Three quarterbacks who could be surprise Week 1 starters

By: Chris Thomas

Now that the NFL is in the midst of their mandatory minicamps, quarterbacks competitions around the league have officially begun. Every year a couple of teams will have two (or three in rare cases) quarterbacks compete for the starting job. Quarterback competitions could be between two veterans, a veteran & a younger player, or an incumbent starter & a rookie. Every once in a while, a quarterback who many believe will lose the quarterback competition has a great camp and can be awarded the starting job.

There are a couple quarterbacks who may seem like long shots to win the starting quarterback job, but may end up being the Week One starter. Here are three quarterbacks who can surprise the league and be the Week One starter for their team.

Washington Football Team: Taylor Heinicke

The quarterback situation for the Washington Football team is not as open-and-shut as many believe it is. According to ESPN staff writer John Keim, Washington will still have a quarterback competition after signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year $10 million deal. The competition will be between Fitzpatrick, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, and Steven Montez.

After Fitzpatrick, the favorite to land the starting job is Taylor Heinicke. The former Old Dominion quarterback was back at school prepping for finals when Washington signed him to their practice squad. He was eventually promoted to the active roster and saw game action Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. He completed 12 of his 19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in relief of Dwayne Haskins. Then when Alex Smith was ruled out for their playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Heinicke was named the team’s starting quarterback. During that game, he completed 26 of his 44 passing attempts for 306 yards and one passing touchdown. On top of that, he had six rushing attempts for 46 yards and a rushing touchdown. The most impressive part of that game was the fact that the Heinicke-led Washington team was within eight points of taking down the eventual Super Bowl champions in the first round.

After coming into the year as the team’s fourth quarterback last season he is the favorite to be the team’s backup behind Fitzpatrick. However, it wouldn’t be shocking if Heinicke was named the Week 1 starter. After his performance in the playoffs, the team has rallied around Heinicke. He also showed that he is capable of taking control of an NFL offense and will lay it all on the line for his team. If Heinicke outshines Fitzpatrick in training camp, he could be Washington’s starter Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Houston Texans: Davis Mills

The first draft selection of the Nick Caserio/David Culley era was former Stanford quarterback Davis Mills. Houston took Mills with the 67th overall pick in the third round. The selection was not a popular one because many thought Houston would have been better off taking a potential starter for another position of need with this selection over a project quarterback. But by selecting Mills in the first round the Texans administration feels that he could be their long-term starter and could even be their starter at this point this year. The Texans’ current quarterback room is made up of Mills, Tyrod Taylor, and Jeff Driskel. The belief is that former Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson will not play for the Houston Texans this season or ever again after his trade demands and his off-the-field concerns.

In a deep 2021 quarterback class Mills was considered a candidate to be the sixth quarterback drafted and the first one selected out of the first round. He ended up being the eighth quarterback drafted behind now-former Florida quarterback Kyle Trask who was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 64th overall and former Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond who was taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the 66th overall pick. According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Texans were prepared for select Mond with the 67th selection before Minnesota took him with the selection before.

Mills was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and the top quarterback coming out that year. However, Mills only had 11 career starts at Stanford. Mill redshirted his freshman year and only had two passing attempts his sophomore season. During his junior year, he completed 65.6% of his passes throwing for 1,960 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions in eight games. He took a slight leap forward during his senior year completing 66.2% of his passes throwing for 1,508 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. Mills also had three rushing touchdowns during his senior year.

It isn’t certain that Mills will become the Texans quarterback of the future. It is very possible that the team takes a quarterback in the first round next year and Mills becomes a high-end backup. However, after taking Mills with a high selection the Texans must give him starting reps at some point this season. He was taken as high as he was because of his upside. If Mills shows why he was such a highly regarded high school recruit and has flashes of the upside Houston saw in his tape during training camp, he could easily supplant Tyrod Taylor as the team’s starting quarterback next season as early as Week 1.

Philadelphia Eagles: Joe Flacco

After the 2020-21 NFL season it was believed that the Philadelphia Eagles would have a quarterback competition between Carson Wentz and 2020 Second Round pick Jalen Hurts to determine the team’s starter for this upcoming season. But instead, Philadelphia decided to trade Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts for a package of draft picks. Even with Wentz off of the roster new head coach Nick Sirianni still wants to have a quarterback competition to determine the starter for this upcoming season. The veterans that Hurts will have to compete with for the starting job are recently signed former 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens and former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.

It has felt like a long time since Joe Flacco was considered a borderline Pro Bowl quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Eight years has passed since Flacco won the Super Bowl MVP winning Super Bowl XLVII against the San Fransisco 49ers. Since that point Flacco had been very average and then was replaced by Lamar Jackson late in the 2018-19 season after a neck injury.

He was traded to the Denver Broncos the following season for a fourth-round pick. He went 2-6 in eight games for the Broncos completing 65.3% of his passes and throwing for 1,822 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. After injuring his neck Brandon Allen and 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock started the rest of the Broncos games that season.

Flacco was then released by Denver the next offseason and picked up by the New York Jets to be the backup to Sam Darnold. When Darnold missed four games due to a shoulder injury, Flacco played decently well as the starter. He completed 55.2% of his passes and throwing for 864 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions during that time.

After how Hurts played during his four starts last season it would be shocking if he was not the teams starting quarterback in year one. But if he has a rough camp and doesn’t show improvement in a new system with a healthy offense around him, Nick Sirianni may feel that the 13-year veteran may give them a better chance to win early on. It is important to note that Nick Sirianni has done a lot of more work with veteran pocket passers versus younger mobile quarterbacks like Hurts.

More backup QBs who can become starters later in the year

Minnesota Vikings: Kellen Mond

One of the biggest surprises of the 2021 NFL Draft was the Minnesota Vikings selecting Kellen Mond with the 66th selection in the third round. According to Mike Florio of ProFootball Talk, the Vikings were prepared to move up to the eighth overall selection to take Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields to eventually replace Kirk Cousins as the team’s starting quarterback. That didn’t work out and Fields ended up with division rival Chicago Bears. So their plan B was the take Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond in the third round to potentially fill that void. Similar to Fields, Mond is a mobile quarterback that may be rawer than Fields but has the upside to become an NFL starting quarterback.

In 2016 the Dallas Cowboys did not land Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch in the first round and settled for Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth round. It is fair to say that their plan B worked out for them extremely well. That is what Minnesota could hope for in Mond. If the Minnesota Vikings struggle early in the 2021-22 season, they could turn to Mond and see if he could potentially be the team’s long-term future at quarterback.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mason Rudolph/Dwayne Haskins

After the Pittsburgh Steelers crushing playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns the biggest question surrounding the team was how would the team be constructed and whether Ben Roethlisberger would return for another season. Roethlisberger decided to return for his 17th season after taking a pay cut. He is expected to be the team’s starter in Week 1, but at this point of his career, Roethlisberger may not be capable of competing at a high level for a 17 game regular season and potential postseason play. Pittsburgh may have to evaluate their options in the house and make the tough decision of replacing Roethlisberger midseason with one of the younger quarterbacks on their roster.

Their quarterback situation this season may be similar to what the Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos’ was during the 2015-16 season. 2021 Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning only played in ten games during his finals season in Denver and was relieved by Brock Osweiler midway towards the season. But Manning returned as the team’s starter right before the playoffs and had enough in the tank to win the Super Bowl. That should be the blueprint for the Pittsburgh hopes to achieve this season with their aging quarterback and the younger quarterbacks behind him on the depth chart.

The battle for the backup job in Pittsburgh is between Mason Rudolph and 2019 first round pick Dwayne Haskins. Both have underachieved throughout their careers, but feel that they could be the Steelers long term option at quarterback if Roethlisberger decides to retire after this season. In 2019 Rudolph went 5-3 as a starter, but only threw for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Last season Rudolph threw for 324 yards two touchdowns, and an interception in five games (only one start).

Haskins spent his first two seasons in the league in Washington and was thrown in as the starter about midway through the season when he clearly wasn’t ready yet. In his first season, he went 2-5 as a starter, threw for 1,365 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The following season new head coach Ron Rivera made it clear early on that Haskins would have to earn the starting job and showed signs of not believing in him long term. Due to the lack of depth in the quarterback room, Haskins was named the starter and started six games for Washington last season. He went 1-5 as a starter, threw for 1,439 yards, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. After a photo leaked of Haskins breaking COVID-19 protocol and attending a party with strippers, he was stripped of captain and later released after a brutal start against Rivera’s former team the Carolina Panthers. This offseason he signed a futures contract with the Steelers.

An interesting transaction that occurred this offseason is that the Steelers did give Rudolph a one year extension after this season worth $5 million. That is a sign that they view him as the potential replacement for Roethlisberger long-term or is comfortable with him competing for the job with Haskins or a rookie next season. It would be hard to imagine one if not both of these quarterbacks getting a shot at being the teams starting quarterback for a couple games this season to preview what their quarterback situation could look like next season and beyond.

why the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line is the most important unit in the nfl

Nothing is more important than Patrick Mahomes being protected

by: Chris Thomas

Following the end of Super Bowl LV, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line has been under the microscope because of their poor play during that game. The Chiefs were without their Pro Bowl tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz due to injuries and the rearranged line limited one of the leagues best offenses.

It doesn’t take looking at the numbers to see the impact of the offensive line on a team who went 14-2 and made it to the Super Bowl. Anyone who watched the game could see how important their bookend tackles were to their success. However the numbers also pointed out how limited the Chiefs offense was with their makeshift offensive line that night. During the regular season the Chiefs offense averaged 29.6 points per game during the regular season and 30 points per game in the first two games in the playoffs. But during the Super Bowl was only able to put up nine points. Former league MVP Patrick Mahomes averaged 316 passing yards, 2.4 passing touchdowns, 24.4 completions, 36.8 passing attempts, and 0.38 interceptions per game during his 15 regular season starts. During the Super Bowl with a limited offensive line Mahomes had a stat line with 270 passing yards, zero passing touchdowns, 26 completions, 49 passing attempts, and two interceptions.

What happened during that game made upgrading the offensive line a major priority for the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason. The moves Kansas City made this offseason to retool their offensive line not only has a major impact on the teams success next season but the rest of the league.

What the Chiefs did to their offensive line this offseason

In shocking fashion the Chiefs decided to cut both Fisher and Schwartz early in the offseason that saved the team $18.3 million. It was shocking to see Kansas City cut both of them because if left them with the same unit that essentially cost them the Super Bowl. However Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach, decided to use that cap space to retool their offensive line. The headline addition to the offense from free agency was former Second Team All-Pro and New England Patriot Joe Thuney. They also signed former three time Pro Bowler Kyle Long out of retirement along with former Rams starting center Austin Blythe. Kansas City will also have two players who opted out of the 2020-21 season returning to the team who could start for them in guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and 2020 Third Round pick Lucas Niang.

Less than a week before the draft Kansas City made a blockbuster trade with the Baltimore Ravens acquiring Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr., 2021 second round pick (Nick Bolton), and a 2022 sixth round pick for their 2020 first round pick (Jayson Oweh), 2020 third round pick (Ben Cleveland), 2020 fourth round pick (was traded back to select 2020 fifth round pick Shaun Wade and add a 2022 fourth round pick), and a 2022 fifth round pick. The Ravens traded Brown Jr. away because he wanted to make the full time transition to left tackle which the Chiefs will allow him to do.

During the draft Kansas City also added Oklahoma Center Creed Humphrey, who many considered to be the best center in the draft, with the 63rd overall pick in the second round. They also drafted Tennessee Guard Trey Smith with the 226th pick in the sixth round. If not for the concerns created by the blood clots in his lungs he would have likely been a Day 2 pick.

How the additions to the offensive line impact not only the Chiefs but the rest of the league

It isn’t farfetched at all to say that Chiefs revamped offensive line could be a lot better than the line they had last year or even the unit from their Super Bowl season. They have added two former Pro Bowlers, a former Second Team All-Pro, and three promising young players via the NFL Draft. Kansas City has upgraded their starting line and has added some great depth to back them up and avoid what happened late last year.

So if the Chiefs offensive line is that much better than they have been the past two seasons it begs the question, what is stopping Kansas City from being better in 2021-22. A better offensive line can only mean better overall offensive production for the Chiefs passing and running game. If the Chiefs offense plays better next season than they have the past two seasons Patrick Mahomes could win his second MVP in four seasons and the Chiefs could play in their third straight Super Bowl.

Barring injury, if the Chiefs offense is more dangerous next year than they have the past two seasons there is no one that could stop them in the AFC and possibly the entire league. The fate of the Super Bowl contenders in the AFC rest in the hands of the Chiefs offensive line. If the Chiefs offensive line plays at an elite level it would be hard to imagine another team stopping or limiting Kansas City’s offense enough to defeat them late in the year. It may be harder to imagine many teams outscoring the Chiefs offense as well.

Free agents the Minnesota Vikings could still go after this offseason

Should Minnesota bring back Everson Griffin?

By: Chris Thomas

Coming into the 2021-22 NFL season the Minnesota Vikings are one of the leagues most interesting teams. The Vikings are loaded with elite talent across their roster, but are seen as a middle of the pack team due to average quarterback play and inexperience at a few key positions.

Last offseason Minnesota decided to rebuild their aging defense by letting go former Pro Bowler’s and replace them with high draft picks. If the Vikings defense can take a leap forward in 2021 they can return to the playoffs.

Their offense is loaded enough to carry them to 7 or 8 wins if they remain healthy. But if the offense disappoints they very well be picking within or close to the top-10 in next years draft.

One of the ways Minnesota can ensure they stay competitive next season is by bringing in a veteran or two that is still available in free agency to ensure they do not have any major holes on their roster. Here are the remaining free agents the Minnesota Vikings should try to sign before training camp.

Dede Westbrook, Wide Receiver

It has been a couple of seasons since the Minnesota Vikings offense has played a majority of their snaps with three receivers on the field. Minnesota’s offensive coordinators, under Mike Zimmer, primarily use two tight ends set for their base offense. However that could likely change this season under new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak. Especially since Kyle Rudolph is no longer on the team and Irv Smith Jr. is the only major receiving threat at tight end, it seems Minnesota could go in that direction.

Earlier this month it was reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson that the Vikings could still look for a third wide receiver. She reported that former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook could be a target for Minnesota.

At this point of free agency Westbrook is arguably the most talented receiver on the market. He fits exactly what the Vikings wide receiver room is missing. They are missing another deep threat that could stretch the field from the slot. Signing Westbrook will likely move 2020 First Round pick, Pro Bowler, and Second Team All-Pro Justin Jefferson to the outside permanently opposite Adam Thielen.

When Westbrook was a focal point in Jacksonville he was a reliable deep threat. However after adding multiple receivers to their roster in recent years he was phased out of the Jaguars offense and down the depth chart.

Minnesota did draft Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth round out of Minnesota to potentially fill that void. However there is a good chance Smith-Marsette will not be ready to have that large of a role in year one. Westbrook has a similar skillset to Smith-Marsette and could serve as a bridge for the third receiver position on offense until next season. If Westbrook can land in Minnesota and carve out a role for their offense he could take the Vikings offense to the next level and push them over the edge.

Everson Griffen, Defensive End

A blast from the past may be what Minnesota needs on defense in order to make sure their performance from last season appears to be a fluke. One of Minnesota’s major voids on their roster currently is edge rusher opposite Danielle Hunter. The Vikings did select two edge rushers in the middle rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. They took Patrick Jones II out of Pittsburgh with the 90th overall pick in the third round and Janarius Robinson with the 134th overall pick in the fourth round.

Minnesota is hoping that Jones could be their long term answer at defensive end opposite Hunter and that Robinson could serve as a developmental pass rush specialist. But realistically neither will be able to able to meet those expectations in year one. It may be in the Vikings best interest to bring in another veteran to split time with Stephen Weatherly and Patrick Jones next season.

The Vikings brought back Weatherly who spent last season with the Carolina Panthers after four seasons in Minnesota. But he has not shown that he can be any more than a backup at this point of his career. Minnesota should consider another reunion at defense end and bring back former Pro Bowler and All-Pro Everson Griffen.

Last offseason the Vikings cut Griffen after a slight decline in play and because of his massive cap hit. Both sides considered a reunion, but ultimately Griffen ended up signing with the Dallas Cowboys. However once Dallas’ season started to go south they traded him to the Detroit Lions. He was primarily a rotational pass rusher with both teams but ended the season with 5.5 sacks despite playing 56.4% of the snaps during the games he was active for Dallas and 48.6% of the snaps during his time in Detroit. If Griffen can replicate that kind of production off that type of production in Minnesota he would put up better numbers than Weatherly’s career high.

Griffen has familiarity playing for this defensive scheme having spent six years playing under Mike Zimmer. During his last season in Minnesota he was a Pro Bowler and had eight sacks. He also showed last season he would be willing to return to the Vikings. If that feeling hasn’t changed, Minnesota should consider bringing in Griffen on a cheaper one year deal to be their primary edge rusher in a rotation that would feature Stephen Weatherly and Patrick Jones II next year.

Tyler Eifert, Tight End

One of the largest losses the Minnesota Vikings had this past offseason was former Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings took Rudolph in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft after his final season at Notre Dame. He has been one of the most consistent tight ends in the NFL over the past decade. At his best he was a top-10 tight end in the league, but overall he has been an outstanding blocker and dangerous red zone threat.

2019 Second Round pick Irv Smith Jr. is expected to take on the TE1 role in Minnesota this season after taking a leap in year two. But his skill set is vastly different from Rudolph. He is more of a pure receiver than a traditional tight end.

If the Vikings wanted to bring in a veteran with a similar skillset as Rudolph who could lineup at TE2 or TE3 they have the opportunity to sign another former member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Tyler Eifert. In 2013 Eifert was a first round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. Eifert’s largest issue during his career has been his inability to stay healthy. He has been solid when he has been on the field during his career and was exceptional during his Pro Bowl season in 2015.

At this point of his career Eifert is nothing more than a teams second tight end. His skillset matches what they lost in Rudolph. Eifert is a better pass catcher than the Vikings current second tight end Tyler Conklin who is primarily used as a blocker. He could be a big body the Vikings use as a threat in the red zone and another tight end they bring in to block in running situations.

Geron Christian, Offensive Tackle

Minnesota hopes they have found their long term answer at left tackle in 2021 first round pick Christian Darrisaw. The Vikings have been trying to fill that void for a couple of seasons through the middle rounds of the draft. But most of those players transition to other positions along the offensive line. After selecting Darrisaw the Vikings could still use an upgrade at swing tackle. Behind Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill are Rashod Hill and 2019 sixth round pick Olisaemeka Udoh.

The Vikings should take a flier on one of the tackles the Washington Football team let go of last week Geron Christian. Washington drafted Christian in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. His role was to be a swing tackle that could develop into a starter at either side. But after eight career starts in Washington, it became clear he was not their long term starter at left tackle.

Christian still has a higher upside than the Vikings current backup options. Minnesota should bring him in to compete and earn his role as the teams swing tackle. That swing tackle position is important in Minnesota because they overall lack the depth to replace one of their starters if they were to go down with a long term injury.

Zane Gonzalez, Kicker

It appears that the Dan Bailey experiment is over in Minnesota and that they are going to go with Greg Joseph as their starting kicker going into the 2021 NFL season. But Minnesota should explore the option of brining in another veteran kicker to compete with Joseph for the job. Joseph has not been great so far in his NFL career. After a solid 2018-19 with the Cleveland Browns, Joseph landed with the Tennesee Titans late in 2019-20 and was only trusted to make on field goal in two regular season games and three playoff games. However he was 18/18 on his extra point attempts during that span. He spent last season primarily as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad.

An interesting veteran Minnesota could bring in to compete with Joseph is former Arizona Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez. The Cardinals let go of Gonzalez when they brought in Matt Prater. But Gonzalez was a solid kicker for Arizona last season. He was 16/22 on field goal attempts and 38/39 on extra point attempts. At the young age of 26, Gonzalez could potentially win the Vikings kicking job and run with it for a long time if he puts up his 2019-20 production consistently.

D’Andre swift is the key for the lion’s playoff chances

By: Chris Thomas

After the third disappointing season in a row under head coach Matt Patricia’s administration, the Detroit Lions have blown up their organization. They started their offseason by hiring Los Angeles Rams Director of Scouting Brad Holmes as their new general manager. Then Detroit made an unorthodox hire at head coach in former Miami Dolphins interm head coach and New Orleans Saints tight end coach Dan Campbell. But the largest change to the Lions that occurred this offseason happened at the quarterback position. The Lions executed a blockbuster trading 12 year starter Matthew Stafford to the Rams for 2016 1st overall pick Jared Goff, a 2022 first round pick, and a 2023 first round pick. This gave Detroit the ammunition they need to complete what appears to be a long-term rebuild.

Expectations are not super high for Lions in 2022 since they have made it clear they are trying to build their roster towards the future, but after a fantastic draft adding some great foundational pieces the Lions may be able to shock some teams an win some close games down the stretch. The key for the Lions season in 2021-22 is running back D’Andre Swift.

Last offseason the Lions selected Georgia running back D’Andre Swift with the 35th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Many viewed Swift to be the top running back of the class, but he fell to the second round and was the second running back taken that year. When Swift got on the field he showed why he was RB1 on many peoples draft boards. During the 13 games he played during the 2020-21 season, Swift had 114 rushing attempts for 521 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 46 catches for 357 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers may not look fantastic, but when Swift got double digit carries during a game he averaged 71.2 yards rushing yards per game which would have been good for tenth in the NFL a season ago between David Montgomery and Josh Jacobs.

Head Coach Dan Campbell has already publicly said that he and the teams coaching staff has a lot of confidence building their offense around Swift. He also said he could have the potential of receiving “25 carries per game”.

There have been multiple context clues that the Lion’s have shown through other transactions this offseason that have shown that Swift could be the focal point of not only their offense, but their entire team. For starters they added both Anthony Lynn and Duce Staley to their coaching staff. Both are are former NFL running backs who have prioritized running backs during their coaching career.

New Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has gotten great production out of the running backs he has coached over the years. During his time in Buffalo as the Assistant coach and running backs coach he got three Pro Bowl seasons out of LeSean McCoy. When he was the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers he got two outstanding statistical seasons out of Melvin Gordon and developed Austin Ekeler from undrafted free agent to a dangerous NFL starting running back.

Duce Staley has become one of the most respected running back coaches in the NFL. He returns to that role in Detroit and is also the Assistant Head Coach. He has gotten the opportunity to work with some great veteran backs in Philadelphia including LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and many more.

The trade for Jared Goff also is a sign that the passing game may take a backseat this next season. Despite being a two time Pro Bowler, Goff has been more of a distributor than playmaker over his career. He only plays at his best when he has great pieces around him, including a dominant running game. His past two seasons in Los Angeles where the running game was not headline the Rams offense got the organization thinking that he may not be the teams long term answer at the position, especially since they are in win-now mode. Goff is a perfect quarterback for the Lions because he is a 26 year old former first overall pick who has shown potential to play at a high level, but can be easily moved off of after this season.

Detroit’s draft and free agent transactions were also very telling on what they prioritized offensively. During free agency Detroit shockingly let former Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay and their leading receiver from the season prior Marvin Jones Jr. hit the market and sign with other teams. The Lions replaced them with veteran receivers Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman who are veterans who can stretch the field but may be more equipped to be a teams third option in the passing game. Instead they chose to extend former first round pick offensive lineman left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow. During the draft Detroit elected to take Oregon tackle Penei Sewell with the seventh overall pick over Heisman winner Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith. The Lions didn’t take a wide receiver until they took Amon-Ra St.Brown in the fourth round. St. Brown has the upside to be a very solid wide receiver at the next level, but was not looked at a potential primary target in an NFL passing game.

By prioritizing the offensive line over pass catchers throughout the offseason it shows that they want to give running back D’Andre Swift every opportunity to not only succeed but to make an impact on every play. Nothing shows more of a “bite your kneecap off” mentality on offense than a strong running game. It is expected that Swift is the focal point of the Lions offense and the entire team because by if Swift can control the clock late in games it will help the Lions young defense stay off the field and keep opposing teams from scoring on them.

Sean McVay vs Kyle Shanahan: Which coach is better?

Which NFC West coach is the better football mind?

By: Chris Thomas

When NFL teams are going through the process of hiring a new head coach, they look to hire a head coach that could become what Sean McVay has been for the Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan for the San Fransisco 49ers. Both McVay and Shanahan have a lot in common. Not only do they coach teams in the NFC West, but they are also young offensive gurus that are both from the Jon Gruden coaching tree and already considered two of the league’s best head coaches. Since the two of them have so much in common and play with each other twice a year they are constantly compared. Both have been head coaches of their respective teams since 2017 so the leagues have been exposed to both coaches in action for a couple of seasons.

If the two were compared who is considered who would be considered the better coach. There are multiple categories that could be compared between both coaches that will dictate who is the better coach. Here is the comparison of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan.

Success before landing a head coaching job

Even before McVay and Shanahan were head coaches they were both considered two great young offensive minds. Here is a recap of what they did before they landed their current positions.

McVay started with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an offensive assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. After four seasons as an assistant coach in Washington, he became the team’s offensive coordinator in 2014 replacing Kyle Shanahan.

During McVay’s first year as the team’s offensive coordinator Washington was around the middle of the league in every offensive category but was below average in every category except total yards, passing yards, and rushing touchdowns. That is solid considering the inconsistency they had at quarterback with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy starting games throughout the season.

In year two as Washington’s offensive coordinator, the team’s offense took a leap forward. Washington was able to win the NFC East with a 9-7 record and improve to become a top-15 offense in almost all offensive categories. Their offense was led by the combination of quarterback Kirk Cousins (who was the team’s full-time starting quarterback) and tight end Jordan Reed.

During the 2016 season, McVay appeared to have a great grip on his offense. They finished the year 8-7-1 but had Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson finish the year with over 1,000+ receiving yards and three touchdowns each. Also, Jamison Crowder had 847 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Kirk Cousins had a career-high 4,917 yards and made the Pro Bowl. This offensive performance helped McVay get hired as the youngest head coach in NFL history.

Similar to McVay, Shannon started his NFL coaching career as an Offensive quality control coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004. He had a lot more years of experience in the NFL and as an offensive coordinator before landing his opportunity with the 49ers.

After two seasons as the Houston Texan’s wide receiver and quarterback coach Shanahan was promoted to Texan’s offensive coordinator in 2008. They finished with a top-10 passing offense and top-15 rushing attack. The following season they finished in the top-10 in the league in points scored, total yards, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Matt Schaub made the Pro Bowl that season after throwing 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Shanahan then spent the next four seasons in Washington as their offensive coordinator. He coached Washington to be a top-10 passing offense with an aging Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman under center. The next season was not so fruitful as the team had a 5-11 record with Grossman as the full time starter. Washington’s offense in 2011 was near the bottom of the league in almost every category. But the following season in 2012 was one of the most dynamic that Shanahan has ever coached. Shanahan’s offense, that featured second overall pick Robert Griffin III under center and sixth round pick rookie Alfred Morris leading the team in carries, got Washington to 10-6 and into the playoffs. Their rushing attack in 2012 was first in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, and third in rushing attempts in the league. Alfred Morris had a break out year with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. Also Griffin III rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2013 Washington did not perform as well as they did the year before, but managed to maintain a near elite rushing attack. Morris followed up his outstanding rookie season with 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns.

During the 2014 season Shanahan spent the year with the Cleveland Browns. Shanahan was dealing with a team with bellow average talent with a few young pieces that needed some development as well. So his team did not produce at the level that he would have liked. In specific offensive stats Cleveland was all over the spectrum as far as production compared to the rest of the league. But overall Cleveland finished near the bottom of the league.

After resigning in Cleveland, Shanahan spent the next two seasons in Atlanta. The Falcons finished with a top-10 passing offense in 2015 in Shanahan’s offense. Atlanta had three Pro Bowlers on the offensive side of the ball that season including Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. The next season the Atlanta Falcons had one of (if not) the best offenses in the entire league. They finished first in the league in points. Atlanta also was second in the league in total yards and passing touchdowns. They were also third in the league in passing yards and rushing touchdowns. The Falcons rushing attack finished as the fifth-ranked in the league in rushing yards. Matt Ryan had the best season of his career being named First Team All-Pro and league MVP after throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns. Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones were once again named Pro Bowlers after finishing the year with over 1,400+ scrimmage yards each.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Coaching Tree

Since both McVay and Shanahan have been highly regarded head coaches since 2017 organizations have poached assistants from their staff to bring a similar playing style and impact to their teams. If a coaching staff keeps losing assistant coaches every year that means that staff is able to produce consistent success and that the head coach is considered a good teacher to his assistants. Here are their former assistants who have gotten promotions on other rosters.

During McVay’s first season as the Rams head coach his offensive coordinator was Matt LaFleur. Shortly later LaFleur became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. LaFleur has had one the best starts to a coaching career in NFL history posting a 26-6 record with two NFC Championship appearances.

Zac Taylor, who formerly the Rams quarterback coach in 2018, was hired as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019. Even though Taylor has not had great success in his first two seasons as a head coach, it is meaningful that he went straight from quarterback coach to head coach after coaching under McVay.

Even though he is technically a part of Vic Fangio’s coaching tree, Brandon Staley’s hiring as the Los Angeles Charger’s head coach should be considered another plus or Sean McVay. After letting go of Wade Phillips in 2020, the Rams hired Denver Bronco’s outside linebacker coach Brandon Staley to fill their void at defensive coordinator. In his first season in the role, Staley’s defense was the best in the league and earned him an NFL head coaching job despite a lack of overall coaching experience.

Shane Waldron has never been a NFL head coach, but was an assistant coach on McVay’s staff for four years who has earned a promotion this past offseason. After being the teams passing game coordinator for three seasons Waldron was just hired as the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator this offseason.

The only members of Kyle Shanahan’s coaching tree who were promoted to a higher role on a different team are Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur. This offseason the New York Jets hired Robert Saleh to be the team’s head coach after being the 49ers defensive coordinator for the past four seasons. Saleh is considered one of the best defensive coaches in the league and a great culture guy to have in the locker room. Saleh brought over 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur to be the team’s offensive coordinator.

Winner: Sean McVay

Offensive Production throughout the years

Both coaches’ careers have been defined by their offensive success. So when comparing both coaches it is extremely important to consider the exact production of their offenses since they became head coaches.

During Sean McVay’s first season with the Rams, they had a top-10 offense. They were tenth in the league in total yards (5,784 yards) and led the league in points scored (averaged 29.9 per game). That season the Rams were tenth in passing yards (3,831 yards) and sixth in passing touchdowns (28). They also finished the year eighth in rushing yards (1,953) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (17). Second-year quarterback Jared Goff was named a Pro Bowler that season. Running back Todd Gurley was named a First-Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

In 2018 the Rams offense was in the conversation for best in the league. They finished second in both total yards (6,738) and points scored (32.9 per game). Los Angeles was fifth in the league in passing yards (4,507) and eighth in the league in passing touchdowns (32). They also finished the year with the third-most rushing yards (2,231) and second in the league in rushing touchdowns (23). Jared Goff was named to the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row. Also, Todd Gurley was named First Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler for the second straight year.

The next year the Rams offense was not as dominant as they were in the prior two seasons. Los Angeles did have the seventh most total yards in the league (5,998) and eleventh in points scored (24.6 per game). They finished in the top-5 once again in passing yards with the fourth-most in the league (4,499) but finished 19th in passing touchdowns (22) that season. They also finished near the bottom of the league in rushing yards ranking 26th in the league (1,499). But the Rams did finish fourth in the league in rushing touchdowns (20). They did not have a single offensive Pro Bowler that season.

This year the Rams offense was solid but not as flashy as it had been in previous years. They finished just outside the top-ten in total yards (6,032) and 22nd in points (18.5 per game). The Rams were 13th in the league in passing yards (4,014) and 26th in passing touchdowns (20). Their running game did improve as they finished tenth in the league in both rushing yards (1,460) and touchdowns (19). For the second straight year the Rams did not have an offensive Pro Bowler.

Kyle Shanahan did not have outstanding offensive numbers during his first season with the 49ers. They finished 12th in the league in total yards (5,587) and 20th in the league in points (20.7 per game). San Fransisco had the ninth-most passing yards (3,925) in the league despite having three different starting quarterbacks throughout the season in C.J. Beathard, Brian Hoyer, and Jimmy Garoppolo. But they also finished 28th in the league in passing touchdowns (15). The 49ers finished 21st in the league in rushing yards (1,662) and seventh in the league in rushing touchdowns (15). The only Pro Bowler out of the 49ers skill players that season was fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

His year did not go very well either offensively since starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was limited to three games due to injury. They finished 16th in the league in total yards (5,769) and 21st i the league in total points (21.3). Despite having backup quarterback play throughout the season they finished 15th in the league in passing yards (3,867) and 17th in passing touchdowns (26). The 49ers rushing attack was okay that season as well after finishing the year 13th in rushing yards (1,902) and 30th in rushing touchdowns (7). Second-year tight end George Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszczyk were the only 49ers Pro Bowl position players.

In 2019 the 49ers offense was one of the most dangerous in the league. They finished the year fourth in total yards (6,097) and second in total points (29.9 per game). San Fransisco had a solid passing offense finishing 13th in passing yards (3,792) and tenth in passing touchdowns (28). Their running attack is what made them so dominant. The 49ers were second in the league in rushing yards (2,305) and led the league in rushing touchdowns (23). Despite how well the 49ers played they only had two Pro Bowlers in George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk. But Kittle was also named first-team All-Pro after breaking the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season (now currently held by Travis Kelce).

This past season the 49ers offense came back to earth and was okay. This was due to all the major injures the 49ers suffered across their roster. They finished 15th in the league in total yards (5,922) and 21st in the league in total points (23.5). The 49ers were 12th in the league in passing yards (4,033) and 19th in the league in passing touchdowns (25) even though they had three starting quarterbacks throughout the season in Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard, and Nick Mullens. Their running attack was dynamic for a backfield that suffered multiple injuries throughout the season. They finished 15th in the league in rushing yards (1,889) and tenth in rushing touchdowns (19). Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was the 49ers only Pro Bowler this past season.

Winner: Sean McVay

Elevating Player Production

An important part of evaluating coaching is paying attention to how the coach’s scheme or coaching has positively impacted the players. A great coach should be able to elevate the play of a disappointing player or a late round draft pick. Here are examples of offensive players who played better once they played for Sean McVay’s Rams or Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers.

The Los Angeles Rams front office has always surrounded Sean McVay with premier talent. So it is hard to pick out many players that were impacted by McVay’s coaching. However, two players who made huge jumps once they played for McVay in Los Angeles were wide receiver Robert Woods and quarterback Jared Goff. Before signing with the Rams in 2017, Woods had never broken 700 receiving yards or six touchdowns in Buffalo. He was widely regarded as a bust, considering he was a former second-round pick who was supposed to eventually become the Bills top receiver. But since joining Los Angeles, Woods has two seasons with over 1,100 receiving yards and three seasons with 5+ receiving touchdowns. McVay has turned Woods into a number one receiving option for the Rams. While during Jared Goff’s rookie season he lost all seven starts, averaged 155.6 passing yards per game, and threw five touchdowns to seven interceptions. He did not look great at all. McVay turned that quarterback into a two-time Pro Bowler during the next two seasons. Even though Goff was never dynamic, he was a fantastic distributor who knew how to use the weapons around him.

Kyle Shanahan on the other hand has multiple examples of players who have flourished and played at their highest level under him. He turned fifth-round pick tight end George Kittle into one of the best weapons in the NFL. Kittle is without a doubt the 49er’s number one receiving option and has had two 1,000+ yard receiving seasons in the past three years. Shanahan has also gotten great production out of undrafted free-agent running backs. He turned Raheem Mostert, who was cut by six different teams, into a borderline Pro Bowl-caliber running back. Shanahan has also gotten outstanding production out of former undrafted free agent Jeff Wilson Jr. who has eleven rushing touchdowns in the past two seasons. On the offensive line former first-round pick Laken Tomlinson struggled during his first few seasons in Detroit but has established himself as an important piece of the 49er’s offensive line the past couple of years. Shanahan has also gotten great production out of former Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens who has developed into a solid backup.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Head to Head Record versus opposing coach

Since Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are both head coaches in the NFC West it is important to note how they have performed against each other. They have played each other eight times over the last four seasons. In head-to-head action against each other Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers have beaten Sean McVay’s Rams five times out of the eight games they have played. San Fransisco has won the last four times they have played Los Angeles. The 49ers averaged 27 points a game when playing the Rams since 2017. While the Rams have averaged 28.8 points per game against the 49ers during that span.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Team Record since 2017

Not only the head to head record of both Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay be considered, but the overall record is very important when determining who has been the better head coach.

Since being named the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, Sean McVay has a 43-21 regular-season record. That is the fourth-best record in the NFL during that span. They also have two division titles in the last four seasons.

Kyle Shanahan has not had fantastic success overall during the regular season since entering the league. He is below .500 with a 29-35 record which is the 18th best during the league in that span. They have finished with the second worst record in the league twice under Shanahan. But San Fransisco did win the division in 2019-20.

Winner: Sean McVay

Playoff Success

A huge factor in this decision is how both teams have performed in the playoffs also will determine whether Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay has the upper hand. Since Sean McVay has become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams they have been to the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. While Kyle Shanahan has only brought the San 49ers to the playoffs once in his first four seasons in the league. Both have made it to the Super Bowl but both fell short.

In 2017 the Rams made the playoffs in McVay’s first season. But fell short losing in the Wild Card round the Atlanta Falcons 26-13. The following season the Rams had a bye in the wild card round and beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 in the Divisional round. The next week Los Angeles beat the New Orleans Saints in a controversial game in overtime 26-23. But their offense failed to show up during the Super Bowl when they lost 13-3 to the New England Patriots. After missing the playoffs in 2019, the Rams made the playoffs this year. In the Wild Card round the Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks at home 30-20. But they fell short of the NFC Championship game when they lost to the Green Bay Packers 32-17 in Green Bay.

The 49ers were the number one seed during the 2019-20 season. They had a bye in the first round and beat the red hot Minnesota Vikings 27-10 behind a dominant running game in the Divisional round. The next week San Fransisco demolished the Green Bay Packers defeating them in the NFC Championship 37-20. Running back Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns during that game. But the 49ers just fell short of a Super Bowl victory losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-20.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Overall Winner

When comparing important factors of both Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan’s coaching career the clear-cut winner is Kyle Shanahan. Despite not having the great overall team success, Shanahan is outstanding at elevating players and getting high levels of production out of players who may be backups for a different team. His multiple years as an offensive coordinator prepared him very well for his head coaching job and has him looking like a veteran coach despite only having the job for four seasons. That veteran experience has shown up in the film room because he has done well against division rivals like Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams since becoming the 49ers head coach. In 2019 Shanahan showed that when his team is healthy that his offense could be as dominant as any in the NFL despite not having premier talent at every position.

Does Aaron Donald have a chance to be the greatest defensive player of all time?

By: Chris Thomas

Since the (at the time St. Louis) Los Angeles Rams selected Aaron Donald out of Pitt with the 13th overall pick in 2014, he has dominated the NFL. During that span, Donald has been arguably the best defensive player in the entire league. More recently Donald has passed fellow 2014 draft prospect Khalil Mack and has entered a category of his own. Despite being double and triple-teamed on every snap Donald still puts up outrageous numbers every season that could enter him into the greatest of all-time category.

In seven seasons Donald has enough career accolades for him to be a get voted into the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility. Those accolades include being a three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner (2017,2018, 2020), six-time First-Team All-Pro (2015-20), seven-time Pro Bowler (2014-20), Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, and unanimous 2010’s All-Decade team.

Those accolades are well deserved after the outstanding numbers Donald has put up during his career. Over the course of seven seasons, Donalds has 85.5 sack, 357 tackles, and 19 forced fumbles. Has 20.5 sacks in 2018 are the seventh most a player has had in a single season and the most by an interior defensive lineman in a single season.

Since Donald has that impressive of a resume it begs the question can he be the greatest defensive player in the history of the NFL when it is all said and done? Here is why that answer could be yes!

Who else is considered the Greatest Defensive Player of All Time?

First In order to put Donald in the conversation, it is important to acknowledge who else is in that category of player who could be the greatest defensive player of all time. There are a couple of players at each position who could be considered.

The greatest defensive ends of all time include Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Deacon Jones, Gino Marchetti, and J.J. Watt. Not including Donald, the greatest defensive tackle’s of all time include Bob Lilly, ‘Mean’ Joe Greene, Merlin Olsen, and Randy White. Factoring both inside and outside linebackers the greatest players to play either of those positions include Lawerence Taylor, Ray Lewis, Derrick Thomas, and Dick Butkus. The cornerbacks that could be considered the greatest defensive player of all time are Deion Sanders, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Rod Woodson, and Charles Woodson. Finally the greatest safeties to ever play in the NFL include Ed Reed, Ronnie Lott, Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamalu, and Paul Krause.

How the rest of Aaron Donald’s career could look like before he retires?

Before Aaron Donald enters the GOAT conversation he will have to play a majority or the entirety of his career. Seven seasons into his career, Donald appears to be at the peak of his career and could play another ten seasons or close to it. If Donald did have a 17-year career he projects to be at or near the top in a majority of defensive categories. There would likely be some kind of decline towards the end of his career, but if he doesn’t decline too much Donald could have 207.5 sacks, 867 tackles, and 46 forced fumbles. If he were to put up those numbers Donald would be the all-time leader in sacks, 24th in tackles (first among defensive tackles), and fifth all-time in forced fumbles. He would likely double the career accolades he already has which would not only break the tie with J.J. Watt and Lawerence Taylor with three AP Defensive Player of the Year awards and double that record with six. On top of that, he would tie the all-time record for most Pro Bowl selections with 14 and have the most First-Team All-Pro selections of all time with 12 (current record held by Jerry Rice and Jim Otto with 10)

Comparing Aaron Donald’s career with the other all time greats

If Donald continues to be a force on the interior of defensive lines at the level he has been at, there is no doubt he will hold multiple NFL career records. Taking into consideration the players of the defensive side of the ball he will be better than will give him the lead for greatest defensive player of all time. Donald can have more career sacks than Bruce Smith and have more defensive player of the year awards than Lawerence Taylor.

Taking into consideration the records he will have broken with the awards he could finish his career with, Donald will be the greatest defensive player to ever play in the NFL.

Why Joe Burrow Will be the next Great QB and nobody is talking about it

Burrow is healthy and seeking vengeance

By: Chris Thomas

What a difference a year makes for Joe Burrow. At this time last year, Joe Burrow was not only one of the most popular names in NFL headlines but in all of sports. Coming off of winning the Heisman and leading one of the greatest college football teams in NFL history to a National Championship, Burrow was projected to go first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Now a year later the former first overall pick isn’t even be speculated upon. It seems like Burrow fell off the face of the sports world once he tore his ACL in Week 11.

In previous years, players who have gone first overall and had great seasons have been speculated upon by the media on how they could take strides forward the following season. It is discussed whether they could reach their potential that they showed during their rookie season and that the team that drafted them saw on tape before they selected them. Burrow has not received that type of attention and may blow people away during his sophomore season.

Here is why Joe Burrow could become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL as soon as next season.

Recap of Joe Burrow’s rookie season

Before the injury Burrow was neck-and-neck with 2020 sixth-overall pick Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert for offensive rookie of the year. At the time Burrow had the edge as well. Not only because he had started every single game for the Bengals up to that point, but because he was doing more with less around him.

Burrow was only limited to ten games last season. But during those ten games, Burrow threw for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He also completed 65.3% of his passes and had an 89.9 QBR. Pro Football Focus gave Burrow a 75.1 grade for the 2020-21 season.

If Burrow’s stats are stretched out over the course of a 16 game season he would have thrown for 4,301 yards, 21 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Those numbers likely would not have been enough to dethrone Justin Herbert for rookie of the year. But that is still an outstanding season for a rookie quarterback. And not to mention that Burrow was getting HOT before his injury.

To put it into perspective Burrow would have finished 7th in passing yards, 19th in passing touchdowns, and have had 20 other quarterbacks throw more interceptions than him. He would have thrown more passing yards than MVP Aaron Rodgers, more passing touchdowns than Jared Goff, and fewer interceptions than Russell Wilson and Tom Brady.

It is also important to remember that Burrow did this without the best pieces around him. For a good amount of his rookie season, Burrow was without his starting running back Joe Mixon who was limited to only six games last year.

He also had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season. PFF graded the Bengals offensive line as the third-worst offensive line in football last year. They gave up 32 sacks when Burrow was under center making him the second-most sacked quarterback in the league last season. He was also hit 42 times which was tied for the fifth-most in the league.

Reasons why Joe Burrow will make a massive leap in 2021-22

  1. The Cincinnati Bengals will give Joe Burrow a better supporting cast

Already this offseason the Bengals have made some improvements to their overall roster that should benefit Joe Burrow. They have added multiple new starters along their defense to improve that unit. A better defense could help Burrow and the offense control the pace of the game. Offensively the Bengals have added right tackle Riley Reiff to their offensive line. Last season Reiff was one of the best offensive lineman on Minnesota’s roster. Now he transitions to right tackle to give Cincinnati to very solid starting tackles to help protect Joe Burrow.

The Bengals are also projected to add to their offensive early and often during the NFL Draft. The three players Cincinnati is projected to take with their fifth overall pick are Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, Flordia tight end Kyle Pitts, or Burrow’s former teammate at LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. All three are considered elite prospects at their position not just in draft class, but overall. Any of those three would help Burrow and the Bengals passing offense miles better next year than is was in 2020-21.

2. Joe Burrow’s traits coming out of LSU should improve over time

There was a lot that made Joe Burrow such an attractive prospect coming out of last year’s draft class. Burrow was undoubtedly the first overall pick in a draft class that was very top heavy with two other premier quarterback prospects in Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert. During his final season in LSU Burrow not only showed that he is not only capable of commanding an explosive NFL style offense, but that he is an extremely athletic quarterback that does not have to depend on his athleticism on every single play because he is more than capable of making plays from inside the pocket. But his athleticism makes him extremely dangerous because he can move the pocket and scramble on any given play.

On top of that as a person Burrow is an outstanding player to have in a locker room. When Burrow was leading LSU to the peak of their run to the College Football National Championship he showed an outstanding confidence and swagger on and off the field that coaches and executives want in a quarterback. But at the same time he managed to maintain that energy and not look arrogant.

He also showed outstanding leadership ability in college that translated to the NFL. Burrow was the leader of that LSU football team despite only being their two years after transferring from Ohio State. He was not only a leader of his football team, but was the face of college football (despite Trevor Lawerence still being at Clemson). Unlike many who have been in that position prior to Burrow, he handled the role with class and was shined when the spotlight was bright on him on and off the field. That translated to the NFL when Burrow was named a captain during his rookie season with the Bengals.

As long as he is healthy after the ACL injury, Burrow will have every opportunity to display his athleticism and the skillset that got him drafted first overall. He may be hesitant to tuck the ball and run as often, but is not the type of person to eliminate it from his game after a major injury. Now that he has had a taste of what the NFL game is like, he will be more comfortable overall and likely have more control of the offense. Once he starts having more success in the NFL his confidence will grow and so will his swagger. If he reaches the form he was at when he was at his best at LSU there is not much that could be done to stop him. Soon after that we could see Joe Burrow smoking a cigar with AFC North Championship gear,

3. He was able to keep him turnovers down his rookie year and his overall production should improve

One of the most impressive things from Joe Burrow’s rookie year that people should take away was the lack of turnovers despite it being his first season in the league. Almost all rookie quarterbacks struggle with accuracy and turnovers at the next level. Some of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the league struggled with turnovers during their first seasons in the league. For example, Andrew Luck had 18 interceptions during his rookie season, Josh Allen had 12 interceptions during his rookie season, and Kyler Murray also had 12 interceptions during his rookie season. Burrow would have projected to have only eight interceptions during his rookie season. If that number stays down, he will be able to put the Bengals in better positions to win.

Once the Bengals surround Burrow with more pieces, give him control over the offense, and get him more comfortable overall his touchdown production should improve. The Bengals have a couple of young weapons on offense for Burrow to take advantage of as well. Tyler Boyd is capable of being a number one receiver for the offense, but 2020 second-round pick Tee Higgins could take over A.J. Green’s role in the offense and emerge as Joe Burrows top target. Plus if Joe Mixon could stay healthy he could be an outstanding asset for Burrow in the passing game.

Best and Worst Fantasy Destinations for Najee Harris

Where Will Najee Harris Land?

By: Chris Thomas Twitter: @chris_thomas98

There are less than two weeks until the 2021 NFL Draft that is set to take place on April 29th. A popular question asked after the draft is when is an appropriate time to draft rookie skill position players during (redraft league) fantasy drafts. This question usually won’t get answered until the dust settles from the draft and the players are all paired with their new teams.

However after weeks of speculation there have been a couple of teams that have been pinpointed as potential destinations for this years top prospects. So why wait to determine the fantasy value of these players when there already is a solid consensus of where these players can end up? 

Here are the best and worst destinations for Alabama Running Back Najee Harris to land for his fantasy value during the 2021-22 NFL season. 

Najee Harris Player Bio

Najee Harris is a senior who played running back at Alabama. For the past two seasons Harris has been the lead back for the Crimson Tide’s offense. Harris is a part of a fraternity of Alabama running backs who are projected to be outstanding starters at the NFL level. He played a major part in Alabama’s National Championship Season. Harris was third in the country in rushing yards with 1,466 yards and led college football with 26 rushing touchdowns this past season. Despite playing in an offense that featured three potential first round picks in Mac Jones, Jaylen Waddle, and Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, Harris was a major contributor to Alabama’s offense and was able to showcase that he was one of the best running backs in college football.

This past season Harris showed that he can use his 6’1” 232lbs frame to his advantage and run with more power. Not only is Harris seen as a power-back he is also great at catching the ball out of the backfield for a back of his size. He had 43 receptions for 425 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns last season.

There are a lot of people who believe Harris could be the first running back taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. This mean he could be selected anywhere between the middle of the first round to the beginning of the second round. No matter where he is drafted Harris is expected to be the teams number one running back and is expected to take a majority of the teams backfield reps.

Best Destination: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of needs they have to address in this years draft if they want to ensure that they return to the playoffs in 2021-22. But they may feel that taking Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick would give them the best value at major need in the first round. Pittsburgh needs a new starting running back after James Conner officially signed in Arizona. But even if Conner resigned with the team, they were in need if a consistent threat out of the backfield who can stay healthy.

If Harris lands in Pittsburgh he would immediately become the team’s primary running back over Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, and Anthony McFarland. He would be good for 200+ carries in his rookie season.

The reason why he would flourish in Pittsburgh is because he could easily turn Pittsburgh into a run-first team who wins games through a dominant run attack and great defense. Harris would get the opportunity to be the featured player in Pittsburgh’s offense because at this point of 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger career, he can no longer carry an offense. On top of that Harris would rarely have to deal with opposing defenses stacking the box to stop the run. This is because defenses wouldn’t want all of Pittsburgh’s elite receiving threats like Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and Eric Ebron seeing one on one coverage downfield. Roethlisberger could get very comfortable dumping the ball to Harris on passing plays if he doesn’t have a better option open beyond the line of scrimmage.

That is why if Harris was drafted to Pittsburgh he would be a solid RB2 with the potential to become a fringe RB1 in standard leagues. Another factor to consider when determining Harris’ value is how Pittsburgh addresses their offensive line during the draft.

Worst Destination: Buffalo Bills

Another team who could be interested in taking Najee Harris in the first round is the Buffalo Bills. After just falling short of the Super Bowl this year the Bills do not have a lot of major needs on their roster. If Buffalo doesn’t see a defensive player they like when they pick at #30 they could take the best player available who could very well be Harris. The Bills currently do not have a running back that is capable of being a major threat to opposing defenses. Both Zack Moss and Devin Singletary rushed for less than 700 yards each last season. Both are more suited to be complementary backs to a more dominant ball carrier.

Buffalo would be a a rough place for Harris to land from a fantasy standpoint because their offense relies heavily on Josh Allen and the passing game. The Bills were as dominant as they were last season because they were fantastic at moving the ball downfield with their outstanding receiving core featuring Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Harris likely would not be featured early in-game scripts he would see most of his work later in the game when Buffalo is trying to secure a victory.

On top of that Harris would likely get vultured by Josh Allen near the goal line. Even though Harris’ purpose would be to limit how often Allen gets hit and decides to run the ball, Buffalo is not going to take the ball out of their most dominant rusher from a season ago’s hands. He would also lose a decent amount of carries to Devin Singletary and Zack Moss as well.

Harris should be valued as a high end flex in standard leagues if he lands in Buffalo. It hard to knew what to expect from him in an offense that relies so much on Josh Allen and the passing game. He could very well be a better football player than fantasy player if he lands in Buffalo. It would be hard to imagine Harris having a major role in this offense early in his career unless they make some major philosophy changes.

Ranking all realistic destinations for Najee Harris by potential fantasy value

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (Pick #24)
  2. New York Jets (Pick #23 or #34)
  3. Miami Dolphins (Pick #18 or #36)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (Pick #35)
  5. Buffalo Bills (Pick #30)

Best and Worst Fantasy Destinations for Ja’Marr Chase

Where Could Ja’Marr Chase Land?

By: Chris Thomas

There are a couple of weeks until the 2021 NFL Draft that is set to take place on April 29th. A popular question asked after the draft is when is an appropriate time to draft rookie skill position players during (redraft league) fantasy drafts. This question usually won’t get answered until the dust settles from the draft and the players are all paired with their new teams.

However after weeks of speculation there have been a couple of teams that have been pinpointed as potential destinations for this years top prospects. So why wait to determine the fantasy value of these players when there already is a solid consensus of where these players can end up?

Here are the best and worst destinations for LSU Wide Receiver Ja’Marr Chase to land for his fantasy value during the 2021-22 NFL season.

Ja’Marr Chase Player Bio

Ja’Marr Chase is a junior who played wide receiver at LSU. During the 2019-20 College Football Season Ja’Marr Chase established himself as one of the country’s top wide receivers. Chase was Joe Burrow’s number one target and an essential piece for LSU’s National Championship team. Chase led college football with both 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns during his sophomore season. He was the number one receiver in an offense that featured 2020 First Round pick and offensive rookie of the year candidate Justin Jefferson and projected top-40 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft Terrace Marshall Jr.

Chase is a very complete receiver. Not only can he use his 6’0″ frame to his advantage of 50/50 jump ball situations, but he also ran a 4.39 forty during LSU’s Pro Day. He uses that speed to stretch the football field and to create separation from defenders with the ball in his hands.

Even after opting out of last season, Chase is viewed as the top receiver this year by most people who have evaluated this draft class. He is expected to be selected with a top-10 selection to become a team’s number one receiver.

Best Destination: Detriot Lions

If Ja’Marr Chase begins to slide down the draft board and is available for the Detroit Lions, they would run the card up the podium. The Lions’ biggest need is for a true number one receiver. After losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency the Lions need a true number one receiver who is capable of putting up 1,000+ receiving yards in a season. Free-agent additions Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman are more complementary receivers at this point of their careers.

If Chase lands in Detroit he would immediately become Jared Goff’s number one receiver. During Goff’s time is Los Angeles multiple wide receivers have had outstanding fantasy production catching passes from him. Those receivers include Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp. Chase could see around ten targets a game. As he showed at LSU, Chase has the ability to extend a play. So those targets would give him more opportunity to rack up yardage and potentially get in the end zone. A huge plus would be that the Lions defense will likely not be much better than it was last year. So the Lions could be forced to pass the ball for a majority of their games. That alone should make Chase a WR2 in standard redraft leagues with the upside to be one of the top players at the position.

Worst Destination: Miami Dolphins

A team that is rumored to be interested in taking a pass catcher early in the first round is the Miami Dolphins. After trading down to the twelfth pick from third overall, Miami moved back into the top-10 swapping first-round picks with the Philadelphia Eagles at #6. Those around the league believe Miami traded back into the top-10 for one of the draft’s top pass catchers. That is even though they already have pass-catchers like DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, and newly signed receiver Will Fuller in place. The Dolphins’ reasoning for likely choosing to select a pass catcher at #6 is to take the best player available and also give second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa every opportunity to succeed including giving him fantastic weapons to distribute the ball to in the passing game.

It is not certain what Chase’s role would be if he lands in Miami. Both DeVante Parker and Will Fuller have experience being primary receiving options in the past. On top of that none of Parker, Fuller, and Chase identify as slot receivers. This means they would have to transition one of the three inside in order to have all three on the field at once.

Also last year Tua Tagovailoa looked more like a game manager than a gunslinger in his rookie. Tagovailoa’s ability to be extremely accurate and limit turnovers is what he does best. That kind of skill set combined with the fact Miami is expected to be a run-first team may limit the production of Miami’s pass catchers. Miami’s philosophy is to limit turnovers and run out the clock while limiting the opponent’s offensive production with their stellar defense. All of that may come at the expense of Miami’s newest pass-catcher who is Ja’Marr Chase in this situation.

This would make Chase a borderline flex in standard redraft leagues. He could be drafted as the first player on a fantasy rosters bench. But will surely outplay where he is drafted as the season continues and his role grows as a part of the team’s offense.

Ranking all realistic destinations for Ja’Marr Chase by potential fantasy value

  1. Detroit Lions (Pick #7)
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (Pick #6)
  3. Miami Dolphins (Pick #5)

Potential Trade Destinations for Jimmy Garappolo

By: Chris Thomas

The San Fransisco 49ers have made it clear that they do not view Jimmy Garappolo as the future of the franchise at quarterback after their blockbuster deal from last week. San Fransisco traded the 12th overall pick, their 2022 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, and 2023 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for the third overall pick in this year’s draft. It has been all but confirmed that San Fransisco plans to take one of this year’s top quarterback prospects with the third pick.

This year’s quarterback class is as deep as they come. There are expected to be five quarterbacks taken in the first ten picks of this year’s draft. To put it into perspective, the elite quarterbacks class of 2018 had five quarterbacks go throughout the entire first round. Many expect Clemson’s Trevor Lawerence and BYU’s Zach Wilson to be gone already by the time the 49ers pick. San Fransisco will likely select one of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Now that the 49ers are expected to add a quarterback their incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo’s name a serviced as a potentially traded player. The rumors on Garoppolo’s availability have been conflicting. Shortly after the trade was announced 49ers head coach and general manager Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch told the media that they plan on keeping Garoppolo on the roster to begin next season. However now according to NFL Network’s Michael Giardi, it has come out that the 49ers asking price for Garoppolo is a first-round pick

A first-round pick seems like fair compensation for Garoppolo. This is considering that the Rams traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick (and Jared Goff) to the Lions for Matthew Stafford. The Colts also traded away a third-round pick and a conditional first-round pick to acquire Carson Wentz from the Eagles. Garoppolo’s value will likely be closer to Wentz than Stafford considering he is viewed in a similar light as Wentz. Both Garoppolo and Wentz have shown the ability to command an offense on a Super Bowl contending team. But both have dealt with their fair share of injuries and have been inconsistent with their production as of late.

It is difficult to pinpoint a perfect location for Garoppolo because every team who has a void at quarterback has filled it with an established veteran or will likely add one with their first-round pick on this year’s draft. But there are a few teams that could view Garoppolo as an upgrade over their current quarterback. A team may believe Garoppolo is the missing piece on their team that could get them in range to make the playoffs or possibly become a contender. Here are the teams that could trade for Jimmy Garoppolo before Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season.

Denver Broncos

Potential Trade: Denver trades a Conditional 2022 First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garoppolo

There has been some speculation about the Denver Broncos looking for an upgrade at quarterback over current starter Drew Lock. After going 4-1 as a starter at the end of his rookie season Lock regressed instead of growing into a legitimate franchise quarterback. Lock went 4-9 as a starter last season in his 13 starts. He also averaged 225.6 passing yards per game, threw only 16 touchdowns, and had 15 interceptions. This performance by Lock was unexpected after Denver added former Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon and multiple rookies on the offensive side of the ball. Denver drafted wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the first two rounds then took center Lloyd Cushenberry in the third round.

At this point of the offseason, it appears that if Denver wanted to add a quarterback to push Drew Lock they could try to add someone like Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew or Chicago’s Nick Foles. But if Denver wants to replace Lock then the only quarterback available that right now is a clearcut upgrade over Lock and could be the Broncos quarterback for the foreseeable future it is Jimmy Garoppolo.

From year one to year two Bronco’s head coach Vic Fangio’s team had regressed and lost two more games. Now with new general manager George Patton in house, there is urgency for Fangio to have success next season or Patton could move on from him and bring in his own head coach. This means Denver needs to have at least solid consistent production from the quarterback position next season. They cannot wait for Drew Lock to possibly show that he could be a starter.

Denver is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They have a veteran defense that after adding Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby appear to be in a position to carry the team if necessary. While offensively Denver has enough young and veteran talent to keep them in games if they can get a quarterback under center that could take advantage of those weapons. There is a lot of uncertainty around whether Garoppolo is a star or not. But one thing is for certain when he has been under center or the 49ers he has consistently put them in positions to win. Denver needs a quarterback like that to put them over the edge and get them into potential playoff territory.

Denver should be willing to give a conditional first-round pick in 2022 to San Fransisco for compensation for Garoppolo. The conditions for the draft pick should mirror what the Colts and Eagles negotiated during their trade involving Carson Wentz. Garoppolo should have to play 75% of the Broncos offensive snaps or 70% and make the playoffs in order for San Fransisco to receive their first-round pick. But if Garoppolo fails to meet that criteria Denver should be able to give their third-round picks in both 2022 and 2023 to the 49ers for Garoppolo instead. Moving that high of a pick for Garoppolo is risky because he has shown that he is prone to get hurt and missing extended time. In the past three years, Garoppolo has missed 23 games which have hurt San Fransisco and is a large reason why they are moving on from him.

Carolina Panthers

Potential Trade: Carolina trades 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 39), 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 73), and Teddy Bridgewater to San Fransisco for 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 43) and Jimmy Garoppolo

One of the biggest losers of San Fransisco trading up to third overall for a quarterback is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have made it very clear that they are looking for a quarterback to be an upgrade over what Teddy Bridgewater was for them last season. They believe that with an increased level of production at quarterback the Panthers could make the playoffs if the rest of the team plays the same or better than they did this past season.

Eight of the eleven losses that Carolina suffered last season were by eight points or less. They point the finger at Teddy Bridgewater who looked like a bridge quarterback rather than a long-term starter. After signing a three-year $63 million contract last offseason Bridgewater averaged 248.9 passing yards per game and threw only 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Carolina and San Fransisco swapping quarterbacks in a trade makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.

In early March it was reported by Joseph Person of The Athleticthatthe 49ers called Carolina about Teddy Bridgewater. Later reports said that San Fransisco was doing their due diligence by calling Carolina. But that means that the 49ers had somewhat of an interest level in Bridgewater to make the call. Bridgewater would be a perfect bridge quarterback for the 49ers because he would be able to run their offense well until the rookie is ready.

Also, another bonus for the 49ers would be that since Bridgewater was acquired via trade the 49ers would be able to move off of Bridgewater’s $21 million per year salary whenever they’re done with him without a dead cap hit.

For Carolina, Garoppolo would be what they’re looking for a quarterback who is an upgrade over Bridgewater. If he could stay healthy he is a major upgrade over Bridgewater that could be what Carolina needs to get over the hump. Trading for him also gives Carolina the option of taking the best player available at eight versus possibly taking the fourth or fifth quarterback available in the draft who may not be their guy. Garoppolo had a lot of success under offensive guru Kyle Shanahan, he could easily excel in Joe Brady’s system.

Since Carolina would be giving San Francisco another starting-caliber quarterback they likely would not have to give up a first-round pick in the deal. Along with Bridgewater, moving up four spots in the second round and adding a third-round pick is fair compensation for Garappolo.

New York Giants

Potential Trade: New York trades a 2022 conditional First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo

After the moves, the Giants have made this offseason it seems the only thing that could hold the Giants back is the play at quarterbacks. In his second year, Daniel Jones still has not performed up to his draft status of the sixth overall pick. Jones did cut down on turnovers from his rookie year going from 30 to 21. But he only threw 11 touchdowns in 14 games. He also averaged only 210.2 passing yards per game.

It seems unlikely that New York would move on from Daniel Jones after only two seasons. Especially after investing the sixth overall pick in him. But it wouldn’t be crazy for Giants general manager David Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge to start evaluating their options at the position. The NFC East is extremely weak right now and with above-average talent at quarterback, the Giants could have the roster to win the division.

Being a former New England Patriot, Jimmy Garoppolo could have some type of relationship with Giants head coach Joe Judge who had coached in New England for eight seasons before getting the Giants job. Garoppolo would be able to handle the pressure that the media puts on New York quarterbacks. He was drafted to be Tom Brady’s replacement in New England and was the starting quarterback of an NFC Champion San Fransisco 49ers team. Garoppolo knows how to handle the media since he has been a part of winning teams in large markets. He could be the franchise quarterback that New York hopes Daniel Jones will eventually become.

Since there is risk involved when trading for a player like Garoppolo due to his injury history, it would only be fair for the Giants to have conditions that he would have to meet in order for the Giants to trade a first-round pick for him. The Giants would likely be comfortable moving a conditional first-round pick if Garoppolo played at least 75% of the snaps or 70% of the snaps and the team made the playoffs.

New England Patriots

Potential Trade: New England trades 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 97), Sony Michel, and Stephon Gilmore to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo

The most obvious fit for Jimmy Garappolo is to return to New England. It is no secret that Bill Belichick was extremely fond of Garappolo and viewed him as the eventual replacement for Tom Brady in New England. When both Garappolo and Brady were going hit free agency in 2017 Belichick and New England elected to extend Brady and traded Garappolo to San Fransisco for a second-round pick. The Patriots won another Super Bowl under Brady, but now that he is in Tampa Bay do not appear to have a long-term option at the position.

Last season New England took a chance on former MVP Cam Newton. He only averaged 177.1 passing yards per game and threw 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But when considering he also rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns he was a slightly below-average quarterback. New England gave Newton the benefit of the doubt since he lacked quality offense weapons this past year and gave Newton a one-year deal to prove he can do it with the new offensive weapons New England has brought in.

Even though Newton’s extension is worth up to $14 million he is only guaranteed to make $5.1 million. This means that from a financial standpoint New England could be comfortable bringing in another quarterback to compete or eventually replace Newton. The price tag of that quarterback shouldn’t matter since Newton’s guaranteed salary is similar to that of a veteran backup quarterback.

Trading for Garrapolo would give New England a proven veteran starting quarterback whose only flaw is health. He already knows the offensive system and has shown that he is capable of making a team with talented pieces a contender. Cam Newton would immediately become one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could also use Cam Newton comparably to how New Orleans uses Taysom Hill. Along with using Newton on quarterback draws and in goal-line situations, McDaniels could create a couple of plays that allows both Garappolo and Newton to lineup on the field at the same time.

For the past few seasons, Newton has shown that he is fully capable of playing at a (moderately) high level, but after the first two to three weeks Newton’s production declines. If his role was condensed he would possibly be able to maintain the level of production he has early in a season throughout a year.

Both Stephon Gilmore and Sony Michel are veterans on the Patriots that could help the 49ers if they were moved there in a deal for Garappolo. Since veteran players could be involved in a deal for Garappolo the Patriots could get away with only giving up a third-round pick from this year’s draft in the deal.

Gilmore is viewed as one of the league’s premier talents at cornerback. However, right now Gilmore would hit free agency in 2022 and New England may not get an extension done with him. New England may be able to maximize his value by trading him before the season starts. The Patriots have always had great cornerback depth and with both J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones under contract Gilmore appears to be a luxury for the Patriots. New England may prefer to extend Jackson this offseason over Gilmore. San Fransisco could be interested in adding a cornerback the caliber of Gilmore because Richard Sherman is not expected to return. The largest void on the 49ers roster is cornerback because Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley are better suited to cover secondary receivers on opposing teams.

Sony Michel has been extremely inconsistent since joining New England. After rushing for one 900 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons, Michel only rushed for 449 rushing yards and a touchdown on 79 attempts in nine games. He seems to have regressed from the feature back in New England’s committee to a member of that committee. A change of scenery may be able to return a spark to Michel to replicate his production from his first few seasons or even live up to his first-round price tag. The best place for that to happen would be in Kyle Shanahan’s offense that is extremely running back-friendly. The 49ers could use another member of their committee after all the injuries that occurred at that position for them. On top of that veterans, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon are no longer on the team.

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