Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux can really be the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft

Oregon’s Kavyon Thiodeaux has elite potential

By: Chris Thomas

Even though the 2022 NFL Draft is months away it is never too early to speculate about who could go first overall. Two weeks into the college football season it appears that a non-quarterback may go first overall since Myles Garrett was drafted in 2017. Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is the consensus #1 non-quarterback prospect. He is also thought of by many as the potential number one prospect of this entire draft. Here is why Thibodeaux could be the first overall pick in the draft in late April. 

Lack of premier quarterback talent

An NFL Draft class is defined by its quarterbacks. Over the last couple of seasons, it feels like there has been a premier quarterback prospect that has been on top of the class and went first overall. After the first two weeks of the college football season, none of the speculated upon top quarterback prospects have been over impressive. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler had a brutal debut where he threw only one touchdown and two interceptions against Tulane. Oklahoma barely won that game. North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell had an even worse season debut against Virginia Tech. Howell threw for only 208 yards and one touchdown. He finished the game with three interceptions as well. Both quarterbacks bounced back in their second games of the season, but at this rate, none have looked like a first overall pick quarterback. The standard a quarterback must reach to be taken first overall for it to be worth it is Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, and Trevor Lawerence.

Recently there have been a couple of quarterbacks that have gone first overall that was not worth the selection. Some of these quarterbacks aren’t considered busts but during their respective predraft processes other non-quarterbacks were considered better prospects and turned out to be much better than the quarterbacks taken first overall. Those quarterbacks are Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff. Both are solid starters but both the Browns and Rams had better options available. Cleveland could have drafted Saquon Barkley, Quenton Nelson, or Bradley Chubb with the first pick in 2018. All three of which are considered more talented than Mayfield, when healthy. Then the Rams showed they regretted trading up for Goff in 2016 when they packaged him with two first-round picks to Detriot for Matthew Stafford. Los Angeles could have drafted Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, Ronnie Stanley, DeForest Buckner, or Laremy Tunsil with the first overall pick. 

This draft class is shaping up to be similar to the latter where there may be multiple non-quarterback prospects who could end up being better than the quarterbacks in this class. Whoever lands the first overall pick may want to learn from the previous mistakes of those teams and take the best player available which is Thibodeaux.


Kayvon Thibodeaux is the number one edge rusher in a loaded edge rusher class. He isn’t just the number one edge rusher prospect in the draft class like Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb, or Dante Fowler Jr. Right now he is spoken about above the likes of Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, and Chase Young who were elite pass rusher prospects in their respective drafts. Thibodeaux has been placed in the same tier as Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett who were no doubt first overall picks in their respective draft class. He has been placed in that tier of player for good reason. 

During his first season at Oregon, Thibodeaux had 9 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. PFF gave him a 79.9 grade that season which was the best in the Pac-12 and ten points higher than any other freshman edge rusher in the Power Five. In seven games last season Thibodeaux had 3 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. Already this season Thibodeaux has a sack and forced fumble in one game played. He earned an 87.2 PFF grade for his sophomore season.

This is a player who has dominated college football over the last three seasons. Scouts have anticipated this season because Thibodeaux is now eligible for the draft. From what he has shown on the field, he is the type of player that scouts love the opportunity to analyze and potentially add to their roster. 

Multiple #1 pick contenders have a young quarterback

In a decent amount of cases when a team drafts a quarterback that team usually doesn’t improve dramatically from where they finished the season before. These are teams who selected quarterbacks early in recent drafts could be picking near the top of the draft and be in the range of this year’s top quarterbacks. These teams include the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and Cincinnati Bengals. They are a few teams who could be in range to select a quarterback in this upcoming draft but should be content enough with their quarterback play to not consider selecting another one early this year, especially in a potentially weak quarterback class. 

Other teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, Detriot Lions, and Las Vegas Raiders have a great enough quarterback in house to pass on a quarterback. Also, the Houston Texans have shown in recent history that they are willing to take a pass rusher first overall went they have to choose between an elite one and a quarterback from a weak class (Mario Williams 2006 & Jadeveon Clowney 2014). Since they took Davis Mills in the third round it is likely they want to give him a shot to be the team’s potential QB1 before taking one in the first round. 

All of the teams listed could potentially land the first overall pick. If they land it they would likely have to choose between trading down to a quarterback-needy team or taking the draft’s best prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Day 3 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft that have impressed

Saints QB Ian Book shined in Week 1

By: Jeremy Trottier

With the first week of the NFL preseason in the rearview mirror, we got the opportunity to see some of the phenomenal rookies we expected to perform such as Trevor Lawrence.  With that, we also saw some breakouts from the later rounds of the draft, trying to gain a spot on their respective rosters either as a backup or even potential starter.  In this article, I will be going over the three best performances from 2021 preseason week 1 of rookies drafted in day three, that being rounds four through seven, and projecting where they could land on their depth charts.

Rhamondre Stevenson – RB – New England Patriots – Round 4 Pick 120

First up we have the power back from Oklahoma University in Rhamondre Stevenson, a player I was extremely impressed with entering the draft and proved he can be a commodity to the Patriots this season.  The main focus is Stevenson’s 91-yard rushing touchdown, which I have linked below, but aside from that play he also had 9 rushes for 36 yards and a touchdown, which alone would have made him the lead rusher on the Patriots that night.

Including the 91 yarder, he had 10 rushes for 127 yards (12.7 YPC) and 2 touchdowns, which in your first NFL game is a very strong performance, even if you were expected to be an elite player.  Stevenson will definitely have a role carved out for him on the Pats 53 man roster this season if he continues this success, and likely would be utilized as the power and RedZone back for them with Damien Harris, James White, and Sony Michel taking the other spots on the depth chart.

Ian Book – QB – New Orleans Saints – Round 4 Pick 133

Next up we have one of the more controversial picks the Saints made in this draft class, that being Ian Book, former Notre Dame quarterback.  Many believed he would take a long time to develop and would primarily be used as the QB3 on the roster and letting Taysom Hill take over his swiss army knife role again.  But with that said, Ian Book actually looked solid on Saturday, and it seemed like he had a lot of good traits to work with.

Book went 9/16 for 126 yards and an interception Vs the Ravens, however, the interception was more of a prayer pass late in the game and was not something he would normally throw seemingly.  He had the most yards, completions, attempts, and yards/completion of all three Saints QBs on Saturday, and a higher QBR than Taysom Hill did, which shows he can be a productive player when utilized, and has potential for the future to tap into.

Rashad Weaver – OLB – Tennessee Titans – Round 4 Pick 135

Finally, we look two picks after Ian Book to find the Pittsburgh University outside linebacker, Rashad Weaver.  At 6’4” and 259 pounds, he has a very good build as an outside linebacker, and has shown some true versatility at the position to play both in pass rush and coverage with strong capabilities.  When up against the Atlanta Falcons this Friday, he had a strong showing in his first NFL game, putting up the following statline:

  • 2 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 2 TFL
  • 1.5 sacks, 1 pass deflected

For a new player coming out of the 4th round of the draft, he was able to show off that he can utilize pass rush moves to get to and bring down the QB, as well as making plays on the ballcarriers to force loss of yards.  If he can continue to put up complete stat lines like this, he could find his way into the starting linebacker rotation at some point this season.

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Top 10 Picks

2022 NFL Mock draft is here

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

It’s never too early to start planning for the NFL Draft. The 2021 football season is quickly approaching, for both college and professional, so it’s about time to start looking at preseason projections. Much can change during the course of a season, and almost always does, but this 2022 NFL mock draft will be based on expectations. The two main things to consider when making this list are the draft order based on projected team record and what kind of season the top college prospects will have. All things considered, here are the top ten picks of a preseason 2022 NFL mock draft.

1. Houston Texans: QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma

The Houston Texans are an absolute mess heading into the 2021 NFL season and much of that has to do with superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson. Between his ongoing legal issues that came up this offseason, paired with the fact that he wants to be traded, it is unknown if or when he will even play this year. If he doesn’t play the Texans will almost definitely be the worst team in the NFL and still could be even if he does play. Despite Watson leading the NFL in passing in 2020 with 4823 yards the Texans still only finished with four wins. It’s time to completely start over and rebuild in Houston. That process has already started with a new general manager and head coach so the quarterback should be next on the list.

Oklahoma and the Lincoln Reilly offensive system have been a factory for quarterbacks in recent years, producing first overall picks and Heisman Trophy winners in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. Next up is Spencer Rattler and he has all of the tools to follow in their footsteps. He is the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and is projected to have a huge season with the Sooners. He had a solid 2020 season passing for 3031 yards and 28 touchdowns while also rushing for an additional six touchdowns. If all goes as expected, he will be the number one pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by Houston.

2. Detroit Lions: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina

Like the Texans, it’s rebuilding time for the Detroit Lions as well. They went through many changes this offseason including hiring a new general manager and head coach while also trading away franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and a package of draft picks. It seems unlikely that Goff is their future plan at quarterback so they will probably look to the draft for an answer. With how weak their current roster construction is, they should be selecting very high and will have the opportunity to take one of the top quarterback prospects in Sam Howell.

In two seasons as the starting quarterback for the Tar Heels, Howell has passed for 7227 yards with 68 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. Many scouts believe that he is the best pure pocket passer available with the best arm talent in the country. While he is less dangerous with his legs than some of the other quarterback options, he is still mobile enough to roll out of the pocket and make things happen on the move. A big season in 2021 for Howell will put him right in the mix to be a top selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

3. New York Jets: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

The Jets are a team that has already started a rebuild of their own, bringing in a new head coach this offseason and drafting their quarterback Zach Wilson at second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. They are making progress in roster construction but they aren’t quite there yet so another high draft pick is likely coming this year. Here they will get the opportunity to select one of the best overall players in the country in Thibodeaux, who has 12 sacks and 23.5 TFL in his two seasons so far. He will improve their pass rush immediately, pairing up with newly signed Carl Lawson, and make their defense better as a whole. Their new defensive-minded head coach Robert Saleh would be thrilled to add this type of player to the roster.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Derek Stingley Jr, LSU

The Eagles have been rebuilding their offense in recent years, filling it with a ton of young talent such as QB Jalen Hurts, RB Miles Sanders, WR Jalen Reagor, and WR DeVonta Smith. It’s now time to start focusing on the future of the defense. Stingley is not only the top cornerback prospect in the draft but one of the best overall players too. In two seasons he has recorded six interceptions and is widely classified as a lockdown corner with elite athleticism. LSU is notorious for producing good defensive backs, such as Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, so Stingley is hopeful to be the next one in line. He has all of the tools to be an NFL starter from day one and would be a great tandem next to Darius Slay in Philly.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: DB Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

It’s a new era in Jacksonville now that they have a generational talent at quarterback with rookie Trevor Lawrence and an exciting new head coach in college legend Urban Meyer. The combination of the two, along with a very young and talented roster, provides a ton of optimism for a bright future. This is probably not the year where it all comes together for the Jags quite yet, so they will likely still have a very high draft pick. This gives them a great opportunity to select a uniquely elite talent on defense in Hamilton. He is a super-utility defensive back who can contribute in a wide variety of ways. He will help in just about every area of defense with no holes at all in his game. In terms of skill set and usage, he is a similar style of a player as Derwin James. If he can produce like Derwin, he is an excellent building block for any defense in the entire NFL.

6. Atlanta Falcons: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

The Falcons are yet another team that is now rebuilding. This offseason they hired a young and exciting new head coach in Arthur Smith and traded away veteran WR Julio Jones. Current QB Matt Ryan will be 37 years old when the 2022 NFL Draft arrives so it is time to start thinking about the future of the most important position in Atlanta. Willis is an elite athlete with extreme raw talent and has some of the highest upside of any player in the entire country. He fits the modern-day style of NFL quarterback with his true dual-threat ability. In the 2020 season, he threw for 2250 yards with 20 touchdowns and added an additional 944 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Smith is a progressive and new school style of coach so a player like Willis may really get him excited. This would be an interesting pairing to watch with unlimited creative potential if it works out.

7. New York Giants: EDGE Drake Jackson, USC

With head coach Joe Judge in charge, the Giants have shown that they are going to focus on defense as a priority. They are already solid in the secondary with players like James Bradberry and Logan Ryan while they look to improve their pass rush by trading for Leonard Williams and drafting Azeez Ojulari. They can continue to make progress in this department with one of the top-ranked EDGE prospects in Jackson. He looks the part at 6’4 and 255 pounds with good athleticism and a consistently improving skill set. There are good signs that he will continue to develop and polish his game as he further matures. In 17 games played at USC, he has totaled 7.5 sacks and 17 TFL.

8. Cincinnati Bengals: OL Evan Neal, Alabama

The Bengals have really built a young and talented offense of the future in Cincinnati. Two years ago they selected QB Joe Burrow with the first overall pick and also took WR Tee Higgins, who had a very impressive rookie season. In the 2021 NFL Draft, they went with a WR again in Ja’Marr Chase with their first pick, who was the favorite target of Burrow when they played together at LSU. Now that Burrow has the weapons he needs on offense, it’s time for the organization to focus on protecting him at all costs. Neal is currently the highest rated offensive line prospect and should be an easy pick for the Bengals if he is available when they are on the clock. He has the ability to play either guard or tackle and will look to join a very long list of successful Alabama offensive lineman at the NFL level.

9. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Christian Harris, Alabama

It seems like it’s always been an adventure in recent years when the Raiders are on the clock. By most standards, they have often “reached” with their selections and have been overall unpredictable about the way they are trying to build the roster of this team. It almost feels like a sort of randomness at times from owner Mark Davis, GM Mike Mayock, and HC Jon Gruden on draft day. Some of these selected players by the Raiders in the first round in recent years that qualify for this label are Clelin Ferrell, Damon Arnette, Henry Ruggs, and Alex Leatherwood. The one thing that all of these players have in common is that they come from the very top college programs in the country. Maybe they stick with that trend and select the top LB prospect, who happens to be from Alabama, but who really knows when it comes to the Raiders.

10. Carolina Panthers: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

The Panthers are well aware that they need to improve on the defensive side of the ball and they began working on it by selecting CB Jaycee Horn with their first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s a good start to the process, but the main thing they really need now is more of a pass rush. In the 2020 season, they ranked 24th in the NFL with just 29 total sacks on the season. Karlaftis is a solid all-around player who could immediately help them in this category. In his freshman season in 2019, he recorded an impressive 7.5 sacks and 17 TFL across 12 games played. Unfortunately, a frustrating 2020 season filled with injuries and Covid issues only allowed for him to play in two games, but he still did find a way to add two more sacks to his career total. He is looking to have a big season in 2021 now that he is fully healthy again and is definitely a player to keep an eye on because of his great potential at a prime position.

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.

Potential 2022 Draft Targets for the Philadelphia Eagles

Jalen Hurts highlights Philadelphia Eagles draft news

Jacob Keppen

Football is right around the corner. For the Philadelphia Eagles it looks like a year of rebuilding. This season is all about getting off to a good start in the Nick Sirianni era, building a team that can compete in the future. Coming off a 4-11-1 season, the Eagles most likely will be picking in the top 10 again next season. Here are prospects that Eagles fans should familiarize themselves with for the 2021 college football season.

1. Spencer Rattler, QB Oklahoma

If the Philadelphia Eagles pick in the top five next year, there’s a very good chance Nick Sirianni is looking for a quarterback of the future. In this scenario Jalen Hurts proved not to be the guy, leaving the Eagles looking for a new captain at the helm. The top quarterback to watch for is Spencer Rattler. The junior from Oklahoma has a lot of raw talent, with a wicked arm and knack for the big play. He progressed greatly over the course of last season and looks to cement himself as a player worthy of the 1st overall pick. 

2. Sam Howell, QB North Carolina 

Also in the conversation for QB1 is North Carolina junior Sam Howell. Howell has been one of college’s best quarterbacks over the past two years, throwing for over 30 touchdowns and 3,500 yards in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Howell has a big arm and improved his accuracy last season. While not as mobile as Rattler, Howell has shown the ability to play more within a system. 

3. Derek Stingley, CB LSU

The Eagles have a massive problem at cornerback. You can pretty much look at any preseason for the Eagles over the past decade and it will say that. The Eagles haven’t had a cornerback make the pro bowl since Asante Samuel in 2010, the same Asante Samuel whose son was just drafted this year. The last Eagles cornerback to make first team all pro was Lito Sheppard in 2004. Over the past few years some of the “best” Eagles corners of the past decade include: Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Nolan Carroll, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. This team has been CB deficient for years and it just so happens that top prospect Derek Stingley will most likely be available for the Eagles. Stingley has been on NFL radars since stellar play as a freshman and if Jalen Hurts earns another season in Philly, Stingley should be at the top of Eagles fan’s wishlists. Darius Slay can only cover so much.

4. Breece Hall, RB Iowa State

The Eagles no matter what have to keep adding weapons on offense. Whoever is playing at quarterback next year (hopefully Hurts) needs weapons around him. Philadelphia have done their best to try and bolster their wide receiver room, addressing the position in the first round in back to back years. Another way to help a young quarterback is improving the run game. Miles Sanders has talent but has not yet proven to be a workhorse back. Hall was one of the premier college backs last year and figures to so once again in his junior season. Even if the Eagles wish to keep Miles Sanders moving forward, lots of NFL offenses over the past few years have proven the value of having two extremely good running backs. Teams such as the Saints, the Browns, and yes the Colts have shown the effectiveness of two backs that can be productive. Getting a reliable, smart rusher such as Hall either in the late first or with their second round pick could really help out a young Eagles offense.

3 reasons why the Houston Texans are the favorite to get the first overall pick in the 2022 draft

2022 first overall pick belongs to Houston Texans

By: Jeremy Trottier

With the 2021 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, looking forward to the next one could be the idea for some fanbases before the season even starts.  However, the Houston Texans are probably in the worst situation physically possible as a franchise.  

In this article, I will be going over the three reasons as to why I believe Houston is lined up to get the first overall pick next year.

The Deshaun Watson Situation

Probably the most blatantly obvious issue right now with this team is what’s going on with franchise QB Deshaun Watson.  I will not go into the legal situation, however if that pans out poorly who knows what his NFL career holds afterwards.  Even if he does return with no legal issues, he wanted to be traded out of Houston regardless prior to the accusations.

Trading Watson would be taking the one pillar of hope for this team and pretty much destroying it.  He has put this team on his back before, and if he is gone they will have some major issues.  The problem here is, it’s not like the Texans really have a choice, as if he wants out he can get out either via not showing up to games like Melvin Gordon did or by “retiring” like Carson Palmer did and forcing his way out of the contract.  

Regardless of which method he leaves by, Houston is going to be left in a situation with either Tyrod Taylor at starting QB or Davis Mills, who needs a lot more time to develop.

Strength of Schedule

Another issue that arises outside the roster issues is the division the Texans play in, as well as their 2021 season schedule.  Playing in a division with the Tennessee Titans who have made the playoffs the last two seasons and three of their last four, as well as the Indianapolis Colts who should be very good if Carson Wentz can perform.  Not to mention the Jacksonville Jaguars who just got their franchise QB in Trevor Lawrence and have been building a pretty lethal offense.

With that all combined, the Texans strength of schedule is tied for 15th, which all things considered is not horrible.  However that’s factoring in records, not offseason development, and the Jaguars went 1-15 so that drags the strength down a ton since they play eachother twice.  Overall their season will not be easy, regardless of if they develop their roster a ton between now and preseason or not.

2021 Offseason Was Lackluster

Finally, the Texans really have not done much this offseason to improve the roster.  They lost their star edge in J.J. Watt as well, which even though he is older now still hurts the team.  Their draft was lackluster, only having five total picks and none of which being in the top two rounds.  They got Davis Mills who will likely be a backup QB for the time even if Watson does not play this season for the Texans.  Nico Collins who should be a decent WR, as well as Brevin Jordan who is a good tight end, has a lot of developing to do.  

Overall, they just have not made the moves to keep their team relevant, even losing Will Fuller to the Dolphins in a signing. 

Reflecting on the Jalen Ramsey trade: who won?

Who won the Jalen Ramsey trade?

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

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.

3 rookies to sell post NFL Draft: a Ravens WR makes the list

Sell Ravens rookie Rashod Bateman

By: CJ Krause

We are in Dynasty Christmas! The NFL draft has just ended and rookie drafts are just beginning. All the prepping and planning and the draft totally went as we all thought….. not. Many shocks and surprises and odd landing spots. I hate to be negative, but here is a dose of reality coming your way. If you drafted pre-NFL draft or have these guys in Devy, it might be time to get out while the gettin’ is good.

Rashod Bateman- WR Baltimore Ravens

One of my favorite pre-draft prospects, Bateman went to what I believe to be the 2nd worst landing spot for 2021 (just behind Philadelphia). Bateman was already losing steam in the dynasty community when at his pro day he measured in 2 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than previously reported. That didn’t stop him from getting 1st round draft capital though. We love to see that because it opens doors for a sell.

Baltimore only passed the ball 42.5% of the time in 2020, making them, for the second consecutive year, the least pass-happy team in the NFL. This does not bode well for Bateman, who is most likely starting out at best the second receiving option behind Mark Andrews. Bateman is currently going as the 4th wide receiver off the board in rookie drafts, and I would be looking to find the Bateman truther in my league and get out.

Amari Rodgers- WR Green Bay Packers

With the Aaron Rodgers situation seemingly showing that Aaron will not be in Green Bay come 2021, this is a definite downgrade for 3rd round pick Amari Rodgers. The good news is Amari’s role seems secure being the slot receiver for the Green Bay Packers, who are severely lacking in that department. The bad news is he may have Jordan Love throwing him the ball.

As of now, little is known of Love, who was the Packers’ 2020 1st round pick. But, reports throughout the 2020 season indicate Love was not performing up to expectations in practices and was farther behind the curve than what Green Bay expected when they drafted him. That uncertainty and a prospect that wasn’t amongst the top recruits in the 2021 class is enough to warrant a sell while he is still tied to Aaron Rodgers.

Michael Carter- RB New York Jets

Leading up to the draft, it was assumed the Jets were going to pick up a running back. The New York Jets decided to forgo the Big 3 running backs in Harris, Etienne, and Williams to instead wait until day 3 to once again draft a running back in Michael Carter. Carter is walking into a backfield with his main competition being the ghost of Tevin Coleman and La’mical Perine. Coleman’s last year was coming off his worst pro season, in which he only played 8 games for the San Francisco 49ers.

In those games, he had 28 rushing attempts for 53 yards which averaged a 1.9 ypc average and 0 touchdowns. NOT GOOD. Perine couldn’t get past the ancient one Frank Gore to have a meaningful rookie campaign. Perine played in 10 games in which he had 64 rushing attempts for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. Almost double the yards per carry as Coleman but still NOT GOOD. So the stage is set for Carter to be able to overtake the backfield, but the concerns are (1) he has the same draft capital as Perine; (2) he never had a full backfield to himself, and (3) at his pro-day ran a 4.54 40 yards dash which on his speed score based on his 201-pound frame makes him a 28th percentile athlete. All signs point to another bust for the Jets RB room and this is one I’m trying to get away from at his current price.

There you have it, three rookies you should be looking to get off your roster and be looking to acquire more proven assets or future rookies pick to try again.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @KidFlashFF and hit me up with any questions!

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