3 potential free agent landing spots for Jameis Winston 

Will Jameis Winston stay in the Big Easy?

By: Jake Rajala

The big arm, humble, 27-year-old quarterback Jameis Winston took the New Orleans Saints to a 5-2 record in 2021 before tearing his ACL in Week 7. It’s disappointing that Winston had a brutal exit after several games, but there are positives to reflect on with the former Buccaneers and Saints starting QB. 

The Saints QB that signed to be Drew Brees’s apprentice in 2020 has seen impressive personal growth on and off the field. Winston took the reigns from Brees and showed strong leadership and control of the locker room. Most importantly, the once turnover machine revolted into a sharp signal-caller with big play-making potential. 

Here is an overview of Winston’s 2021 stats 

*according to Pro Football Reference

  • Passer rating of 102.8  (career-best)
  • 14 passing touchdowns in 7 games
  • 1.9% Int percentage (career-best)

It’s well documented that Winston has been a stud in a Saints uniform. Sean Payton has cleaned up Winston’s mistakes and he’s inserted him an offense that has the elite Alvin Kamara and was once healthy upfront.

With that being said, Winston is set to become a free agent in the 2022 offseason. It’s not clear if Payton wants to keep Winston and if the two sides can agree on a deal that makes sense for the Saints, but can also please the improved QB. There have also been numerous reports linking Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and Aaron Rodgers to the Saints. So, what will the Saints do at the QB spot this offseason, and will Winston be a part of their plans? 

Let’s go under the microscope and see if Winston will remain a Saint or if he will find the next chapter of his journey elsewhere.

  • Denver Broncos 

The Von Miller less Denver Broncos would be a very ideal landing spot for Jameis Winston. For one, the Broncos surely don’t have a long-term answer at the QB position. Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock have been caught with the injury bug or bench warmer job. The Broncos currently hold the third-most cap space in the league and would easily have the resources to reel in the free-agent QB. 

The 7-8 AFC West squad has been surprisingly competitive with a putrid QB showing this season. If they insert the 27-year-old QB who can utilize Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, they might be an AFC contender for the next decade. Winston is also a much better QB option than any option in the draft for the AFC West team looking at a mid-first-round pick. 

  • Detroit Lions 

The Detroit Lions might have the audacity to win a bidding war for Winston. Dan Campbell (former assistant Saints coach) has strong ties to his former colleague Sean Payton and he may believe that the Saints QB would be a great signing over a rookie QB in the current predicament. The Lions situation at WR and OL is nerve-wracking for a rookie QB, but a QB experienced with “making a lot out of a little” may be able to translate in a modest way early on for Detroit. It doesn’t appear that vengeful Jared Goff will be the franchise QB in the Motor City. Expect DET to try and take a big jump with their roster this offseason without breaking the bank for a rookie QB. 

  • New Orleans Saints 

I don’t foresee the Saints signing Winston to a long-term deal, but it would make a lot of sense for the two sides to agree on a short-term contract. Winston showed that he has a lot of upside in the seven games for the Saints, plus he has a lot more years left than the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson (33 years old). Winston could have the keys for 1-2 years and show how much damage he can oust on defenses for the length of the season. If the Saints elect to sign Winston over sending the house for Wilson in a trade, they will be able to keep more upcoming key free agents. Players like Marcus Williams, Marcus Davenport, Ceedy Duce, and Terron Armstead will be big free-agent decisions for the wizard Mickey Loomis.

Expect the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the worst records in 2021

The worst NFL teams in 2021 will be…

By: Andy Davies

Plenty of uncertainty surrounds the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans going into the 2021 season. Their quarterback situations are far from clear and their overall rosters are mediocre at best.

The same goes for their head coaches, with all three going into their first seasons at the franchise. Neither of Dan Campbell, Nick Sirianni, or David Culley has been a full-time head coach in the NFL. Campbell is the only one to have some experience, with his spell as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015.

Here is why you should be expecting the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the three worst records in the league in 2021.

Saying Goodbye To A Franchise Legend In Detroit. Struggles For The Replacement

Matthew Stafford was the number one overall pick in 2009, with the entire city of Detroit hoping he would be the man to turn around the fortunes of the franchise. Despite three seasons of making the playoffs, the Lions and Stafford never won a single postseason game as the wait continues. The Lions remain the team with the second-longest period without a playoff win, their last taking place on January 5th, 1992.

Stafford had some great individual moments as a Lion, most notably his Mic’d up moment during his 2009 rookie season. In a week eleven game against the Cleveland Browns, he overcame injury to produce a moment of pure heroism. He played with a separated shoulder despite the efforts of the medical staff to keep him off the field, leading the Lions to a touchdown-winning drive.

Jim Caldwell guided the Lions to these playoff appearances but was not seen as good enough to take them to the next step. New England Patriots assistant head coach Matt Patricia was brought in but never took to life as head coach. The Lions had three consecutive losing seasons under the coaching of Patricia. They will hope that they have found their guy in Dan Campbell. His press conference was certainly not dull, with Campbell referring to “biting kneecaps”. As a former Lions player, he knows what it takes to play in the league. He also knows about the city of Detroit and his intentions are both positive and clear. If he is given time, he has the desire to bring the good times back to Detroit. However, he is inexperienced as a head coach and the roster is below average.

New quarterback Jared Goff has the potential to struggle. This is despite the drafting of offensive lineman Penei Sewell at seventh overall, a selection that had Campbell and new General Manager Brad Holmes very excited.

Despite his brilliant 2018 season that saw the Rams reach Super Bowl 53, Goff had a poor game and struggled in 2020 as he and head coach Sean McVay’s relationship deteriorated.

Goff struggled despite a plethora of offensive talent around him. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp form one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. He is going to a franchise that let go of their two best wide receivers and failed to replace them.

The Lions have a schedule that features the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. There are also two games against their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears. The Lions do not have it easy.

Prediction: 3-14

Trouble In Philadelphia; Reason For Hope?

The Eagles have seen three years of gradual decline after winning Super Bowl 52. The 2017 season saw the Eagles lift the Lombardi Trophy for the first time after two previous attempts.

Doug Pederson was the head coach to guide the Eagles to a Super Bowl but was fired after the conclusion of the 2020 season. His decision to bench rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in order to lose and gain a higher draft pick appeared to be the final nail in the coffin.

Carson Wentz had an MVP caliber season before an injury derailed hopes of winning the award. Backup Nick Foles stepped in and guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl 52 win. He also stepped in a year later and guided the Eagles to a shock Wildcard Round win against the Chicago Bears, with thanks also going to a Cody Parkey missed field goal.

Both Foles and Wentz are no longer Eagles players. Out of the starters in that Super Bowl 52 win, only seven remain with the franchise. Their decision to draft Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson continues to be mocked by rival fans and nobody knows how new head coach Nick Sirianni will do in the role.

The schedule is mixed for Philadelphia. Whilst they face the New York Jets, Lions, and twice play the New York Giants, they also have to face the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.. This is as well as facing a rising Washington Football Team twice as well as playing the Dallas Cowboys both home and away.

Reports have surfaced in recent days of the Philadelphia Eagles being the favourites for Deshaun, with talks said to be “heating up”.

This could be a move that transforms the franchise. However, Deshaun Watson had his best statistical season yet the Texans only managed four wins all year. This proves that whilst it is very important to have a good quarterback, you need more around to be successful.

Unless the Eagles do something in what remains of the offseason, they will continue to be mediocre if their roster continues to be this poor. If they get offensive or defensive talent in the next one or two offseasons, then they are a team that will compete for years to come. Otherwise, the Eagles will fail to be a threat to both the NFC and NFC East.

This is why Deshaun should avoid the Eagles at this present time. He will be going into a situation no different to what he experienced in Houston.

Prediction: 4-13

What A Difference A Year Makes

Where do we start with the Houston Texans? The 2019 season saw them take a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. However, they allowed 41 unanswered points as they lost 51-31. What has unfolded since in the following nineteen months has been reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.

Head coach Bill O’Brien, who also was general manager, made the unusual decision to trade star wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins. In exchange, the Texans received a running back past his sell-by date in David Johnson, one second-rounder and one fourth-round pick. O’Brien only lasted four games in the 2020 season as they finished the campaign with just four wins.

Since the conclusion of the 2020 season, franchise legend J.J Watt has left and there continues to be an uncertain future surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson. Houston’s quarterback requested a trade in January before allegations of sexual assault arose. These have lingered throughout the remainder of the offseason. It is unclear if Watson will play in the NFL at all in 2021 but even if he does, it is unlikely that he will be wearing a Texans jersey.

Houston has said they would listen to trade offers for Watson, with the franchise said to be wanting three first-round picks. They have also acquired Tyrod Taylor via Free Agency and used their first pick in the draft on Davis Mills in the third round. Even if the Eagles stick with Hurts, there will be plenty of other suitors.

Even with Watson, the Texans are light on the ground when it comes to elite talent. Linebacker Zach Cunningham and Laremy Tunsil are talents and despite adding Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram to the running back room, the roster is one of the league’s worst.

David Culley has developed somewhat of a worrying reputation after his time with the Eagles, Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. During his fourteen-season spell with the Eagles, his four seasons with the Chiefs, and two years with the Ravens, he had 0 wide receivers earn a PFF grade of 80 or above.

The Chiefs wideouts went an entire season without a touchdown under Culley. With a wide receiver room featuring Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Anthony Miller, this is not exactly a position of strength for the Texans. Culley is unlikely to see any of these receivers score high PFF grades.

Whilst the Texans might be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars twice and the Jets, they have a tough schedule. They will face the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. Houston will also play the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers as well as the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans twice.

They are unlikely to win many of these games. Fans should be expecting a difficult season.

Prediction: 2-15

Top Fantasy TEs to Buy/Sell

Buy Broncos TE Noah Fant

By: Sukhwant Singh

Intro

Every year we as fantasy owners cringe when comes to drafting tight ends. Be it PPR or standard leagues there are just not enough premium TEs available. Once the heavy hitters, Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews are off the board the rest of the crop is pretty average to below average.

In this article, we’ll focus on that next tier which can make or break your fantasy squad. I’ll be doing this article based on PPR league rankings/points. With that said let’s get started!

Top three Tight Ends to buy:

T.J. Hockenson

I’m on the hype train for T.J. Hockenson this season. I know the QB position has taken a bit of a hit with Jared Goff now at the helm instead of Matthew Stafford but this shouldn’t affect Hockenson’s value much. The team lost its top WRs in Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu.

This now opens opportunities for plenty for Hockenson especially working those underneath routes. Hockenson finished last season as a TE5 with 175.3 total points in PPR formats. I fully expect him to exceed those numbers easily this season! Look for Hockenson/Goff to hit it off early and often this season. Acquiring Hockenson, given the right price is a trade worth assessing and committing to.

Noah Fant

It’s almost unfair the amount of QB uncertainty and bad QB play that Noah Fant has been dealing with. Even with that said Fant finished with 149.3 fantasy points which were good for TE9. Fant’s current ADP has him going in round 7 and later. That to me is an absolute steal!

Drew Lock/Teddy Bridgwater will bring the best in each other (at least we all hope they do) and that should have a direct result in better QB play overall. In addition, top receiving weapon Cortland Sutton will be back and fully healthy, so most of the defensive focus will shift towards him. This leaves Fant to win one on one coverage with slower linebackers and/or smaller safeties. Fant can be had for a tremendous value.

Tyler Higbee

I cant wait to see the chemistry/connection that Stafford develops with Tyler Higbee during this summer and into the season. Higbee finished as the TE8 in 2019 with 160.4 fantasy points. Although last year was a bit of a down year for him I expect him to bounce back in a big way.

Firstly, Stafford is now his QB. A big upgrade over Goff! Secondly, his target stealer (Gerald Everett) is now in Seattle. This leaves Higbee as the best TE option on the team. In 2020 Higbee out-snapped Everett by over 200 snaps! Higbee is set for a big role this season and fully expect him to break out and have a huge fantasy year.

Top three Tight Ends to sell:

Mike Gesicki

I’m just not a believer in the Dolphins QB situation. Mike Gesicki finished as a TE7 with 159.3 fantasy points in 2020. Now with the addition of Will Fuller and rookie Jaylen Waddle to an already crowded receiving core room. There are plenty of weapons on the Dolphins offense and I’m not sure that Tua Tagovailoa will be able to spread the ball around as needed.

This is where Gesicki’s fantasy outlook takes a hit. He might be the odd man out in terms of weekly sustained fantasy production on that team and this is where you as fantasy owners can get solid value for Gesicki. There will be plenty of TE-hungry fantasy managers will take the name and past fantasy production without looking at the complete picture/context. Take advantage of it and sell Gesicki high!

Evan Engram

In a similar boat as Gesicki, Evan Engram is the odd man out. The Giants added Kenny Golladay, drafted Kadarius Toney and will have Saquan Barkley back from injury. Just like with the Dolphins and Tua, I’m not sure if Jones will be able to keep all these mouths happy and fed often enough.

Engram finished as TE15 last season with 141 fantasy points. This is without the above names being on the team last season. Daniel Jones is in a make-or-break season and thus far I haven’t seen enough to convince me that he can be in that top 15 QB tier. Sell Engram as he another big name out there but little fantasy value.

Kyle Pitts

Now before everybody goes crazy as to why I’m mentioning Kyle Pitts, let me explain. This sell on Pitts is for redraft leagues ONLY! Second, I’m only saying sell because of his current ADP value of 4.04. This is insane for a player who has yet to take an NFL snap.

Pitts would have to have one of the greatest rookie TE seasons in NFL history for him to be worth that high of pick. We all have seen how rookies tend to struggle to get adjusted to the NFL level. Pitts will be no different. I’m not saying he will be a bust. What I am saying is that to draft Pitts with your third or fourth pick and say he goes 65/600/5 as his stat line, that would be good for about TE10!

Last season Hunter Henry posted a 60/613/4 line in 14 games with the Chargers good for TE12! You see it’s all about value. You can find other TEs that can give similar production that can be had in a later round. Now if Pitts falls down the ladder to you in rounds eight or later then by all means scoop him up. However, to make him one of your first top five picks isn’t worth it. Sell high and get back a huge haul!

Why the Lions should sign pass rusher Justin Houston

Free agent Justin Houston to the Detroit Lions?

By: Ladarius Brown

If you are a football fan (or a Lions fan for that matter), the Lions organization has not been great for some time. Over the last two years, it has been the defensive side of the ball that has taken a major hit. In 2018, this Lions team was 10th in the league in total defense with players like DE’s Romeo Okwara, Da’Shawn Hand, and 3x Pro Bowler & All-Pro CB Darius Slay. However, in 2019 & 2020, the Lions finished 31st and 32nd respectively. As they are rebuilding their secondary, most notably with drafting Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah in the 1st round in 2020, the defensive line needs some depth.  

One option that is out there is 4x Pro Bowler and All-Pro DE Justin Houston. Houston played for the Colts in 2020 in which he had eight sacks and 19 total sacks in his two seasons in Indy. In 2014, he led the league with 22 sacks as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, who finished 7th in total defense that year. Another reason that Houston is an ideal fit for the Lions is the flexibility he can provide. 

The Lions’ new defensive coordinator, former 15-year NFL veteran Aaron Glenn, will bring in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Here, DEs who are typically starting with their fingers in the field will have their stance be upward as an LB. Houston played LOLB in his 1st eight years in the league with the Chiefs and the transition will be seamless. Also, two of the current DE’s on the roster, the aforementioned Okwara, and Trey Flowers, will be making the move to outside LB.  

What also bodes well for Houston is that Lions general manager Brad Holmes drafted only one true DE in the 2021 Draft: Derrick Barnes in the 4th round out of Purdue. Glenn alluded to is, in nickel packages, he visualizes using a five-down front at times, with LB Jamie Collins as one edge rusher. Veteran Michael Brockers and rookie second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike are defensive ends who will play as inside rushers in sub-packages in the Lions’ new defense. This Glenn-led will have various looks, taking advantage of players who have played as DEs and LBs. Houston fits the bill in this respect and more.  

The biggest question is how much playing time Houston would see on the field. In the last two seasons for the Colts, he averaged 641 defensive snaps, or 62% of the Colts snaps on that side of the ball. Given the players currently on the roster, there is an opportunity for the 10-year vet to get a starting job. Because of his familiarity with playing in a 3-4 scheme, he has an edge on the younger players on the roster. 

Given that the Lions’ front seven are have experienced players such as Collins (8 years), Brockers (9 years), Houston would be great as added depth with the chance to compete. Regarding his price tag, he made $12 million a year in Indy when he signed in 2019. Now, at 32 years old, another question is he worth $12 million a year, even for one year. If he is willing to take a pay cut (1 year, $5-6 million), he would be well worth the risk in kickstarting this Lions defense.  

Top 3 Landing Spots for Kenny Stills

What team will Kenny Stills play for this season?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

One of the top remaining NFL free agents who have yet to sign with a team for this upcoming season is Kenny Stills. The 29-year-old speedster could definitely help a team looking to stretch a defense and he should come at a relatively cheap price for his services. He has carved out a solid career for himself as a deep threat through 8 seasons spread out across the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and Houston Texans.

His reputation as a home run hitter is verified by his statistical measures. For his career, he has an impressive 15.6 yards per reception to go along with 37 touchdowns across 117 games played. The longest reception of his career was for 76 yards and he has recorded multiple receptions for over 60 yards. He is a true vertical threat for whatever offense he is a part of and he has the numbers to prove it.

As the offseason continues to wind down to the kickoff of the 2021 NFL regular season, teams are finalizing their rosters by adding finishing pieces and applying the final touches. Kenny Stills will be an immediate contributor for the team that decides to acquire him for their upcoming campaign. These are his top 3 landing spots.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions are a team that is in the middle of a complete rebuild. Most notably, they will enter this upcoming season with a brand new head coach in Dan Campbell as well as a new quarterback in Jared Goff after a blockbuster trade that sent long-time starter Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams. The Lions also lost their top two wide receivers from last year, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, to free agency.

In a brand new passing offense, the Lions have filled out their wide receiver room with a mix of youth and veterans. They drafted Amon-Ra St. Brown out of USC and Sage Surratt from Wake Forest while also signing veterans such as Breshad Perriman and Tyrrell Williams. In addition, they brought in Jamaal Williams who is a running back that is very effective in the passing game. It’s not exactly an elite group by any means but the organization is at least trying to help their new quarterback by adding targets around him.

Kenny Stills would not only be a huge help for the Lions, but he would arguably be the best wide receiver on their roster if they do decide to sign him. The biggest way he would help them is by opening up the field for their two featured players on offense, tight end TJ Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift. The vertical threat of Stills forces the opposing defense to play further back, which would result in more space to operate underneath. Stills is a good fit in Detroit and would likely get a decent target share.

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans are a team that has made the postseason in consecutive years but is now looking to take the next step. They want to go from a playoff team to a Super Bowl contender so they decided it was time to tweak their offense. They did so by making a huge trade with the Atlanta Falcons and acquiring Julio Jones, who is one of the best wide receivers in the entire NFL. This brings their offense to a new level and creates some serious match-up problems for opposing defenses.

Jones will join a staff of offensive weapons that already includes AJ Brown and Derrick Henry. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is most effective in the play-action passing game which is set up by the dominant running game of Henry, who is the defending rushing yardage champion. The major problem that Jones is going to create for defenses is where the safety help will go. Leaving either Brown or Jones in constant single coverage is a losing proposition and without a stacked box versus the rushing game, Henry is going to have his way.

This nightmare situation for the opposition is going to cause them to pick their poison in many scenarios. It will be extremely difficult to keep Henry, Brown, and Jones all accounted for but the Titans have an opportunity to further improve their offensive personnel by adding Stills. The only thing really missing from their current scheme is that true vertical threat and that is exactly what Stills specializes in.

If the current situation causes serious issues to defenses, then adding Stills will bring it to another level. The safeties would be forced to respect his speed in the deep game because if they don’t then Stills will burn them for huge chunks of yardage. This would open up the field for both Jones and Brown to operate at will while also creating more rushing lanes for Henry. They have real potential to be a top-five offense this season, as well as a true contender in the AFC, and Stills could help them get there.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are coming off a strange year in which they finished the season 8-8 but still made the playoffs. They have one of the better defenses in the league but their offense left much to be desired last season. A big reason for that was the abysmal play at the quarterback position between both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. Determined to fix this serious problem, they signed veteran Andy Dalton and drafted their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields out of Ohio State.

The Bears do have some bright spots on offense including a star receiver in Allen Robinson, a breakout running back in David Montgomery, a dynamic Tarik Cohen, and a receiver with potential in Darnell Mooney. All of these weapons were already on their roster, so they haven’t really done much to improve offensively this offseason besides the big changes at quarterback. This is where they have an opportunity to bring in something new and fresh like Stills.

The skillset of Stills is something that the Bears roster does not currently have. There is nobody on offense to truly stretch the field in the way that Stills can. His game would greatly help their offense in a variety of ways including more rushing lanes for Montgomery, screen opportunities for Cohen, and taking some of the pressure off of Robinson to create everything on his own against constant double coverage. Finally, and maybe most importantly, is what it could do for Fields. He was an excellent deep passer in college so Stills could help unlock that weapon for him on the NFL level.

2022 draft targets for Detroit Lions: A QB, WR, and S make out the list

By: Jeremy Trotiter

The Detroit Lions are in a relatively compromising position this season compared to most other NFL teams.  They traded away their franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford, getting future picks in return as well as Jared Goff.  Jared could be good for Detroit, however if he were to perform poorly this year they could be looking at a pretty high up draft pick.  

In this article I will be going over players the Lions should consider drafting, as well as why they would be good fits with the team.  I will be operating under the assumption that their picks will be according to their Super Bowl odds, meaning they would have the second overall pick (they have the second-worst odds to win the SB) as well as the 29th pick (Los Angeles Rams first-round pick from Stafford trade, they have the 3rd best odds to win the SB or 29th worst).  With that said, let’s start with the first player.

Spencer Rattler – QB – Oklahoma

The next Oklahoma QB in line to be a premier pick is the Phoenix native Spencer Rattler.  After an impressive redshirt freshman season, he should be looking to improve even further as a player in 2021-2022.  Rattler is a phenomenally accurate quarterback when he has just enough time to make throws, completing 67.5% of his passes, however he can also improvise at an extremely high level. 

After back-to-back number one overall picks in 2018 and 2019 being Oklahoma QBs, the Lions could look for a true improvising based quarterback to replace Matthew Stafford, and bring a new dynamic to the team.  If the Lions are picking within the top three picks, they should most definitely consider bringing in a quarterback as either Jared Goff did not perform in that scenario, or the roster needs more time to develop.  

In 2020, Spencer Rattler put up the following statline:

  • 11 games played
  • 214 passes completed on 317 attempts (67.5%)
  • 3031 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 172.6 Passer efficiency rating
  • 81 rush attempts for 160 yards and 6 touchdowns

Overall, Rattler is a fantastic prospect who can pass at all three levels with great accuracy, while also being able to get outside the pocket and still make the throw.  As of now he is one of the top two QBs in the class to most analysts, as he should be, and Detroit would hugely improve having him behind center.

Justyn Ross – WR – Clemson

In this scenario, rather than replacing Jared Goff, the Lions would supplement him with new receivers.  As of right now one of the biggest needs in Detroit would be a receiver, as they have very little depth and even their top receivers on the depth chart are unproven.  Justyn Ross would change that, and even better, he may fall to their second first-rounder from the Rams later on.  

Ross is one of the better receivers in this class and has the ability to turn plays into huge gains whenever the ball is in his hands.  The main reason his value has dipped quite a bit is due to not playing in 2020 due to a major injury.  He had a bulging disc in his spine as well as a congenital spine condition, due to a collision with a Clemson LB in practice.  However, we have both 2018 and 2019 to base his skills off of.  In 2018, he was fifth in the ACC in receiving yards (1000) and led the ACC in yards per reception (21.7).  In 2019 he also got eighth in the ACC for number of receptions, with 66.

His better year of the two is 2018, where his full statline looked as such:

  • 14 games played
  • 46 receptions for 1000 yards (21.7 yards per reception)
  • 9 receiving touchdowns. 

One thing that does not show up in his stats is his size and reliability.  At 6’4” and 205 LBs, he is a very tall receiver who can use his wingspan to go up and contest 50/50 catches and bring them down at a high rate.  His hands are extremely reliable, and he makes the most out of every single snap he gets on the field.  This is exactly what the Lions need at receiver, and definitely a player Dan Campbell would like to have around due to his physicality.

Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre Dame

Finally, we have a relatively outlier pick, taking a safety in the first round, never mind early in it.  This is more for if the Lions do decent, and go in the 7-10 to 5-12 range, and get a pick somewhere from 7-15.  Like I mentioned, taking a safety early in the draft is heavily advised against by most teams and front offices…. unless they are a generational talent or have extreme upside.  Kyle Hamilton has extreme upside and could be one of the better safeties we have seen come from CFB since Jamal Adams, potentially better.

Kyle Hamilton is another massive prospect, at 6’4” 219 LBs he could be the size of a nickel linebacker if he could put on about 10 more pounds.  His extremely tall frame and long wingspan allow him to get in between the receiver and the ball and knock it away almost with ease it seems.  The other thing that makes him so scary is his vertical abilities, even though he is 6’4” and has a large frame, he is able to get a 40-inch vertical.  This type of athleticism is coveted in the NFL, and scouts should be all over him if he continues on the path he has created.

In 2020, he put up the following statline for the Fighting Irish:

  • 11 games played
  • 63 total tackles (51 solo and 12 assisted) along with 4.5 tackles for loss
  • 1 interception with 14 yards returned, and 6 passes deflected

Another thing to note is in 2019 he had four interceptions, with the same number of passes deflected.  He should be a highly drafted prospect, most considering him top 15 at worst right now, and if he has another great year in 2021, we could be looking at our “next big thing” in the safety world.  His high level of talent would hugely improve the Lions secondary and would create a fantastic dynamic duo of sorts with Jeff Okudah in front of him on the field at the CB position. 

Who is the NFC North favorite if Rodgers leaves?

By: Cody Molla (Twitter: @Cmolla1)

The Chicago Bears are a storied franchise and have a long history as one of the founding teams in the NFL in 1920. The Bears have accumulated the most wins in NFL history slightly ahead of rival Green Bay Packers founded a year later. These two teams are longtime rivals and have had many battles in the “Black and Blue Division” better known now as the NFC North.

The NFC North as we know it today began in 2002. Since then the Chicago Bears have been named division champions four times, most recently in 2018. Their rival Green Bay Packers have won the North 11 times in that same span. Largely because of superior quarterback play from Favre and Rodgers. Since 2008 when Rodgers became the starter the Packers have really dominated this division including winning the title the last two years.

The Packers NFC North run is now in “Jeopardy!” in relation to the Aaron Rodgers saga. As many know Rodgers has drawn a line in the sand with management and wants things to change. If Rodgers leaves the Packers what does that mean for the NFC North? Do the Bears rise as the frontrunners for this division in the immediate future?

Respectfully we can rule out the Lions. They are in serious rebuild mode and now have downgraded significantly at quarterback going from Stafford to Goff.

The Vikings are in an interesting position. They are projected to win 8.5 games by Vegas oddsmakers. With an extra game in the upcoming season, this means they will be around .500 or so. The offense will be conducted through Kirk Cousins still. Who, if Rodgers leaves, is the best veteran quarterback in the division. Cousins has one playoff appearance and is not the guy the Vikings are paying him to be. Cousins received a massive contract from the Vikings in 2018 and is under contract for two more years. Cousins is 25-21-1 for Minnesota in his career.

Defensively the Vikings were pretty bad last year across all metrics. However, they had some big injuries and a few COVID-19 opt-outs that hampered the defense. With the addition of Patrick Peterson, Xavier Woods, and Mackensie Alexander the secondary will be better. The front gets Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, and Michael Pierce back with the addition of Dalvin Tomlinson. The Vikings defense is poised for a bounce back and this will really help their team.

Windy City fans were not pleased with the Bears early in the offseason. Losing out in the faux Russel Wilson sweepstakes and signing Andy Dalton to lead the Bears offensively. Dalton will still likely start a bit of games in 2021 but the Bears offseason improved greatly via the NFL draft. With the steal of the first round and one of the best value picks of the night the Bears drafted Justin Fields at 11 overall after trading up.

The Bears will have two veterans in Dalton and Foles for Fields to learn from. We could see Fields after the Bears Week 10 bye in the newly released NFL schedule. Fields seems like the perfect fit for what Nagy wants to do on offense. Fields has the potential to be the best or second best quarterback in this class. He’s got all the tools and can be coached up to excel with the surrounding cast immediately.

Allen Robinson will be the top receiver for whoever is playing quarterback. Robinson is elite. The rest of the pass catchers include Darnell Mooney who broke out a little bit last year, Anthony Miller, Damiere Byrd, Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, and rookie Dazz Newsome. The running back room is very intriguing to me. Montgomery flashed and carried this offense to a playoff run late last year. He will look to prove he is the guy and follow up with a big season. Tarik Cohen will return after injury and the Bears have added Damien Williams who opted out of 2020. Williams’ last game was one in which he could’ve been named super bowl MVP with the Chiefs and he has familiarity with both Nagy (Kansas City 2017) and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor (Miami Dolphins 2014). The Bears also added two rookie backs who produced in college in Khalil Herbert from Virginia Tech and CJ Marable from Coastal Carolina.

The offense has guys to make plays. With one true superstar in Allen Robinson, the rest of the guys will need to step up and make plays when given the opportunity. Quarterback play could be rough with Dalton at times but he is capable of spreading the ball and putting points on the board. The offensive line is the weakest link on the offense and will be a problem.

When you think of the Bears you think of good defense. The Monsters of the Midway dominated the early 1940s, again in 1985, in 2006 the defense lead them to a Super Bowl appearance, and recently in 2018. The Bears defense will take a step back this year. Chuck Pagano retired following the 2020 season. The new defensive coordinator for the Bears is Sean Desai. Desai has been with the Bears on the defensive side of the ball since 2013. A familiar face in the building looks to carry over great schemes from Fangio and Pagano.

After starting 5-1 last year the defense regressed to a top 15 defense. This is likely where the Bears will finish this year as well. They will suffer a major loss at cornerback with the loss of Kyle Fuller. Veteran Desmond Trufant is tasked with filling Fullers’ shoes. Trufant is a former pro bowler back in 2015 and hasn’t played a full season since 2018. Eddie Jackson will be the best secondary player for the Bears, a former All-Pro in 2018. Jackson has 10 interceptions and six fumble recoveries in his career along with six touchdowns. Jackson has shown the ability to make game changing plays but had zero interceptions last year.

The defensive front is still in good hands. Roquan Smith patrols the middle of the field with veteran Trevathan. Mario Edwards and Robert Quinn can create pressure off the edge along with Khalil Mack. When healthy Akiem Hicks is a great Dalvin Cook stopper.

So what does this mean for the Bears in 2021 if Rodgers is not a Packer? Looking at their schedule the Bears have some tough games early combined with some winnable ones. Week 1 the Bears go on the road to play the first game in SoFi Stadium with fans vs the Rams. They play the Browns Week 3 as part of their tour versus the AFC North, and the Bucs in Week 7 both on the road. Those games look to be the testers early in the year. If they can get to the Week 10 bye at 5-5 with Fields ready to start the playoffs could be in reach. The final five games close with a meeting with the Pack at the frozen tundra and two games with Minnesota. If Rodgers is gone I see a 4-2 division record possible for the Bears, splitting with Green Bay and Minnesota while sweeping the Lions. Finding a way to 10 total wins gives them a chance at the playoffs and the division win with the expanded schedule.

The weakest spots will be the offensive line and cornerback. The offense should be better with the quarterbacks looking ahead. If not Nagy and crew will be fired. The defense can make plays and stay solid up front. If the corners step up and push the defense to a higher level the Bears will win the NFC North. A playoff return is in the cards for the Chicago Bears, bearing they play them right.

D’Andre Swift is the key for the Lion’s playoff chances

Lions RB D’Andre Swift is the key in 2021

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 interim 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.

The Chicago Bears are top NFC Super Bowl Sleepers in 2021

The top Super Bowl sleeper is the Chicago Bears

A few short months ago I was writing articles about general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy’s impending firings, so I understand as well as anyone that a Chicago Bears Super Bowl run sounds a bit farfetched right now, but NFL franchises often flip the script overnight in this league and it can all start with one move.

Now I know I just finished saying that Chicago’s chances aren’t reliant on Fields’ immediate stardom, and they’re not, but his potential as a generational quarterback talent is certainly the conductor of the hype train.

Truth is, I have been against this regime for quite some time. The trade up for the unproven Mitchell Trubisky, the horrid playcalling by Nagy that seemed to stunt the growth of not only Trubisky but running back David Montgomery, the indecision at QB and the miserable ideas to bring in Nick Foles and Andy Dalton as “saviors” when every NFL fan under the sun knows that these veterans are no more than underwhelming game managers. Yes, I know Foles won a Super Bowl, but that Philadelphia Eagles roster was built like a tank and this Bears one is not.

It’s been a tough road for Bears fans ever since Vic Fangio’s defense (led by Khalil Mack) shattered expectations in 2018. Not tough like 1-15 record tough, but more “what could have been” tough. The knowledge that your putrid offense is holding back and possibly wasting a championship caliber defense is difficult to stomach (especially when you traded a ton of your future draft capital for the catalyst of that unit in Mack).

This defense has a window, and that window is closing fast. Mack is under contract till 2025, but his cap hit is exorbitant after 2021 (unless Chicago takes the potential out next offseason at a $24 million dollar hit). That 2018 group has already seen losses like Fangio (DC), Kyle Fuller (CB1), Adrian Amos (S), Prince Amukamara (CB2, age caught up fast here), Bryce Callahan (slot), Leonard Floyd (edge) and more. Mack’s departure could be the final nail in the coffin, sealing that window for good.

The emergence of a unique prospect like Fields at QB gives Chicago a shot in 2021, but there are a few other factors that have a Jets fan like me all aboard the Bears bandwagon.

1. NFC in Decline

With Drew Brees retiring, the NFC East in total dissarray, Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay, and the NFC West all beating up on eachother, there aren’t many Super Bowl favorites in the NFC outside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In what has become a conference shift in strength, we now see a lot of the bright young quarterbacks in the AFC (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Baker Mayfield and Deshaun Watson should he return to Houston) while the NFC is left wanting.

An Aaron Rodgers trade to a franchise like the Denver Broncos could totally blow the doors off this conversation. Not only that, it would leave a gaping hole in the NFC North with the Detroit Lions rebuilding and the Minnesota Vikings as a playoff bubble team at best. The Green Bay Packers are one of the NFC’s (and Bears’) strongest competitors left, and if there’s any truth to the rumors, that Cheesehead locomotive may have already flown off the tracks.

2. Phenomenal ’21 Draft

We all know about the Justin Fields selection, but the Bears 2021 draft went much further than that. Pace was drafting like his job was on the line and he answered the bell with some really solid picks.

Just after trading up to get the franchise QB, Pace was able to nab the left tackle to pair with him for years to come, in Teven Jenkins. Many thought the Oklahoma State Cowboys 6’6″ tackle would go in the first, but he slipped to day two and the Bears did not hesitate. Later on he bulked the offensive line again, drafting upside guard prospect Larry Borom out of Missouri.

One trouble area may be cornerback with Fuller gone, but sixth rounder Thomas Graham Jr. had sleeper grades from many analysts out of Oregon. The former Duck could help fill the void, but Chicago will also need something from 2020 second rounder Jaylon Johnson (just turned 22 in April), and free agent flier Desmond Trufant.

3. Key Vets Returning After 2020 Season

I wasn’t particularly high on the 2020 Bears defense, in part because I knew the offense would struggle, but also because some instrumental pieces were missing.

One major cog to account for was nose tackle Eddie Goldman, a 2020 COVID opt-out. Goldman had 40-plus tackles in 2017 and ’18 as one of the premier run-stuffers in the game. 2021 is only his age-27 season, so Chicago will count on the DT to return with avengeance after a year on the pine.

Alongside Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, this unit is still very formidable up front. The linebacker core also flaunts Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan in the middle, with free safety Eddie Jackson over the top. LB Christian Jones joins this crew, and they’ll also look to re-sign or replace strong safety Tash Gipson before preseason begins. Gipson started all 16 games with the Bears a season ago, and is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Let’s not forget the offensive side of the ball, as Pace held onto wide receiver Allen Robinson for dear life. New faces like Damien Williams, Damiere Byrd, Dazz Newsome, Khalil Herbert and Marquise Goodwin add some versatility to a group that needs to get more creative behind Fields and Nagy.


This defense may be slightly diminished from 2018, but it’s still pretty darn good, and this offense could theoretically become much more dynamic with a quarterback like Fields at the helm. Am I slightly worried that Nagy may just be a terrible coach? Absolutely. This is a make or break season for the HC though, so I expect him to pull out all the stops.

At the very least, I see the Bears as a playoff team again in 2021, but at +4800 odds right now on FanDuel Sportsbook, Chicago may just be the biggest sleeper pick to win Super Bowl LVI.

Landing Spots for All 5 of the Top QB Prospects

Who will Lawrence, Wilson, Fields, Lance and Jones play for in 2021?

by Michael Obermuller

The lead-up to the NFL Draft is a sports process like no other. The speculation, the intrigue, the misinformation and strategy used by different franchises and general managers. Considering the diverse crop of quarterback talent available in 2021, this offseason has been as wild as ever. I mean, just look at this curveball from Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer a few days before draft night.

Trevor Lawrence has been the consensus number one pick for what feels like years, and Jags owner Shad Khan has seemed pretty intent on marketing the rebirth of the franchise around the Clemson star, so why then is Meyer still choosing between three players at No. 1 overall?

It could just be due diligence from a first year NFL head coach, or maybe Lawrence to Jacksonville isn’t as much of a lock as most people thought. After all, there is certainly no reason to play mind-games with opposing GM’s when you’re the one picking first. Yet here we are left with this mysterious quote.

Don’t you worry though, I’ve seen through all the GM mumbo jumbo of the past few months and I’m confident in saying that I have figured out where each quarterback will end up — I think. Either way, I’ll give it a whirl, starting with the aforementioned Jaguars.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (No. 1)

I know, after all that in the introduction, I’m still predicting T-Law to DUVAL? That’s right, because if Meyer wants to pull off the most shocking move in recent draft memory, he can do it without my blessing. There are a couple important things to note here though. One, Meyer is not considering Mac Jones or Trey Lance in the top spot. Could this have an influence on other franchises behind him? Urban was a premier college recruiter for a long time after all. Or perhaps he has yet to gain the respect of his fellow NFL peers, and his opinion means very little to them. Two, the former Ohio State HC and program director is likely passing on his former QB, Justin Fields. Meyer actually ranked the quarterbacks in a preseason show in June of 2020, with Lawrence first in his ranks and Fields second. His reasoning at the time was this;

[Lawrence] played one more year. That was it. The one thing I’ll say about Justin Fields because I’m very close to the situation, any concerns about him being a throwing quarterback are gone now. He’s developed, he’s outstanding.

– Urban Meyer, FOX College Football

The Jags could certainly throw a wrench in the entire draft by taking either Zach Wilson or Fields, which would probably send Lawrence to New York at No. 2, but it’s highly unlikely and I’m not buying it. Size, accuracy, speed, raw ability, intelligence, drive — Lawrence is the consensus number one for a reason. I’m not saying that he’s guaranteed to be the most successful NFL product, he’s not, but he is the safe bet for Jacksonville. For the sake of all our sanities, let’s move on and assume this sticks.

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson (No. 2)

GM Joe Douglas and the New York Jets have traded 2018 first round pick Sam Darnold, so yes they are 100 percent taking a quarterback at two (for those who haven’t been paying attention). They have been linked to the BYU Cougars signal-caller more and more since Week 17, and I personally don’t see this changing on Thursday night. Wilson checks all the boxes for the Jets. He is an accurate passer and a competitive winner (albeit against lesser competition), known for his on-the-fly decision-making and pocket presence as well as an arm that throws just as far on the move as it does standing upright. Wilson has drawn recent comparisons to Patrick Mahomes for some of these intangible traits, but there’s a contingent of fans that still have doubts that scouts and GM’s are once again sleeping on in-your-face talent.

If Fields can translate his OSU skillset to the pros, it wouldn’t be the first time that the best and brightest NFL minds in the game are totally wrong. I mean he did run a 4.44 forty with a 70.2 completion percentage in 2020. For the record, as you’ll see throughout this article, Fields is my personal QB1 in this class, but that doesn’t mean he appeals to the teams picking in the top three.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones (No. 3)

Is the infamous “smokescreen tactic” being utilized by Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch and the San Francisco 49ers? It’s quite possible, in fact Joe Douglas and the Jets could be using it too for all we know. If Fields truly is the quarterback with the most upside potential, it would make sense that every GM behind the Jaguars is trying to keep Meyer off their trail by talking up Wilson, Jones and Lance. At the same time, it seems even more likely that the NFL brass are once again scared off by an Ohio State product who has been labeled as a runner that struggles with his progressional reads. If Lawrence and Wilson do indeed go one-two, Fields should be the pick at three in my opinion, but he may not be according to reports.

There’s something fishy about this developing story, because Jones and Lance couldn’t be more different as prospects. I can’t deny that Mac Jones makes sense as Shanahan’s favorite option. The Niners HC has highlighted his on-field and NFL-ready intelligence, citing that the Alabama product is the win-now choice for a team that was in the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Jones is also the most similar to the quarterbacks that have flourished in Shanahan’s system in the past (Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo). Lance on the other hand makes me scratch my head. He’s from a small program that did not play against NFL-type talent, he’s not game-ready by most estimations, and he’s athletic rather than accurate or experienced. The fact that San Francisco is torn between these two, but not interested in the player that is pretty much the combination of both (Fields) is odd to say the least. For these reasons, I do think there’s a chance that the 49ers are under-selling Fields on purpose, but I’ll begrudgingly stick with Jones here anyway because of how well he fits the Shanahan mold.

4. TRADE — Denver Broncos: Trey Lance (No. 4)

Some have the Atlanta Falcons taking Lance at four, but in the end I think Arthur Smith’s new offense stands pat with the reliability of Matty Ice for a couple more seasons and trades down to reconstruct this roster from the inside out. That process may not start with an inexperienced QB, but it could begin with a haul of present and future draft picks. The next question is their trade partner, and although it has not been mentioned as much as a New England or Washington Football Team, the Denver Broncos are my under-the-radar candidate to make the jump from ninth to fourth. George Paton is taking over as GM for the Broncos, and he may try and make a splash in his first NFL Draft having the final say.

Everything about Paton’s thinking for his first draft screams Lance to me. It’s unexpected, out-of-the-box, and hopefully solves the problem that John Elway failed at for years in the same position — finding a franchise quarterback. Drew Lock has yet to display any qualities that separate him from the rest of the league, so I expect Paton to jump at the opportunity to bring in someone that can compete not only with Lock, but long-term with division rivals like Mahomes and Justin Herbert. Of course, the Broncos could also go with Fields here, but I’m sticking with my theme that this inexplicable stigma drops my QB1 down to QB5. I also like the fit for Lance in Denver. He played at North Dakota State, a similar climate, and his build and physicality as a runner bear some resemblance to Elway himself. Although I’m sure Broncos fans would also take his Josh Allen comp.

5. Detroit Lions: Justin Fields (No. 7)

So where oh where will Mr. Fields land? No he won’t fall out of the top 10, and I don’t expect the Cincinnati Bengals or Miami Dolphins to trade down either when they can grab the players they covet most (Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase by all reports) at five and six. That leaves the Detroit Lions, who could choose to trade down with the Patriots or the highest bidder, but honestly why would they? The Lions roster moves have signaled a total overhaul rebuild under the new regime of Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes, and they already have enough future draft capital from the Matthew Stafford trade where they don’t need more first round picks. They need a franchise quarterback. The wrinkle that you may point out is that they also received back Jared Goff and his contract in that same deal. Let’s be honest though, Goff is a placeholder in Detroit at best. At worst, he’s a cap casualty after 2022 (when cutting him would only cost $10 million). So why not accelerate the process if Justin Fields falls into your lap?

A player with as much potential as Fields could be a dream for Holmes at No. 7 in his first NFL Draft, and the young QB could even learn under Goff as a rookie before jumpining into the NFL head-first. He can truly do it all; whether it’s his accuracy as a passer or his agility as a runner, his escapability in the pocket or strong arm on the run, his competitiveness as an premier athlete or his confidence in primetime games. I’m not sure why every team is insistent on looking past Fields, and maybe it all is a smokescreen and he goes top three, but it just feels like the NFL scouts and decision-makers are talking themselves into passing on another superstar.

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