Ranking the NFC West Quarterbacks right now

Who is the best NFC West quarterback in 2022?

By: Andy Davies

The NFC West was considered the elite division in the NFL as little as a year ago but things have progressed since, despite having the current Super Bowl champions in the Los Angeles Rams. 

Russell Wilson is no longer in the division, and no one quite knows who will be the QB1 in San Francisco. 

But who is the divisions best quarterback? Here are the rankings of the NFC West quarterbacks from best to worst.

Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams)

What better place to start than with the QB1 of the Super Bowl Champions. Whilst Stafford was not the reason the Rams won Super Bowl 56 over the Cincinnati Bengals, with 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, he was certainly the final piece of the jigsaw as the Rams hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since the 1999 season. 

The Rams were always contenders, making it all the way to Super Bowl 53, but there was always something missing at the quarterback position. Jared Goff did well but even he would admit he was probably not good enough to take the Rams where they needed.

He was traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Stafford and the rest is history. Stafford had reached the postseason on three previous occasions, but each time came up short at the first attempt. His lack of playoff wins was a factor pointed out by sceptics when he arrived but when the Rams made the playoffs, Stafford showed why the team gave up so much to get him. In four games, he threw for 1,188 yards, 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions as well as having a 70% completion percentage (98 from 140).

In the regular season, Stafford also impressed. Only Tom Brady (43) threw for more touchdown passes (41), with Stafford throwing for the third-most passing yards (4,886)

Stafford is clearly the choice for the number one spot on this list and it will take a lot for the other players in this list to catch him up.

Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)

Murray’s future is unclear, with his fifth option exercised but no longer-term deal in place at time of writing. 

The 2019 first overall pick has shown signs of his potential but is yet to fulfil this on a consistent basis. In three seasons, he has thrown for 11,480 yards, 70 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, whilst also recording  1,786 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. 

A trend of Murray’s career so far is starting off the season well but tailing off down the stretch. He will need a big year to convince the Cardinals front office that he is the player moving forward. Either way, he still remains second on this list.

Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers)

When the 49ers lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship game back in January, it was seen by many to be the end of Jimmy G in San Francisco. However, he is still on the team.

Having missed OTA’s due to rehab on his shoulder,  he has yet to be traded. Say what you want about Jimmy G, but he wins games. Simple as that. Whilst he has never been the reason for the 49ers winning games, he is a very serviceable quarterback. With uncertainty over Lance after reports of the organisation being underwhelmed, Garoppolo is the right guy to be under centre for the 49ers in week one. 

Drew Lock/Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks)

Whether it is Lock or Smith, there is no way they aren’t at the bottom of this list. Lock has a great start to life in the NFL, when he started for the Denver Broncos towards the end of the 2019 season, his 2020 and 2021 campaigns flattered to deceive. Meanwhile, Smith has been a backup for most of his career. Neither of these quarterbacks, whoever starts against the Broncos in week one, are likely to inspire confidence from fans or the Seattle coaching staff. 

Free agent tight end targets for the New York Giants

Who is the best tight end target for the Giants?

By: Charlie Vakassian

With the NFL Offseason underway, the New York Giants have several holes to fill on the roster. One of those holes is at the tight end position. With Evan Engram set to become a free agent, and Kyle Rudolph already cut, the Giants need to find a starting-caliber tight end. Some of the options have already been taken off the market, as David Njoku (Browns) and Dalton Schultz (Cowboys) have been tagged by their respective teams. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some cost-effective options available.

Ricky Seals-Jones

Seals-Jones is one of the more underrated free-agent tight ends that the Giants could pursue. He filled in admirably for the Commanders when Logan Thomas went down, catching 30 balls for 271 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is a more than capable blocker and can help open holes for Saquon Barkley in the run game. His contract will likely be close to the veteran minimum, and very affordable for Giants management.

Evan Engram

This may not be the likeliest of outcomes, but it cannot be ruled out. Engram has already stated this offseason that he wants to return to the Giants. The price tag is going to be the biggest obstacle. With his fellow 2017 draftee David Njoku receiving the franchise tag worth over $10M, Engram will want similar money. Perhaps he would be willing to take a discount to return, but I would not count on it. He may have worn out his welcome in New York. On the other hand, maybe Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka can unlock what Engram has been teasing in his 5 seasons with the Giants.

Mo Alie-Cox

Alie-Cox is not a player that will stand out when you watch him on the field, but he brings a little bit of everything. He is a quality blocker, displays some surprising athleticism, and is a red-zone threat, with 6 touchdown grabs in his last two seasons. He has close ties with new Giants wide receivers coach Mike Groh from their time together in Indianapolis and could be persuaded to come to the Giants on a low-cost deal.

Is Cordarrelle Patterson Arthur Smith’s New Ryan Tannehill?

Cordarrelle Patterson is a unique profile

By: Andy Davies

When Arthur Smith was hired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, he came into the role with a great reputation for improving players after a two-season spell as the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.

One player he helped improve was quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The former first-round pick arrived after a mixed spell with the Miami Dolphins. Tannehill improved massively, earning the award for Comeback Player of the Year after his first season with the franchise despite starting the season as the backup to Marcus Mariota. When Smith was promoted to offensive coordinator, he only got better.

Smith was predicted by many to help Matt Ryan get back to his former MVP self after what he did for Tannehill. Ryan has not improved or regressed in 2021. Instead, it has been Cordarrelle Patterson that has been the biggest improver under Smith. 

Here is why Patterson is Smith’s new Tannehill. 

Overcoming Expectation

The Falcons experimented with the idea of bringing Todd Gurley back to his best in 2020 but this only lasted one season. Instead of giving Gurley a new deal, they went for the versatile Patterson in Free Agency who signed a one-year $3 million deal. 

Patterson has been seen as somewhat of a journeyman during his NFL career, with the Falcons his fifth organisation since being drafted 29th overall in 2013. For a while, he was seen as a great return specialist at best, with the occasional snaps as a running back or wide receiver.

He is a Super Bowl champion, earning a ring with the New England Patriots after their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. However, he had just two rushing attempts for 7 yards and two receptions for 14 yards as well as a 38-yard kick return. He did not exactly have a big role in the game, in what is the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history. 

Patterson has started eight games this season. This is tied for the most games he has started, alongside his 2016 campaign with the Minnesota Vikings. The growth of Patterson and improvement made under Smith can be seen when you compare these two seasons.

In 2016, he recorded 43 rushing yards from 7 attempts and 453 yards from 52 receptions. In 2021, he has so far recorded 489 rushing yards from 106 carries and 518 receiving yards from 44 catches. He is having the best season of his career by some distance. 

The Falcons need to make sure he is at the franchise for more than one season. Giving him a new contract should be number one on the list of priorities for this team. He has been a brilliant addition to the Falcons offense. Kyle Pitts leads the team in receiving yards this season (770), but Calvin Ridley announced midseason that he would take a break from the sport for personal reasons. With the offseason departure of Julio Jones, Patterson’s rise in form has come at the perfect time. They currently sit at 6-7 with a chance of making the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 campaign.

Smith’s Influence

The aforementioned Tannehill spoke about Smith during the 2021 offseason.

“He’s a great coach. Everything you look for in a coach and a leader and a great offensive mind.”

It is not just Tannehill that saw massive improvement under Smith. Running back Derrick Henry was seen as just a good running back during his first three seasons but saw his best two seasons alongside Smith. He recorded 2,293 rushing yards across his first three seasons in the NFL. His next two (2019 and 2020) saw him combine for 3,567 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns, becoming just the eighth player in NFL history to record over 2,000 rushing yards in a single season when he had 2,027 in 2019

Smith clearly knows how to work with running backs, as can be seen with Henry. The same is happening again with Patterson. After their 21-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in November, Smith was in high praise of Patterson.

He’s a warrior. He’s a big physical presence that can do a lot for us.”

This was proved when he was listed as a back safety earlier this month.  It is a sign of a good coach when they can get the best out of a player and see their potential. Not even the greatest head coach of all time in Bill Belichick realised Patterson’s potential. Smith has taken a player seemingly on the wrong end of his career, to now being one of the best players this season. Some are even viewing him as an outside MVP candidate.

Patterson has a lot to thank Smith for. 

Why the QB situation may prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West

The 49ers QB spot is a question mark

By: Andy Davies

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6) have more Super Bowl wins than the 49ers (5). The 49ers’ five Super Bowls all came between the years of 1981 and 1994. They have lost two since, in the 2012 and 2019 seasons. The quarterbacks that led the 49ers to the Lombardi Trophy were Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Three of those five wins saw Montana as the starter and Young as the backup.

Young is seen by many as the best backup quarterback in history, considering the gold jacket that he earned despite many years as the backup to Montana. He would win a Super Bowl as the starter after the franchise moved on from Montana. Ever since Young decided to hang up his cleats, the 49ers have struggled to find his replacement. Have they found the guy in Trey Lance?

Perhaps, but here is why the quarterback situation involving Lance and current starter Jimmy Garoppolo could prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West during the 2021 season.

Struggles Since Young

Jeff Garcia was the man to come in for Young. During his five seasons in the Bay, he threw for 113 touchdowns and 56 interceptions as well as 16,408 passing yards. He had a 35-36 record as a starter for the 49ers in the regular season and a 1-2 record in the postseason, meaning he never hit the heights of his predecessor.

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in 2005, shattering Aaron Rodgers’ dreams. However, he was a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a game often called the ‘Blackout Bowl’. Kaepernick failed to live up to the standards he set that season.

He would be kicked out of the league for taking the knee in a protest against police brutality in 2016. He has not played a snap in the NFL since. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He gave hope to the organization after winning all five of the games he started in 2017. The fanbase had hope going into the 2018 season.

Many non-49ers fans had San Francisco down as their dark horse for the season. A season-ending injury to Garoppolo in Week 3 saw the starting role shared between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. However, the 49ers finished 4-12 as they went into 2019 with the second overall pick. Nick Bosa was selected and transformed the defense of San Francisco and Jimmy G had the best season of his career. He threw for 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite these stats, Garoppolo saw his production limited in the NFC Championship game as the coaching staff decided to use more of their running game. This led to many questions leading to the Super Bowl. The 49ers threw away a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as they would end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo was criticized heavily for an overthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given San Francisco back the lead. His 2020 season saw a mixture of poor form and injury. During the 2021 offseason, the 49ers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to gain the number three overall pick. They took Lance with the pick, showcasing their intentions to eventually move off from Garoppolo. There is now talk of whether San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in week one. The other scenarios discussed are either Lance coming in mid-season or sitting out the whole campaign as the backup to Garoppolo. The uncertainty will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ season.

The Strength of the NFC West

This is a problem that will affect all four teams in the best division in the NFL. There is a chance that all four teams can make the playoffs. Los Angeles has an exciting new quarterback in 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray that they would never dream of trading away. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ starting quarterback is largely unpopular by fans, due to a mixture of the overthrown pass in the Super Bowl, his poor 2020 campaign and his injury record.

San Francisco has the least trusted quarterback in the division. With the position being one of the most crucial in all sports, it does not bode well for a team when there is uncertainty in the position. Garoppolo may be benched at some point during the season for Lance. However, the 49ers would be putting a rookie that will still be learning the system into the toughest division in the NFL.

Learning From Mahomes, Jackson, Tua and Burrow

If San Francisco are to help Lance succeed, they will need to take some lessons from recent draft classes. Patrick Mahomes, widely seen as the best quarterback in the league, spent all but one game of his 2017 rookie season as a backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs then traded Smith the following offseason and Mahomes has never looked back. In his first three full seasons as a starter in the NFL, he has reached two Super Bowls, winning one. He has also been crowned MVP and Super Bowl MVP and reached three successive AFC Championship games. All three have been at home. On the flip side, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow started in week one of his rookie year. He wouldn’t last the season, only playing ten games before injury curtailed his first NFL campaign. He was impressive before his injury but there are no guarantees he will be the same player when he returns.

Lamar Jackson was a backup to Joe Flacco during his 2018 rookie year but won the starting role midseason. He has since gone on to win an MVP award and is the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins brought Tua Tagovailoa in mid-season but he struggled in his rookie season. He is seen to already be on the hot seat, with many feeling the Dolphins rushed him in. These examples all show there are reasons for the 49ers to be hasty when it comes to choosing when to bring Lance into the starting role.

Lance Or Garoppolo In 2021?

The 49ers will have to decide soon who their starter will be in 2021. Considering Lance has only played one full season (2019), he is likely to start the season as the backup. He only threw for a combined total of 31 passing attempts, two touchdowns and 1 interception across the 2018 and 2020 seasons, albeit the latter campaign being disrupted by the pandemic. He is likely to be a work in progress but his 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 2019 mean that he is one for the future.

Garoppolo will likely start in week one but it was clear from the NFC Championship game that Shanahan doesn’t completely trust him.

Jimmy G is a capable quarterback but his health is a concern. Expect Garoppolo to remain as the starter provided the 49ers are winning games but for Lance to come in should Garoppolo either be injured or start the season poorly.

Should this happen, this will be the end of Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco. Depending on timing, he will then be traded either before the deadline or in the 2022 offseason.

Can The 49ers Returning Players Avoid A Repeat Of 2020?

This is key if the 49ers are to challenge for both the NFC West and the NFC. After earning the number one seed and reaching Super Bowl 54 during the 2019 campaign, San Francisco finished 6-10 in 2020 and bottom of the division. A ‘Super Bowl Hangover’ played its part but the main cause of such a decline was down to a colossal amount of injuries the team suffered. Along with the aforementioned Garoppolo, the 49ers also saw Bosa, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Solomon Thomas miss large chunks of the 2020 season due to injury.

San Francisco had 33 players reported questionable and there were 186 occasions when the 49ers reported a player on injured reserve. They had the second-most injuries of any team in the NFL over the past twenty years. Should all these players come back, then this 49ers roster will be one of the best in the league. This will make life much easier for whoever the San Francisco starting quarterback is.

However, from the strength of the division to the uncertainty at quarterback, San Francisco will find it tough to win the NFC West.

Top fits for the remaining FA RBs

Where will Le’Veon Bell sign?

By: Chris Thomas

In recent memory, it is hard to recall so many extremely talented free agent players still available at this point of the offseason. The reasoning may be that teams wanted to wait till after the draft to see if they could fill the remaining needs on their roster in the early rounds. Teams may also want to wait till training camp to see if the players on their roster have developed to a point where they could fill that need. On top of that in recent years veteran free agents have decided to wait till after the draft and training camp to sign with teams so they can look at a team’s overall roster before signing and skip training camp and get ready for the season with their own personal trainers. 

One of the deepest positions in this free-agent class is running back. Multiple former Pro Bowl running backs are still on the market. There are a couple of teams around the league who could still use a veteran to add to their running back rotation. Here is where the top free agent edge rushers could land.

Le’Veon Bell to the Miami Dolphins

Less than a year ago Le’Veon Bell had the option to sign with the Miami Dolphins. But Bell decided to join the Kansas City Chiefs backfield with 2020 first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire than to become the lead back in Miami or Buffalo. Bell was more interested in joining a championship contender than joining an unproven contender like the Bills and Dolphins who both ended up with over ten wins this past season. 

Bell started his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he quickly became known as one of if not the best running back in football. He had three seasons with over 1,800 scrimmage yards and 10+ touchdowns. Bell was voted to three Pro Bowls, named a First-Team All-Pro twice, and Second Team All-Pro once in 2016. After a conflict with the Steelers involving a contract extension, Bell hit the market as a free agent and signed with the New York Jets for 4 years $52 million. He only had 789 rushing yards in his first season in New York. Bell was released by the New York Jets following his return from injury in Week 5. this past season He had demanded that the team trade him, but after not finding a trade partner the Jets decided to release him. Bell rushed for 328 yards and two touchdowns on 82 attempts in games with both teams last season. He only started four games combined for both the Jets and Chiefs.

It felt like the Miami Dolphins were beat out in multiple situations when they attempted to add a star running back this offseason. Miami went after Chris Carson, Kerryon Johnson, and 2021 Second Round pick Javonte Williams at different points of the offseason. But they could not land any of those three backs. The Dolphins were able to sign former Los Angeles Ram Malcolm Brown to a two-year $3.5 million contract this offseason and still have Myles Gaskin on their roster from the year before. Gaskin led the Dolphins in all rushing categories putting up 584 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 142 attempts in ten games (seven starts). Miami also has Salvon Ahmed who was a great find for them last offseason. Last season’s undrafted free agent rookie rushed for 319 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 75 attempts in six games (four starts). 

If Miami signed Bell they realistically cannot expect him to be the player he was in Pittsburgh. But they can hope he can compliment Gaskin by putting up the production that he did in New York. It is at least worth it for the Dolphins to kick the tires on the former All-Pro since their backfield is still very unproven. Miami is expected to still be a run-first team despite adding Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle this offseason. So it would make sense for the Dolphins to make sure they have as much talent as they can get at this point in their backfield. Miami has playoff aspirations and may look to achieve more. Signing Bell would make sure the Dolphins did all in their power to make sure their backfield isn’t holding them back.

Prediction: Le’Veon Bell signs with the Miami Dolphins for one year $1 million 

Todd Gurley to the Kansas City Chiefs

Out of all of the remaining free-agent running backs, Todd Gurley had gained the most attention from teams. Gurley had visited the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens this offseason. The Lions had an interest in signing Gurley “on their terms“. The Lions would make a lot of sense considering they appear to be embracing a run-first approach with their lack of weapons at receiver, new Lions general manager Brad Holmes was a major part of the Rams front office who drafted Gurley who almost won them to a Super Bowl in 2017-18. Gurley would also be reuniting with former Rams’ teammate quarterback Jared Goff who was traded to the Lions this offseason. However, it appears at this point the Lions won’t be signing Gurley and don’t need to with a backfield featuring D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. 

During his time in St. Louis/Los Angeles Gurley was one of the most dominant running backs in the league. In three of his five seasons with the Rams Gurley rushed for 1,100+ yards and had over ten touchdowns. In two of those seasons, Gurley led the league in rushing touchdowns. His accolades with the Rams include Offensive Rookie of the Year (2015), Offensive Player of the Year (2017), three Pro Bowls, two First-Team All-Pro selections, and Second Team All-Pro recognition in 2015. Following the 2019-20 season, the Rams released Gurley two seasons into his four-year $60 million deal. He then signed a one-year $5.5 million prove-it deal with the Atlanta Falcons. He rushed for a career-low 678 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 195 carries. The Falcons decided not to bring back Gurley and elected to sign veteran Mike Davis to a two-year $5.5 million deal. 

The Kansas City Chiefs were in the middle of the pack in most major rushing stats last season. However, they were in a five-way tie for 22nd in the league in rushing touchdowns with 13. Only six teams had fewer rushing touchdowns than the Chiefs did a season ago. Having Patrick Mahomes as the face of the offense can be to blame for most of that. However, it would be a major help to the offense to have a running back on the roster capable of punching it into the endzone when they’re close rather than relying upon Mahomes to scramble or shovel pass it to All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was one of the worst running backs in the league in the red zone last season. Within the five-yard line, Edwards-Helaire was one for nine on attempts to punch it into the endzone. Edwards-Helaire is a great pass-catching running back but struggles in short-yardage situations. 

Although Todd Gurley’s health issues have regressed him to the point where he runs like he has been in the league for ten years despite only playing in the league for six, one constant throughout Gurley’s career has been his ability to score when his teams get in close. Since 2015, Gurley has rushed for 67 touchdowns. Last year in arguably Gurley’s worst season he still managed to have nine rushing touchdowns which was tied for 11th last season. Kansas City should consider pairing Edwards-Helaire with a former All-Pro running back for the second season in a row, but pair him with a back who compliments his skillset in Gurley. Signing in Kansas City would give Gurley another opportunity to be a part of a Super Bowl team and allow him to display what he is still capable of. 

Prediction: Todd Gurley signs with the Kansas City Chiefs for one year $1.5 million deal

Adrian Peterson to the Los Angeles Chargers

Adrian Peterson is one of the few running backs in the NFL who definitely will be receiving a gold jacket in Canton, Ohio after he retires. Peterson spent his first ten seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. A majority of running backs don’t even play in the league ten seasons, let alone play as dominant as Peterson had during that span. During his time in Minnesota, he led the league in rushing three separate times and led the league in rushing touchdowns twice. Peterson accumulated multiple accolades including league MVP (2012), NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, seven Pro Bowl appearances, four First-Team All-Pro acknowledgments, and three Second Team All-Pro acknowledgments. He also was a unanimous selection onto the 2010’s All-Decade Team.

Since leaving Minnesota Peterson had defied the odds and continued to be a major part of multiple team’s backfields for the next four seasons. After a tough 2017 season where he split time with the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals, Peterson ran for over 1,000 yards at age 33 in his first season in Washington. He followed it up the following season with just under 900 rushing yards in his second season in Washington. This past year Peterson started ten games for the Detroit Lions at age 35. As it stands right now Peterson is the fifth all-time in rushing yards in NFL history. 

Last offseason the Los Angeles Chargers gave their lead back Austin Ekeler a 4 year $25.4 million contract. Ekeler had outshined former first-round pick Melvin Gordon and was well deserving of being paid like the team’s lead back. But last season Ekeler got hurt and missed six games last year. The Chargers struggled to run the ball during that six-game stretch. Their best running back when Ekeler got hurt was Kallen Ballage who is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It would make a lot of sense for the Chargers to bring in Peterson for a lot of reasons. Los Angeles is a warm-weather city that is extremely attractive to free agents and playing there could open up opportunities for Peterson in media after he retires. Secondly, his playstyle compliments Ekeler very well. Ekeler is most dominant as a receiver out of the backfield. If Peterson was brought in to Los Angeles, he could take on some of the between the tackles and short-yardage runs while Ekeler can focus on being a receiving threat out of the backfield. The Chargers could even explore the option of having both Peterson and Ekeler on the field at the same time, lining up Peterson in the backfield and Ekeler in the slot as a wide receiver for a couple of plays a game.

Also, another feature of the Chargers that would be attractive to Peterson is the fact that they are considered a borderline playoff team. Despite being one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game, Peterson had only been to the playoffs four times in his career and hadn’t been to the playoffs since the 2015-16 season. At this of his career, Peterson has done it all except play winning and meaningful football. Peterson has only played past the Wild Card round of the playoffs once in his career back in the 2009-10 season.

Prediction: Adrian Peterson signs a one year $2.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers

Frank Gore to the Arizona Cardinals

Similar to Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore is one of the only running backs still in the NFL that will be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame shortly after he retires. He has played for four different teams over the last four seasons. But Gore began his career with the San Francisco 49ers. During his ten seasons with the 49ers, he had been named to the Pro Bowl five times and was named a Second Team All-Pro in 2006. After leaving San Francisco, Gore played three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and followed that with one-year stints with the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets After only starting one game his rookie season, Gore has started 217 of 227 games since 2006-07. That is an unreal feat for a running back. Gore has the NFL record for most games played for a running back (241) and is the first player in NFL history with 12 consecutive seasons with 1,200+ scrimmage yards. A resume like that earned him a spot on the 2010’s All-Decade Team.

It is unclear what to expect out of the Arizona Cardinals backfield this upcoming season. Their projected starter Chase Edmonds has only started four games in his career at this point and has never reached 500 rushing yards in a single season. Last season Edmonds took snaps away from starter Kenyan Drake being the team’s primary receiving back. He had a career-high 53 receptions for 402 yards and four receiving touchdowns last season. They also signed former Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner to a prove-it one year $1.75 million deal. In Conner’s first season as a starter in 2018-19, he was voted to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns along with 497 receiving yards. Since then multiple injuries have kept Conner off the field or limited in the action he has seen. Pittsburgh decided to move off of Conner and go in another direction at running back.

The best-case scenario for Arizona’s backfield in 2021-22 is for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense to put Conner in a position to play similar to his best similar to what it did for Kenyan Drake while reducing his carry count having him split carries with Edmonds. For a team that has playoff aspirations, there is a lot of uncertainty in Arizona’s backfield. That is why the Cardinals should bring in Frank Gore. Over the last couple of seasons, Gore has remarkably been extremely consistent with his production despite being in his late thirties. At worst Gore could be a veteran presence in a locker room filled with both veterans and young players. But if Conner cannot remain healthy and Edmonds struggles to play like a lead back, Gore can be a safe option in the backfield that could be good for between 8-12 carries a game.

Arizona is also a great landing spot for Gore because it has been the final landing spot for multiple veterans and future Hall of Famers looking to finish their career in a great warm-weather city. At age 38 Gore will likely be playing his final season this year if he hasn’t already.

Prediction: Frank Gore signs a one year $1.75 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals

Duke Johnson Jr. to the Atlanta Falcons

For just over half of a decade Duke Johnson Jr. has been one of the best complimentary backs in the league. Despite only starting 17 of 91 career games, he has been an important part of the offenses he has played for during his time in Cleveland and Houston. During each of his first three years in Cleveland, Johnson had over 800 scrimmage yards. In his last season in Cleveland Johnson’s role was reduced. Then after receiving a three-year contract extension Johnson asked to be traded and was moved to the Houston Texans for a 2020 Third Round pick. Johnson had a career-high 410 rushing yards in his first season in Houston then split carries with David Johnson this past season. The new Texans administration cut Duke Johnson this offseason.

The Atlanta Falcons lost their best two running backs Todd Gurley and Brian Hill in free agency. They replaced them with veteran running back Mike Davis. The Falcons signed Davis to a two-year $5.5 million deal after a career year with the Carolina Panthers.

Davis was drafted in the fourth round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2015 then after two seasons was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle started Davis for six games in 2017 after being activated off the practice squad late in the year. The following season Davis posted career highs in a rotational role. Davis signed a two-year $6 million deal with the Chicago Bears in 2019 but did not finish his first season with the team. He was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers. During his first full year with the Panthers this past season, Davis was forced into a large role because of multiple injuries to former All-Pro Christian McCaffrey. Davis showed during his twelve starts last season that he is capable of being a team’s starting running back. T

His performance last season was enough for the Falcons to feel comfortable with Davis being their lead back next season. Based on Atlanta’s running back depth chart Davis may be the workhorse back for the Falcons next season. For a team trying to be competitive in 2020, it is risky having Davis as the team’s only capable running back on the roster. Atlanta should add a veteran backup or change of pace back in case Davis gets hurt or needs help carrying the load. That role would be perfect for Duke Johnson. That is the exact role Johnson had last season in Houston. Johnson could serve as Davis’ primary backup and take a couple carries a game when Davis needs a breather.

Prediction: Duke Johnson Jr. signs a one year $990,000 deal with the Atlanta Falcons

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.

Top 3 Landing Spots for Justin Houston

What team will Justin Houston play for next season?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

It is now the back half of the NFL offseason and there are still some big-name free agents that are without a team for the 2021 season. One of the best available remaining players is edge rusher Justin Houston. He is now 32 years old but has shown in recent years that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Over the last four years combined he has recorded 37.5 sacks, including a minimum of eight sacks in each of those seasons and a high of 11 in 2019. That’s not quite as impressive as his career-high of 22 sacks back in 2014 but it clearly demonstrates that he still has the ability to contribute in a big way.

The ideal landing spot for Houston in this upcoming season is a contending team that could use some help in the pass-rushing department. He could help a win-now team take a step to the next level. Additionally, his age would imply that his price tag should be relatively reasonable. In comparison, Ryan Kerrigan, who is the same age as Houston, just recently signed with the Eagles on a one-year contract worth 2.5 million guaranteed. Houston will likely be looking to get more than that, but he will not break the bank for interested candidates now that the market has been set. All things considered, here are his top three landing spots.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are a team that is looking to improve their pass rush. They were middle of the road last season, ranked 16th in the NFL with 38 team sacks. They did use a first-round draft pick on Gregory Rousseau and a second-round pick on Carlos Basham, which demonstrates that it was an area of focus this offseason. Houston would not only give them an established pass rusher to help them win now but would also assist in the development of the younger players in the position group.

The Bills are a real Super Bowl contender this season, but if they could improve their pass rush they would become a whole new level of competitor. Houston could help them do exactly that. After recently restructuring the contract of Stefon Diggs, they have some available cap space to play with, and this may be the best way for them to use it.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have done a great job in recent years building their offense, but this offseason they have focused on improving their defense. They know they have to be better on that side of the ball if they want to improve from a playoff team to a real contender. They were fifth-worst in the NFL last season in yards allowed per game with 398.3 and ninth-worst in points allowed per game with 27.4. Knowing they have to be better than that, they made moves this offseason in an attempt to improve defensively including adding Bud Dupree and drafting Caleb Farley.

Pass rush is a particular area that they struggled in, recording the third least team sacks in the NFL last season with just 19 total. Adding Dupree will help that number, but pairing him with Houston would provide a significant jump in that category. They would potentially go from one of the worst teams in the league at pass rushing to one of the better ones, and that would be a wise move for a team trying to contend this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are a team that did not struggle at all in rushing the passer last year. They had the most sacks in the NFL with 56 total. The problem is that they lost Bud Dupree this offseason to free agency. He was an extremely important part of their defensive scheme and they do not have a proven replacement on their roster. Having a complementary pass rusher to play opposite of superstar TJ Watt is crucial to their philosophy of pressure defense.

Houston could definitely solve this problem. He is a piece that would allow them to continue their defensive dominance, which is a staple of their organization. The Steelers believe that they are Super Bowl contenders this season, so if Houston believes that as well then this could be a perfect fit. They currently have around 8 million in available cap space so they have more than enough to sign him.

3 remaining free agent targets for the Raiders

The Raiders look to complete the offseason

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

As the NFL offseason continues to wind down, the Las Vegas Raiders are one of the teams that still have some available cap space to play with. This will allow them to continue shopping the free-agent market for players to improve their team for the upcoming season. There are still some high-quality players available and some of them would actually fill a need for the Raiders. All things considered, here are 3 potential signings that would make sense for them.

CB Richard Sherman

A ten-year veteran out of Stanford, the 32-year-old Richard Sherman is still one of the premier coverage corners in the entire league. He is big and strong for a corner which makes him highly effective in press coverage and what he lacks in speed, he more than makes up for with his elite intelligence. Sherman has had some injury concerns in recent years, but when he is on the field he is just as good as ever.

After back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013 where he recorded a career-high 8 interceptions in each season, opposing quarterbacks have wisely avoided throwing in his direction as much as possible since then. He has not recorded more than four interceptions in a single season since then, but it’s not because of a drop-off in his ball skills or athleticism, it’s because of the fear that opposing quarterbacks have of throwing in his direction. 

The Raiders defense struggled against the pass last year, allowing the 7th most passing yards per game with 263.3 and had the 5th least interceptions forced with only 10. Sherman could not only help the Raiders statistically, but he could also serve as a mentor for their very young group of defensive backs. He is a great fit for the Raiders and could help them in several different ways.

LB K.J. Wright

After being drafted out of Mississippi State, K.J. Wright has spent all ten of his NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He has been a big part of their defensive success through the years, but for the first time, he is now a free agent. His career numbers are very solid, eclipsing 100 tackles in five different seasons while contributing in a variety of ways. Wright is a versatile linebacker who is just as good against the run as he is against the pass.

Wright would offer an immediate upgrade to the Raiders linebackers. It is one of their weakest position groups and was one of the main reasons for their defensive struggles a year ago. Last season they ranked 8th worst in the NFL in yards allowed per game with 389.1 and third-worst in points allowed per game with 29.9. The Raiders defense will need to be better than that if they want to be in the playoff picture this season. Signing a guy like Wright would help them get there.

OT Morgan Moses

Moses has spent all seven of his NFL seasons in Washington after being drafted out of Virginia but he was recently released. This is somewhat surprising considering how solid he has been. He has been both consistent and versatile with no real holes in his game and according to PFF, he is a top 10 right tackle in the NFL. At just 30 years old, he is a valuable asset and will be a big help to the team that signs him.

The Raiders are in the middle of completely rebuilding their offensive line. They have a bunch of young players at this position group looking to develop, so adding a proven veteran like Moses could really help them. He could be the anchor of this line and serve as the one reliable option in a group with a lot of question marks around them. If the Raiders can’t protect Derek Carr and open running lanes for Josh Jacobs, they are going to struggle to win games this year. Moses would be a big help for 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.

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.

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