Reflecting on the Jalen Ramsey trade: who won?

Which team received more value?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

It has now been two seasons since the Jacksonville Jaguars traded away their superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a package of draft picks. Now that those draft picks have all turned into selected players, it’s time to reflect back on the trade. There is a ton of value in draft picks, especially ones in the first round, for a rebuilding team like the Jags, while the Rams were a team built to win now and were seeking a finishing piece to help them make a potential Super Bowl run. The Rams could only make this move by sacrificing some of their future, so did they win the trade, or did the Jags make the better investment?

The Case for the Rams

The Rams decided to make a bold move when they acquired Ramsey by trading away their 2020 and 2021 first-round draft picks as well as one fourth-rounder. They believed it was worth it because they felt he would bring their defense to the next level and make them more of a championship-caliber team. They weren’t wrong about what they were getting with Ramsey as he has been outstanding since arriving on the team and has greatly improved their defense as a whole. Individually, Ramsey has been one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, as demonstrated by his two Pro Bowl selections as well as one All-Pro.

More importantly than the individual honors, Ramsey has contributed to making the Rams defense one of the top units in the NFL. In his first season with the team in 2019, the Rams were ranked in the top half of the league in most defensive categories including total yards allowed per game and passing yards allowed per game. In 2020 they made a big leap to being the best defense in the NFL, leading the entire league in yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed per game, and points allowed per game. The Rams goal was to significantly improve their defense, and acquiring Ramsey helped them to achieve that and more.

The Case for the Jags

Committing to a full rebuild, the Jags were looking for ways to acquire more draft picks. They were willing to sacrifice what they had in the short term for potential long-term benefits, as they should. At the time of the trade, Ramsey was still only 24 years old so he was definitely young enough to be a part of their future. On the other hand, he was clearly their most valuable asset who would bring the highest return in the trade market. So they decided to deal him to the Rams and received a solid package of two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder in return.

Picks are crucial to a rebuild, but the real value is what players those picks turn into. For the Jags, the three players that they selected with the draft picks they received from the Rams were K’Lavon Chaisson, Travis Etienne, and Jordan Smith. Chaisson was relatively unimpressive in his first season with the Jags but he still has plenty of time to prove his worth. Etienne is an electric prospect while Smith was a mid-round value pick, but they are both rookies so it’s still unknown how they will perform at the pro level.

The Verdict

While it’s impossible to determine exactly what the Jags got from this trade, it’s extremely clear that the Rams accomplished what they set out to do when they acquired Ramsey. They wanted to improve their defense, and they did so in a huge way by being ranked the top defense in the NFL last season. Ramsey has been one of the key reasons for their success, and he is on the very short list of best cornerbacks in the league. It is possible for the verdict to change in the future, depending on what the three Jags players turn into, but at this current time, it’s safe to say that the Rams clearly won this trade.

Projecting the Top 3 rookie players in AFC and NFC

Who will make an immediate impact?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Now that the NFL Draft has completed and teams are preparing for this upcoming season, it’s time to start looking at which rookies could have a major immediate impact on their new teams. It’s fair to explore which of these drafted players is going to contribute the most to the overall success of their team in this upcoming season.

A difference maker is defined as someone who brings their team to a new level. They have the ability to make their team noticeably better with them than without them. Their impact should clearly contribute to an increase in wins for this upcoming season.

That being said, this list is not necessarily the three most talented rookies from each conference, but rather the three who have the most potential to be immediate difference-makers. Let’s see who makes the cut.

AFC: QB Trevor Lawrence, Jags

In the case of Trevor Lawrence, he is both the most talented rookie as well as the one with the most potential to be an immediate difference-maker. He is one of the highest-graded prospects in the history of scouting and is widely accepted as a generational player. The sky is the limit for Lawrence, and if he can live up to the hype, he will truly be something special. He is perfectly built to play quarterback in the NFL with all of his physical attributes and skills.

Let’s be honest here, the Jags will still most likely be one of the worst teams in the NFL this upcoming season. Their roster has way too many holes to be taken seriously. The difference is that they should be much more competitive with Lawrence under center and will almost definitely improve from their abysmal one-win season last year. Lawrence provides the Jags with a great reason to be optimistic about their future.

AFC: RB Najee Harris, Steelers

Najee Harris is looking to be the next successful Alabama running back in the NFL. The Crimson Tide has a good track record at the position, and Harris is just as good as any of the other names on the list. He is big and strong but still has the burst of speed necessary to make big plays. As a bonus, he is a good receiver as well with the skillset to be a three-down back.

A solid running game was the one big thing that the Steelers were missing last season. They are hoping they solved that problem by drafting Harris with their first-round draft pick. He is in line for a huge workload this season, especially since they lost James Conner to free agency. He has all of the tools to be successful in this situation, and will likely have a big season. If he plays to his potential, the Steelers can be a true contender in the AFC Conference.

AFC: WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens

An explosive receiver with plenty of big-play ability, Rashod Bateman is a major piece that has been missing for the Ravens. He and Hollywood Brown as a tandem should really open things up for their offense. It will provide Lamar Jackson with more targets downfield that he’s been seriously lacking, as well as make it more difficult for opposing defenses to stack the box. This will allow for their dominant running game to do even more damage or leave the defense vulnerable to big plays downfield behind them. If all goes according to plan, Bateman makes the Ravens offense a new level of dynamic.

NFC: QB Trey Lance, 49ers

The 49ers clearly do not believe in Jimmy Garoppolo because they used their draft capital to move up and select Trey Lance with the third overall pick. Lance is an incredible athlete with a ton of potential, and could really blossom into something special under Kyle Shanahan. His dual-threat abilities add another dimension to an already dynamic style of offense. The 49ers made it all the way to the Super Bowl just two seasons ago, but a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness at the quarterback position last year resulted in a huge regression for the team. Lance will look to turn things back around for them when he gets his opportunity, and he’s in an ideal situation to thrive.

NFC: QB Justin Fields, Bears

The stock of Justin Fields mysteriously fell a bit leading up to the NFL Draft, but make no mistake about it, he is an extremely talented quarterback. In fact, he was projected to be the second overall pick for most of last season, and his game looked every bit the part. He will now get the opportunity to rescue the Bears from a disastrous quarterback situation and join a team that’s already built to win right now. They won 8 games last season with some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL, so it’s realistic to expect double-digit wins if that problem is solved. Fields is more than capable of being the one to do it, making the Bears a real sleeper contender in the NFC conference.

NFC: LB Micah Parsons, Cowboys

The Cowboys defense was one of the worst in the NFL season. It was a huge reason for their struggles as a team, so the organization decided to use this draft to improve the defensive unit. They started by using their first-round pick to select Micah Parsons, who is one of the most versatile players in this entire rookie class. He is a jack of all trades style of player who can line up at multiple positions and contribute in a wide variety of ways. The Cowboys offense is loaded with firepower and should be one of the best in the NFL, so if their defense can step up then they will be a real threat in the NFC. Parsons has a great chance to be a big reason for drastic improvement, and he’s even the current betting favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

the Chicago Bears are top NFC Super Bowl Sleepers in 2021

In the blink of an eye, the Chicago Bears have flipped their chances in 2021, and not just because they landed QB Justin Fields.

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.

Post-NFL Draft Super Bowl Dark Horses in AFC and NFC

Which surprise franchises have a legit shot at winning the Super Bowl?

by Michael Obermuller

The NFL Draft came and went like a hurricane once again, with winners and losers grades flying in from every analyst in America. According to aggregate rankings, some of this year’s draft champions were teams like the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins. Do any of these franchises actually have a shot at the Super Bowl though?

The short answer is yes. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers flipped the script in a single offseason, going from 7-9 to parade yachting through Tampa’s harbor. I know they signed the greatest quarterback the game has ever seen, but we’ve seen the NFL pull championship 180’s more often than any other sports league, and we could definitely see another dark horse Lombardi winner in February of 2022.

Based on both the NFL Draft and NFL Free Agency, here are four teams that could make the jump to SB Champs in what is now less than one calendar year away.

Cleveland Browns

Now I know this one seems like a cop-out, because the Browns were pretty darn good last season, but they’re still not even favorites to win their division according to most oddsmakers right now. On FanDuel Sportsbook, Cleveland has +1700 odds to win the big game, behind the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens at +1400. To me, the Browns might have had the top draft in football, and that’s after having a solid free agency and an 11-5 record in 2020.

General manager Andrew Berry made a splash just before the draft when he signed edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney. He had already bolstered the secondary in March, bringing in safety John Johnson III and corner Troy Hill (both formerly of the Los Angeles Rams), not to mention DT Malik Jackson and LB Anthony Walker elsewhere on the defense. This unit held Cleveland back in 2020, with a fluid consistency on the other side of the ball. After the signings they made, and the sleeper potential of draft picks like CB Greg Newsome II and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (who never should have fallen out of the first round), it might be their strength just one year later.

The Brownies have been improving ever since Baker Mayfield took over at quarterback, and now this team is built to win it all. Top offensive line, ferocious pass rush, youthful secondary, blistering run game… oh, and star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. set to return from injury. Cleveland somehow faces a third-place schedule with a first-place roster, and I expect them to dominate.

Denver Broncos

A lot of people had the Denver Broncos as dark horses in 2020, but I promise you that I was not one of them. Even before the Courtland Sutton and Von Miller injuries (both healthy again), I thought Denver was a few missing pieces away from contention, but they may have solved a large chunk of that puzzle this offseason. They rank 11th on the aggregate draft boards, but I actually thought they deserved a higher grade. GM George Paton did a ton of things I liked this Spring, and it all started in the secondary with signings Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. It continued in the draft.

The tweet above doesn’t even include seventh round pick Kary Vincent Jr., who I thought was one of the top value picks of the entire draft. The LSU cornerback’s rank seemed to fall after he opted out in 2020, but he was very productive the season before when the Tigers won the College Football Playoff. The Broncos needed a deep secondary that could keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, and this one can. Factor in Miller and Bradley Chubb finally pairing together off the edge, and this defense could have championship pedigree under Vic Fangio. The offense should be no slouch either, with a plethora of young weapons and the one tricky question being at quarterback (Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater set to compete).

P.S. Denver is currently the front-runner to trade for Aaron Rodgers… and that would only boost their +2400 Super Bowl odds.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys may not have had the best draft grades in their entirety, but I thought they made a couple of very key selections early on, like middle linebacker Micah Parsons. After trading back for a couple of extra picks, the Boys drafted the top LB in the draft. Parsons is not only talented, he’s a leader with the ceiling of a Bobby Wagner type captain. They also filled their cornerback need in the second round (after missing out on Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II), drafting Kelvin Joseph out of Kentucky (a solid prospect with elite speed), and UCLA defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa is another intriguing prospect nabbed in the third.

Jerry Jones and Dallas went defense, defense, and more defense this draft after dishing out $240 million to Dak Prescott this offseason, and I loved the commitment here by Jones and company. This offense was spectacular before Prescott’s injury, averaging 32.6 points per game (PPG) during the five games he started. Dak plus a healthy offensive line should put the Cowboys back near the top of the league in efficiency, but this defense was in desperate need of reinforcements, allowing the fifth most PPG last season. When you consider how many injuries the franchise suffered in 2020, plus the improvements they’ve made this Spring, they are an easy 2021 dark horse in my eyes at +2800 odds.

Chicago Bears

I’m surprising myself with this one as I’ve been one of the biggest Matt Nagy-Ryan Pace haters the past few seasons, and most Bears fans would probably agree with me after the way this franchise has been run. That could all change with one draft decision, however, the trade-up for dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields. Now you are either a Fields believer or you aren’t — and I am — ranking the Ohio State product as my QB1 in 2021 (yes, that’s including Trevor Lawrence). As expected, NFL GM’s disagreed with us Fields supporters drafting Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance over him. To be fair, I like Wilson and Lawrence and think both could be successful, Lance I’m less sure about it.

Having the game-ready Fields as the Chicago QB1 instead of Andy Dalton makes all the difference in the world when evaluating this roster’s chances, but it wasn’t just the addition of Fields that changed my entire perspective on the Bears. Pace was drafting like his life depended on it (only because it totally did), and I have to admit that he struck gold under pressure. Left tackle Teven Jenkins was a steal in the second (a first round talent that will start after the release of Charles Leno). Then guard prospect Larry Borom and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. were also some picks with some major potential to be had.

This once-great defense still flaunts playmakers like Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn and Eddie Jackson. The defensive line should also get back 2020 opt-out Eddie Goldman alongside Akiem Hicks. So long as they get something out of corners Desmond Trufant and Jaylon Johnson, this is a formidable unit again in 2021. On the offensive side, the Bears managed to hold onto Allen Robinson, while adding interesting weapons like Damien Williams, Damiere Byrd and Marquise Goodwin for Fields to get the ball to. There are still problems to solve, but Chicago took a major leap in the Super Bowl odds after draft night in my opinion, yet they still sit at +4800 odds on FanDuel. I may just have to take that bet.

Good or Bad? Grading the Steelers 2021 NFL Draft Class

Steelers 2021 NFL Draft Class Overview

By: Noah Nichols

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the 2021 NFL draft looking to do one thing: improve the run game. The Steelers were dead last in the NFL in 2020 at running the football. To remedy that, they selected a running back, tight end, center, and offensive tackle, with their first four picks in the draft. This 2021 NFL draft class will certainly do something for the Steelers in the running game. Will it make it a top five rushing attack? Probably not. But it certainly has the potential to. With that said, here are the draft grades for the Steelers 2021 NFL draft class.

Najee Harris RB

Probably the best running back in the 2021 NFL draft class, the Steelers immediately upgraded their run game with this pick. Harris is also an accomplished route runner and Steelers offensive coordinator will use Harris’s route running abilities to their full potential. The only knock on Harris is his age. At 23 years old Harris will probably age out of the league quicker then most, but the Steelers don’t seem concerned by that here. Harris gives the Steelers a patient running style reminiscent of Le’Veon Bell, something they have sorely missed over the past three years. 

Grade: A

Pat Freiermuth TE

This was a surprise pick, but not because the Steelers didn’t need a tight end. They did. It was simply a surprise because of who else was available. Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz were both still on the board and the center position was seen as a bigger need then tight end. However the Steelers elected to take the second best tight end in the 2021 NFL draft class, and massively upgraded their tight end room. Freiermuth will be a future tight end one, with his strong receiving hands, contested catch ability, and blocking frame. This 6″5 270 pound prospect won’t impact the Steelers this year as much as he does in future years. 

Grade: B

Kendrick Green OC

The Steelers seemed to have their eye on him all along. The Steelers offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm said this about Green; “He was a guy we had our eye on. We love the way that he plays in terms of what we’ve been talking about and in terms of changing our demeanor. I feel like the attitude we want to carry onto the field, he embodies all of that.” Green is a nasty, physical run blocker. He has limited experience at center with only four games played there, but the Steelers have told him that he will transition to center. Green is a perfect pick for what Matt Canada wants to have in the center position. He is quick, smart, physical, and overall a great prospect for a zone run game scheme. 

Grade: A

Dan Moore Jr OT

Another nasty, physical blocker, Moore has a lot of room to grow. He is athletic and long armed, a rare thing in the 2021 NFL draft class for tackles. He will probably redshirt this upcoming season, but the Steelers expect him to compete for the day one job. Moore probably wont win it, not because he lacks the talent, but he lacks the experience. He will probably be a year two or three starter, depending on how the starters in front of him play. He was a good selection to begin the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Grade: B

Buddy Johnson ILB

For Steelers fans, Johnson is a faster, more athletic version of Vince Williams. Coming in at 6″2 Johnson put up some pretty good numbers at his pro day. His 4.57 40-yard dash and 128-inch broad jump both ranked fifth among 2021 linebackers, his 38.5-inch vertical jump ranked sixth, and his 4.03 shuttle time ranked second. The Texas A&M product should be an immediate special teams contributor and could push Vince Williams or Robert Spillane for playing time. A solid pick here, but nothing glamorous.

Grade: B-

Isaiahh Loudermilk DT

This one did not make a lot of sense at the time. The Steelers gave up a future fourth round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for their fifth round pick. The Steelers then selected Loudermilk with that pick. Loudermilk will be a defensive tackle, and back up Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt on the defensive line. However, Loudermilk could probably have been picked later, and Shaun Wade was still on the board. This pick could have been used for something else, and trading a future pick is risky.

Grade: C-

Quincey Roche EDGE

Now this pick was the opposite of the prior. Roche was projected to go as high as the first round, and defensive coordinator Keith Butler admitted after the Steelers picked Roche: “We had a late third, fourth, fifth round grade on him, so we were surprised when he was still there in the sixth.” Roche will contribute on special teams and backup T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Roche does not have a lot of upside, but he is a very polished player that wont need much time to grow and coach.

Grade: A

Tre Norwood CB

A corner/safety/slot, Norwood is a “swiss army knife” as Mike Tomlin called him. Norwood will compete for a spot to backup starters Cameron Sutton and Joe Haden. Norwood will also probably play in Dime packages, and might push Marcus Allen off the roster. A player with upside, nevertheless Norwood is not guaranteed a roster spot and will have to compete for it in camp.

Grade: C+

Pressley Harvin III P

Interesting pick here. The Steelers take Danny Smith‘s, their special teams coordinator, guy. Smith was at Harvins pro day and reportedly loved him. Harvin is a huge punter at 5″11 253 pounds. He also has proven himself adept at running fake punts so the Steelers get themselves a punter with a lot of upside here. He should be a day one starter. His average punt was 44 yards, one of the best in the country, and he has potential to improve that average. He will have to get his big leg under control however, as he has had a tendency to shank a punt every now and then.

Grade: B

Overall grade: A

The Steelers added to every position of need in this draft. They didn’t do it in the order most people expected, but they were not looking to meet draft nicks expectations. They took a running back in the first round because they knew one would not be available later. They added a center and tackle. The only position that is surprising is how early they added a tight end. But they did need one and so they addressed the position. This draft was more about next year than it is today, but it looks to be a great group that the Steelers are bringing into camp. 

2021 NFL draft biggest winners and losers

By: Noah Nichols

It’s finally arrived…the 2021 NFL Draft has rolled around and the picks are in. Now is the time to overreact and make assumptions and predictions that most likely won’t come true. Like predicting the “winners” and “losers” of the draft. Really, there is no way to know how the picks will turn out. But that being said….there were some obvious winners and losers of this draft. Mostly based on the value of the picks teams made. With that being said, here are my overreactions, and most importantly, here are your three biggest winners and loser of the 2021 NFL draft.

The Three Biggest Losers

Denver Broncos

They had arguably the number two quarterback prospect in the draft available… and they took a cornerback. Patrick Surtain may turn out great and may be one of the best cornerbacks in the league. But the Broncos signed two cornerbacks earlier this off-season. It makes no sense that they would pass up on a prospect like Justin Fields and instead take a player that might be one of the deepest positions on your team? It makes no sense and the Broncos will regret not taking a quarterback here.

Green Bay Packers

A friend of mine is a Packers fan and when the Baltimore Ravens took Rashod Bateman I could hear him crying from miles away. To be serious I think that the Packers took Eric Stokes because they couldn’t get Caleb Farley. It felt like a pick where the Packers said to themselves; “well, he is the best cornerback available, so I guess we should take him.” And making this pick in the footsteps of Aaron Rodgers wanting out…is…not great. That relationship definitely did NOT benefit from this pick.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders did something that no one should have been surprised by…They took a surprise player that nobody thought would go this early. Alex Leatherwood might turn out as a great player, but with Christian Darrisaw available, it makes no sense as to why the Raiders passed on him. I think that in three years everyone will look back and say that the Raiders clearly should have taken Darrisaw over Leatherwood.

The Three Biggest Winners

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers did not have to move up to get the best running back in the 2021 NFL draft. They simply sat and waited. The board could not have fallen any better for them as Najee Harris was clearly the best option for them when it was their time to pick at 24th overall. Harris is the epitome of a Steelers running back and will bring the physicality to the Steelers that they have been lacking on offense for the past few years. Ans to those who would argue that the line did not get better I would ask in return; “Did you know that the draft doesn’t end at round one?”

Chicago Bears

Justin Fields had no chance of falling to the Bears. He would have had to slide past both the New England Patriots and the Washington Football Team. The Bears did give up another first and a second, but for their quarterback of the future, that is worth the price. Fields will bring the talent to the position that Mitchell Trubisky lacked. The Bears also have a still-good defense to help carry Fields while he learns how to adjust to the NFL game. And he has Allen Robinson to throw to. Just a really good pick here by the Bears.

Los Angles Chargers

There is no way that the Chargers thought they would be able to grab Rashawn Slater. They probably did some jumping jacks or something when they say he was available for them at pick 13. Slater will immediately upgrade a Chargers offensive line that has already seen two new additions, the biggest of which was free-agent acquisition, Corey Lindsley. Suddenly Justin Herbert doesn’t have to run for his life and can use the talented weapons that surround him to their full potential. Another great pick, Slater will be a perennial pro-bowl/All-pro player for them.

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.

Dream Bengals Running Back Options In the NFL Draft

By: Noah Nichols

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the running back class is not so deep. In fact, there are really only three running backs that can be considered an every-down running back. After that…well, your best guess is as good as mine.

This is not to say that there are not any good running back options available beyond the first round. There are. But most of the options either won’t be there or have questions surrounding them. However, the Cincinnati Bengals pick at 38 and that means they will have a good shot at some of the best running backs in this draft class. So, who can the Bengals hope to see sitting at 38? And how realistic is it for those running backs to be there?

First, it’s important to remember that the Bengals already have a starter in the backfield in Joe Mixon. However, last year brought some real concerns to the table because Mixon could not stay on the field and only played six games. The Bengals will want someone more reliable than that to help Joe Burrow. But, there is still a chance that the Bengals do not take a running back, instead of hoping that Mixon will remain healthy for (most of) the season.

The Top Three

Najee Harris

Most draft analysts regard Harris as the best running back in this class. At 23 years old he is a mature running back but probably won’t play beyond his first contract. Quick, explosive, and a deadly weapon in the passing game, the Bengals would love to add him to their rushing attack. However, there is little chance that he is still sitting there at pick 38. The reports are that the rival Pittsburgh Steelers are big on Harris and will probably pick him at 24 if he is there. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets also present threats and both could take a running back, whether in the first round at 18 and 23. respectively, or at 33 and 34. I don’t think there is any chance that Harris escapes round one, but there is a chance that he does. The two ways that happen is if other players fall that teams can’t pass up, or teams don’t draft him because they believe running backs should not be taken in the first round. Either way, Bengals fans hopes for Harris are slim.

Javonte Williams

Williams probably has the best chance to be available for the Bengals at 38. If you are a Bengals fan and have not seen his highlights, go watch them. He is my favorite running back in this class. Essentially a smaller, faster, version of Harris, Williams is only 21 years old so he has lots of tread loft on his tires. He also shared the backfield at UNC with Michael Carter, and had 366 career carries. For reference, Harris had 560 in the past two years. Williams is also a fantastic pass-blocking running back, which is something the Bengals want to ensure Joe Burrow stays healthy. Williams has the best shot out of the top three running backs to land with the Bengals at 38, but there is no chance he falls out of the second round.

Travis Etienne

The fastest and the most productive out of the top three running backs, Etienne is not for some people. He doesn’t have the build of a between-the-tackles runner, weighing in at 210 pounds. But after he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at this pro day, he proved that what he lacks in build, he makes up for in speed. He can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. There are concerns about his ability to be an every-down back, but if the Bengals are looking for the next Alvin Kamara, Etienne is their best shot. There are rumor’s that the Buffalo Bills are looking to trade up for Etienne. If this is true, then Etienne has no chance of falling to the Bengals pick at 38. I would put his chances of being available when the Bengals pick at about 50%.

Other Round Two Options

Kenneth Gainwell

A small, but adept, receiving back out of Memphis, Gainwell offers a lot as a complementary back. A converted wide receiver, Gainwell is a natural receiver and runs routes like a wide receiver. His only problem is that he is too small to be a lead back, at 5″11, 194 pounds. He also is not great at pass protection. But the Bengals did just cut Giovanni Bernard and could be looking to add a younger, more explosive, receiving back. Gainwell will be there at pick 38 and has a good chance of being available when the Bengals pick in the third round. If the Bengals were to add a running back, Gainwell and the next running back on this list would be my best bet.

Michael Carter

Carter is very much like Gainwell. Small, (5″9, 200 pounds), and explosive. Carter is not that much different from Gainwell, except for the height and the weight difference. Carter has shown a good ability to bounce off tackles and has the vision to pair with it. He is also an excellent receiver. Honestly, if the Bengals are looking to add a receiving back, they should just select Carter or Gainwell in the third round. If only one is available, take him. If both are, whoever’s tape they prefer. I think that Gainwell has shown a little more potential as a receiver, but Carter offers more as a between-the-tackles runner because of his build and weight.

Dream Option at 38: Najee Harris.

Most Realistic option at 38: Javonte Williams

Best option at 69: Kenneth Gainwell or Michael Carter. Notice that I didn’t say dream option? Because there is no way that any of the top three fall that far, and these two have a very realistic chance of being available.

My prediction:

And with the 69th pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select…Michael Carter, Running Back, North Carolina. Carter has a great chance of being available in the third round for the Bengals. He takes Bernard’s place as the receiving back, offers a little something running downhill, and if necessary, can take on 3-down duties if Joe Mixon is hurt. If the Bengals want complete insurance from a Mixon injury then they should take Williams at 38. However, I think they will be better off taking an Offensive Tackle to help Burrow, then adding a back, rather than the other way around.

Pros and Cons For Panthers Drafting a QB in round one

After trading for Darnold, should Carolina double-down at QB?

by Michael Obermuller

Just one season into a three-year deal with Teddy Bridgewater, the Carolina Panthers have traded three draft picks (including a 2022 second rounder) for Sam Darnold. This time, Matt Rhule and Joe Brady finally got their quarterback of the future — or did they?

From multiple reports, the Panthers may not be totally “out” on drafting a QB just yet. General manager Scott Fitterer knows just how crucial it is to get this position right, and he’ll bring in as many players as it takes to do it. Darnold is the presumed starter based on potential as of now, but statistically, he was far less efficient than Bridgewater in 2020.

QB, Year (Team)Games StartedCompletion %Yards/GameTDsINTsRating
Sam Darnold, 2020 (Jets)1259.6%184.091172.7
Teddy Bridgewater, 2020 (Panthers)1569.1%248.9151192.1

Of course, Darnold was in Adam Gase’s system last season, a system that many blame for his failures, but maybe neither signal-caller deserves the job outright after a combined record of 6-21 a few months ago.

That’s Carolina’s mindset, but should they sacrifice even more draft capital and cap space on the position when they’ve already used so much? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Panthers drafting another QB in 2021.

Cases FOR Drafting a QB

  • The Player they Want Most is Available at No. 8 Overall
    • The word around the NFL is that Carolina wants Justin Fields, and their scouting would certainly back that up. Based on Albert Breer’s tweet above, the Panthers have shown heavy attendance at both of Fields’ two Pro Day events.
    • This would also make sense in concurrence with the Darnold trade. Supposedly, the Panthers previously tried to move up to either second or third overall, but the New York Jets decided not to budge from two, and the San Francisco 49ers beat them to the punch at three.
    • Reports have the Panthers less high on Mac Jones and Trey Lance, so the Darnold deal may have been insurance in the event that Fields is gone at eight. If a QB you LOVE is still on the board, you draft him, that’s Football 101 (especially if there’s no QB prospect you like in 2022).
  • Potential Ceiling
    • Every team evaluates players differently. For example, the New York Jets new braintrust clearly evaluated Darnold differently than the Carolina Panthers, being that they believe a rookie has a higher ceiling than the former third overall pick in 2018.
    • Having said that, Carolina would not have traded for Darnold unless they thought he had more potential than Bridgewater. They should only consider drafting a QB if they truly believe he has a higher potential than both Sam and Teddy.
    • The stats above could support this theory alone, but it’ll also have to do with age, dual-threat ability, scheme fit, mentality and different raw skills like arm strength. A prospect like Fields would beat out the two veterans in almost every measurable category.
  • Can Never Have Enough QBs
    • This is the “multiple darts” argument, but it’s unlikely that Carolina would ever enter the 2021 season with three quarterbacks.
    • They could draft a QB at eight, then trade Bridgewater to a team like the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, or New England Patriots.

Case AGAINST Drafting a QB

  • Top QBs Are Gone Early
    • I know, duh, but I’m including this to point out that Carolina CANNOT and SHOULD NOT trade up for a quarterback. They already gave up three picks to get Darnold, and this rebuilding franchise still needs help elsewhere if they plan on succeeding long-term.
    • Most draft analysts have all five of the main QB prospects being drafted in the top 10, and some have them going one through five (or at least top seven). This may be out of the Panthers hands.
  • Darnold’s Upside
    • Although Bridgewater could theoretically outplay Darnold, I don’t think there’s an argument to keep Teddy over a rookie past 2022, so let’s focus on Sam here.
    • The latest NYJ disappointment is just 24 years old in June, and he’s had an odd start to his career. Whether due to injury or his baffling bout with mono, Darnold has yet to play a full season. This could be looked at as a con for the USC product, or it could mean that the best is yet to come.
  • Change of Scenery Could “Unlock” Darnold
    • The Jets also didn’t do Darnold any favors, hiring Gase to mentor him after one failed campaign with Todd Bowles and Jeremy Bates. Panthers OC Joe Brady is considered to be one of the brightest young minds in the game, which could act as a catalyst for Sam.
    • A skill-position core of Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and David Moore also trumps anything the Jets ever armed Darnold with.
    • Even offensive line play was better in Carolina last season. Darnold had a pressure percentage of 27.3 compared to Bridgewater’s 19.8. Sam was also hit the same amount of times (38) as Teddy in three less starts, and was actually hurried once more than him despite the difference in games.
  • Available Cap Space & Draft Capital vs. Roster Needs
    • As I just pointed out, the Jets never put a quality roster around Darnold, so would it be wise for Carolina to do the same, even if they start a rookie QB?
    • Bridgewater currently has a cap hit of $22.9 million-plus this year ($20 million dead cap hit), and Darnold has a hit of $4.77 million. They have ALREADY picked up Sam’s fifth year option for 2022, which is another $18.85 million, and assuming they cannot deal Teddy, they’ll incure a $5 million dead cap hit when they release him next offseason. An eighth overall pick would add about $3.75 million this year and $4.7 million in 2022.
    • After the Darnold trade, the Panthers have seven draft picks in 2021, and five picks in 2022.
    • Carolina’s defense ranked 18th in points allowed last season. Their offensive line also ranked 18th according to Pro Football Focus. They even lost playmakers like Curtis Samuel and Mike Davis this offseason. They cannot afford to spend $31 million-plus and four total draft picks (including a first and second) on three QBs in 2021 when this roster is far from perfect.

The Verdict

I think it’s pretty obvious that the Panthers should give Darnold the opportunity in 2021. For better or for worse, they made their bed when they pounced on the Jets trade proposal. The only way they draft a QB is if they find a second trade partner for Bridgewater, which is possible, but I doubt they get much back in this scenario (besides cap relief). With the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers set up to be the powerhouse of the division for at least one more season, it’s probably smarter to add another layer of foundation around the quarterback position this draft. Then, after seeing what you have in Darnold, you can re-evaluate the situation in 2022.

Three Quarterbacks to Benefit From a Rookie Wide Receiver

Lamar Jackson Tops The List

By Preston W (@FF_Engineer_)

Day by day, we are getting closer to the draft. Fantasy analysts (myself included) are constantly trying to predict landing spots for rookie skill players. We’re often looking at how the value of a rookie wide receiver will grow based on their landing spot, so I decided to mix things up and look at how the value of our current veteran quarterbacks can grow, based on the addition of a rookie wide receiver.

Just one year ago, Dak Prescott was greeted by the addition of rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, while fantasy managers were greeted with elite fantasy production from Prescott in his first five games, prior to his injury. Not only do we want these rookie wide receivers going to an offense that can support them volume wise for fantasy purposes, but we want our quarterbacks to benefit from these additions as well. So let’s take a look at three quarterbacks who could use another pass catcher.

Lamar Jackson

Alright, so maybe your initial reaction to one of the studs in this wide receiver class going to Baltimore isn’t that pleasant. I’ll admit, initially I wasn’t the biggest proponent for this idea either, but recently I’ve had a change of heart. This is due to the concept that Marquise Brown is not the ideal alpha wide receiver for Baltimore, and he’s better suited as the team’s WR2. Yes, Lamar Jackson and Hollywood Brown can both benefit from the addition of a dominant wide receiver in this draft. I think people all too often mistake Jackson’s elite rushing ability for a lack of passing ability, and while last year he wasn’t as dominant in the passing game, his 2019 numbers paint a different picture:

Lamar Jackson Season Stats

Passing Yards31272757
Passing TDs3626
Rushing Yards12061005
Rushing TDs77
Fantasy Points415.68332.78
Fantasy PPG27.722.2

It’s no secret that Jackson’s fantasy production took a dip last season – an 82.9 point dip to be exact. It was literally the difference between a historic QB1 season, and finishing as the QB10 overall. Jackson’s rushing was down as well, but not nearly as down as his passing numbers. In fact, only 24% of Jackson’s decrease in fantasy points scored was due to his rushing production. Jackson has elite mobility for a quarterback, but he still has an incredible arm. An arm that led the league in passing touchdowns in 2019. An arm that could benefit from the addition of another weapon.

So who could Lamar Jackson’s next receiving threat be? One rookie that could be available for Baltimore at 1.27 is Terrace Marshall Jr. out of LSU. Marshall is one of the few bigger-bodied receivers in this class, and he’s someone that profiles as an alpha receiver, which would be a great fit for Baltimore. However, if Baltimore goes a different direction in the first round, another player I’d be excited about Baltimore going after in the next round is Dyami Brown from UNC. Either Marshall or Brown could help revitalize Jackson’s passing game back to what it was in 2019. A solid addition to Baltimore’s receiving room would put Jackson back into the mix for finishing as the overall QB1 in 2021.

Jalen Hurts

We all know Philadelphia hasn’t made the best draft choices when it comes to the wide receiver position. Between drafting Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson in 2020, and taking JJ Arcega-Whiteside over DK Metcalf in 2019, there’s been some disappointing moments. Perhaps these receivers simply couldn’t live up to their values due to the poor quarterback play over the past two seasons. On the other hand, Philadelphia has always heavily relied upon their tight ends in the passing game with Carson Wentz at quarterback. But how does Jalen Hurts compare when targeting his wide receivers compared to his tight ends?

2020 Philadelphia Passing Offense Splits

Passing without HurtsPassing with Hurts
Target Ratio (WR:TE)1.141.50
Passing Yards/Game234.0282.3
Passing TDs/Game1.271.67

For starters, Hurts isn’t the same system quarterback as Wentz was. Hurts targets his wide receivers at a higher rate, so if Philadelphia wants to give Hurts a real shot, they should turn their focus towards growing their three and four wide receiver sets. It also shows that simply Hurts doing his thing and more frequently targeting his wide receivers results in a more efficient passing game for Philadelphia. If they want to make Hurts work, they should work on building the offense around him.

So what are some possibilities for Philadelphia? Based on their part in the block buster trade, in which they moved from 1.06 back to 1.12, I think their intentions are clear that they plan on taking one of the top receivers. It also shows that they aren’t interested in taking top tight end prospect Kyle Pitts. At pick 12, the best overall option that should be available for Philadelphia is Jaylen Waddle from Alabama. Philadelphia and Hurts could really benefit from Waddle’s explosiveness and deep threat ability. Of course, if Ja’Marr Chase happened to fall to Philadelphia at 12, that would be another excellent addition for their offense.

Jameis Winston

I know this one is of the nature of speculation since we don’t know who the starter will be next season. Since we are already exploring best cases for fantasy purposes, there’s no better team to address than one deciding between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. From what we’ve seen, Jameis Winston should provide a decent boost to New Orleans’ offense, compared to Hill. I touched on this in my last article regarding Alvin Kamara. Regardless, as of now Winston’s only solid receiver is Michael Thomas, so adding in another target for Winston could prove useful for his fantasy value. Looking back, there was a certain point in Winston’s career where gaining a wide receiver named Chris Godwin boosted Winston’s fantasy value. Let’s take a look:

Jameis Winston Season Stats

Season Average prior to GodwinSeason Average with Godwin*
Passing Yards/Game254.1300.0
Passing TDs/Game1.561.92
Fantasy PPG16.618.5
*Season average with Godwin based on full seasons only

Winston scoring an additional 1.9 points per game adds up over time. That seemingly small boost can propel someone like Winston from a mid-range QB2 to a QB1. It’s clear that every aspect of Winston’s passing game and fantasy value grew when he got a solid addition to his receiving corp in Tampa. The same can be true with New Orleans. Having more mouths to feed isn’t a bad thing for a quarterback like Winston, and it isn’t a bad thing for his current elite receiver either.

So who could be on New Orleans’ draft radar? For starters, if Baltimore passes on Terrace Marshall Jr. in the first round, New Orleans should scoop Marshall right up. Marshall can complement Michael Thomas and New Orleans’ system well, setting up Winston for added success. Another solid fit for this receiving corp is Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota. Both Marshall and Bateman can provide versatility by lining up both outside and in the slot, making them great fits for New Orleans and Winston.

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