has too many other important things to do to waste His time ensuring the continuing futility of an NFL franchise, though I haven’t entirely discounted the possibility that more sinister forces may be at work. That’s the kind of answer you’ll get from a self-aware conspiracy theorist and unapologetic pessimist. But I think Bradford is good. I think his struggles are far more a result of unfortunate circumstances and buzzard luck than they are of not being any good. Is he Andrew Luck good, to reference another number one overall pick at quarterback? No, very few people are Andrew Luck good. Is he Cam Newton good, also a first overall pick? Yeah. They’re not the same player but they’re close in terms of goodness. And you’ll see that in 2015. Or…you won’t if he gets hurt again.

Now, about Nick Foles. How good will he be? I don’t know, to be honest. The Rams offense should improve exponentially by the departure of Schottenheimer alone, but it will all be academic anyway if the Rams indeed are cursed, and Foles suffers some kind of horrible injury in preseason.

I sure hope curses aren’t real.

Time for the Beast to Talk

The ongoing business of Marshawn Lynch and his continued middle finger at the NFL regarding talking to the media has been a source of amusement, bemusement, social media fodder, and scorn as the season has gone along. 

Now that the Seahawks are back in the Superbowl, in spectacular fashion no less, it will be interesting to see how Lynch responds to the ongoing and increasing media demands. 

There shouldn’t really be any suspense though. Odds are, he’ll do what he’s been doing; either giving terse and irrelevant answers or shirking his responsibilities altogether, fines be damned.

Surprisingly, Lynch has been getting quite a bit of admiration, sympathy, and other positive sentiment for his actions (inactions?) with the media. 

One close friend of mine went so far as to tell me that the league needs to recognize his severe social anxiety and grant him an exception to his media responsibilities.

That kind of sent me over the edge. There are people in my life who are close to me that have what would qualify as acute social anxiety, and that’s not Lynch. If anything, what he has is a mild form, but more likely, he just hates the media. 

Well, you know what dude, suck it up. Those of us who work everyday jobs couldn’t dream of behaving the way he does. Lynch is one of the best players in the NFL, irrespective of position, but an employee of a company nonetheless. One of his responsibilities is to talk to the media. If any of us in the real world would stick up our bird fingers to our bosses the way he has done, we’d be summarily fired.

If the NFL has any backbone at all, it’s time for them to stand up and say to Lynch, if you don’t honor your responsibilities to the media like all other players have to, you are not eligible to play in the Superbowl. Done and done. 

And if Lynch really does have social anxiety to the point where speaking with the media causes him to experience severe mental anguish, he certainly has the means to get an independent and accredited therapist to testify as such to the NFL. And then, and only then, should he be given any kind of reprieve. 

We’re talking about a guy who is building a Hall of Fame resume. It certainly would be a shame if this bull, uh, excrement, was a factor in that voting a decade from now. 

 

Why is My Seat Warm? NFL Coaches Who Might Soon be Jobless

As another NFL regular season draws to a close, a hot topic of discussion is always the coaching hot seat. It can be an awkward and unpleasant topic. In many cases it’s not 100% fair to blame the coach for a team’s underperformance. The NFL season is a short one; 16 measly games. A solid baseball team can go through a brutally bad 16 game stretch and have plenty to time to right the ship over its 162 game season. In basketball and hockey, it’s not quite as easy, but over an 82 game schedule, it’s still well within the realm of possibility to recover from a rough 16 game patch.

But football? No, entire seasons can go south in a mere 4 or 5 weeks. The quarterback can get hurt. The schedule makers can be merciless. The referees can be horrifyingly inept, or just plain cheat. Or the oblong ball made of pigskin might take an inopportune bounce. It really takes very little. The final playoff participants are frequently separated from the Just Missed Its by one lousy game…or even a tie-breaker.

And someone has to take the fall. The NFL is a gazillion dollar enterprise, and failure is not tolerated for extended periods of time; not by a fan base that spends ungodly amounts of money on season tickets and memorabilia. Not with television networks throwing around billions. Not in the social media era, where anonymity is an ancient relic from a bygone era, and everything gone wrong can instantly go viral. Every move, every mistake is under a microscope.

You can get rid of an underperforming player or two, and try to sell your fan base that an upgrade here or there was really all you needed. But put too much on the players, the guy who makes the decisions is indirectly pointing the finger at himself, since he’s the guy that went out and got those players. No no, we can’t look too hard at the GM. Well, that leaves the coach.

Again, it’s not always fair. Football can’t be painted in black and white, and there isn’t always a direct cause and effect correlation. Then again, the lowest paid nfl head coach makes 100 times what the average blogger with a day job makes, so my sympathy goes only so far. Well, for right or for wrong, here are The Stain’s top 5 coaches who may be filing for unemployment insurance sooner rather than later. 

5. Andy Reid, KC: Didn’t take us long to get to the surprises, did it? But wait a minute, you might be saying. The Chiefs have been halfway decent the last couple of seasons. And, you’d be right. In fact, they went 11-5 as recently as 2013. But there were rumblings that the record was fluky. They got off to a good start, just kind of held on at the end, and then predictably went nowhere in the playoffs. Apologists will point out that as far as the regular season goes, it doesn’t matter in what order you win the games, just that you do. And they’d be right, to a point. But this year, the team will either finish 8-8 or 9-7, barring a tie, and miss the playoffs regardless. That’s a startling regression from a team that won 11 games just one season ago, and doesn’t appear to have any age-related player regression concerns. The defense is solid, they have an all-galaxy running back in Jamal Charles. Alex Smith almost never turns the ball over. The right blueprint seems to be in place. But it didn’t happen. You look at some of the games they lost, like the one against the Raiders. A team that had just beaten Seattle should be able to win that game, right? And there was the winnable game at home against the Broncos. Charles carried the ball 10 times in that game. For perspective, the Broncos’ CJ Anderson carried it 32 times in the same game. Even if you count his four receptions, 14 times is not enough for your best player to get the ball in a game against a division opponent with Super Bowl aspirations. Some tough questions could be asked of Reid after this season. It remains to be seen whether he can come up with answers. I think he’ll get one more year, but if the brass in KC thinks that this could have been the year for them, it may be a story with an unhappy ending for Reid.

4. Marc Trestman, Chi: The Bears have to go down as one of the season’s biggest disappointments. It started week 1 at home against Buffalo, and just never really got any better. What may hurt Trestman is that he brought with him the reputation of being a sort of quarterback whisperer, someone who could coax extraordinary results from his signal caller. Well, that may or may not be true, but Jay Cutler leading the league in turnovers would jade just about anyone’s 10,000 foot judgment on that. If you look at little deeper, yeah, Cutler hasn’t been very good. But he also hasn’t been as terrible as the numbers would indicate. Quite a few of his interceptions have been of the second half variety while his team has abandoned the run and desperately tried to claw back into a game it was losing by multiple scores. This would be because the defense, by in large, showed an alarming lack of ability to stop anyone. Sure, age, injury and some personnel decisions that were questionable have had a negative impact on this unit. But Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker has to shoulder his fair share too. For years, Lovie Smith had success with a reasonably uncomplicated Tampa 2 scheme. Whatever Tucker is running currently for Chicago is neither Tampa 2 nor uncomplicated. That said, Tucker came from Jacksonville with a sterling reputation. And Trestman came from the CFL. In a logical vacuum, Tucker would seem the guy who may be responsible for more of this season’s calamity. But Trestman, at least on the surface, can be called the bigger risk when he was brought in to coach. So, logically, he’d be the guy that would make more sense to fire.

3. Jeff Fisher, Stl: Fisher has always been overrated, largely because he had a Super Bowl appearance with an absurdly talented Tennessee Titans team which he lost by half a yard. Apart from that, mediocrity abounds across his resume. When he joined the moribund Rams franchise three years ago, he was anointed some kind of savior, which was completely unfair to both him and the gullible fan base. But that said, he still represented an improvement over previous coaching regimes, so optimism spread like wildfire. After the third, and arguably worst of his three seasons in charge, the luster has worn off. However, upon closer inspection, he’s been perfectly serviceable as a head coach this year. The real issue is that as long as Brian Schottenheimer is in charge off offensive play-calling, the Rams will never be good enough. Schottenheimer is so brutally incompetent at running an offense, the Rams could eliminate his position entirely, have whomever is playing quarterback call every play at the line of scrimmage, and immediately see a drastic improvement. At the very least, there would no longer be a concerted effort made to keep the ball out of the hands of the team’s most explosive weapons. But the poop rolls down hill as they say (And by they I mean me), so Fisher is more likely to face the scrutiny. Couple the teams offensive troubles with questionable coaching selections (Gregg Williams the first time, then Tim Walton), there’s a real chance that GM Les Snead looks elsewhere. If Fisher has a saving grace, he can honestly and accurately say “look, I haven’t had a healthy starting quarterback for two consecutive seasons.” 

2. Jim Harbaugh, SF: Media outlets pretty much have already punched his ticket to Michigan, or Oakland, or…well, anywhere but San Francisco. It would have been hard to predict at the beginning of the season that the Niners would miss the playoffs. After all, the team made it to three consecutive NFC Championship Games, including one Super Bowl, and the core elements of what got them there were intact; rock solid defense, uber-athletic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and of course, bulldozing running back Frank Gore. Looking back at the 2014 season, it’s not hard to see why it went south. The team essentially anchored Kaepernick to the pocket, taking the most explosive element of his game out of the nightmares of defensive coordinators. They also showed a Schottenheimerian reluctance to give Gore, arguably the team’s best player, the ball. Suspensions and injuries hampered the defense a little, but largely, the unit performed well. The struggles were on offense. Now, was it offensive coordinator Greg Roman who messed with a winning formula? Or was it head coach Harbaugh? I don’t know that the question will be answered. But one thing is for sure. Where there’s smoke, there’s often fire. And if Harbaugh wants out, as has been rumored all year, nobody would benefit by him staying.

1. Mike Smith, Atl: If the Falcons happen to lose on Sunday, they will have gone a combined 10-22 the last two seasons. TEN and TWENTY-TWO!!! And mind you, this is a team that boasts Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Julio Jones on offense, and shows no aversion whatsoever to getting the ball to its best players. The players, especially Ryan, love Smith. But the players are also not the ones making the decision on whether Smith stays or goes. And football is very much a what have you done for me lately game. If the Falcons happen to win on Sunday, they’ll actually win the NFC South division with a record of 7-9, and possibly save his job. But even that might be prolonging the inevitable. All you have to do is Google him and you’ll see multiple media outlets urging, albeit somewhat apologetically, for Smith’s dismissal. When it’s gotten to that point, it’s a long road back.

 

Honorable Mention. Sean Payton, NO: After nine years of coaching the Saints, you’d be hard to find many detractors of Payton. He’s universally regarded as a great coached, and he’s beloved in New Orleans. It would be hard to imagine him getting fired. But this could end up being a case of the team throwing Payton a bone and letting find a contender to coach next season. (San Francisco?) It’s time for a bit of a rebuild in New Orleans. They have some nice offensive pieces in place, with Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills, and a suddenly good Mark Ingram. But they’re lacking in youth and depth. Even with a good framework in place of stars to build around, it can take a couple of years to restructure a roster to perennially compete. It takes patience, and most often multiple successful drafts. Odds are Payton will stay, but would you really be overly surprised if a coach accustomed to success didn’t want to suffer through a rebuild?

 Did we miss anyone on our list? Let us know in the comments. Happy holidays, all.