Rob Grimwood’s Mock Draft 2.0

Now the madness of the free agency is mostly behind us and teams have bolstered their depth charts, we can take a more detailed and thorough look into what teams’ needs are and hopefully be a bit more accurate with predictions. With that in mind, here is my mock draft 2.0:

Pick 1: Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB – LSU

No change for the 1.01 pick. Burrow wanted A.J Green franchised tagged, and he got his wish. With trade chatter regarding Andy Dalton heating up too, it’s looking increasingly likely that Burrow will be the pick for Cinci


Pick 2 MOCK TRADE: Miami Dolphins via Washington – Tua Tagovailoa, QB – Alabama

Miami sends 5th overall, 26th overall and 70th overall

Previously I had Las Vegas trading up here to grab Chase Young, but I think Miami will want to move up in order to guarantee they get their guy. I stand by my opinion that Washington does not need to draft Young thanks to their existing D-Line of D’Ron Payne, Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen. The price that is willing to be paid will prove more valuable to Washington to add better depth in more postions rather than adding to an area that does not need adding to.

Miami will get cold feet knowing that the Chargers and Jags have got trade-able assets to move here and it’s not beyond the realm for Tampa Bay, Indianapolis or New England to pull a rabbit out of the bag either… but it’s most likely Miami with their excess draft stock in the first round.


Pick 3: Detroit Lions – Chase Young, EDGE – Ohio State

Although probably hounded with offers to grab the best player in the draft, Detroit rub their hands together as they know they’ve hit the jackpot. Edge is a need, and Young is the answer for Matt Patricia to start building a better quality defense.


Pick 4: New York Giants – Mekhi Becton, OL – Louisville

Previous Pick Tristan Wirfs. OL, Iowa – however I think Gettleman prefers freak athletes, which Becton is basically the description of.

Offensive Line has been a glaring need for a few years now for the G-Men. At 6’7 and 364lbs, Becton is still one of the most athletic freaks in this class. He’ll be a game changer for Daniel Jones as they continue to want to help build around him and Saquon.


Pick 5 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Miami – Jeff Okudah, CB – Ohio State

Still available here for the Skins’ will be the best corner in the draft. They have a good defense but after passing on Young and opting for more depth picks, they replace last years’ stand out Quinton Dunbar who was the only stand out on the defensive secondary last season for them. They’ll need some quality back there


Pick 6: Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB – Oregon

The Chargers will be fighting an internal battle over this pick. They are still desperate for offensive line help and there are some gems in this draft class, yet their team is not a million miles away from being playoff worthy. However, to be that, they will need a replacement for Pip Rivers. Herbert ticks a lot of boxes. He was slated to go 1.01 last season before heading back to Oregon for another term and he impressed at the combine as expected. Herbert could be the answer Charger fans.


Pick 7: Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB – Clemson

Luke Kuechly is gone. He was one of the centrepieces of the organisation and Simmons will fit into Matt Rhules’ desire to build a formidable defense as Kuechly’s replacement. Can also play at Safety if the Panthers prioritise building their defensive secondary first. Could go Derrick Brown here as there are many different needs for Carolina.. but Simmons is a unicorn.


Pick 8: Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OL – Louisville

Offensive Line has been a glaring need for a few years now in Arizona. Wirfs was the stand out of the draft and cemented himself as a worthy top 10 pick. He’ll be a game changer for Kyler Murray as he searches for the next level.


Pick 9: Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, DT – Auburn

Last year Josh Allen fell in their laps at pick 7 last year, and Brown is going to do the same this year for them. Defensive line is a need for Jacksonville and in a lesser talent-filled class, Brown would be considered a top 5 pick.


Pick 10: Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills, OL – Alabama

The Browns need a tackle. Their O-line has never lived up to the hype that it was supposed to be, and with the news of Greg Robinson’s arrest. they’ll need to sure the line up. Two stud O-lineman remain on the board, but I think Wills nudges it over Andrew Thomas down to a better showing in their Junior year. Jedrick Wills is an athletic tackle who has the strength to open up big running lanes which will help Nick Chubb continue on his improving production trajectory.


Pick 11: New York Jets – Andrew Thomas, OL – Georgia

The need for O-lineman in the NFL is plentiful. The Jets’ are in that conversation and will take the last remaining stud tackle in this first round. Andrew Thomas is an NFL ready tackle who will provide better protection for Sam Darnold. Good pick.


Pick 12: Las Vegas Raiders – C.J Henderson, CB – Florida

I originally has Vegas adopting a YOLO approach as the draft was on home soil and making a splash for Chase Young. However, with the draft now behind closed doors, and Miami likely able to offer more to go grab Tua, I think Mayock and Gruden take the best players available in their areas of need. Henderson is the second best CB in this draft and has been a weak point of the Raiders over the last couple of seasons. Bringing in Eli Apple and Jeff Heath isn’t the answer, Henderson may just be.


Pick 13: San Francisco 49ers – Jerry Jeudy, WR – Alabama

Jerry Jeudy is a stud receiver. With very few needs on their superbowl quality team, a replacement for the departed Emmanuel Sanders seems high on the priority list. He’s the most polished all-rounder and will fill that Sanders role perfectly.

A few slated Jeudy’s combine, however, his combine was still statistically better than those from DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas and Davante Adams…and they turned out to be elite receivers… just sayin’


Pick 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier McKinney, S – Alabama

A close battle between McKinney and Delpit for the best Safety out of college this year. I’ve edged with Mckinney as he stood out in 2019 more than Delpit did. Both are first round talents, and both will be excellent in the pros. Tampa could use o-line help, but after the “elite 4” have gone in this scenario already, it’s too early to reach for the second tier of offensive lineman in my opinion. McKinney is a great pick.


Pick 15: Denver Broncos – CeeDee Lamb, WR – Oklahoma

Courtland Sutton is the up and coming receiver in Denver and it would be nice to pair him up with another stud on the opposite flank. Denver has a few other needs including o-line and cornerback, but personally I think Lamb is the best player available in those needed positions.


Pick 16: MOCK TRADE Jacksonville Jaguars via Atlanta Falcons – Jordan Love, QB – Utah State

Jags send 20th overall, 73rd overall and 118 overall to Atlanta who have a lot of holes to fill on o-line, d-line, linebacker and in the defensive secondary

Minshew mania was great while it lasted. But I think the NFL world realistically knows it probably won’t last. The Jags whiffed on Nick Foles last season and there going to want to get it right with a promising dual threat QB. He’s mouldable and the kind of character Jacksonville need leading the team as they look to re-build from the current ruins.


Pick 17: Dallas Cowboys –  K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE – LSU

I originally had Dallas down as picking up Kinlaw (DT) here, but since they gave Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy healthy contracts, one would assume the orgnisation is happy with their veteran DT corps heading into the season.

Robert Quinn has left for Chicago meaning there is a need at EDGE for the Cowboys. Dallas will be lucky if a player of Chaisson’s talent falls to 17.. but if the draft falls this way there might be a chance. Some analysts have the former LSU stud as a top 10 pick.


Pick 18: Miami Dolphins – Austin Jackson, OL – USC

Miami have a lot of needs so your guess is as good as mine for this pick. They could get some defensive secondary help here adding the next best CB like Arnette or Diggs, even Delpit at Safety could be in play. Will they want to add a weapon here for Tua in the form of Swift at running back? I think they know that the insde o-linemen the acquired in the free agency (Karras and Flowers) are fill in pieces and they will want to invest in some proper talent on that line to protect their franchise QB aka Tua Tagovailoa.

Jackson is the best of tier 2 in this talented offensive line class. He’s agile with quick feet and a very good overall athlete. A slight reach, but an important one.


Pick 19: Las Vegas Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR – Alabama

Raiders take the darling of the combine here. Receiver is a big need with only Hunter Renfrow worth anything worth talking about in that receiver room. They get an explosive, dynamic speed freak that Derek Carr/Marcus Mariota can rely on to get open behind the defense.


Pick 20 MOCK TRADE:  Atlanta Falcons via Jacksonville – Javon Kinlaw, DT – South Carolina

Atlanta can’t believe their luck when they see a top 15 prospect sitting here at 20. DT is a need, Kinlaw is a top class one. No brainer.


Pick 21: Philadelphia Eagles – Kenneth Murray, LB – Oklahoma

I originally had Philly down as improving their defensive secondary, but since then they signed Darius Slay meaning more pressing needs will need addressing. One of those needs is linebacker. Their defense is getting better, but they need better quality in the linebacker room. Murray fits the bill and was very impressive as Oklahoma’s record breaker for most tackles in one game (28).


Pick 22: Minnesota Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR – LSU

The Vikes acquired this pick through giving Buffalo Stefon Diggs. So it makes sense that they are going to replace Diggs with a solid all rounder. He did himself a big favour with a good combine and has done enough to warrant a first rounder being spent on him.


Pick 23: New England Patriots – A.J Epenesa, EDGE – Iowa

Epenesa’s draft stock has taken a hit over the last few weeks due to a poor combine, but on his day he’s an exceptional talent – and getting the best out of a player is the kind of thing Belichick specialises in. They’ll know that Epenesa can be special after an impressive 2019 season, and with DE being a need, this will be the best option for them.

The next QB’s off the board will likely be Eason and Fromm, neither of which are a day 1 pick, and neither are TB12’s replacements. The other needs at receiver can be filled in day 2/3, don’t forget they wasted a first rounder on N’Keal Harry this time last year and won’t want to repeat that considering the top 3 WR’s are already off the board.


Pick 24 MOCK TRADE: Chicago Bears via New Orleans- Grant Delpit, S – LSU

Chicago give 43rd overall, 50th overall and a 2021 2nd

Yes, Chicago are prepared to go all in and give up what little ‘good’ draft capital they have left in 2020 along with dipping into next years’ stock.

With Prince Amukamara out and HaHa Clinton-Dix not returning, Matt Nagy’s stringent defense needs it’s holes blocking up. As we headed into the 2019 season, Delpit was on a lot of ‘Top 5 prospect’ lists. Admittedly he didn’t live up to that expectation throughout the season, but he still possesses raw talent which nurtured in the right group could still wind up to be an elite level. The trade leaves Chicago with a fourth, a fifth, two sixths and two sevenths… potentially a dart throw at a sleeper tackle or receiver – but the offense rebuild will have to wait a year, Nagy needs his defense in order first!


Pick 25: Minnesota Vikings – Damon Arnette, CB – Ohio State

With the receiver need addressed, the Vikings can concentrate on another pressing need – they lost their 3 most used CB’s this off-season (Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander) and they need to replenish. Luckily for the Vikes, the defensive secondary players are falling later in the first round thanks to plenty of o-line talent and the almost league-wide need for them.

Arnette is a versatile player that can play inside at nickel or on the outside with the ability to play man or zone. He ticks a lot of boxes and will help glue the defensive secondary in Minnesota together.


Pick 26 MOCK TRADE:  Washington Redskins via Miami – Tee Higgins, WR – Clemson

Washington need depth at receiver with only ‘Scary’ Terry McLaurin breaking out to be a household name last season. They have unknown talents in Kelvin Harmon and Trey Quinn, but they need a big hitter. Tee Higgins is just that. Another all round specimen who is a danger in the redzone. Redskins need that redzone target since Jordan Reed won’t be returning.

Since (mock) trading back from 2, the Skins have picked up an elite corner and a top WR prospect and still have a extra pick at 70. I’d say that’s a win for Washington.


Pick 27: Seattle Seahawks – Isaiah Wilson, OL – Georgia

Whilst Andrew Thomas took the plaudits of being the most pro-ready tackle out of Georgia, Isaiah Wilson didn’t go un-noticed either. He impressed at the combine and is more than capable as a pass protector. Exactly what Seattle and Russell Wilson needs after being the most pressured QB in football since entering the league. A bit of a reach but he, or anyone near his skill set won’t be around come their next pick at 59.


Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen, LB – LSU

The Ravens don’t have many needs as things stand with how they move the ball. They invested in wide receivers last year and have a stout defense. However, they would benefit from having a stronger linebacking corps. Especially seeing Josh Bynes leave for Cinci. Queen is a busy-body linebacker that zips around the field and is a dangerous blitzer. He’d fit this defensive scheme well.


Pick 29: Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE – Penn State

The Titans improved all over the field in 2019 however their pass-rush left a alot to be desired. The only player with a pressure rate above 10% was Cameron Wake who walked out of the building this off season. Vic Beasley isn’t the answer either, so they’ll grab the next best DE in this class, Gross-Matos. He’s certainly a tier below those already taken, but his pass-rush did improve throughout his college career and he looks like he could continue those year on year improvements into the pros. 20 tackles for loss in 2019 certainly helps his draft stock


Pick 30: Green Bay Packers – Jalen Reagor, WR – TCU

Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, E.Q St Brown, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard. All average receivers that have had their spoils but ultimately aren’t trustworthy enough for Aaron Rodgers to use reliably. The Packers could thin that group down and take a receiver that could have been projected a lot higher had he had consistent QB play throughout his college career. Rodgers could make Reagor an elite weapon and the Packers could be back to the glory days of Nelson and Cobb. Unload the deadwood McCarthy brought in and restock with talent you choose, Matt LaFleur.


Pick 31 MOCK TRADE: Baltimore Ravens via San Francisco – D’Andre Swift, RB – Georgia

Baltimore send 55th, 60th, 106th and a 2021 4th rounder.

Before the trade with Indy that saw San Fran acquire the 13th overall pick, this was their only pick until the 157th in the 5th round. By getting an elite WR at 13, this free’s them up to trade back and grab a few more picks. On the other side, Baltimore know they almost have a complete squad. They need bolstering on the o-line and another receiver wouldn’t go amiss, they still have the 92nd and 129th to find depth there though.

Imagine having a swiss army knife like Swift in that offense. He and Jackson would be a dream combo on any fantasy roster and would be a great piece of business. Very Baltimore-like.


Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Taylor, RB – Wisconsin

Oh, i’ve just got your fantasy juices flowing, haven’t I… well have another. A superstar running back is heading to a team where the coach knows how to run the ball extremely well. It’s KC’s glaring hole in their elite offense, and I think Coach Reid will be licking his chops to get a talent like Taylor on his roster.

Mock Draft 1.0 – Andy Moore

By Andy Moore (@AJMoore21)

I know why you are here, you know why you are here. let’s not beat around the bush and get straight to it. Would love to hear your opinions on Twitter!


1

Cincinnati Bengals: QB – Joe Burrow – LSU

Keep it simple, keep it safe. Bengals get their ‘face of the franchise’ and plug him in to play on day one.


2

Washington Redskins: DE – Chase Young – Ohio State

I think the Redskins will try and move down here, they don’t pick again until the 3rd round and the new coaching staff needs to build a support system around Dwayne Haskins. The Dolphins at 5 seem the most likely candidates, but I think they’ll wait and see if there is any real need to move up.

Instead, the ‘Skins take the best player in the draft and get themselves a dominating edge rusher who will immediately give the NFC East’s defensive co-ordinators a significant headache.


3

*TRADE*

Miami Dolphins: QB – Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama

The Dolphins give up pick 5, 39 & Houston’s 2021 2nd rounder, managing to keep their two other first rounders in place and get their guy.

Ever since Miami traded away Laremy Tunsil before the 2019 season started, it has looked like their sights have been firmly set on the Alabama signal caller. The surprisingly resolute nature of Brian Flores’ team at one point seemed to put that in danger, but the hip injury sustained by Tua means the Fins still have a shot at their guy.

This pick isn’t without risk, but the upside, attitude and star dust that Tua offers makes him the perfect candidate to head to South Florida. Will he wear #13?


4

New York Giants:  OT – Jedrick Wills – Alabama

Tristan Wirfs had a dominant combine, and there is certainly an argument to be made for the Giants to take him 4th overall. But, I think Wills is the slightly better prospect.

Wills is a violent Right Tackle who excels in both pass protection and the running game. He’s a day one starter, with a ridiculous frame, and his addition will immediately help Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.


5

Detroit Lions:  CB – Jeffrey Okudah – Ohio State

I know, this isn’t offering many surprises so far, but Okudah to the Lions makes way too much sense. They’ve just traded away Darius Slay, and although Desmond Trufant has just arrived in Detroit, that isn’t going to put Matt Patricia off his guy.

Okudah brings a strong work ethic and willingness to contribute in the run game, alongside the ability to operate as a true shutdown corner.


6

LA Chargers: LB – Isaiah Simmons – Clemson

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Chargers probably go Herbert here. But, in this situation they take a gamble and take a QB slightly later in the draft.

Simmons is my favourite player in this draft, his range and versatility make him the perfect modern player and his hard hitting, explosive nature make him a turnover machine. Imagine him lined up in the same defense as Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram & Chris Harris. Whelp.

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7

*TRADE*

Cleveland Browns: OT – Tristan Wirfs – Iowa

Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry make the move up to 7, leapfrogging the Cardinals, to get the 2nd best Tackle in the class. To do so they give up pick 10, 74 and a 2021 4th.

As I mentioned earlier, Wirfs had a phenomenal combine, building on three years of strong performance at Iowa. A career starter at right tackle, Wirfs could easily slide across to the all-important left side of the defense. His footwork and patience in pass protection will look to buy Baker Mayfield time in the pocket and power will look to free up Nick Chubb out of the backfield.


8

Arizona Cardinals: OT – Mekhi Becton – Louisville

The run on Offensive Linemen continues, with the Cardinals adding a man mountain in Mekhi Becton to provide much needed protection for Kyler Murray.

Becton weighs in at 364 pounds and has the versatility to line up at tackle or guard. His strength lies in the run the game, where a powerful drive can easily open up lanes for the RB, or say, an athletic QB. However, he’s relatively comfortable in pass protection as well, possessing aggressive hands and a firm punch off the line. There are some slight concerns about his ability to redirect to hit a moving target, meaning the Browns are happy to pay to move up and take Wirfs instead of him.


9

Jacksonville Jaguars: DT – Derrick Brown – Auburn

Those of you who listen to the Move the Sticks podcast will have heard Daniel Jeremiah raving about Derrick Brown, giving him the 2nd overall grade in his 2nd Top 50 list.

It’s easy to see why, Brown is a three year starter who earned First Team All American honours in 2019. Effective across all three downs, Brown bull rushes opponents up the field to collapse the pocket and possesses incredibly quick hands. The Jags get a steal here at 9, making the most of the early run on tackles to boost a defensive line which just lost Calais Campbell.


10

Carolina Panthers: DT – Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina

Despite paying Teddy Bridgewater, it’s not hard to imagine the Panthers going all in for Trevor Lawrence next year. In this scenario they could take one of the other highly rated tackles at 10, or trade back again with the hope in boosting their pick haul.

Instead I’ve got them taking local lad Javon Kinlaw here, First Team All-SEC honours put the icing on top of a senior season which saw Kinlaw rack up 35 tackles and 6 sacks. After losing Gerald McCoy, Kinlaw is the perfect replacement, an explosive, athletic defensive tackle that’ll be an immediate boost to Phil Snow’s defense.


11

New York Jets: OT – Andrew Thomas – Georgia

Adam Gase’s first year in New York was a flop, with the most memorable moment being Sam Darnold’s confession that he was seeing ghosts in a Monday night horror show against the Patriots.

There were clear issues on the offensive line with 33 sacks allowed, and despite adding George Fant in free agency, I think the Jets address this further in the first round. Step forward Andrew Thomas, a two year starter at left tackle who projects as an immediate starter with high upside.


12

Las Vegas Raiders: WR – CeeDee Lamb – Oklahoma

It’s a coin toss for me here, between Lamb and Jeudy. Gruden and Mayock opt for the production of Lamb over the route running prowess of Jeudy.

Over three seasons, the Sooners receiver has posted 3300 yards, 32 TDs and a 19 yard per catch average. Those are elite numbers at any level and an impressive combine only helped Lamb’s stock. Derek Carr (or Marcus Mariota) gets a clear WR and the Raiders look to make a splash in Sin City from the off.


13

San Francisco 49ers: CB – CJ Henderson – Florida

The 49ers will probably want to trade down, but will there be a buyer that gives them the round 2 and 3 capital they want? In this scenario I’ve said no and had them address an area of need in their secondary.

Richard Sherman is aging and Ahkello Witherspoon is entering the last year of his rookie year with a lot left to prove. Henderson comes in and adds a dose of speed, athleticism and a ceiling to the mix, pushing Witherspoon for his spot on day 1.

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14

*TRADE*

Philadelphia Eagles: WR – Jerry Jeudy – Alabama

A big statement move by the Eagles here. We all know that Carson Wentz ended the season throwing to Greg Ward and co, so Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman trade up to get arguably the best receiver in the class. By trading pick 21, 103 and a 2021 3rd, the Eagles move up above. the Broncos who have been heavily linked with a WR pre-draft.

Despite the fact the WR class is loaded, Jeudy adds real class to the Eagles offense. A polished route runner who creates separation effortlessly, he’ll plug in opposite Alshon Jeffrey and gives Wentz a significant upgrade.


15

Denver Broncos: WR – Henry Ruggs – Alabama

The Broncos make it two Crimson Tide receivers in a row, adding explosive deep threat Henry Ruggs III to partner Courtland Sutton in a new look offense.

Drew Lock finished the season with a bang, going 4-1 as the starter in Denver. There’s a lot of feel good factor around the team at the moment, with Sutton and 2nd year Tight End, Noah Fant, being joined by Melvin Gordon in the offseason. Ruggs offers something different to Sutton, giving Lock a deep threat target and Pat Shurmur the opportunity to stretch the field with his play calling.


16

Atlanta Falcons: S – Xavier McKinney – Alabama

Three in a row for Alabama as the Falcons get in on the party. McKinney brings a well-rounded option to the Atlanta secondary, capable of playing against the run and the pass, particularly when lining up over the slot receiver.


17

Dallas Cowboys: S – Grant Delpit – LSU

Another coin toss here, as I had to decide between the Cowboys taking Delpit and his LSU teammate Kristian Fulton. The Cowboys lost Jeff Heath in free agency, and despite adding HaHa Clinton-Dix, they’re in need of an upgrade.

Delpit surged at the end of LSU’s championship winning season, leading the SEC in interceptions, whilst making 74 tackles. He tracks the ball well in the air and displays excellent sideline to sideline ability. Some concerns over his tackling ability, but Mike Nolan is getting a player with a lot of upside here.


18

Miami Dolphins: OT – Austin Jackson – USC

The Trojans left tackle becomes the Dolphins’ replacement for Laremy Tunsil here, slotting next to Ereck Flowers in their new look offensive line.

Jackson comes from NFL stock, his father having played 5 seasons on the offensive line for the Packers. His nimble feet and athleticism will entice the Fins to take him 18th overall, but there is work to be done on hand placement. Will benefit as a day one starter, but will need time to reach full potential.


19

Las Vegas Raiders: LB – Kenneth Murray – Oklahoma

I considered throwing a curveball in here and drafting Southern Illinois Safety Jeremy Chinn as a huge upside pick here. However, Mike Mayock reigns in my inner Jon Gruden to add Oklahoma linebacker, Kenneth Murray.

A three-year starter for the Sooners, Murray is a top quality run and chase style player, he’s incredibly quick and accompanies that with a violent nature at the point of tackle.

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20

*TRADE*

New Orleans Saints: QB – Justin Herbert – Oregon

Big one. The Saints move up above the Patriots and give the Jaguars some more capital in the 2021 draft for the privilege. With New England’s QB situation uncertain at the moment, it feels like they’re enough of a threat to ensure the Saints jump above them if they decide to go after Drew Brees’ successor.

Last year saw Dwayne Haskins ‘drop’ into the teens, and it’s not inconceivable that the same happens to one of the 2020 class. Herbert is probably the most likely candidate for a slight slide here, with most mocks having him go in the top 6.

Herbert is a big arm, traditional pocket passer. A three year starter who is confident attacking downfield sounds right up Sean Payton’s street. With a year to sit behind Brees, it’s easy to see a bright future for the Oregon star if the draft falls like this.


21

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT – Ezra Cleveland – Boise State

The Buccs moved back from 14 to pick up further draft capital and with the top 4 tackles off the board. They get next first round tackle here at 21 instead, giving Tom Brady a big upgrade over Demar Dotson.

As you’d expect, Cleveland has the most to improve of the top five tackles, with Lance Zierlein noting how much stronger he needs to get to hold up as a starter. However, there’s a clear need at the position and with Tampa in win now mode, Cleveland makes sense here. Could possibly go Josh Jones instead.


22

Minnesota Vikings: DE – AJ Epenesa – Iowa

The Vikings use the first of their two first round picks to add a defensive end that has all the traits to become a thorn in the side of NFC North Quarterbacks for years to come.

14.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks in 2019 give a flavour of the Iowa product’s production, but it’s his ability to read the game and the explosiveness he shows out of the block that make him a first round pick.


23

*TRADE*

Houston Texans: S – Antoine Winfield Jr – Minnesota

New England trade out of 23 here, opting to pick up some additional draft capital in 2021 and another pick in the top 100 of this draft.

The Texans improve their secondary with an instinctive safety in Winfield. Capable of tracking the ball through the air, and hit hard in the open field, he’ll bring a Honey Badger like attitude to a defense that missed him last season.  


24

Jacksonville Jaguars: CB – Kristian Fulton – LSU

Simple one here for the Jags, who trade down from 20 and still get a corner to replace the departed Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye.

Fulton hasn’t sold everyone, with character issues putting off a few teams. Consistency is another concern, with the occasional lapse in judgement meaning the Jags are taking a risk on the flashes of bigtime ability we’ve seen over the last two season.


25

Minnesota Vikings: WR – Denzel Mims – Baylor

Another hand in glove fit here, as the Vikings choose to replace Stefon Diggs with the big upward mover in this receiver class. Mims impressed throughout Senior Bowl week and then took the combine by storm.

Quick off the line, with a big frame and the ability to high point the ball, Mims has all the makings of the perfect target for Kirk Cousins.


26

*TRADE*

LA Chargers: QB – Jordan Love – Utah

With QBs sliding a bit here, the Chargers decide to jump over the Colts and back into the first round to take their new QB.

Lock comes as a bit of a project, with a huge arm but inconsistent decision making. Anthony Lynn and Shane Steichen will feel they’ve got a bargain on their hands at 26 though, with a few comparisons being thrown around to Pat Mahomes. I’m not so sure on that, but it’ll be fun to watch Love develop.


27

Seattle Seahawks: C – Cesar Ruiz – Michigan

Another trade candidate for the Chargers here, if the Dolphins choose to stick with 26. Pete Carroll and co have made a living trading out the back of the first round, so it feels unlikely they’ll make this pick in reality.

However, with Russell Wilson being sacked 48 times last year, in this scenario the Seahawks choose to upgrade their offensive line with Cesar Ruiz out of Michigan. Ruiz grew into the center role in Ann Arbor and will be a fine addition for whoever takes him at the end of the first / early second.


28

Baltimore Ravens: OLB – K’Lavon Chaisson – LSU

A dangerous Ravens defense only improves with this pick. Chaisson brings leadership on and off the field, as well as a dangerous set of athletic tools

With time to develop around the likes of Calais Campbell, Earl Thomas and Marcus Peters, Chaisson can not only become a dominant player, but the leader of the Ravens D for years to come.

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29

Tennessee Titans: OT – Josh Jones – Houston

A direct replacement for Jack Conklin, Jones is a raw prospect that needs work. With the glut of tackles going in the first round, Tennessee will probably hope that any of the above fall to them here.

If that doesn’t happen then I don’t think they sweat it too much with Jones, he has the build that you want in a tackle and four years of playing experience with Houston. The red flags for scouts seem to be focused on handwork and timing, both things which can be developed with the right coaching.


30

Green Bay Packers: WR – Justin Jefferson – LSU

After throwing to a rag tag group of receivers with Davante Adams out for a few weeks last year, it’s fair to say Aaron Rodgers would be very happy with this pick.

Jefferson is a winner, he wins contested catches, wins at the line of scrimmage and wins national championships. With Rodgers heading towards the twilight of his career it seems only right that the Packers go all in now, Jefferson is a day one asset and will upgrade the wideout position no end.


31

*TRADE*

Denver Broncos: CB – Jeff Gladney – TCU

With little draft capital outside the first round, the 49ers look all but guaranteed to trade back out of one of their top 32 picks.

I struggled to find a team that would want to trade into this spot. Eventually I settled on the Broncos, as they leap above their divisional rivals and take TCU’s Jeff Gladney.

Gladney is smaller in stature, which may mean he’s initially utilised in sub-packages at nickel cornerback. However, he strikes me as the ideal player to utilise against Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman as the Broncos play catch up to the Chiefs.


32

Kansas City Chiefs: CB – Trevon Diggs – Alabama

The last pick in the first round sees the 6th Crimson Tide prospect go off the board. Diggs possesses elite height, weight and length for a corner, mixing these attributes in with the skills he picked up as a former receiver.

The Chiefs often face themselves going against offenses in full attack mode, trying to play catch up with Mahomes and co. Diggs makes a lot of sense in that regard, upgrading the positional group and potentially making the transition to safety, should that be a more natural fit.

Player Profile: Logan Wilson, Linebacker, Wyoming

Whilst we’re all currently bound to the constraints of our homes at the moment due to the outbreak of Covid-19, so what better way to wait for the apocalypse than watch tape of college players that’ll never play in the NFL?

That is not because these players aren’t good enough but because the world is going to succumb to our new viral overlords and mankind will cease to be, therefore no more NFL.

Today I’m going to bring you my thoughts on Wyoming linebacker, Logan Wilson.

This is a player whom I was recommended to watch by Logan Wilson fan, Simon Carroll (@NFLDraftSi on Twitter).

Before I get going I have to make a small disclaimer – I’m not a huge fan of this linebacker class this year, so with that, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from Wilson when I pressed play on the tap this morning. I did, however, put my prejudices aside and tried to watch and note-take with a clear mind, and be as candid as possible.

Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal of tape available for Wilson – I was only able to find two games; New Mexico State from 2018 and San Diego State from this past season. Usually I like to watch at least 4 games of a player before making a solid judgement, so I can’t really be completely happy, or indeed complete in my judgement due to the small sample size.

However…

I was pleasantly surprised.

Photo credit: Montanasports.com

I’m not head-over-heels with Wilson by any stretch of the imagination, but in a linebacker class that I’m not a massive fan of, he probably stands out more than most and I actually would love to see more film on him to expand on what I’ve seen – Please hit me up @Wakefield90 on Twitter if you know of any other cuts of Wilson.

I’m going to break this report down into three segments, in a different way than I usually do due to the lack of tape; each of the two games and then off the field – this will be interviews I watched, his athletic testing numbers, stats and background information.

Let’s start at the end of that list with the off field stuff.

So what do I like about him when it comes to the number and off the field?

I really like the way Wilson talks in interviews, I feel like he considers his answers, he takes pause before answering the question at times and gets to the heart of what he’s saying and speaks in a measured and concise manner. I’ve seen interviews with him when he’s been asked about why he didn’t skip the bowl game this past year, why he chose Wyoming and what it was like to play for his home state university and each interview has impressed me with his maturity and his honesty. I feel like Wilson speaks with a good amount of gratitude and he realises what football has given him, but also what he has put into football and seems to know what he can get from it in return. From this, it’s easy to see why Wilson was a 3 year captain for the Cowboys.

Wilson came to Wyoming as a safety, having grown up in Casper Wyoming, around 150 miles north of the Cowboys’ campus in Laramie. He has spoken about the transformation his body has gone through in order to transition from safety to linebacker – Offering praise to the university, its facilities and the coaching staff at Wyoming. It just feels like he’s gone about things in the right way and has taken good advice from good people, and is now reaping the benefits. For reference Wilson said he arrived on campus as a 195lb safety, 5 years later he’s a 241lb linebacker.

When you are looking at late day 2, early day 3 players, this is the kind of attitude and the kind of guy you want on your football team – honest, hard-working and selfless. These are your grinders, your culture guys and the guys that back the back end of your roster better than other teams, and really elevate the overall level of your team.

Let’s talk numbers.

Stats and production get two big check marks here. Whilst I’m not an advocate of tackles as a high value stat without context, Wilson has been the model of consistency in his four years as a starting linebacker – the lowest number of total tackles that he registered in a season was 94, in his Freshman year. He racked up 111 in his Sophomore year, 99 as a Junior and finished off with 105 last season.

The tackles for loss numbers were consistent too, 7.5, 8, 10.5 and 8 in each year chronologically.

Wilson also affected the game in a number of ways, something I always like to see from defenders; he registered 10 interceptions throughout his college career and has a further 14 pass deflections – You can see that safety background in these numbers a mile away.

5 forced fumbles and 7 sacks in four years aren’t gaudy numbers but they add a little something on top of what is four years of very solid production. A multi-faceted, multi-dimensional prospect on the defensive side of the ball. Nice.

Let’s talk about athletic testing.

Wilson measured 6’2 and 241lbs in Indy, with 32 ⅜” arms and 9 ½” hands. All of which range from slightly above average to slightly below average for an NFL linebacker and that’s going to be the theme of this segment, average.

A quite nippy, 40 yards time of 4.63 second (74th percentile), was kind of cancelled out by a poor vertical jump of 32” (28th percentile) and aside from a nice performance in the broad 121” (76th percentile), every other event was just ok throughout the combine.

Which is all, well… fine. The lack of high end explosivity shows up on tape and is there for all to see, I’m not saying Wilson is a bad athlete – He’s not – He’s just not great either.

I don’t see this getting much better either unfortunately, the reason being, the one number I’m not least keen on of all, 24 – The age Wilson will turn in July. So we’re looking at one of the older rookies in the league, plus I also feel his frame is pretty maxed out considering he’s already packed on just over 45lbs since coming out of high school.

In summary, I like what I have heard and the production but not blown away by the athletic ability or age, but as I said, this is all fine for a mid round linebacker.

Anway, let’s talk football…

Game 1: New Mexico State, 2018

Wilson played mainly as a SAM or Mike linebacker in this game, which is where I feel he is most suited to playing at the next level. Wyoming trusted Wilson a lot in coverage throughout this game, which against New Mexico’s offense which on all but one play, lined up with either 4 or 5 wide receivers. Wilson’s flexibility and ability to guard running backs or tight ends when they flexed out wide was valuable – New Mexico ran a fair few times out of these spread formations, so Wyoming was able to keep another thumper out there instead of having 6 defensive backs and potentially getting eaten up in the run game.

This versatility is a great trait to have when you’re a back-up at the next level. As a mid round selection, you’re not a certainty to make the final 53 but being able perform a wider spectrum of duties definitely raises your odds of making it – for this reason, I definitely think that Wilson makes a final 53 man roster come the start of the season.

Throughout the game, I noted Wilson’s solid coverage ability in short zones and also his ability to keep his eyes on the backfield and where the ball was – His read and react skills were apparent in the game, as he was able to break off the man he was covering and head towards the action quickly once the ball was caught in another area of the field.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all great news against New Mexico. It was quite apparent that at this time, Wilson struggled to get off blocks and on a couple of occasions, he was completely eaten up by a block and gains were made in his vicinity.

Overall, a solid if not spectacular outing.

Game 2: San Diego State, 2019

In this game, I saw many of the same positives that I saw in the previous game – Wyoming trusted him in coverage, he barely ever came off the field and he was proficient when defending both the pass and the run.

There was even an occasion early when Wyoming was trying to sell an exotic blitz package which Wilson appeared to be a part of, but were actually sending just one lineback as a 5th rusher, along with a safety as a 6th – Wilson bailed deep and was actually asked to play deep middle of the field, with the other four defensive backs playing man coverage underneath him. I feel that this shows that Wilson is able to grasp complexities in the defensive scheme and also gained a lot of trust in his coverage ability from coaches. 

A more traditional positive aspect of his play was that I feel that I saw a good amount of evidence that Wilson is able to set the edge and contain against the run, without ball watching and ruining the integrity of the defense. Wilson is also able to stop the run and has really good form as a tackler on top of this.

When dropping into short zones, I noted Wilson’s eyes are in the backfield and when they aren’t, his head is on a swivel as he’s looking for receivers coming his way – This shows up in his excellent reading of the game, I no longer felt like he overpersued plays, something I did see once or twice in the first game I watched.

Physically, I feel like Wilson had developed from the first game too and no longer found it so difficult to get off blocks in the run game, he’s still not too great at playing through the trees but he doesn’t have the elite physical tools to do so, however he definitely seems to have the strength to break free from blocks nowadays.

One thing I would love to see from Wilson is the development of some kind of pass rush move or plan – This is part of his game I simply don’t see anything in, aside from a basic bull rush. Wyoming rushed him a couple of times in his outing but I just had a sense that he was there to make up the numbers.

It would really add another string to his bow if he was able to show some hand-fighting proficiency and perhaps put some pressure on the passer from time-to-time and become more of an all around player.

To Sum Up

To sum up, I see Logan Wilson as a nice mid-round linebacker prospect who will be a hard worker and certainly add to a team’s locker room, but also be able to make some contribution on the field too.

I feel like this type of linebacker is definitely in vogue at the moment when it comes to him being comfortable in coverage but also good at traditional linebacking duties such as coming downhill to stop a ball carrier or maintaining edge and gap discipline in the run game.

Due to his relatively average athleticism I’m not too sure how high the ceiling is for Wilson but due to the football IQ, versatility and experience, the floor is fairly high.

If Wilson can contribute in limited snaps on defense and also as a special teamer, I feel he could earn the trust and respect of coaches and his peers quite quickly leading to an increased role and a solid NFL career long term.

There we have it then, some words on a potential pick that rounds out a team’s overall draft and makes a GM look pretty smart – If you would like to see more words on mid to late round picks who you like or feel could make a difference – get in touch on Twitter and I’ll put something together.

Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefied90

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Main photo credit: The Denver Post

One love or one big mistake? The first 10 years of the NFL Draft’s #1 pick (1936-1945)

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)


PART 1 – The First Ten Years


What do Chunk from ‘The Goonies’, O.J. Simpson, Myles Garrett and Peyton Manning all have in common? 

The fact they are memorable characters, or that they have created headlines for a plethora of different reasons, good, bad and downright mind-boggling?

Nope these four individuals are part of an unmistakable piece of NFL folklore as they all share the accolade of being the number one overall pick of an NFL draft. 

With the 2020 NFL Draft in jeopardy as a televised spectacle, still currently due to take place under the bright lights of Las Vegas, we could see a more ‘virtual’ draft, delivered by a series of satellite links. This would be eerily reminiscent of how it all began back in 1936, in front of absolutely no media. 

So how did it all begin? 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sam Myers)

Funnily enough the team that won the Super Bowl a mere three seasons ago, the Philadelphia Eagles, were responsible for the introduction of a draft system, as opposed to a simple case of who had the largest cheque book and best sales patter. 

Eagles owner Bert Bell (above), tired of losing out on star College players to bigger teams, and sick of collusion whereby teams would give rights to players directly to other ‘chosen’ teams, decided there must be a way to make the signing of NCAA players much fairer. 

After protests from the then Boston Redskins owner George Preston-Marshall about an ‘exclusive’ deal between the Steelers and the Giants it was agreed in late 1934 that any player released in a season could be picked up in the order of worst to first records. 

This was taken one step further in 1935 when Eagles owner Bell proposed a drafting system for College players turning professional. The innovative idea was immediately and unanimously agreed upon, but not institutionalised until 1936. 

Rather coincidentally the 1935 Eagles finished with the NFL’s worst record, 2-9, and as if by magic they held the first pick in the inaugural NFL draft.

In fact the first NFL Draft took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, using 90 names scrawled on a blackboard, consisting of team recommendations, newspaper or magazine articles or lists and team visits to nearby colleges. 


Who was the first ever NFL Draft pick?

Photo Caption: News.medill.northwestern.edu

There have been 84 overall #1 picks in the NFL, going all the way back to 1936, when the inaugural honour went to Jay Berwanger, the gifted Iowa born running back. 

Berwanger was the star of the University of Chicago Maroons (now a Division III NCAA team). He was the first winner of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy in 1935, an accolade that just 12 months later became the Heisman Trophy. Berwanger got the most votes, beating fellow Notre Dame back William Shakespeare to the trophy. 

Also a gifted track and field star during his college days, Berwanger held his Alma Mater’s decathlon record for over 70 years. 

Perhaps his most famous moment in college occurred in 1934, when he scarred Michigan opponent #48 just under his left eye. Nothing unusual considering the crude uniform of the day, but the recipient of the gash was none other than the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford. 

Selected number one in the first ever NFL Draft (1936) by the Philadelphia Eagles, Berwanger unfortunately never played a down in the NFL. The Eagles, fearful they could not pay the $1,000 game cheques, traded Berwanger to the nearby Chicago Bears. 

Berwanger, keen to represent the U.S.A as a decathlete at the upcoming 1936 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Nazi ruled Germany, opted to leave his Bears contract unsigned so he could keep his ‘amateur’ sports status. 

His aspirations to emulate football and Olympic legend Jim Thorpe were dashed when he was not selected to travel to Europe that Summer, and subsequent negotiations with Bears owner George Halas never found a mutually agreed salary, so Berwanger never played a down in the NFL. 

He went on to become a manufacturer and journalist and famously gave his Heisman Trophy to his Aunt, who used it as a doorstop. Thankfully the trophy was recovered and is now in the University of Chicago Hall of Fame. 

Berwanger’s case was not at all unusual for the time as he was one of 57 of 81 draft selections in 1936 to elect not to play in the NFL. 


What happened in the first ten drafts (1936-1945) ? 

Photo Caption: Notre Dame Media Relations

Here are some fun facts about the first 10 years of NFL Drafts: 

  • Despite the Second World War taking place during this time (1939-45) a draft took place each year. 
  • The first 8 #1 picks were not quarterbacks. It wasn’t until 1944 that the first QB was taken, when the now defunct Boston Yanks, took Angelo Bertelli (pictured above). Angelo served as a Marine during and after WWII, and never played a down in the NFL, instead playing for two AAFC teams in the late 40s. 
  • 8 of the first 10 NFL #1 picks were running backs (6 halfbacks and 2 fullbacks)
  • Only one non skill player went #1 – Centre Ki Aldrich in 1939 to the Chicago  Cardinals. Aldrich was a two-time NFL All-Star. 
  • No defensive players went #1 in the first 10 NFL drafts.
  • In 1943 and then 1945 half-backs from Georgia went #1 overall. 

Who were the successes from the first 10 overall #1 picks? 

Aside from Centre Ki Aldrich there were two outstanding #1 picks, Bill Dudley, a running back chosen by the Steelers in 1942 and Charley Trippi, another backfield dynamo, selected by the Chicago Cardinals in 1945. 

Both Dudley and Trippi are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dudley enshrined in 1966 and then Trippi in 1968. 

in 1942 Dudley led the NFL in rushing as a rookie, and he added to his legend by passing for two scores, punting 18 times, and returned a total of 31 kicks, including going to the house on a kick return. 

Following two years of military service, including a remarkable 12-0 record for the 1944 Army Football team, Dudley returned to the NFL for 9 more season, accruing just under 4,500 total yards, 36 tds, 23 interceptions and made 50% of his 66 field goal attempts. 

Trippi left the NFL having accrued the most total yards in league history. He was also the first #1 pick to also become and NFL champion. In the 1947 NFL Championship he had a 44 yard rushing td and a 75 yard punt return td. 

His 5.1 yards per carry career average sits above the likes of Barry Sanders (5.0) and Adrian Peterson (4.7). 

One statistic above all about Trippi tops any yardage metric, as of March 2020 Charley is still alive, at the ripe old age of 98. 

True talent it seems can almost live forever. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the NFL’s #1 Pick F10YRetro recap. 

Legal Tampering Period – The Losers

By Adam Walford (@touchdowntips)

Following on from Rob Grimwood’s fantastic post on the winners yesterday I’ve been tasked, quite suitably, with the pessimism, the misery, the teams who did sweet FA, or in the case of the Texans. Worse.


Texans get their pants pulled down by the Cardinals.


In one of the weirder trades of recent times the Arizona Cardinals acquired one of the best three receivers in the game for essentially a bag of chips, and not a nice bag of chips, those “baked” one’s by walkers. It’s another moves by GM/Head coach/Supreme Leader Bill O’Brien which has stymied the masses. Oh, and they then went and signed Randall Cobb on a 3 year deal to try and placate the masses. Weird.

Image result for david johnson
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally they took on the FULL CONTRACT for David Johnson, the full $10.2m contract, for a back who has struggled with injury and form since breaking onto the scene a few years ago. That’s a lot of cash for a running back especially when you’ve got one of the better pass catching backs in the league on your roster already in the shape of Duke Johnson. For the record, I like DJ and I hope he can get back to form, but it’s still a lot of cash to spend on an RB.


David Njoku has some competition, and apparently he welcomes it.


After being drafted at 29 in the 2017 draft there were high hopes for the super-athletic tight end in Cleveland, but a series of niggling injuries and being unable to get together a decent run of games has hit his stock and led his team to bring in Austin Hooper on a big money deal from the Falcons. Neither of them are really blocking TEs, so it’s direct competition, and in those cases the more expensive man usually get the bulk of it all.

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Bengals fall even further behind in the North.


It’d be remiss of me to dampen the spirits of my team and their fans even more. After being quoted by reporters as “being active in free agency” they once again sat and watched as players who’d have improved their roster immediately were picked up for decent deals, the likes of Jack Conklin to the Browns on a 3 year, 42m deal. Nick Kwiatowski to the Raiders for 13m a year both positions of need for the Bengals, and both strengthen AFC teams.

Image result for calais campbell
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens have also made moves over the last week which further strengthen them, bringing in Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers to add even more to their defensive line, then getting a pick back for Hayden Hurst. They’re taking full advantage of having a rookie QB on a cheap deal.

And the Steelers will be welcoming back the 400lb man at QB which might make them better at that position for next year.


Josh Allen is digging it, but I’m not too sure.


The Bills paid a whole hell of a lot to Stefon Diggs, a 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th for Diggs and a 7th round pick… It’s a lot more than I thought the Vikings would get for someone who so clearly wanted out and bitched and cried about it publicly.

The Vikings get a ton of picks and him off their payroll. Diggs gets to join a team with an inaccurate QB and probably get further frustrated further down the road. Pairing the best route runner in the league with the least accurate QB is an interesting one, hopefully for them it’s a little chicken and egg and it bring Allen up.

Image result for stefon diggs
Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

However, I do get the trade, there’s blood in the water with the Pats possibly losing Brady and their offensive issues on the whole. So while it’s a big payout it could work out well for them.


They gave Jimmy Graham HOW MUCH?!


Why on earth would anyone be money on Jimmy Graham? I wasn’t sure he’d get picked up at all, let alone on a 2 year, $16m deal. But Matt Nagy and the Bears seem determined to keep on paying up at tight end. One of the more perplexing moves done yesterday.

Image result for jimmy graham
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

They’re also still without a functional quarterback and supposedly interested in Andy Dalton and Nick Foles. The Bengals apparently want a 3rd for Dalton, the Jags reportedly want to keep Foles (They take a big dead cap hit if he leaves so may as well keep him) Both are upgrades on Trubisky, but still. It’s not an enviable situation.

CBA approved by NFL players

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

It’s an historic day in the NFL amidst all the uncertainty at the moment about the new league year and beyond with the looming hindrance of the Coronavirus outbreak with Free Agency/rookie pro days scheduled in jeopardy along with the potential postponement of the draft.

However in the past few hours and after months of negotiation, it has been confirmed that the NFL players have agreed to the terms of the new Collection Bargaining Agreement.

The deal was voted on by the players over the last 10 days and the final vote turned out in favour of passing the deal by 1019 votes to 959, as only a simple majority was required. This means just 51.5% of players voted in agreement of the change (something we know a great deal about here in the UK #brexit). More of concern though, is that only around 80% of the players voted. Reasons as to why the 20% or so didn’t remains to be seen.

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL issued a statement, saying:

“We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football.”

So what does this mean for the NFL and you, the fan?

Well, fans of the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans look away now as it also means that there is no longer the facility to use both a franchise tag AND a transition tag meaning things could get quite interesting for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Rumour has it that the league is considering delaying the start of the new league year in order to allow these teams to usher along negotiations with their respective parties.

It has been announced the salary cap for the upcoming season is $198.2m, a rise of just $10m. This is expected to shoot up over the next couple of years once the extra revenue streams and TV deals start leaking their money into the bloodstream of the NFL.

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Looking a bit further into the future and the 2020 season, you will likely see a new playoff format come in to effect, with 7 teams now advancing to the playoffs from each conference and consequently, only the #1 seed from both the AFC and NFC will get a first round bye. Whilst unlikely, if all the dominoes fell the right way, this could actually see 1 division provide 4 playoff teams.

Fast forward to 2021, this is where the league could exercise it’s right to move to 17 regular season games (with the last pre-season game making way) , and thus trigger the upper echelon of player revenues to 48.5%, a 0.5% increase from season where 16 games are played.

Some other bits of cornerstones surrounding the new CBA which will take effect in 2020:

  • Changes to the league’s drugs testing and disciplinary process has tweaks including the allowance of Marijuana for the players for usage under self medicating. However, where no suspensions will come in to effect, there is a possibility that the fines replacing the suspension could essentially mean that a player misses a game cheque but still being allowed to play in a game. This is important for player bonuses on contracts and qualifiers on thresholds on extra contract bonuses for players.
  • Minimum salaries are now increased which filters through to practice squads, meaning those players at the bottom end of rosters have more money in their pockets sooner.
  • Expanded game day rosters moves from 46 to 48 (one of which must be an offensive lineman).

Players at the higher end of the play scale have publicily voiced their disapproval at the deal and you have to wonder whether or not there may be some repercussions from the big names of the NFL (I’m not suggesting a holdout, but you have to wonder if there are any loopholes that will allow the Russell Wilsons or JJ Watts to miss time without punishment.

The crux of the matter is though, that the NFL and it’s players have an agreement in place which will run through to 2030, which means good news for the majority including the millions of fans across the globe.

The fallout however, is only just beginning.

Who will Dallas and Tennessee franchise tag? How will Free Agency and the players entering it be affected? And will the leagues stars have a trick up their sleeve to show their dissatisfaction? How will the coronavirus affect the next few weeks and months and possibly the season? Make sure you keep those eyes peeled to find out and keep it here at Full10Yards.

Rob Grimwood’s Mock Draft 1.0

Now that the NFL combine has concluded and we have a better idea of what this class’ draft stock is, I thought i’d join the masses in predicting who will go where come April in the first round when the draft party descends on Las Vegas.

Pick 1: Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB – LSU

I wanted to go against the flow, i really did. For me, Chase Young is the best talent in this draft, but I think the Bengals need to rebuild from top to bottom, and that starts with a franchise QB. Burrow was the stand out player in College football in 2019, he’s done enough to prove himself a quality option for the NFL. Cinci need him, the re-build of the Bengals dynasty starts here.


Pick 2 MOCK TRADE: Las Vegas Raiders via Washington – Chase Young, EDGE – Ohio State

What a way to kick start their new identity as the Las Vegas Raiders than blowing Day 1 out of the water with a monster trade in front of their new home fans, right! With two first rounders and three third rounders in this years’ draft, I think the Raiders will put any stock necessary in order to pair Young up with last years’ first pick, Clelin Ferrell. Corner, Wide Receiver and QB needs can be addressed either in the free agency or later in the draft.

As previously mentioned, I believe Young is the best player in this player pool. With Washington not having a need at EDGE, the offer from another team, in this case Las Vegas, will be too big to turn down. The Skins will have opportunities to strengthen later down this list.


Pick 3 MOCK TRADE: Miami Dolphins via Detroit – Tua Tagovailoa, QB – Alabama

It’s bold predicting trades early on, i know! But i can see it happening. Detroit need secondary help above anything else with Darius Slay on the downturn and no obvious replacements currently on their roster. They will be able to grab the player they need back at pick 5 though, as well as gaining a sweetener extra pick later in the draft.

After seeing Burrow picked at 1, the Dolphins will be keen to get it over and done with before anyone else jumps in to this slot before them (sorry Charger fans). Tua has been destined for Miami ever since the ‘Tank for Tua’ slogan appeared early on at the beginning of last season when it looked inevitable that Miami would probably be picking first. Well, that wasn’t to be, however, with Tua’s unfortunate injury at the end of the 2019 campaign, his draft stock took a small dent too. Stars have aligned, Tua will still be a Dolphin.


Pick 4: New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OL – Iowa

After seemingly finding Eli’s replacement this time last year in Daniel Jones, the next logical step for the G-men is to get him protected. Wirfs was one of the stand-outs in this years’ combine which has probably justified his ‘Top 5’ value.


Pick 5 MOCK TRADE: Detroit Lions via Miami – Jeff Okudah, CB – Ohio State

Still available here for the Lions will be the best corner in the draft. Plug in and play alongside Slay in order to gain experience from him and replace him when his contract expires in 2021. It’s a no brainer, probably the best lock down corner through the draft since Jalen Ramsey and a big need for Detroit

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Pick 6: Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB – Oregon

The Chargers will be fighting an internal battle over this pick. They are still desperate for offensive line help and there are some gems in this draft class, yet their team is not a million miles away from being playoff worthy. However, to be that, they will need a replacement for Pip Rivers. Herbert ticks a lot of boxes. He was slated to go 1.01 last season before heading back to Oregon for another term and he impressed at the combine as expected. Herbert could be the answer Charger fans.


Pick 7: Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB – Clemson

Luke Kuechly is gone. He was one of the centrepieces of the organisation and Simmons will fit into Matt Rhules’ desire to build a formidable defense as Kuechly’s replacement. Can also play at Safety if the Panthers prioritise building their defensive secondary first


Pick 8: Arizona Cardinals – Mekhi Becton, OL – Louisville

Offensive Line has been a glaring need for a few years now in Arizona. At 6’7 and 364lbs, Becton is still one of the most athletic freaks in this class. He’ll be a game changer for Kyler Murray as he searches for the next level.


Pick 9: Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, DT – Auburn

Last year Josh Allen fell in their laps at pick 7 last year, and Brown is going to do the same this year for them. Defensive line is a need for Jacksonville and in a lesser talent-filled class, Brown would be considered a top 5 pick.


Pick 10: Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills, OL – Alabama

The Browns need a tackle. Their O-line has never lived up to the hype that it was supposed to be, and with the news of Greg Robinson’s arrest. they’ll need to sure the line up. Two stud O-lineman remain on the board, but I think Wills nudges it over Andrew Thomas down to a better showing in their Junior year.


Pick 11: New York Jets – Andrew Thomas, OL – Georgia

The need for O-lineman in the NFL is plentiful. The Jets’ are in that conversation and will take the last remaining stud tackle in this first round. Andrew Thomas is an NFL ready tackle who will provide better protection for Sam Darnold. Good pick.


Pick 12 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Las Vegas – C.J Henderson, CB – Florida

Henderson had a great combine and boosted his draft stock back into the top half of day one. Although Josh Norman hasn’t performed well over the last couple of years, he’ll still need replacing and it would be good if the skins could pair another stud corner with last years’ stand out Quinton Dunbar.

I have the Skins’ down for acquiring both Raider first rounders for the 2nd over all pick, other needs can be addressed later.


Pick 13: Indianapolis Colts – Jerry Jeudy, WR – Alabama

If Indy don’t acquire a QB in free agency, then Jordan Love/Jake Fromm could be in play here. However, Indy need better receiving options for whoever is slinging the rock in 2020. TY Hilton is the speed threat, Jeudy will be an all round threat. Remember Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne? Time for a repeat. A few slated Jeudy’s combine, however, his combine was still statistically better than those from DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas and Davante Adams…and they turned out to be elite receivers… just sayin’

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Pick 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jordan Love, QB – Utah State

Similarly to Indy, this pick is dependant on whether the Bucs address the QB position in the free agency. However, even if Jameis was to return, Jordan Love would be the type of QB the Bucs would like – a stronger, faster and dare I say less mistake prone version of famous Jameis. The Bucs already have a stellar offensive cast of characters, Love would be a great fit.


Pick 15: Denver Broncos – CeeDee Lamb, WR – Oklahoma

Courtland Sutton is the up and coming receiver in Denver and it would be nice to pair him up with another stud on the opposite flank. Denver has a few other needs including o-line and cornerback, but personally I think Lamb is the best player available in those needed positions.


Pick 16: Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE – LSU

Offensive line, defensive secondary, tight end, (providing Hooper isn’t re-signed), running back are all big needs for Atlanta. None more so than on the Edge now Vic Beasley is out of town. Chaisson is the pick here to help provide some much needed quarterback pressure.


Pick 17: Dallas Cowboys – Javon Kinlaw, DT – South Carolina

If Kinlaw falls this far, it’ll certainly be a case of taking the best player available for the Cowboys. Defensive line is a need for them if Maliek Collins heads to free agency, so this pick should go down well with the Cowboys’ faithful, even if that means not replacing Byron Jones or Amari Cooper if they haven’t been re-signed either.


Pick 18: Miami Dolphins – Patrick Queen, LB – LSU

Pick a position (except QB as they now have Tua of course) and it’s a need for Miami. Queen had a good combine and as a result his draft stock has risen. He’s an explosive linebacker with a strong presence, just what Miami need on defense.


Pick 19 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Las Vegas – Josh Jones, OL – Houston

With Brandon Scherff likely off in free agency and an ageing tackle Donald Penn, the Skins need to bolster their offensive line. Some might think Jones is a reach at 19, but with all the ‘studs’ gone already, the next best will start to come into play around now. Washington will be happy if they walk out of day 1 with a stud cornerback and a potential elite offensive lineman. Tight end and receiving depth can be easily found on day 2


Pick 20: Jacksonville Jaguars – A.J Terrell, CB – Clemson

Corner seems to be a big need these days for Jacksonville, we’ve not had to say that for a while, have we. Terrell could be Jalen Ramsey’s true replacement and has all the traits and measurables to make it in the NFL too. No brainer Duval, let’s rebuild that defense this year and start from square one… again.


Pick 21: Philadelphia Eagles – Grant Delpit, S – LSU

LSU’s star DB is still on the board due to teams ahead prioritising other needs. Yes Philly need a field stretching receiver, yes there are still quality wide-outs on the board, but they also need defensive secondary help. Delpit is a talent far superior to anybody left on the board. Should be a top 20 pick.


Pick 22: Buffalo Bills – A.J Epenesa, EDGE – Iowa

Lorenzo Alexander has retired and Shaq Lawson looks set for free agency making an edge rusher one of the main needs for the Bills this off-season. Epenesa’s stock has fallen after a poor combine, but he has plenty of tape which will back any argument up for him to be a potential star at the next level. A bit of a gamble but plenty of upside.


Pick 23: New England Patriots – Henry Ruggs III, WR – Alabama

The combine superstar will wind up a Pat. They have a veteran route runner in Edelman and they have an all rounder in N’Keal Harry when he finally comes to fruition. What they need is a speed freak on the outside to give -insert here the QB that’s replacing Brady- a plethora of different style of receiver. Tight end comes in day 2 or 3

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Pick 24 MOCK TRADE: Chicago Bears via New Orleans- Austin Jackson, OL – USC

This is all assuming Brees is back. The Saints have no second round picks and no real pressing needs other than receiver depth and defensive secondary cover which they can get in the second round if needs be.

Chicago trades both of their second rounders to move up and grab the last of the ‘next best’ tackles in the draft. The Bears know the Vikes might go OL and the Dolphins are up again in a couple of picks and are likely wanting a piece of this o-line friendly first round too. Chicago needs o-line strengthening after a poor 25th PPF ranked finish when the 2019 season was over.


Pick 25: Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR – Clemson

With the best of the offensive lineman off the board it becomes a ‘best player’ available in a position of need for the Vikings. They could look to strengthen their already stout defense and take Gross-Matos, Kristian Fulton or Trevon Diggs… but I think they lean on bolstering their offensive weapons and replace the underwhelming Laquon Treadwell. Tee Higgins is the receiver they wanted Treadwell to be.


Pick 26: Miami Dolphins – DeAndre Swift, RB – Georgia

As with Minnesota, it’s best player available. Again, they could go different routes, but why not break into a position that’s remained untapped thus far. Swift offers more than just rushing upside, he’ a Swiss army knife and will be a great compliment for Tua. Sorry fantasy fans.


Pick 27: Seattle Seahawks – Trevon Diggs, CB – Alabama

The continuing theme throughout the back end of this draft is the same – these teams need offensive lineman! However, with the good ones, well, the first round worthy ones all gone, there’s too much talent left in other positions to turn down and reach for the next wave of o-lineman. Diggs is just this. A superb corner and will tick off one less need for Pete Carroll this off-season


Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE – Penn State

The Ravens don’t have many needs as things stand with how they move the ball. They invested in wide receivers last year and have a stout defense. However, they would benefit from having a stronger pass-rush. Tie this in with Gross-Matos being one of the best players left on the board and ‘voila’. Gross-Matos put up solid numbers in his junior season for a formidable Penn State defense, falling to 28 is a gift for Baltimore.


Pick 29: Tennessee Titans – Tyler Biadasz, C – Wisconsin

If Derrick Henry doesn’t return then this pick is Jonathan Taylor, however I believe Henry has proved his worth and will be back in Nashville in 2020. This opens the door up to improve at Centre by taking the best on the board in Tyler Biadasz. There always seems to be a Centre go day 1…so this is it!

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Pick 30: Green Bay Packers – Justin Jefferson, WR – LSU

Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, E.Q St Brown, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard. All average receivers that have had their spoils but ultimately aren’t trustworthy enough for Aaron Rodgers to use reliably. The Packers could thin that group down and take a versatile all round talent who turned heads at the combine, solidifying his worth as a first round prospect. Unload the deadwood McCarthy brought in and restock with talent you chose Matt LaFleur.


Pick 31: San Francisco 49ers – Xavier McKinney, S – Alabama

A close battle between McKinney and Delpit for the best Safety out of college this year. I’ve edged with Delpit, others with McKinney. Both are first round talents, both will be excellent in the pros. San Fran have very few holes either side of the ball, however with Jimmie Ward heading to free agency, Safety becomes a need.


Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Taylor, RB – Wisconsin

Fantasy fans rejoice. A superstar running back is heading to a team where the coach knows how to run the ball extremely well. It’s KC’s glaring hole in their elite offense, and I think Coach Reid will be licking his chops to get a talent like Taylor on his roster.


10 things that defined the 2019 NFL season

By Sean Tyler (@seantyleruk)

Looking back at last season, there were some great games and some awful ones. Amazing throws, catches and runs. Incredible touchdowns. Last-ditch tackles. But that’s the case every year. So what were the events that really defined the campaign? Here’s the @Full10Yards take on what 2019 should be remembered for.


1. Luck finally runs out as Colts’ QB retires


The first headline of the 2019 season was written during Indianapolis’ preseason game with the Chicago Bears, when 29-year-old franchise quarterback Andrew Luck suddenly announced his retirement. Sadly, he was booed off the field at Lucas Oil Stadium as the news leaked out.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The reasons cited at an emotional press conference in August centred on the mental and physical toll of the injuries sustained during his career. Referring to the seemingly endless cycle of injury and rehab, he said “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game… and the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football. It’s the hardest decision of my life but it is the right one.”

Touted as a generational talent, the Stanford QB was selected as the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft as the successor to Peyton Manning. He immediately delivered, leading the Colts to the playoffs in his first three seasons without missing a start. His best season, 2014, saw him throw an NFL-leading 40 touchdowns as Indy reached the AFC Championship game.

But during his final four years, he missed 26 games and played in pain most of the time. He tore abdominal muscles, rib cartilage and a labrum, lacerated a kidney, suffered concussion and, in what was probably the final straw, endured a mystery ankle issue that was never resolved.

Despite an injury-blighted 2015, he signed a $140m extension to become the highest-paid player in the NFL, but then missed all of 2017. The four-time Pro-Bowler came back with a career-high 4,593 yards in 2018, and finished his career with 23,761 yards (third on the Colts’ all-time list) and 171 touchdowns.


2. Player holdouts become a thing


The 2019 season saw more NFL holdouts than ever before. Skipping training camp seemed to be an increasingly common and effective tactic as players tried following in the footsteps of Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack.

There are several reasons why players hold back their services and demand a trade: it’s usually about money so each franchise needed to weight up whether keeping the player active benefits either party in the long run. And in 2019, the results were mixed.

Take Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon from the LA Chargers. With two years left on his rookie deal, Zeke held out through August and got a six-year, $90m contract extension for his troubles. Gordon didn’t. He was looking to prove his value though his absence but the Chargers dug their heels in and leaned on Austin Ekeler instead. Gordon, in the fifth year of his rookie deal, caved after a few weeks of cat and mouse, and slinked back into the fold in late September when his request fell on deaf ears.

Despite being set to make a paltry $1.1 million in 2019, Saints star wideout Michael Thomas was adamant that he wouldn’t hold out, but he did. But boy, did it pay off. Negotiations led to a $100m, five-year deal – a new record for a receiver.

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The Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney also had a deal below market value so he sat out all of preseason, prompting a trade to the Seahawks days before the start of the campaign, while the Jaguars’ defensive end Yannick Ngakoue refused to attend minicamp and preseason workouts until his contract was resolved.

There were also two holdouts not driven by the dollar: Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey demanded a trade after a touchline bust-up with head coach Doug Marrone during their Week 2 game against Houston, and Washington tackle Trent Williams sat out the entire year due to the way he believed the Redskins medical staff handled a health scare. 

To me, saying you won’t play till you get what you want feels like a spoilt child sulking and stamping their feet. Then again, it might be worth a try if you’re gonna get paid $100 million to zip it.


3. Antonio Brown quits the NFL


The former Pittsburgh wide receiver had a difficult 2019 to say the least. Having bounced around three different teams in under a year, he tried to claim back around $40 million in unpaid wages, fines, guarantees and bonuses from the Raiders and the Patriots.

Lynne Sladky/AP

Oakland acquired him from the Steelers but cut him before Week 1, creating a flurry of complaints concerning fines, lost guaranteed money and a $1m signing bonus voided because he was axed prior to playing a regular season game. Picked up by the Patriots just hours later, Brown is also attempting to salvage his unpaid Week 1 salary plus another $9m signing bonus, accusing the franchise of breach of contract. Then there’s the two (unsuccessful) grievances he filed against the NFL while disputing the ban on his preferred style of helmet.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Brown was also accused of sexual assault by his former trainer, Britney Taylor, while another woman accused him of sexual misconduct and sending intimidating text messages. Brown strenuously denies the charges but that final claim tipped the scales for the Pats. He was released after just 11 days and one game.

Soon after, AB84 hit social media saying he wasn’t going to play in the NFL any more, as team owners can obviously cancel whatever deals they liked. He also took pot-shots at Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Steelers teammate Ben Roethlisberger, who had both been linked with scandals in the past without much fall-out.

The investigations rumble on but whatever the eventual outcome, the league has lost a star. The 31-year-old was one of football’s most prolific offensive players with the Steelers, where his 686 catches and 9,145 receiving yards were the highest totals for a receiver over a six-year span. But it has also lost a troubled soul. Let’s hope he gets the support and professional help he needs.


4. Kaepernick holds a weird workout


Colin Kaepernick is undoubtedly a divisive figure. At his peak, the quarterback led the 49ers to consecutive NFC championship games but in his last season, the Niners went 2-14. He has been out of the league since 2016 after kneeling during the national anthem – a protest against police brutality on people of colour. Since then, there has been no love lost between the player and the NFL.

Having settled a lawsuit with the NFL in February after claiming teams blanked him in retaliation for his protests, the league organised an out-of-the-blue, take-it-or-leave-it tryout for Kaepernick in mid-November. He was given just two hours to accept. A work-out for 25 teams was scheduled to start at the Atlanta Falcons’ training complex but amid bickering over terms and conditions, Kap pulled out and held his own private workout at a high school in Georgia, 60 miles away. About six representatives made it to the new location in time.

Carmen Mandato, Getty Images

The workout was clearly a PR stunt by the NFL – probably in an attempt to deflect criticism of their treatment of Kaepernick – but it was his only shot to get in front of scouts. As a free agent, he is eligible to sign with any team and at the time, several potential suitors were being mooted.

Regardless of the motivations behind it, one guy did something out of it but it wasn’t Kaepernick. Jordan Veasy, one of the receivers used in the workout, was subsequently signed to the Redskins’ practice squad, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.


5. A new position is invented: the quarterback-up


How many quarterbacks saw game time in 2019? Would you believe 57? Most teams had to rely on at least one stand-in and in a few cases, more than one. Every week or two, it seemed like a franchise QB was replaced by a stand-in for one reason or another, and with varying degrees of success. 

Injuries were obviously the main reason for a swap and for some, there was hardly a blip. 41-years-young Drew Brees lost five weeks but the Saints’ stand-in Teddy Bridgewater held the fort admirably, going a perfect 5-0 in his stead. Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes also missed game time when he dislocated his kneecap against Denver, but veteran Matt Moore ably took over.

Alas, it didn’t always work out so well. Jets back-up Trevor Siemian – pressed into action when Sam Darnold contracted mono – didn’t even complete two quarters before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Luke Falk’s two subsequent starts produced 0 TDs, 3 INTs and 14 sacks. Likewise, after Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow surgery, Pittsburgh were forced to call upon Mason Rudolph and then Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges (both underdelivered) while Matthew Stafford’s deputies were Jeff Driskel (0-3) and then David Blough. The undrafted rookie had a blinding first few minutes, throwing TD passes against the Bears on his first two possessions, but the rest of his five-game run was ‘sub-optimal’.

Retirement also played it part, with the Colts forced to start Jacoby Brissett after Andrew Luck retired, while the Giants hastened the changing of the guards just two weeks into the season, subbing in Daniel Jones at the expense of the outgoing Eli Manning.

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But for many teams, starting QBs were benched left, right and centre purely due to their performance. After a mediocre stretch in Miami, Ryan Tannehill took the Titans’ starting job from an underwhelming Marcus Mariota in mid-season and promptly went 9-4, including two on-the-road playoff victories at New England and Baltimore. With 22 TDs and 6 INTs, Tannehill went from ‘work in progress’ for the Dolphins to Comeback Player of the Year in Tennessee.

Back in Miami, Josh Rosen floundered for six games, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick to pick up the pieces and win five games (despite the team being in full rebuild mode) while in Washington, journeyman Case Keenum paved the way for young buck Dwayne Haskins, the possible future of the franchise. In contrast, Ryan Finley really isn’t the future in Cincinnati. Andy Dalton was benched with the Bengals at 0-8 but the rookie was beyond terrible. After three more painful losses, Dalton was restored.

Likewise for the Panthers, Cam Newton’s injury gave Kyle Allen his chance. After four wins in four starts, he was sacked seven times by the 49ers (with a painful 28.9 passer rating) in Week 8, and was replaced by Will Grier. But he was even worse in his two starts: amid a flurry of interceptions, fumbles and sacks, Carolina lost both by 32 points.

There was one other guy I deliberately haven’t mentioned, as he deserves an entry of his own, so let’s move on… 


6. Minshew Mania


Having signed a $88m deal to become Jacksonville’s QB1, Nick Foles went down with a shoulder injury in Week 1. The Jaguars needed a new hero. Step forward sixth-round draft pick Gardner Minshew II.

The rookie put the Jags’ first W on the board in his second start, a Thursday night win over the Titans, and by the end of September, he’d been named Offensive Rookie of the Month, having thrown for 905 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in four games. The Jags were 4-5 when he handed the reins back to Foles but not before “Minshew Mania” had taken hold.

Not all heroes wear capes; some wear helmets and cleats. And on their days off, they wear aviators, headbands and cut-off denim ‘jorts’. Aided by giveaways of fake moustaches at home games, fans dressed themselves and their kids as Minshew. His distinctive look even became the Halloween costume of choice. With plans for his own fashion range, Minshew has since filed trademark applications for several terms, including Minshew Mania.

Somewhat appropriately for our moustachioed maverick, the mania ended in November (see the UK men’s health campaign Movember to see why), when Nick Foles returned. However, Minshew wasn’t quite done, replacing the former Eagle halfway through a 28-11 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 13.

Looking beyond the hype and hysteria, Minshew racked up 3,217 yards, 21 TDs and six INTs in 14 appearances, and oversaw all six of Jacksonville’s wins. Solid enough production to reassure fans, should he be called upon again.


7. Myles Garrett loses his head


As we all know (*cough*), Rule 12, Article 17 of the NFL rulebook states: “A player may not use a helmet … as a weapon to strike, swing at, or throw at an opponent.”

Well, eight seconds from the end of Cleveland’s fractious 21-7 victory over Pittsburgh in November, that’s exactly what occurred. Steelers QB Mason Rudolph had just completed a pass when he was engulfed by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. The players shoved each other, then wrestled and grabbed each other’s face masks. The top draft pick from 2017 pulled Rudolph’s helmet off and clobbered him over the head with it.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

The ensuing melee led to three immediate ejections, followed by fines for both teams and suspensions for the main protagonists. Garrett’s indefinite ban for his actions – termed “totally unacceptable and inexcusable” by coaches, players and pundits alike – was only rescinded after the season ended. And he had previous: Garrett had already been handed a $50,000 fine for punching a Titans player and two roughing-the-passer penalties against the Jets, one of which ended Trevor Siemian’s season.

At the time, Garret said: “I lost my cool and I regret it. I hurt my whole team.” He later stated: “A win’s a win. I don’t think it’s overshadowed by what happened.” Yeah right, fella – we’re only going to remember the result.

Contrite at the time, Browns Head Coach Freddie Kitchens added: “I’m embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It’s not good. He understands it’s totally unacceptable.” But just a couple of weeks later, Kitchens was pictured wearing a “Pittsburgh started it” T-shirt, reigniting tensions just 48 hours before the teams’ rematch. Smart.


8. The Patriots play i-spy (again)


There’s a well-known saying: “To get caught spying on your opponents once is unfortunate; to get caught twice is foolish.” OK, there isn’t, but given New England’s track record, there should be.

In early December, the Patriots acknowledged that a video crew working for them filmed the Bengals’ sideline during their game with the Browns, violating league rules in much the same way they did in 2007 during the original Spygate scandal. The Patriots admitted that a crew, making an online series titled “Do Your Job”, inappropriately filmed the field from the press box, and failed to inform the Bengals and the league of their intentions. They did, however, hand over all footage. In a statement, the Patriots accepted full responsibility for the incident (blamed on an error with credentials) but Bill Belichick distanced himself and the team from the shenanigans.

AP Photo/Gary Landers

When confronted by security, the video guy reportedly said he was an employee of Robert Kraft, not the team itself. That’s very interesting, as a key witness 12 years ago told investigators that was exactly what he’d been told to say if caught.

The seized tape apparently showed eight minutes of footage focusing on Bengals coaches signalling during the game. Sounds incriminating enough to me, especially with a game with Cincy coming up. Yet according to the NFL investigation, there was no clear evidence of the Patriots trying to gain a competitive advantage.

Maybe it was just a communication breakdown but with the Pats also at the centre of the 2015 Deflategate scandal, I can’t help thinking “there’s no smoke without fire” – and that is a well-known saying.


9. Tough Mudder comes to the NFL


In October, the Super Bowl-bound 49ers faced the Redskins at FedEx Field, holding them to 154 total yards and zero points in a 9-0 win. The game was played in appalling conditions: driving wind and rain turned the already substandard field into a quagmire, with many players struggling to keep their feet in the pooling surface water.

Not surprisingly, literally nothing of any note happened during the regulation 60 minutes (check out the box score if you like). ‘Skins QB Case Keenum made nine throws for 77 yards and Washington had -7 net yards in the fourth quarter. On the other side, Jimmy G only made 12 of 21 attempts and the game’s only points came courtesy of Robbie Gould’s boot.

That’s why the game will be remembered for what happened after the last play. Nick Bosa sacked Keenum as the clock hit zero and celebrated with a headfirst slide 10 yards across the grass. Fully embracing the conditions and their inner child, several teammates joined in. Before you knew it, a pack of white jerseys (OK, brown) were skimming across the sodden field like body-boarders.

Niners defensive end Deforest Buckner said. “It was a lot of fun. It was definitely worth it. Everybody started sliding around. It was like a bunch of little kids out there. That’s part of the game, having fun. Right now, we’re having a lot of fun.” Cornerback Richard Sherman added: “It takes you back to being a kid: you’re sloshing around and your shoes are full of water and mud. Guys had a lot of fun slipping and sliding out there.”

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

10. A new UK venue earns its spurs


Coming to London for regular season games since 2007, the NFL continues to grow over here. British fans sport flags, foam fingers, face paint and the jerseys of all 32 teams. We hang out like old friends, then scrap like alley cats for the merchandise fired into the crowd by the ‘party patrol’. And then there’s the possibility of a London-based franchise.

In 2019, we got four games for the first time as the all-singing-and-dancing Tottenham Hotspur Stadium joined Wembley as a UK International Series venue. In early October, the Oakland Raiders saw off the Chicago Bears in front of 60,463 people. The Raiders led 17-0 at half-time, the Bears fought back with 21 unanswered points but Oakland eventually triumphed 24-21.

But it wasn’t Josh Jacobs’s late TD or Gareon Conley’s game-ending interception that will stand the test of time. It was the authentic experience created by an arena built to NFL specifications that went down so well with players, coaches and fans. The dual-purpose venue has a grass football pitch (used just five days earlier for Spurs’ 7-2 Champions league defeat to Bayern Munich) that retracts beneath the stand, revealing a synthetic, NFL-ready surface. Then there’s the bespoke, super-sized locker rooms and conference suites for both teams.

Miles Willis Photography

No wonder Raiders QB Derek Carr liked it so much. “Everything is first class, every little detail,” he said afterwards.This is definitely one of, if not the best, stadiums I’ve ever been at. Bears coach Matt Nagy concurred, adding: “It blows you away – it’s absolutely phenomenal.”

Rather than borrowing a ‘soccer’ stadium like Wembley, the NFL may just have found its spiritual home on these shores.


11. And one more for luck…


We started with a story about Luck so for a purr-fect finish, we should end with one too, even if it takes us over our designated 10 items.

During the second quarter of Dallas’ Monday night game at the Giants’ MetLife Stadium on 4 November, play was delayed for a few minutes when a black cat trotted onto the field. Displaying Amari Cooper-esque speed and agility, the elusive feline evaded players, officials, stewards and security with some neat route running and play-action before heading off under one of the stands.

Game caller Kevin Harlan had a ball, providing play-by-play commentary on the moggy’s progress: “Now he’s at the five… he’s walking to the three… he’s hit the two. A state trooper has come on to the field and the cat runs into the end zone! That. Is. A. Touchdown!”

The black cat seemed to give the Giants instant bad karma, as the home side threw away a 9-3 lead to eventually lose 37-18. And for weeks afterwards, superstitious fans clocked the fact that the ‘cat’ teams – the Lions, Panthers, Bengals and Jaguars – couldn’t buy a win for love nor money. In fact, it took almost a month, when Cincy beat the Jets on 1 December, for the hex to be lifted.