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.

Production

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.

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts will take the league by storm

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is the future

By: Brady Akins

In fantasy football, we crave players that can do it all.

Running backs who can catch passes, as well as, can run are valued much higher among experts than players who specialize in one. Wide receivers who get a high amount of targets better rank well in yards per target to be seen as a WR1. And of course, quarterbacks who run often and run well, are seen as must-start players.

The do-it-all focus is why we’ve seen players like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, and Josh Allen emerge as some of the hottest players in all of fantasy football. They put up impressive passing stats, and oftentimes outpace their own running backs in rushing yards.

Four of 2020’s top six highest-scoring quarterbacks had at least 400 yards rushing, and with the next four players outside the top six adding at least three rushing touchdowns to their fantasy production, it might be fair to say that the trend of rushing quarterbacks isn’t going anywhere.

The latest team to pick up on the trend is the Philadelphia Eagles, who will head into the 2021 season with their second-round pick from last year’s draft looking ready to lead the team back to glory– Jalen Hurts.

Hurts, as a runner, finished ninth among quarterbacks in rushing yards, despite starting in only four games last season. On top of that, he added three rushing touchdowns in just a three-week span and used that rushing performance to finish seventh overall in fantasy points per game from the time he became the team’s starter to the end of the year.

Hurts’ fantasy production in that time was ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Deshaun Watson– and did so facing strong defenses as well, going up against the Saints, Cardinals, and Washington Football Team in three of his four starting appearances.

But the craziest thing about Hurts is that he might not even be a duel threat, at least not yet. One look at the Eagles’ quarterback’s box scores will show that he still struggles as a passer. Hurts managed only one game in that four-game period with more than one passing touchdown, finished the year with a 1:3 touchdown to interception ratio in his final two games, and has yet to start a game and finish with a completion percentage above 60%.

But there’s reason to believe Hurts can improve on his passing, all while maintaining his elite ability as a rusher. If he can make the leap from ‘bad passer, good runner’ to at least above average in both, Hurts will have a legitimate case to be one of fantasy football’s best quarterbacks by the end of the 2021 season.

Help is on the way

With the 2020 season well in the rear-view mirror, it could be easy to forget that the Eagles’ pass-catchers last season were… let’s say “sub-optimal.”

The Eagles didn’t have a single player on their roster finish the season with over 1,000 receiving yards. Or, for that matter, over 900 receiving yards. Or 800… or 700.

In fact, Philadelphia’s leading receiver, a former sixth-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Travis Fulgham, didn’t even break the 600-yard mark with 539 yards in 13 appearances. 

But reinforcements should be arriving just in time to lead Hurts to a masterpiece season.

The best and the (metaphorically) biggest boost to the receiving corps will be the Alabama-rookie Devonta Smith, coming off of a Heisman-winning season where he led the FBS in essentially every statistical category you could imagine. On a loaded Crimson Tide offense, Smith’s skill stood out to the point where he became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since 1991.

Smith is now in Philadelphia, joining the Eagles’ first-round draft pick from last year in Jalen Reagor– a player who struggled with injury through a chunk of 2020 but will be looking to bounce back from a down rookie campaign. Also looking to bounce back will be tight end Dallas Goedert, who, despite finishing with more yards, catches, and touchdowns than his tight end counterpart Zach Ertz, was out-snapped and out targeted by Ertz.

But now, with rumors swirling around Ertz’s unhappiness with the Eagles, Goedert’s door to becoming the full-time starter at the tight end might be open. Between him, the addition of a potential star in Smith, and the hopeful bounceback of Reagor, Hurts could have three talented pass-catchers at his disposal, enough to make a strong leap in his passing stats.

Now add that to Hurts’ rushing potential. The guy who, again, finished top ten among quarterbacks in rushing yards with only four starts. The guy who had three games with over 60 rushing yards, and one with over 100, all while playing quarterback. 

Hurts, without the exceptional numbers as a passer, still finished as the QB7 in his time as a starter. All the stars are aligning for that already impressive ranking to get much better in 2021– and you won’t want to miss out on it.

What does Gardner Minshew bring to the Eagles?

What role will Minshew Mania play in Philadelphia?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Gardner Minshew has officially been traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a conditional 6th round draft pick that could become a 5th rounder based on playing time. This news came very shortly after head coach Urban Meyer announced that first overall pick Trevor Lawrence would be the day one starter for the Jags. There was apparently a “quarterback competition” in camp but let’s be honest, it was always going to be Lawrence named as the starter. He is a generational talent that has been labeled “the best QB prospect of all time” by several professional scouts.

The official announcement is what made Minshew available via trade and the Eagles organization did not waste much time in acquiring him. In a corresponding move, third-string QB Nick Mullens was released from the team. Minshew will now likely serve as the backup to starter Jalen Hurts entering the 2021 NFL season but his role could actually mean more than just that. He has proven to be a capable player and has the ability to push Hurts and serve as an alternative option if things don’t work out as planned.

Gardner Minshew: Exceeding Expectations

Though his two seasons with the Jaguars were not great, Minshew demonstrated that he is a capable quarterback at the NFL level. In 23 total games played, he completed 63 percent of his passes for 5530 yards and 37 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions. While these numbers are mediocre, it’s fairly impressive considering the circumstances. He was only a 6th round draft pick out of Washington State and was considered more of a development project at best. He far exceeded those initial expectations and did it on a team with very little offensive talent surrounding him. Furthermore, he lacks the overall athleticism and arm talent of a typical NFL quarterback so it’s encouraging that he was able to overcome that and still find success.

Expected Role with the Eagles

Considering the very low price tag that the Eagles gave up to get him, this trade makes perfect sense for them. He is a safer option than anything they could draft in the 5th or 6th round because he has already proven that he can play at the professional level. The only other quarterback on the roster, besides Hurts, is Joe Flacco. His best days are long behind him and probably are never coming back considering he is already 36 years old. With the Eagles being a rebuilding team right now, Minshew makes a ton more sense than Flacco does as a back up. If the Hurts plan does not work out the way they want it too, they now have a realistic second option in Minshew.

This concept can also provide extra motivation for Hurts now that he knows there is a true backup on the roster behind him instead of just a roster filler and emergency replacement like Flacco. Hurts was decent last season, but he will have to progress as a player this year to gain the confidence from the Eagles organization that he is their long-term solution at quarterback. Last year in his rookie campaign, Hurts eventually took over the starting job from the disaster that was Carson Wentz. Hurts started the final four games of the season but appeared in 15 games total, completing 52 percent of his passes for 1061 yards and six touchdowns against four interceptions.

Based on passing statistics alone, Minshew actually has a much better track record so far. Granted it’s an extremely small sample size for Hurts, but that is definitely something to keep an eye on. Hurts will have to improve his passing numbers this season to show that he can be a starting quarterback moving forward. The thing that Hurts brings to the table that Minshew lacks is athleticism and in particular the ability to contribute in the rushing game. Hurts recorded 63 rushing attempts for 354 yards and three touchdowns last season in his limited role with the team and are expected to be a part of the rushing attack this season by design. In conclusion, Hurts will definitely begin the season as the starting quarterback, but the Eagles now have a “real backup plan” if he does not develop his passing game the way they hope he will.

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

The worst NFL teams in 2021 will be…

By: Andy Davies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: 3-14

Trouble In Philadelphia; Reason For Hope?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: 4-13

What A Difference A Year Makes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: 2-15

3 Eagles players soaring in training camp

Derek Barnett impresses in Eagles training camp

Jacob Keppen

Davion Taylor

Heading into the 2021 NFL Season, former 3rd round pick Davion Taylor was just an afterthought to many fans, he was a name many were actively trying to forget. The Colorado linebacker was one of the most scrutinized picks in the whole draft, with many viewing Taylor as a day three project. While the athletic upside was intriguing, Taylor running a 4.49 40 yard dash, Taylor had a ways to go as a football player. 

Taylor was a player who never participated in football until he was 18 years old. The instincts and overall feel for the game had not been developed over time, and many doubted whether or not they ever would. Those fears were given credence when Taylor only managed to see the field for 32 snaps in his rookie year. With the emergence of Alex Singleton last year and the addition of former Viking Eric Wilson, not many outside of the organization gave much thought to the Eagles 3rd round pick.

Early on into training camp, Taylor has seen an increase in playtime under new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. With the work he put in during his 2nd offseason, Taylor has impressed the Eagles coaching staff enough to give him a majority of starting reps in camp. Gannon has stated that Taylor looks “A lot more comfortable” during camp. With his athleticism and untapped potential, it will be interesting to see if Gannon and the Eagles staff can have a real player in Davion Taylor moving forward.

Jordan Mailata

The battle for left tackle was one of the biggest storylines heading into Eagles training camp. On one side you have Andre Dillard, a player the Eagles liked enough to trade up for to take in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Dillard has not played much, struggling in limited reps in the 2019 season, and missing all of 2020 with an injury. His foe is a man very few expected to be in this position. 

Jordan Mailata wasn’t a highly touted prospect like Dillard. He didn’t anchor the left side of a line in college football like Dillard at Washington State. Mailata was a rugby player who decided to convert to offensive tackle. A true physical specimen, Mailata was intriguing enough for the Eagles to take a shot on him in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. It was a cool story for camp, the former rugby player attempting to make a roster in the NFL… but it became clear that Mailata could play. The growth Mailata took over two years on the Eagles after never playing a snap of organized football before was nothing short of a miracle, a miracle culminating in solid play in replacement of Jason Peters in the 2020 season. A cool story was starting to become a cool reality, only if he could earn his starting spot. 

Early on in training camp, Mailata has pretty easily been the better player of the two. Against one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the league, Mailata has been able to hold his own, using his impressive size and mobility to neutralize guys such as Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett. Dillard on the other hand has struggled as a whole through four days of training camp. With the gap starting to widen with every practice, will Mailata do enough to earn the starting nod despite the two players’ respective draft positions?

Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat

It’s a bit of a cop out to list both players, but the two defensive ends have both boosted their stocks so far in training camp. Philly fans have been waiting a while for the Derek Barnett breakout, and while it hasn’t necessarily come on the statsheet yet, the former first-round pick from Tennessee has become a very solid overall defensive end. 

He’s trying to thwart off rising edge rusher Josh Sweat, a former fourth-round pick with a knack for getting into the backfield. The talent has always been there for Sweat, a former top college recruit, but staying healthy enough to show it has been the problem for the former Florida State Seminole. After a very good season that saw Sweat get to the quarterback more times than Barnett despite starting fewer games, a good camp could earn Sweat the starting spot.
So who’s outperformed the other to earn the starting spot in training camp? Honestly, neither! Both Sweat and Barnett have performed well in camp, giving the Eagles offensive tackles all that they can handle. ESPN Eagles Beat Reporter Tim McManus reported that defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon views both as starters. It appears that opposing teams will have to worry about a high-quality pass rusher on every single down when they play Philadelphia this season.

Would the Eagles be NFC East favorites with Deshaun Watson?

Will Houston Texans trade Deshaun Watson to Philadelphia Eagles?

By: Jake Rajala

The Philadelphia Eagles are strongly considering acquiring Houston Texans star dusted, controversial Deshaun Watson. According to Howard Eskin, who is a sports reporter in Philadelphia, he believes there is a 90% chance Philly reels in the elite Texans QB. There is clearly an ascending belief around Eagles nation that the fit makes too much sense and a deal will most likely be put in place for Nick Sirianni to snag his targeted QB. 

In terms of Watson’s outlook, the QB who is under lots of uncertainty believes there is a “good chance” he suits up in 2021. If a deal is established between Eagles nation and Watson, then Watson proceeds to play in 2021, the question begs to ask: What would the Eagles team look like next season under the new signal-caller? 

The former Eagles team led by Doug Pederson finished dead last in the NFC East a year ago. If Watson is in the building with the new leader Nick Sirianni, it would be at least a three to five game winning difference in 2021. With a generational talent like himself, it is enjoyable and possible to imagine a deep playoff run, but it really would put themselves with a fine, noticeable, yet not an unearthly improvement.

They should boast an extraordinarily strong chance of claiming at least 7 to 9 wins with Watson under the helm. It may not be a superior juggernaut team in the NFC, but they would at least be able to compete for the East title down to the wire. The Washington Football Team under Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB appear as the clear favorites to capture NFC East prominence for the second year in a row, but Watson’s mobility against the fiery Washington pass rush rotation in a head-to-head matchup (Eagles play Washington Week 15 and Week 17) is sure to be a serious a clear x-factor.

The Eagles and Washington are clearly different teams, under new coaching staffs, with a new attitude, but the Eagles did put up a serious fight against Washington in Week 17 of last season. Even with the unpopular benching of Jalen Hurts, the Eagles lost to the WFT by a score of 20-14. The Eagles would have slightly different tweaks around the roster, but a sizable improvement at QB. Meanwhile, the Washington team will still have an average ranked QB in Fitzmagic with largely the same team.

Throughout the season, If the Eagles defense plays average at least, it should be enough for Watson to get enough victories with his utmost prominent playmaking ability himself. Some may question why Watson could carry the hopeful Eagles if he could not bring the Texans to playoff royalty with an MVP-like season, he flexed in 2020. Well, the Texans defense didn’t just do a poor job at complementing Watson, they did a flat-out horrific job. The Eagles total defense was 19th in the total YPG allowed, while the Texans defensive unit was 30th in the league. The Texans just gave up three fewer yards than the 32nd ranked Lions defense that played Aaron Rodgers twice a season.

It is also important to note that the Texans had two teams in their own division that made the playoffs: Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. The Texans flashed a combined 0-4 record against those opponents. In the East, there was not a true playoff-like talent, but rather a team that won the “least” NFL division with six wins. The rule that every division must send a team to the playoff dance is certainly questionable, especially during NFL seasons like last year.

On the horizon, Watson has been working relentlessly this offseason, as the former Clemson star has a massive chip on his shoulder. If he heads up north, he should have very strong weaponry to utilize. The Eagles currently possess the top TE duo in the league (Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert), a young talented wideout in Jalen Reagor, and all of this explosion will be taking place behind an offensive line led by the well reputable Lane Johnson, a unit that could be stout if it can stay healthy. Expect Watson to show another elite season of play with a more talented supporting cast, amid a weaker division.

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.

Why the Eagles should really keep Derek Barnett

A Derek Barnett trade is not the right thing to do

By: Jake Rajala

Derek Barnett, who is heading into his fifth season, has been the subject of frequent trade speculation. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Derek Barnett 14th overall in the 2017 draft. To sum up Barnett’s four-year journey, he’s been a valuable contributor, but he hasn’t lived up to his draft stature.  

Barnett has registered roughly four sacks, five TFLs, and 12 QB hits per season. He’s far from Pro Bowl material, but his presence has been valuable in the lineup. 

The Eagles know that Barnett hasn’t been proven to be a high-end starter, so they’ve sought out higher talent at the EDGE spot this offseason. In free agency, Philly acquired the savvy veteran Ryan Kerrigan, who hunted down NFC East QBs for ten years in Washington. Kerrigan expects to bring a high motor and superb playmaking at key moments to Eagles nation. 

Kerrigan will prove to bring dividends to the Eagles defense and potentially be an upgrade at the DE spot opposite Graham. The signing of the former Washington profile, combined with Washington opting to retain Brandon Graham, makes many believe that Barnett is out of the loop. However, I still believe the verdict of Eagles offseason decisions at pass rusher does not take Barnett out of the big picture, nor do I believe it’s the best idea to trade the 25-year-old DE. Let me begin.

  • Brandon Graham and Ryan Kerrigan are extremely aging

Brandon Graham is a legendary Eagle and a Super Bowl hero. However, Graham is 33 years old and his contract expires after 2022. Graham has shown to be productive (eight sacks in 2020), but his motor, experience, and talent will only last so long. Graham appears to be ending a Hall Of Fame Eagles career in 2-3 years.

Ryan Kerrigan, the notable and popular FA signee at DE, is 32 years old himself. Kerrigan may provide quality moments and help bring forth a powerful pass rotation to Eagles, but it’s very possible that he also doesn’t outperform Barnett at this stage in his career. Kerrigan is coming off a 5.5 sack season in 2020 and he also only flashed 5.5 sacks in 2019. There’s a strong likelihood that Kerrigan will be of similar caliber to Barnett, except Barnett is several years younger. 

  • Barnett has showed positive growth

The former first round pick DE had a career high of sacks in 2019 (6.5). His 2020 campaign wasn’t glorious, but he did capture 5.5 sacks while missing three games. It’s crystal clear that Barnett’s career is trending in the right direction. 

The Eagles are also confident in Barnett’s potential, as they opted to pick up his fifth year option. If Barnett takes a step forward in 2021, it would be hard to not accept his talent and outlook amid an aging pass-rushing group. 

  • Trade compensation would not be worth it

If Barnett is involved in trade discussions, I don’t believe the Eagles would get his full worth in exchange. A team would likely offer “a mid-round pick” or a second round pick (in a rare case) for his services. The Eagles are fully aware that he’s coming off a season of a near-significant injury and he’s a talented asset early in his career. 

There’s a real possibility that Barnett unleashes a seven to eight sack season in 2021. I believe it would be the right move to keep and extend a young, talented, and productive edge player versus trading him at this time. 

Three Philadelphia Eagles who could be playing their last season as an Eagle

TE Zach Ertz could be out of Philadelphia soon

Jacob Keppen

The Eagles are in a situation unusual for the team, a rebuild. For a club that has been a competitive team for most of the past two decades, the Eagles are coming off of one of the worst seasons in recent memory. The previous window has closed, and a new one is being built. A lot of the old guard have already been moved on from, but there are a few remnants of that 2017 team still hanging around… but for how much longer though with the team starting to shift into the new Nick Sirianni era. Here are three Philadelphia Eagles that may be playing their last season of football in Philadelphia.

Zach Ertz

This entry comes with a bit of a caveat. There’s a very good shot that last season was Ertz’s last season in a Philadelphia uniform. Just a short while ago, the idea of Ertz leaving the city seemed impossible. Ertz was Philadelphia’s top weapon and the go-to target on the offense. Ertz’s best season came in 2018 when he caught 116 passes for 1163 yards and 8 touchdowns. A lot has changed since then though.

The writing has seemingly been on the wall regarding Zach Ertz’s status in Philadelphia for nearly half a year now. A contract dispute before the 2020 season put the tight end’s future in Philly in question, those questions growing larger after an extremely lackluster season. It sure sounded like Ertz was leaving after the season, with one of Philly’s best pass catchers delivering a tear-filled message to the fanbase after the final game of the 2020 season. Yet with training camp arriving, Ertz is still on the team. It will be interesting to see how the Ertz situation plays out, but don’t be surprised when Zach Ertz is playing for a new team in 2022.

Derek Barnett

The Eagles are in a very tricky situation with their former first-round pick. Barnett, Philadelphia’s 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft in their own city, hasn’t quite lived up to lofty expectations so far. He hasn’t nearly been a bad player, carving out a role as a solid all-around defensive end, but he has yet to show anything really special through four years. Barnett has been solidly consistently rushing the passer, gaining at least 5 sacks in three of his four seasons (the one in which he didn’t he only played 6 games) but he hasn’t posted a spectacular season, his season high in sacks being only 6.5.

Barnett has largely been the same player throughout his tenure with Philadelphia: a not bad but not great defensive end. Barnett’s backup Josh Sweat meanwhile has improved every year, even gaining more sacks than Barnett last year. With Barnett’s contract coming to an end after this season, a season in which he’s earning 10 million dollars, and with the emergence of a slightly more dynamic Josh Sweat, whether or not Derek Barnett returns to the Eagles next season will largely be based on his 2021 performance.

Jason Kelce

Nothing in football lasts forever. Eventually, everyone retires, and that retirement is coming very soon for star center Jason Kelce. Many expected Kelce to retire before this season, but the potential future Hall of Famer is back in Philly. Kelce has been one of the best players of the 2010s for the Eagles, earning three first-team all-pro selections. He’s one of the best linemen of his generation and will go down as an Eagles legend. 

All good things in football eventually come to an end though. Kelce is 33, soon to be 34, and has been battling retirement over the past few years since the Super Bowl victory. Kelce has battled and played through injuries over the past few years, so it would not be surprising if the four-time pro bowler called it a career after this season. Kelce retiring this season isn’t nearly as foregone of a conclusion as Zach Ertz leaving after this season though. With everything he has done for the franchise over the years, as well as the great level of play and toughness he still gives you every week currently, the decision is all in Kelce’s hands. He’s earned the right to decide his future.

Three quarterbacks who could be surprise Week 1 starters

Taylor Heinicke starting in 2021?

By: Chris Thomas

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

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

Washington Football Team: Taylor Heinicke

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

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

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

Houston Texans: Davis Mills

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

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

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

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

Philadelphia Eagles: Joe Flacco

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

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

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

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

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

More backup QBs who can become starters later in the year

Minnesota Vikings: Kellen Mond

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

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

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mason Rudolph/Dwayne Haskins

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

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

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

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

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

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