CFB: College Football Breakdown Pt 2

By Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90)

Welcome back to the second part of the series. If you are here, either you enjoyed the first one and are REALLY keen to learn more, or you want to know more about the topics we’ll be covering in this piece.

In the this second part of the series, we’ll be covering the ranking system, the playoffs and the “Bowl” games and also the different slant on the rules in the College game compared to those that you see in the NFL.

Don’t forget if you have any questions and want to ask something, please get in touch with us on social media @Full10YardsCFB or @Wakefield90.

Let’s get down to business.


Rankings


Rankings are a very important aspect of the college football system and it is how the hierarchy is established throughout the season, how we compare and contrast teams and records across 10 conferences and ultimately how the top 4 teams are decided – The top 4 teams being the programmes that go forward to the college football playoffs at the end of the season.

The top 25 teams are ranked out of the 130 programmes that make up FBS D-I and these 25 team are ranked by performance by a Coaches Poll and by the Associated Press (AP) and then as the season draws towards its conclusion, from around November the College Football Playoff Rankings are released each week and then these rankings become the official rankings and ultimately the 4 at the top at the end of the regular season become the college football playoffs semi-finalists, but more on the playoffs later.

How does the Coaches and AP polls work?

A number of randomly selected current college football head coaches are selected and each week they give their top 25 team and subsequently, these teams are allocated points for each selection they receive – 25 points for a #1 nomination, 24 points for a #2 nomination and so on, and so forth.

The AP poll works with the same points system but this (obviously) is members of the press who report on college football.

Rankings are updated each week and prior to the season a pre-season top 25 poll is released as a starting point for the year.

In the early weeks teams can be in and out of the rankings fairly readily, especially if the pre-season polls aren’t shown to be correct.

The factors taken into consideration by all voting parties are wins, strength of that win or strength of the loss, the conference that the team plays in, their strength of schedule and generally how big of a programme a team is.

So for example, when a blue-blood programme such as Alabama schedules a smaller team, such as Southern Mississippi, as they did last year, beating the Eagles 49-7 in Alabama, it didn’t count for much more than just a win. This is because it was a heavy win, which was expected and the favourite was at home.

However, in week 3 of the 2019 season, LSU travelled to play Texas. The teams were ranked at the time as #6 and #9 in the country respectively, and LSU came out on top as 45-38 winners, as the Tigers came through a litmus test on the way to becoming national champions. That would have counted for much more than Alabama’s cupcake win a couple of weeks later and conversely, Texas wouldn’t have been penalised much for losing to the #6 team in the country at that time.

Obviously this leads to big programme bias, and also big conference bias which isn’t ideal and does lead to controversy. As it did in 2017 when the University of Central Florida (UCF) went unbeaten and was the only unbeaten in the whole of college football  but were not invited to the college football playoffs. The Knights even went on to win the AAC Championship against Memphis and also the Peach Bowl vs. Auburn. UCF were only ranked #6 in the nation because they played in a Group of 5 conference.

It is an imperfect system that relies on the opinions of a committee and it does cause disagreements amongst fans, teams, coaches and media at times.


Bowls & Conference Championships


You will have noticed that when talking about teams and scheduling, that I mentioned that schools play 12 regular season games, however, successful teams can play 13 or even 14 games in a season.

The 13th game will come in the form of a bowl game.

Bowl games are a series of games played between teams from different conferences as an end of season reward for the teams that missed out on the college football playoffs. The college football playoffs are technically part of the bowl games series but are essentially a mini tournament between 4 teams with the ultimate prize being the College Football National Championship.

There are 40 bowl games in total from the college football playoffs at the top to some lesser bowls which are played earlier in the postseason schedule by lesser programmes within Division I FBS rankings, (usually) from late December.

How do teams qualify for bowl season?

Well it’s actually pretty easy since the NCAA relaxed the rules and created more bowls from the 2006-2007 season (more bowls meaning, more tv games, meaning more sponsorship etc, etc.)

A team must have a record above .500 to be bowl eligible, so have a 6-6 regular season record or better although wins against non-division I teams don’t count – So you cannot schedule a bunch of easy games as your non-conference opponents each year and expect to be rewarded with a bowl game at the end of the season. This also doesn’t guarantee that a 6-6 team will get in, but it does mean they have a chance. Obviously, the best teams get placed in bowls first and then it whittles down to those who have just scraped eligibility.

Despite there being 40 bowl games, there are some that are more important than others, these are known as the “New Year’s Six” bowls.

College Football Playoff: 2019 New Year's Six bowls set
The NY6 Bowls are as follows; Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl.

Two of these games will be designated as the college football playoff semifinals and these serve on a rotational basis. However, when not designated as a playoff game, three of the bowls are aligned to certain conferences.

The bowl/conference alignments are as follows;

Rose Bowl: #1 team in the Big 10 vs. #1 team in the Pac-12

Sugar Bowl: #1 team in the Big XII vs. #1 team in the SEC

Orange Bowl: #1 team in the ACC vs. #2 team in the SEC, the #2 team in the Big 10 or Notre Dame

On to conference championships then and this one is a bit more simple to explain – As you would expect, the conference championship is contested in all 10 FBS D-I divisions and, as you would also expect these games are contested between the best two teams in the conference.

Although, this is sometimes a little imperfect again in everywhere but the Big XII. Since all other conferences aside from the Big XII are split into two regionalised divisions, these conference championships are between the top team in each division, rather than necessarily the best two teams.

The Big XII championship is just between the top two teams in the conference since the conference isn’t split.

The conference championship would make up the 14th game of the season for these teams, as they are almost certain to be bowl eligible and as Power 5 schools, they are almost certain to be awarded some kind of bowl game.


Playoffs


Speaking of 14th and then 15th games… It’s time to talk Playoffs.

So as above, around November the AP and Coaches Polls are set aside and replaced with the College Football Playoff Rankings and we get to the end of the regular season and the playoffs are set.

We know who the teams are and the bowls are set out and a mini tournament is played to decide the National Championship – the #1 ranked team plays the #4 ranked team with the #2 and #3 teams facing off in the other semi final. Winners progress, losers go home. Simple as that.

As an example, the top 4 ranked teams at the end of the 2019 season, the rankings were as follows; #1 LSU, #2 Ohio State, #3 Clemson, #4 Oklahoma.

LSU and Clemson won their semifinals and subsequently played their 15th and final game of the year – LSU won to become 15-0 National Champions. Prior to the playoff series, LSU won the SEC championship against Georgia.

College football national championship: Burrow, LSU beat Clemson ...
Gerald Herbert /AP

The Championship does have bearing on the CFB Playoff rankings,but losing it doesn’t automatically disqualify a team – It depends on how the rankings committee see it. So it is possible to lose your conference championship but go to the college football playoff and win the National Championship.

The most recent example of this is Alabama’s National Championship win in 2011 – The Crimson Tide lost the SEC championship to LSU before facing LSU again, a few weeks later in the National Championship game but then winning the game be National but not Conference Champions.


Rule Differences


So hopefully by now you have a pretty decent understanding of how the college football system works and you’re ready to watch some football!

I am going to assume that most readers know the rules of football from watching the NFL so I am going to compare the two because there are some impactful differences in the way plays are called and also the game looks, but I am not going to explain the rules of football in full.

Number of feet a receiver must have in bounds for a completed pass?

In the NFL you must get both feet down, in bounds with control of the football, in college, you only have to get one down. This makes a big difference when it comes to those toe-tapping plays for touchdowns or along the sideline.

Down by contact rule

In the NFL you have to be tackled to be ruled as down, but when it comes to the college game, if you fall down then you’re down.

Penalty for defensive pass interference

This isn’t as strict in college, instead of just being an automatic first down at the spot of the foul it’s an automatic first down but with penalty being the lesser of 15 yards from the previous spot or the spot of the foul

Clock temporarily stops after the offense completes a first down so the chain crew can reset the chains

This always happens in college football whereas this only happens if needed in the NFL.

Defensive Holding

In college this is a 10 yard penalty and repeat the down unless 1st down gained by penalty yardage, rather than just a 5 yard penalty and an automatic first down as it is in the NFL.

Spot where an opposing team takes possession after a missed field goal

The greater of the previous line of scrimmage or opposing team’s 20-yard line

Two-minute warning

The two-minute warning is not used at all in college football.

Starting point of a one- or two-point conversion

Three-yard line for both, as opposed to using the 15-yard line for a 1-try in the NFL.

Overtime

WARNING: this is completely different (and in my opinion, way better in college) – Each team is given one possession from its opponent’s twenty-five yard line with no game clock. The team leading after both possessions is declared the winner. If the teams remain tied, overtime periods continue; games cannot end in a tie. Teams that possesses the ball first in each period alternates. Starting with the third overtime, teams are only allowed to attempt two-point conversions after a touchdown

Instant replay

All plays are subject to booth reviews. Coaches only have one challenge per game – Much simpler in college football!

Hash marks

Way Wider! The hash marks in college ball are 40 feet wide, rather than 18 feet, 6 inches (the width of the goal posts) in the pros.

Jersey Numbers

This is way less rigid than the NFL numbering system. Offensive linemen have to wear between 50 and 79 but aside from that, anything goes! Two players from the same team can even wear the same number in the same game, so long as one plays offense and one players defense and the two players aren’t on the field at the same time

Plus, a new rule for the 2020 season – Players will be allowed to wear the number 0.

CFB – College Football Breakdown Pt.1

By Lee Wakefield (@Wakefield90)

I’d class myself as a bit of a college football veteran, having watched the college game for a number of years, however, one thing I have noticed, and notice every year is posts on social media asking questions about college football;

How does it work? How is it all organised? Where can I get more information about it?

So, in light of these questions, I thought it might be an idea to put together a little bit of an explanation for some of the most common questions that I see. There are multiple parts to this series covering everything from the rule differences, conference and divisional setup to rankings, the playoffs and the “Bowl” games.

These questions are understandable, the NFL off season is long, college football supplies the NFL, it’s where the new stars of the NFL come from and the college game is superb as both an on and off field spectacle!

This year is going to be different and the situation surrounding COVD-19 is concerning. However, the excitement is still real and I am still hopeful of football on Saturdays from this autumn. But either way, let’s get down to business…


Conferences, Divisions and Games


So college football is a pretty big deal. From Maine to San Diego and Seattle to Miami, college football stretches from all four corners of the continental United States. The highest level of college football is the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) Division I, there are also NCAA Division II and Division III programmes and also the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision – So yeah, there’s a lot going on!

All of the various levels have their own national champions and national championships and all players, after a certain period are eligible to declare for the NFL Draft (more on that very soon). However for the purposes of this piece, I am going to concentrate on the highest level of college football – FBS Division I – Otherwise, this article could go on for longer than anyone would care to read.

FBS Division I is made up of 10 conferences, plus 6 colleges that operate as independents, whose football programmes aren’t aligned with any conference, which total 130 programmes altogether.

Of the 10 conferences at this level there are 5 which are regarded as the “Power 5” conferences and then the remaining 5 are regarded as the “Group of 5”.

The split is as follows:


All of the 10 conferences are split into 2 geographical divisions, aside from the Big XII which is just one division. The conferences themselves are set grouped by geography, which you may have gathered from some of the names of the conferences, and there are only one of two anomalies that are fairly out of the way in relation to the rest of their conference. Here at Full 10 Yards College Football, we will previewing the conferences over the coming weeks before the season kicks off again, so keep your eyes peeled for those!

In terms of the conferences and the teams within them, each team plays 12 regular season games. For a number of teams who win a certain number of games through the year the regular seasons games are followed by “bowl games” and conference championships, as well as the college football playoffs. These will be covered in the next part of the series.

Back to regular season games, which are made up mainly of divisional games but then teams also schedule some out of conference games, usually towards the beginning of the season.

Some programmes take some heat from fans and media because these out of conference games are sometimes against much less teams and are either to open the season or the week before a big rivalry game. These are often referred to as “cupcakes”.

These so-called cupcakes are often chances for depth players and younger guys to get some game time. The starters usually play until the game is out of sight and then they get to enjoy some time off before the bigger games roll around.

Speaking of which, these bigger games are what makes college football so special. The rivalries, the traditions, the bands, the electricity… The fact that college football covers areas of the country that the NFL doesn’t and also the fans are made up of the local community and students, the crowds are more vociferous and some of the spectacles on show are truly breathtaking moments, some of the more breathtaking moments that you could see in sport.

Again, that will be something we cover later down the line with another article.

Most of these rivalries revolve around traditional games between two schools and are often played for a sacred item, as well as the bragging rights. Trophies such as Paul Bunyan’s Axe (Wisconsin vs. Minnesota), The Platypus Trophy (Oregon vs. Oregon State) and the Illibuck (which is a wooden turtle, that is contested by Illinois and Ohio State, and actually used to be an actual turtle) – and this is just a tiny selection!


Players, Scholarships and Draft Eligibility


The players that make up each of the 130 rosters of FBS Division I teams are mainly made up of student athletes who are on a football scholarship which they have been awarded by the college that they chose to attend.

The cream of the crop of high school football are highly sought after and receive many offers from the best colleges in the land. Recruiting is fierce and colleges and universities pour a lot of resources into persuading the best players to join their programme. Programmes can recruit from all over the country and boils down to the national “signing day” in February each year. High school players can commit to schools from an early stage, as soon as they get an offer from a programme at the college level, however, players do decommit and change their minds, so until signing day, nothing is official!

National signing day: Local sports stars make collegiate dreams ...
Tom Fox – Dallas Morning News

The colleges and universities allocate scholarships as they see fit and have their own rules and eligibility for them, but what is standardised is the number of scholarships that each programme is allowed to award 85 fully funded scholarships at any one time, and each year coaches can award 25 scholarships. These are “full rides” where the players themselves and their families don’t have to pay anything towards the player attending the school and the education that they will receive throughout the duration of their time at the school.

What I will note at this point is that 85 is the number for FBS D-I programmes and this isn’t the case lower down the ranks of college athletics.

The roster of each team is more than 85 players, so not everyone on the team is a scholarship athlete – the schools use scholarships to attract the best players that they can and the rest of the team is made up of what are called “walk-ons”. These are players who are attending the college or university but are a fee-paying student who tries out for the team and is successful in being picked. Players who are walk-ons, can be awarded scholarships later down the line but only usually via exceptional play on the field.

Usually each player will attend their school and enroll on a 4-year degree programme, which they can finish quicker but the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) gives each player 5 years of eligibility to complete 4 seasons of football. These years, from one to four as; Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior.

The 5th year can be used for what is called a “redshirt” year. This redshirt year can be used to recover from injury, or if the player is going to struggle for playing time and doesn’t want to use a valuable year of eligibility – Coaches can use these strategically when roster building and managing.

However, players aren’t required to stay in college for 4 or 5 years and become “draft eligible” once they are 3 years removed from high school, whether they have used a redshirt year in the past or not. With that, a player can choose to declare for the NFL Draft anytime from the end of their Redshirt Sophomore season to the end of their Redshirt Senior season. It is important to note that once a player declares for the NFL Draft, then their NCAA eligibility is over, if they go undrafted, there’s no going back to college football, so it’s a big consideration point for every player. 

Another worthwhile note is that a 6th year can be granted to a player in some circumstances, but this requires dispensation from the NCAA, an example of this would be for a player who has suffered from multiple season ending injuries. 

Finally on players and eligibility – Players aren’t bound to the programme that they chose out of high school.

There is a facility whereby players can transfer between programmes in the correct circumstances.

This can be used because the player isn’t getting the playing time that they desired or deserve, the player can enter what is known as the “transfer portal”.

Washington QB Jacob Eason declares for NFL Draft | NBC Sports ...

A recent example of this would be now Indianapolis Colts QB, Jacob Eason. Eason was the #5 overall player in the 2016 recruiting class and went to the University of Georgia as a 5-star rated Quarterback out of Lake Stevens High School in the state of Washington. Eason played in 13 games, starting 12 and performing admirably as a Freshman, however in 2017 Georgia recruited now Bills QB, Jake Fromm and Fromm won that starting job. Eason appeared in 3 games for Georgia in 2017 and decided to transfer back to his home state and enrolled at the University of Washington. Photo credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the catch – If a player transfers prior to the completion of their academic studies, the NCAA rules that the player must sit out a season of play. So with that Eason sat out the 2018 season and then started playing for Washington last year, in the 2019 season where he started and again, played 13 games.


There is a slightly different rule for players who have finished their academic studies – In the event of a player graduating prior to the end of their 5 year eligibility period, a player can transfer to another programme elsewhere as a “Graduate Transfer” and play out their remaining time in college. This doesn’t come with the penalty of having to sit out a year and the player can play for their new school immediately and is usually just for a single season, meaning that a player plays for and studies at one school for 4 years, graduates there and then transfers. However, if a player completes their degree early, then they can play for more than one year for their second programme.

All transfers must be signed off by the NCAA who will rule on each case and pass judgement on it.

Finally, let me tackle the issue of players earning money.

I am not going to delve deeply into this subject as it is the subject of much debate in college football circles and would probably double the length of this article 

At the time of writing players playing under the NCAA banner cannot earn money for their; likenesses, image rights, sponsorships, merchandise or receive compensation (financial or otherwise) in any other way as a reward for playing college football – College football is an amatuer game and players can only earn money for these sorts of activities once they reach the NFL and turn professional.

The controversy stems from a few avenues on this topic.

Firstly, college football is a multi-billion dollar industry where coaches and programmes earn millions of dollars each season, there are TV and sponsorship deals that are multi-year and multi-million dollar deals… Essentially, everyone earns money, apart from those providing the entertainment.

Second, there’s the counter-argument that the top athletes get to attend institutions that had it not been for their football skills, they would not have been invited to attend and that some young boys between ages of 18 and 23 would be negatively impacted by being able to access large sums of money at such a young age.

Not my argument but I am just laying out both sides of it.

Lastly on this subject and perhaps the most controversial of them all is we all know this goes on anyway.

We know that schools reward parents and players (via third parties) to attend their schools. There are several documentaries on this subject and also schools have been reprimanded for getting caught in the act!

All these rules do is safeguard the cash flow to those at the top of the food chain, minimise the earning potential of very marketable players and personalities and stop any video game developer from being able to produce and release a college football game.

Which is almost the biggest crime of them all.

So that’s a look at the setup of the College game. Hopefully you have learned a thing or two! If you do have any questions or want to know more, hit us up on social media @Full10YardsCFB or @Wakefiled90 and I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Watch out for the next part in the series where we’ll talk about the ranking system, playoffs and rule differences.

Lee Wakefield Final 2020 Mock Draft

Here we go then, the draft is now just hours away.

Hours of film work, thousands of tweets, loads of articles and several podcasts, all combing over and and discussing many, many points of interest over the last college football and draft seasons, have boiled down to this.

I hope you have your time off booked for Friday and the food and drink in the fridge and you’re all set for what will be the most unique of drafts, maybe ever.

For me and many other draft nerds it’s the end of a cycle and the event where we finally get the answers that we’ve been waiting for.

I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am.

With that, let me present my final mock draft of the year. Enjoy.


  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

I wish I could bring myself to do something a little more creative here but I just can’t. The writing has been on the wall for months, no matter how much the media have tried to create a story that isn’t there.

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  1. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

Another team that the media tried creating a story about because the writing has been on the wall for months. The Redskins just take the best player available and enjoy him for the next 10 plus years, no need to get cute.

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  1. Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

It would have been ideal for Matt Patricia to pair Slay with Jeffrey Okudah but Slay had been creeping towards the exit door for over 12 months if we’re all honest. So Okudah ends up being the replacement instead of the partner but Detroit isn’t in a bad spot – they replaced a CB1 with a cheaper and younger alternative. 

Okudah’s combine workout with regards to his footwork, in particular, was teaching tape for any young DB’s out there. He’s been college football’s most refined and dominant corner for the past year and is NFL ready from day 1.

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  1. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

It’s often the done thing to dunk on Dave Gettlemann and whilst drafting an offensive tackle doesn’t get the blood pumping, nor does seeing the QB you just drafted, to replace a franchise legend, on his backside a lot of the time.

The Giants have to protect Daniel Jones and drafting one of the top tackle prospects is actually pretty sensible, no matter what you think of the GM.

Giant’s fans may not like this move, especially with Isaiah Simmons sitting there and waiting to be picked but it isn’t a bad move at all.

Wirfs is a potential All-Pro tackle with unbelievable ability to move people in the running game, which not only helps Jones but Saquon Barkley too.

If they’re going to draft a running back second overall… The Giants might as well maximise him.

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  1. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama 

I know a lot of people are still expecting some kind of trade up from the Dolphins, most likely with the Lions, however, I really question whether Miami needs to at this point now that Darius Slay is an Eagle and the Lions need Jeffrey Okudah in the worst way.

Firstly, I would like to point out that if Miami has been angling (tanking) for Tua for over 12 months and they don’t come away with the former Alabama passer, it’ll be one of the most egregious wastes of draft capital that we’ve ever seen. However, if Miami holds their nerve I think they can keep their picks and let Tua fall right into their laps.

I don’t buy the interest in Tua that the media has tried to drum up from Washington – Arizona dumping Josh Rosen after one year is an outlier with a particular set of circumstances, not a rule.

In terms of a trade up: Detroit isn’t taking Tagovailoa at 3 and Dave Gettleman never trades back, so I would be SHOCKED if he did now.

Which leaves us with the Chargers… Tom Telesco has never made a big move up in the draft and is generally a stoic and conservative GM. Miami can also blow any offer out of the water, should Telesco move up so would the Chargers risk making a move, only to have Miami move up above them? I don’t think so.

Besides, if you don’t think Miami has called all 4 teams above them and told those teams they’ll beat any serious offer that comes their way from another team, then you’re out of your mind.

No one can win a bidding war against Miami, so why bother?

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  1. Los Angeles Chargers – Isaiah Simmons, Defense, Clemson 

I have said a couple of times on recent podcasts that I really think that the Chargers are edging towards picking the best player available at number 6 and then looking at a QB later on.

Anthony Lynn loves Tyrod Taylor and seems to really believe in him and his skill set, so I think he’s going to get a fair crack at the starting job next season, without having a top 10 QB breathing down his neck, similar to what he had in Cleveland.

This of course, allows the Chargers to draft Isaiah Simmons and create a defense that is, on paper at least, absolutely out of this world.

I’ve been joking that this defense could hold opponents to 10 points per game… Or was I joking?

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  1. Cleveland Browns – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Trade – Carolina receive picks 10, 74 & 115

Cleveland receive pick 7

The Browns spring a trade here to move ahead of Arizona in the queue for these incredible offensive tackle prospects. New GM, Andrew Berry has been talking about the possibility of moving up or down but says that, “best player available” will be their “driver”.

Carolina is an easy trade candidate considering they’re beginning a rebuild with Matt Rhule and happily accept a generous trade package from the Browns.

Becton gets the nod over Wills and Thomas due to starting left tackle experience and simply because they don’t make them like Mekhi Becton very often – a mountain of a man with dancing feet.

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  1. Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

He becomes the third tackle off the board but I personally feel that Jedrick Wills is the best tackle prospect in the draft. He’s maybe even the best tackle prospect I’ve evaluated since I began doing this… maybe. I am absolutely in love with how rounded he is in pass protection and how he loves to bury any defensive lineman that is unfortunate enough to take him on.

I know that I mentioned Becton being selected above Wills for Cleveland due to Becton having left tackle experience, but I don’t have any qualms about Wills playing on either side of the offensive line. DJ Humphries signing a new contract probably means Wills starts life on the right side anyway but he could easily switch later in his career if required.

This relegates Marcus Gilbert to swing tackle duty, which will suit him since he’s 32 and has missed a lot of time over the past two seasons.

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  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – C.J Henderson, CB, Florida

Just a short time ago, it felt like the Jaguars had the best corner tandem in football in AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey…

Both of those guys now reside out west with Ramsey in L.A. with the Rams and Bouye a recent trade acquisition for the Broncos, which leaves the Jags starting corners as DJ Hayden and Tre Herndon… 

So, yeah, the position needs some serious investment. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Jacksonville double down on corners in the draft.

Henderson isn’t a player I’m personally super high on, but Jacksonville will like taking a local product and I believe the NFL will be higher on him than I am. His athletic abilities were on show in Indianapolis a couple of weekends ago too and that is what he will lean on at the next level. 

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  1. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn

This trade back really worked well for Carolina as they net Derrick Brown, a player they would have loved to have taken at #7, and now they have another couple of swings of the bat later down the line, too.

Brown has been a game wrecker at multiple spots on the defensive line this year for Auburn and I’d expect him to be used in multiple spots by new Panthers DC, Phil Snow, as he looks to exploit weaknesses in the offensive line and accentuate Brown’s penetrative traits and athleticism (don’t let Brown’s combine fool you, he’s a monster off the snap on tape).

I will be looking forward to how Snow uses Brown should this happen in the real draft too, because no disrespect to Baylor and the guys who played on their D line, Brown is on another level in comparison.

Note: Carolina needs to freshen up the defensive line and I could imagine that they will double dip this position later on – I would imagine that Rhule and Snow would love to bring in James Lynch, the defensive lineman from Baylor, later in the draft on early day 3, potentially even with pick 113, their pick in the early part of round 4.

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  1. New York Jets – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

The Jets’ situation on offense kind of reminds me of what division rivals Buffalo had on their hands around 12 months ago. They have a promising young quarterback who needs more protection and some guys to throw the ball to, and I feel like the Jets went about free agency in a similar way to what the Bills did – bring in a bundle of cheap, middling free agents, on short contracts and see what turns out to be your best combination on the line and also who Darnold builds good chemistry with. The Bills added Cody Ford out of Oklahoma last year to add some potential star power and some youth to their rag-tag bunch of hog-mollies. 

Andrew Thomas fits the mould here and gives New York what could be a franchise left tackle for years to come and hopefully keeps the ghosts away from Darnold’s blindside.

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  1. Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Last offseason, the Raiders put all their eggs in one basket case at wide receiver and it kind of derailed Jon Gruden’s offensive masterplan before it got started. Tyrell Williams is fine, in fact, he’s good, but simply isn’t a WR1 in the NFL and should be used accordingly. Again, Hunter Renfrow is going to be a really nice slot receiver for them for a while, but it’s going to scare a defense like an Antonio Brown would. Las Vegas would also be mindful to guard against Darren Waller regressing, at least somewhat.

With the talent at wide receiver that is available, the now Vegas Raiders get a chance to right that wrong, by selecting the best wide receiver in the draft class.

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  1. Philadelphia Eagles – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Trade – San Francisco receive picks 21 & 53

Philadelphia receive pick 13

Big trade alert! Howie Roseman is never afraid to make a move and this draft gets off to a flying start for Philadelphia.

DeSean Jackson is out, Alshon Jeffrey is oft-injured and unfortunately, JJ Arcega-Whiteside… well, didn’t have the impact that some people expected after ranking him as WR5 last year… So the Eagles need to make a move and bring in someone who will make an impact.

Ruggs is a flier but not only a flier who catches deep balls, he’s got fantastic hands and he thrives in the short game where we can create for himself.

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  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina

This is one pick that I feel just makes a lot of sense. Beau Allen has gone even with the resigning of Ndamukong Suh, the defensive line needs retooling in Tampa and I think they’d like to keep adding to this unit, in a similar vein to San Francisco over the past few years.

Kinlaw brings a lot of juice to the defensive front and alongside Vita Vea and Shaq Barrett he could form a young trio who can all get after the QB.

I also feel the Bucs are now going to try to put as much talent around Tom Brady as possible – The modus operandi for both Brady and Head Coach, Bruce Arians will be to win a championship and then retire simultaneously.

This pick and generally boosting the defense fits that plan nicely.

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  1. Denver Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The Broncos offense may just be on the precipice of being really quite good. Drew Lock showed some flashes, Gordon and Lindsay are solid in the backfield and Courtland Sutton took big strides last year.

It remains to be seen what Daesean Hamilton and Noah Fant will become but they have both shown some promise at the very least. Jerry Jeudy can come in and form another part of the offense and potentially take Denver to another level. Jeudy would be a matchup nightmare both inside and outside with his precision route running and slippery nature after the catch.

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  1. Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

Atlanta are absolutely crying out for an edge defender. Vic Beasley has flamed out and will be looking for a fresh start in Tennessee, Adrian Clayborn is in Cleveland and has never been a top shelf edge defender. Plus, the drafting of Takk McKinley hasn’t really worked out either for the Dirty Birds.

This is a move that doubles down on the pick up of Dante Fowler and gives Atlanta a pair of edges that have a very high ceiling.

Chaisson adds a good amount of athleticism to the defensive front and isn’t just an edge rusher either, he’s possibly the best run defending edge in this class and has the versatility to play standing up and with his hand in the dirt.

There’s talk of Atlanta wanting to move up, and I wouldn’t doubt that Thomas Dimitroff would want to do so for a second, I’m just not sure if they can find a dance partner without overpaying.

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  1. Dallas Cowboys – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

The Cowboys just had too many people who needed paying this offseason and now Byron Jones is a Dolphin. This leaves a hole in the secondary and I feel they need to address that need sooner rather than later. The ‘Boys neglected to bring in a replacement via free agency so I have them drafting Kristian Fulton, who I actually believe is being short changed in this draft cycle, by a fair bit.

I believe if it wasn’t for the fact Jeffrey Okudah is better than a lot of the corners in the NFL, and the fact that this is a deep class generally, Fulton would be getting much more recognition than he is right now, the guy is an unbelievable prospect.

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  1. Minnesota Vikings – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Trade – Miami receive picks 25 & 89

Minnesota receive pick 18

The Vikings love to draft corners under Mike Zimmer.

There is also a vacancy or two on the roster at the position since they cut Xavier Rhodes last week and also have Trae Waynes, Mack Alexander and Marcus Sherels heading towards the exit door.

This leaves Mike Hughes, their first round selection from 2018 as the CB1 on the roster at the time of writing and we’re not even sure that Hughes is an outside corner at the NFL level.

So why Gladney and why trade up in a deep class?

Well Zimmer loves physical corners who can be sticky in man coverage and don’t mind laying a hit on someone. Jeff Gladney fits the bill on this score and even in a deep class, you might as well go up and get the best guys when you can.

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  1. Las Vegas Raiders – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Jon Gruden continues to shop at the name brand schools. Queen strikes me as a Gruden linebacker – He’s active and very athletic, he could use some work on his tackling, which I do admit, could be an issue for a linebacker but the ceiling is very high.

Last year, Gruden brought in a leader on the back end of the defense in John Abraham and also a leader up front, in Clelin Ferrell. Free agency this year brought Nick Kwitakoski and Corey Littleton – Queen rounds out what would be an excellent linebacking group and generally a great looking defense to combat the red hot offenses in the AFC West.

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  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Let me tell you… The Jags have issues. Sizable issues. It’s a fire sale and it’s going to be a long road back.

So how do you go about resolving this? Well, you bring in good football players and players who will contribute towards a positive culture in and around the team for years to come.

It would be ideal if these players played at premium positions but this isn’t a one year fix, it’s going to be a process.

Whilst this isn’t a great fit, given that Jacksonville already has a player of a similar ilk on the roster in Ronnie Harrison, the Jags do need safety help and I feel the fact Harrison is already on board will mean that McKinney is moved around the defense a little bit, perhaps as in big nickel packages and allowed to get after tight ends and running backs.

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  1. San Francisco 49ers – Laviska Shenault. WR, Colorado

Trading down from 13 to 21 gives San Fran a second round pick and whilst losing the chance to draft Henry Ruggs is never a positive, the 49ers don’t lose out on drafting a dynamic offensive weapon.

A dream scenario and Shenault’s diverse skill set is paired with one of the best offensive minds in the game in Kyle Shanahan.

If this goes down, I will be watching a lot of 49ers games next season to see what the results of this marriage are. This is purely a team fit, there aren’t many other teams that will look at Shenault this early.

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22. Minnesota Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Wide receivers are flying off the board in the 20’s!

Does Minnesota get the best one of them at 22? I think that is a distinct possibility.

Justin Jefferson showed that he’s a complete wide receiver last season at LSU – operating well out wide and out of the slot, being productive in terms of yards and also putting the ball in the paint, like most of the LSU offense, he had a career breakout year at the best possible time.

The Vikings need to come away with a corner and a wide receiver from the first round and picking Jeff Gladney and Justin Jefferson makes this a home run first round of them.

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  1. New England Patriots – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

I actually don’t believe I’m mocking this myself, to be quite honest.

However…

If Justin Herbert falls past the Dolphins and the Chargers, where does the slide end?

It’s a genuine question, and it’s not an indictment of Herbert as a prospect or as a QB because I think Justin Herbert is very good but where does he go in this situation?

The Raiders are the only team I can think of that are a slight possibility and I just can’t see Jon Gruden loving Herbert, plus they brought in Marcus Mariota and they have an entrenched starter in Derek Carr.

The only other possibility I could think of is New England trading up to get him but then, as this shows, would the Patriots need to do so?

Talk about landing on your feet. 

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  1. New Orleans Saints – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

The Saints offense needs someone who can do something Michael Thomas generally doesn’t do – catch the football down the field.

Denzel Mims is a linear receiver who will not only replace Ted Ginn as the deep threat, but simultaneously open up the underneath spaces for Thomas and Alvin Kamara.

Mims is also the best blocking receiver in this class and is extremely tenacious and I can see Sean Payton loving his attitude and demeanor in this regard.

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  1. Miami Dolphins, Josh Jones, OT, Houston

I feel like it’s been fairly well documented that the Dolphins want to come out of the first round with a QB and an offensive tackle.

I also feel that it’s become consensus now that Josh Jones is the best tackle from tier 2 of this draft class.

Mission accomplished, Miami.

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  1. Miami Dolphins – Zack Baun, Edge/LB, Wisconsin

The fact that Zack Baun hasn’t been invited to the virtual draft makes me a little nervous of this pick and in all honesty, I’m not certain that Miami makes three first round selections – I strongly suspect that they’ll use their abundance of draft capital to move around the board freely and unload capital in trades in order to secure the players that they really want.

However, in this event, they haven’t needed to get rid of their pick and do still have a need at edge. Baun isn’t a prototypical edge defender and can drop in and play linebacker but that is exactly the kind of player that Brian Flores worked with in New England and for that reason I feel like Baun fits the mould really nicely here.

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  1. Los Angeles Chargers – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Trade – Seattle receive picks 37 & 71

Los Angeles receive pick 27

Seattle won’t make this pick, they barely ever make their first pick before trading back so the Chargers spot an opening and make a leap up the board in order to secure their potential quarterback of the future.

Jordan Love has the physical traits that everyone is looking for now in terms of arm talent and mobility, he also works well outside of structure which also lends itself well to the modern NFL.

Love isn’t coming off the greatest season and was actually much more impressive in 2018 when he had more offensive talent around him, so his uneven college career gives me pause when I try to fit him into the conversation as a top QB prospect.

Time would be on his side with Tyrod Taylor in situ and with Love attracting comparisons, in some circles, to Patrick Mahomes, it could be a gamble worth taking.

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  1. Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, LB,Oklahoma

This is a hand-in-glove fit between player and ballclub here.

Kenneth Murray is a downhill, aggressive, tackling machine who is excellent as a blitzer off the edge or on delayed blitzes.

Murray has the mindset and the on field playing style that fits what the Ravens go for in the defender – No defense blitz more than the Ravens too so Murray should be in a nice situation here.

I see him as the replacement for Patrick Owuasor and filling a jack of all trades role as an outside linebacker and he will affect the game in multiple ways each week.

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  1. Tennessee Titans – Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Each time I do a mock draft and I come to the Titans, I look around their roster and look for an area of improvement and I often come to the same conclusion – That this roster is really good and quite underrated throughout the NFL community.

The Titans don’t have many (if any) league renowned stars, you could make a case for Kevin Byard, potentially Derrick Henry and maybe Taylor Lewan but it feels like this whole roster is under appreciated.

Jon Robinson really deserves some high praise for how he’s put this team together!

One casualty of this off season is right tackle Jack Conklin, who left during free agency, so I feel this is the most obvious place to start for Tennessee. 

Jackson is a little rough around the edges but he should make the starting job his over the offseason and be a nice addition to the Titans line.

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  1. Green Bay Packers – Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M 

I know the consensus here is that Green Bay will go for a wide receiver here but with 6 already gone, is there value there at 30 for a receiver like Jalen Reagor or Brandon Aiyuk?

I’m not certain.

This class of wide receivers is deep and there will be value and good players to be had later down the line – Remember, the draft is 7 rounds long.

One area where there isn’t a whole lot of depth is on the defensive line – The likes of Justin Madubuike, Ross Blacklock, Neville Gallimore and to a degree Jordan Elliott – The tier 2 interior defensive linemen are all nice prospects but after those guys the drop off is fairly sharp.

Outside of Kenny Clark, the Packers could use some talent up front. Justin Mabubuike will give them some juice and mixes that with nimble footwork and hand placement as a rusher.

These late round picks always get a bit wild and this is certainly one of those – It’s a gamble but could pay off in a big way.

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  1. San Francisco 49ers – Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan

The 49ers really aren’t too far away and after the trade back with Philadelphia, they now hold pick 53 which is where I feel they can get good value for a cornerback and fill another big need.

For now, John Lynch continues to give Kyle Shanahan what he needs on offense. Ruiz is a stout center who holds up really nicely in pass protection and is a powerful adversary for any defensive lineman in the run game.

Ruiz has the mobility to hold up nicely in Shanahan’s complex running scheme too, whether that be from the center position or from right guard, both of which he has played at Michigan.

I think Ruiz will end up at the pivot in time but due to Weston Richburg, may begin his career at right guard – Either way he makes this line better now and in 5 years time.

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  1. Kansas City Chiefs – A.J Terrell, CB, Clemson

With the final pick of the first round the Kansas City Chiefs improve an area of their team which is one of the only areas of their roster that requires some serious investment, the cornerback position.

Terrell has slipped in the hearts and minds of a lot of fans because of the College Football National Championship game which Clemson lost to LSU in crushing fashion, with LSU running out 42-25 winners.

However. Terrell put together a great season overall and showed his prowess as a great corner prospect with his play.

Terrell is an unbelievable athlete, who possesses excellent coverage ability and has all the physical attributes and movement skills to be a CB1 for any team in the league. 

The Jury’s out: Should Miami Draft Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert at 5?

As the 2020 NFL Draft draws ever closer, the chatter linking Justin Herbert with the Dolphins grows ever louder –  Are Miami no longer Tanking for Tua and changing plans at the last moment? Is it a case of somebody making something out of nothing, or is it a smokescreen created by the Dolphins?

We won’t know the answer until the pick is in but this is the theme for today’s piece – We have Lee (@Wakefield90), who is arguing the case for the Dolphins to take Tua and we have Dolphins fan, Andy (@AJMoore21) who is pulling for Herbert.

You can decide for yourself which path the Dolphins should follow… First up, we’ll hear what Lee has to say about Tua Tagovailoa.

Why should Miami draft Tua Tagovailoa over any other QB? This is what I am trying to convince you of today. I’m taking on our resident Dolphins fan, Andy Moore (@AJMoore21) who it seems is getting cold feet a little bit when it comes to Miami taking Tua in this month’s draft.

You can hear us talk about this a little bit on our podcast that we recorded on How Free Agency Affected the First Round of the NFL Draft – Available, like all Full 10 Yards Podcasts, in all the usual places.

Anyway, let’s get into this then and let me tell you why Miami should draft Tua Tagovailoa and live happily ever after… hopefully, at least.

First and foremost, let me address that all draft picks, whether that be a guaranteed top 5 pick who is coming off a decorated college career or a late round roster filler, all come with risk.

Tua’s risks, in my opinion at least are few and far between, there’s just one perceived risk that hangs over him and feels considerably larger than anything else, and that is of course, the small matter of a broken and dislocated hip that he suffered last year and perhaps his general injury history.

One thing I will say, is that this is obviously not an ideal situation and injuries are a concern. However, the hip is by all accounts healing well and Tua has been cleared for full contact again. Injuries happen, this was a bit of a freak injury and  injuries are part and parcel of playing football, and do you know what? Every QB in the National Football League aside from Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson get injured. 

Teams still win and the world keeps turning.

Miami by all accounts has been angling to draft Tua for over a year, so why get cold feet now over an injury (yes, a severe one) when most QB’s and most players will likely suffer injury at some point? I don’t know if it’d be wise to deviate from a plan, 12 month or more in the making, which has a tangible end in sight.

Injury is almost inevitable in the NFL.

Why am I so calm about this? Well, for one, I’m not a Miami fan.

No, I’m joking.

I guess I do have a vested interest though, as a Chargers fan – If Miami does select Justin Herbert then the Chargers may pick Tagovailoa. Would I be ok with this?

Yes.

Why?

Because Tua Tagovailoa is one of the most talented quarterbacks to come out of college football in recent times and was rightfully being talked up as a potential number one overall pick until Joe Burrow came along.

The draft is about getting the best possible players for your football team and Tua is a potentially franchise changing QB – He’s mobile, he’s intelligent, he’s accurate, he’s a great leader… The list goes on. I’m not saying other QB’s aren’t but he’s been there, he’s done it and he’s done so at the highest level of college football. That’s why I’d want him on my team and why Miami should take him.

Why am I not worried? Because even if the injuries do get the better of him, it’s going to be fine. For two reasons:

Firstly, when Tua is on the field, he’s going to win you games. Miami is getting better and I think Brian Flores has got them moving in the right direction. Having a good QB, on a rookie deal allows you to put your money into other positions and gives you a shot at a championship window.

And lastly… What do smart people do when they see risk? They have a contingency plan to mitigate the risk.

If the injury tag weighs heavily on your mind as the Dolphins, have a backup plan.

Currently, in the NFL coming into this draft, the demand for QB’s is outstripping supply, there are good QB’s without jobs and you already have one of the better replacement level QB’s in the league on your roster in Ryan Fitzpatrick – You can find someone to come in for Tua if he’s hurt and because you’re not sinking too much money into the quarterback position overall, the rest of your team should be good.

If Tua is a failure and he’s too banged up to have a career, so what? He won’t have cost you too much money on a rookie deal and you just draft another QB. Simple.

However, wouldn’t it be better to know what could have been rather than play it safe?

And here is Andy with his case for Miami drafting the former Oregon passer, Justin Herbert.

Bill Parcells rules for Quarterbacks:

Be a three-year starter

Be a senior in college

Graduate from college

Start 30 games

Win 23 games

Post a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio

Compete at least 60-percent of passes thrown

It’s obviously not a perfect formula, and some would even say it’s outdated. However, what is certain is that Justin Herbert ticks every one of those boxes.

The Oregon Ducks product is intriguing for the Dolphins, and indeed any other QB needy team in the NFL, he offers the traditional pocket passer option, and some see him as the safe, high floor, low ceiling prospect.

Herbert is a four-year starter after making his debut as a true freshman in 2016. Since then he’s shown remarkable adaptability, working under Mark Helfrich, Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal as the Ducks churned through coaches. The versatility Herbert has demonstrated when learning new playbooks is testament to his all-round intelligence and work rate, something that translated into good grades in College and High School.

But all that doesn’t make you draft a man to be your franchise Quarterback.

On the field, Herbert possesses a cannon of a right arm, capable of stretching the field and finding his man with a rocket over the top of the defense. But his isn’t a wild approach, Herbert’s throwing technique is balanced and he is able to adjust the angle at which he throws to work around onrushing defenders.

His technical ability and arm strength often combine to produce ropes into tight windows or where only his receiver can come down with the ball (see below vs Stanford).  

In the pocket, there has been a lot of improvement, with Herbert’s Senior season tape showing light footwork in the pocket and showcasing his natural ability to climb the ladder and step into his throws.

Outside of it, Herbert isn’t a natural runner in the style of some of the modern QBs taking the league by storm, but he’s more than capable of getting out of the pocket and picking up the first down when needed. In this year’s Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, it was Herbert’s legs that gave the Ducks the win as he rushed for 29 yards and 3 TDs.

Mentally, Herbert is up there with the best in this draft, he goes through his progressions without panic, he can read defences and adjust plays at the line, and he is extremely calm under pressure. The latter highlighted by his game winning drive against Utah as a true freshman, in which he threw the game winning play with 0:02 on the clock.

Beyond the praise, there are clearly still things to work on, a lack of leadership ability is often the first issue raised, Herbert and those around him maintain this isn’t the case, but whichever team takes him will probably want to see a more fiery side to him in the huddle. There’s also the need to work on escapability and anticipation, especially if he’s going to play behind a Dolphins offensive line that looks anything like last years.

So why should the Dolphins take Herbert, not Tua? For me, aside from the physical tools, it’s the partnership with Brian Flores that makes sense, the work he has put in through his college career is the prime example of the ‘culture’ which is being cultivated at Hard Rock Stadium.

Combine that with the prototype build, the rocket arm and the calmness under pressure, and it’s not hard to envisage Herbert in the aqua and orange and as the successor to Dan Marino that the Dolphins have been craving for twenty years.

It’s also worth considering the draft capital that Miami has built up, some see that as further evidence that the plan all along has been to accumulate whatever it takes to take Tua. On the flip side, with glaring holes across their roster, I see every pick on day 1 & 2 as being vital to the rebuild and fully expect the Dolphins to pick at least five times before we reach the third round.

It’s #HerbertSzn, right?

Tweet us, @Full10YardsCFB and tell us who you think who should be under center for the Dolphins.

Late Round Draft Diamond: Malcolm Perry

A couple of weeks ago, I brought you all a piece on Logan Wilson, the Wyoming linebacker, who was recommended to me by my fellow NFL draft nerd, Simon Carroll.

This gave me an idea – Actually before I go any further, I’ll signpost a couple of podcasts that I recently recorded with Simon. We took a look at some of our favourite prospects and just had a good old chinwag about them all… The offensive side of the ball was Part 1 and was recorded on The Collapsing Pocket Podcast and on The Full 10 Yards College Football Podcast, we looked at defensive prospects in Part 2. Both of these are available at all the usual podcast outlets.

Back to my idea then… I thought, in the run up to the draft, why not take a deeper dive into players who will be available in the later rounds of the draft? 

At this time of year, many writers and podcasters, myself included as mentioned above, do a lot of work on the star college players and players who will be picked in the top 50 of the draft. So how about a look at the guys who will get picked on day 2 and day 3 of the draft? After all, these are the picks that if you get them right, are the picks that make your team great, instead of good.

So with this in mind, I want to talk about a player who is just a playmaker, pure and simple.

Malcolm Perry, out of the Naval Academy.

Perry played for the Midshipmen for four years, rotating between slotback and quarterback for his first three years before becoming permanent QB for his Senior year. However, for those of you who aren’t aware, the role of the Navy QB is a little bit different, as the Navy offense is an option offense, often operating out of the flexbone formation. This means if you press play on Malcolm Perry’s tape, or switch on the highlight reel, you’re way more likely to see him running with ball in hand, rather than finding a receiver down the field with a pass.

For this reason, most Service academy Quarterback’s switch positions when they enter the draft and Perry is no different – He’s now a wide receiver. I believe he can be a really interesting and effective offensive weapon at the NFL level and a potential bargain as teams will be able to select him on day 3 of the draft. Some of you may remember former Navy QB, Keenan Reynolds followed this path most recently.

Perry is 5’9 and weighed in at the Scouting Combine at 190lbs, so he’s very much undersized whether he plans to line up as a QB, a running back or a wide receiver in the pro’s. Perry is a military brat who grew up in Tennessee and played Quarterback in highschool before joining the Naval Academy in 2016, after what was a successful career on a personal level with two All-State team selections as well as stuffing the stats sheets with both passing and rushing yards.

That carried over to his college career at Navy where Perry ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his last three years and he actually went over 2,000 yards rushing as full time QB last season, oh… And he scored 21 touchdowns.

It’s really easy to see why, too. Let me show you some aspects of Perry’s game that get me excited and make me think he’s going to be an asset in the NFL.

Perry is a slippery athlete in the open field and at times, he’s hard to lay a glove on, nevermind wrap up and tackle. A lot of this comes because Perry has unbelievable lateral quickness.

Just look at the cut he makes here!

Firstly, yes, the blocking is fantastic and blocking is something that this offense heavily relies on to work – The triple option is an offensive scheme which levels the athletic playing field and relies on execution blocking and decision making – something that servicemen should be pretty good at.

Once Perry has broken past the defensive line, he squares up the defensive back and makes a super explosive cut to dance clear of a would-be tackler, and it’s goodnight.

Every time I have watched Perry I see this style of explosive cuts, he’s gazelle-like and he can juke out pretty much any defender he likes.

Here’s another clip of Perry showing that explosive cutting alongside patience to allow his blocks to get set up before him.

Perry makes a sound decision to not throw the ball and sees a running lane. However, as I said, he shows a good amount of patience. He doesn’t just fly down the field at full tilt, he allows his two guys to make blocks, for even more yardage.

That’s really savvy play.

Athletically, I feel that Perry looks quick on tape. I feel like he’s got enough long speed to escape defenders chasing him down from behind and he’s always got the ability to rip off a long run.

This is a great example of his long speed – This is a 52 yards score from the East-West Shrine Bowl. Perry played as a wide receiver in this game but his ability to play as an option QB will add a really nice wrinkle to his next team’s offensive gameplan.

Here’s another example just for fun – Love that Perry brings out the spin move here and then has the speed to take it for 6.

This is where I feel Perry is going to come into his own and become an offensive weapon. We’ve seen this sort of thing with Taysom Hill in the Saints offense and I believe Malcolm Perry can play a similar role – He’s obviously got the skill and intelligence as a ball carrier and he’s a threat to pass as a former QB. Admittedly Perry is going to be a project as a receiver but even so, even in the early days, he can at least play a gadget role or be effective on quick passes that allow him to use his lateral explosiveness and general dynamism in the open field.

One thing that really surprised me was Perry’s athletic testing.

Shout out to Kent Lee Platte AKA @MathBomb for the RAS scores.

As you can see, Perry’s relative athletic score comes out pretty poorly. We know Perry is diminutive, so he suffers here as expected. However, poor explosivity and poor speed too… Pretty puzzling. Obviously, we can’t argue with the numbers but when I watch Perry, I only see someone who can perform explosive movements with ease and someone who plays fast.

For me, because I see the athleticism on the field and the fruits of that, I’m not too concerned with these testing numbers, however, it is food for thought, at the very least.

Anyway, back to the positive stuff… You’d think for a guy who carries the ball as much as he does and therefore takes as many hits as he does, Perry may have an issue with fumbles and turnovers.

He does not.

Generally.

Well, as long as we take away one nightmare game where he fumbled three times against Notre Dame last year. In total, nightmare included, Perry fumbled 7 times. Which isn’t bad considering he’s 5’9, 190lbs and ran the ball 295 times throughout the season. It’s not just the size or hits either – every option play has a “mesh point” when the QB is taking the decision to keep the ball or hand the ball off. We see fumbles likes this a fair bit in the NFL, yet Perry, who will have performed this action hundreds of times each year in college, doesn’t have a problem at the mesh point and is able to make a good decision and execute the play.

My take away from this is that Perry can take care of the football, is fundamentally sound in this regard and is actually, really tough. He takes his fair share of licks and if you look through tape or highlights, you’ll see Perry at the goaline, he’s not afraid to put his head in amongst a crowd if it means scoring. Furthermore, Perry has never suffered a major injury, so no red flags in this area.

Outside of the offense, I feel like Perry can add even more value to his next team in the third phase of the game – Special teams.

Perry has served as a kick returner in his Sophomore and Junior years in college, where he averaged 24.6 yards per return (20 returns for 491 yards through two years). Those are impressive numbers and I feel the traits you’ll have seen show that this, again, is translatable to the NFL and will add another layer to his game and allow him to see snaps and add value as he develops as a receiver.

In an era where the NFL is becoming less traditional and more and more like college football, with more rushing from the QB, more gadget plays and becoming a game more and more predicated on athleticism, I definitely feel like Perry is going to be a problem for defenses, even if he’s not going to play every offensive snap.

Then again, I’ve shown and spoken of ways that he can be incorporated into an offense and I’ve also gone into his special teams value too.

Off the field, Perry is also going to be a great leader and solid presence in the locker room, he’s going to come in and work his tail off each day, set an example and contribute to the culture of your team.

If you’re a GM and you don’t want to throw a 6th rounder at this guy… I really feel you’re in the wrong job.

Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefield90

Follow Full 10 Yards College Football @Full10YardsCFB

Title image credit: L.A. Times

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

Season In Review – San Francisco 49ers

By Lee wakefield (@Wakefield90)

Time to look at this year’s bridesmaids, the San Francisco 49ers. How did Jimmy G and Kyle Shanahan turn it all round? Are they here to stay? Let’s find out…


Entering the season


Coming off a 4-12 season when your starting QB tears his ACL is tough, especially when we’re talking about a QB you traded for and signed him to a 5 year contract (although more of that later), in the hope that he could lead your team to bigger and better things.

What’s more, the NFC West is a very competitive division and a division rival had just been beaten in the Superbowl. The Rams and Sean McVay were the darlings of the NFL in the media, Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury were teaming up in the desert to but Arizona back on the map and Seattle, well, nobody in San Francisco likes Seattle and their Seahawks.

However, it was certainly looking rosier in the Bay Area…

Image result for nick bosa draft
USA Today Sports

The reward for finishing 4-12 was the #2 overall pick which turned into Nick Bosa – Not a bad consolation prize, and the rest of the draft class looked good in the Spring. Bosa was followed by wide receivers, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd on day 2. Day 3 brought punter Mitch Wishnowsky and linebacker Dre Greenlaw from Utah and Arkansas respectively – Neither of these players moved the needle much back in April of last year but both were very solid contributors to the past season.

Drafting well made what looked like a decent draft haul into what is now a great draft haul and for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, that is what makes teams stick around at the top.

Another aspect of team building is, of course, trades and this is another method by which John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan improved the 9ers in the off season; Laken Tomlinson and Shon Coleman looked like solid acquisitions, even if they weren’t groundbreaking by any means, and even if Coleman didn’t play a snap this year after being injured in preseason. However, the point is, the 49ers braintrust was prepared to make moves in order to elevate their group and drag them from the second pick to what became second place.


During the Season


You know how I mentioned that things were looking rosier in the Bay? Well things started off more than rosy, the 49ers began the season on F I R E. Week 1, the 49ers went across the country and smoked the Bucs – The defense, led by Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Richard Sherman, suffocated Tampa, forcing 4 turnovers and put Jameis Winston on his backside another 3 times. This was the kind of performance from the defense that we came to expect week-in, week-out from this unit and they were really the driving force behind the much improved San Francisco squad.

Week 2, for example against the Bengals, the 49ers surrendered a mere 25 yards rushing, sacked the QB 4 times and forced another turnover. Week 6 against the Rams, L.A. were held to a total of 157 yards of offense and 7 points. The Rams, the Sean McVay Rams, the team that every media analyst was salivating a few months before. These are just a few examples of how dominant of a unit the 49ers defense had become – Like I said, it was sort of to be expected. This unit was the 2nd ranked defense by total defense by the end of the year.

Image result for san francisco 49ers defence
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Another thing that we came to expect was Jimmy G just doing enough in the passing game. This offense was powered by Kyle Shanahan’s running game and play-action.

The passing game finished a middle of the road, 13th in yards per game at 237, which usually wouldn’t be enough to power anyone to 13 wins but the running game was absolutely dominant. 144 yards per game was second only to the Ravens frankly insane, 206 per game. No matter how it’s cut, if you’re putting up a shade under 30 points per game, your offense is a problem.

Of course, not everyone has a head coach who is an offensive genius, willing blockers such as Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittle and a bevvy of running backs who can all get hot in a hurry but these two guys were certainly the driving force, the heartbeat and the emotional leaders of the offense. They really did personify it. Whereas other tight ends might get uppity about not catching passes, George Kittle loved running people over, laughing as he did it and jogging to the sideline to ask Shanahan to run the ball again.


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What was the result of this?

Well, a whole bunch of blow out wins. The 49ers weren’t just winning most weeks, coming out the right side of one score games – which can sometimes be a sign of a team getting lucky – the 49ers were smoking a lot of teams, and not just being flat track bullies either. San Francisco blew out; the Bucs, the Panthers, the Rams in L.A., the Packers… And when they were asked to win a close one, they were able to get the job done, such as the regular season wins against the Saints, the Seahawks in Seattle and the Rams at home.

The only losses were in overtime at home to Seattle by 3, a 3 point loss in Baltimore and a weird loss at home to the lowly Falcons.

The offseason beckoned and it was much of the same – The Vikings and Packers fell again and truth be told, they were one-sided affairs. The 49ers steamrolled them both, Nick Bosa was on his way to Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl nomination and so were Juszczyk, Kittle and Sherman.

(Fred Warner was robbed y’all).

Kittle, Sherman and DeForest Buckner made All-Pro too, but this team was gunning for the biggest prize of all, not personal accolades.

The Superbowl then… Sorry to 49ers fans who are reading… I tried to hold off talking about it for as long as a could.

Image result for 49ers super bowl LIV
Jose Carlos Fjarado/Bay Area News Group

It was all going so well, wasn’t it? Until it wasn’t. The Chiefs just did what they do and put up points in bunches with their blitzkrieg-esque offense. It was a great game and even if it’s no solace to 49ers fans, the 2019 season was still a great season for this team and I have optimism that the 9ers are here to stay, too. Which leads me on to… 


Offseason Outlook


I think the offseason outlook for the 49ers is pretty good. As I alluded to a moment ago, I feel like this team is set to be good for a while, or at least the next 3 or 4 years.

I’m a massive fan of Kyle Shanahan and keeping him in the building is going to be of paramount importance – Although, why would he want to leave?

Image result for kyle shanahan
Wilfredo Lee/AP

John Lynch has just won NFL Executive of the Year, and seems to do as he’s told by Shanahan in terms of player recruitment and he hasn’t been afraid to put the trigger on a deal. Aside from Garoppolo and the linemen I mentioned earlier, Dee Ford has been brought in, Emmanuel Sanders was acquired later in the season and provided a boost, and not only incomings, before this season, the likes of Daniel Kilgore, Vance McDonald and Trent Brown all left town.

We see far too many teams who stick rather than twist when it comes to roster building, talent acquisition and the acquisition of draft capital, and many of those teams stagnate.

San Francisco, New England and Seattle are teams that I think of that are never afraid to do a deal, whether that be in season of around the draft and that coupling of good coaching and a front office that isn’t scared to deal has meant that in the past 10 Superbowls, since Superbowl XLV in 2011, there has only been two Superbowls that hasn’t featured at least one of those 3 teams.

Food for thought – That’s an elite group of teams in terms of their philosophy and the way they do business.

In terms of the business that the 49ers need to do this offseason, well… there’s actually very little to be done. Which is a great thing! This team is fresh and young in all the right places – Young leaders on defense, such as DeForest Buckner, Fred Warner and of course, Nick Bosa are matched on the other side of the ball by George Kittle, Mike McGlinchley and Deebo Samuel. All these guys and more are young or coming into their primes on relatively cheap contracts.

Buckner is moving into his 5th year option and Kittle is in the final year of his rookie deal and will both need extending and both will get done, I’m sure.

Image result for george kittle
Brett Duke/AP

The 49ers have a decision to make with Arik Armstead, whose contact is up and there may be no room at the inn unfortunately, since the two players above and also Kyle Juszczyk need paying first and the cap situation isn’t the prettiest in the NFL.

The 49ers have $12.8m of space to play with according to Overthecap.com, which isn’t a lot when you have to find money for Buckner and will probably have to make Kittle the best paid tight end in the NFL.

Cuts will have to be made…

Sanders deal is expiring and was worth $11m, so I doubt he’s retained unless he takes a hefty pay cut – That frees up a fair chunk of capital. As will saying goodbye to the likes of Jimmie Ward, Jascon Verrett (and it maybe goodnight on his NFL career) and a bunch of other players who are further down the pecking order such as Ben Garland, Anthony Zettel and Jordan Matthews.

It is also quite handy that other free agents that they may want to keep hold of, players such as, Emmanuel Moseley, Matt Breida, Kendrick Bourne and Jeff Wilson are all exclusive rights free agents or restricted free agents, meaning the 49ers can retain them on the cheap for another year, which I am sure they will.

Ok so, a little bit of careful surgery here and there, a contract extension or two and delaying extending a couple of others means the 49ers can do into next season with a pretty similar squad to last year and just add to it via the draft, but what about next year when new contacts kick in for Kittle and Buckner and you still need to extend Moseley and Bourne?

Well, this is where we come all the way back to the top of the article and look at the contract of one, James Richard Garoppolo.

Image result for jimmy garoppolo
Jose Carlos Fjarado

The 49ers are on the hook for $25.2m for Jimmy G next year, however, due to the way Jimmy’s contract is structured, San Francisco’s dead cap hit drops from $13.7m to just $4.2m after the 2020 season and after that it’s just $2.8m in 2021 when Garoppolo’s deal could cost $25.2m.

That’s a heck of a cap saving. Especially because we’ve got to start considering where the money is going to come from to make Nick Bosa the most highly paid edge defender in football in a few years time.

We know Jimmy G isn’t the greatest QB of all time – The 49ers focused on their run game and making that the strength of the offense in 2019 and relegated Garoppolo to being a facilitator. Which is fine and he did a good job and will probably do a good job in that role again in 2020… But do you know what, you can pay a facilitator QB around $10-15m per year and get similar results.

Unless Garoppolo seriously elevates his game next season, I think it’ll be his last season in the Bay Area, because it simply isn’t a good business decision to give a facilitator QB north of 25 million dollars when you have to pay a young team who are coming into their prime.

So yes, the future for San Francisco football is bright but they just may have a new QB in 12-18 months time.

A final word on the draft before I sign off here…

The 49ers are one of the most intriguing teams in the later portion of the first round this year, in my opinion.

As Superbowl runners-up, they pick 31st in the first round, a prime trade back spot for teams to deal with another team who want to get back into the 1st round and get that 5th year option on a guy they really want.


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Now what do the 49ers do?

Due to their wheeling and dealing in the past, after the 31st pick they don’t pick again until the 5th round and the 159th overall pick – That’s quite a wait.

Do the 9ers trade back and pick up a few more swings? Or do they recognise that they are perhaps one player on defense away from becoming a complete unit?

I believe a deep safety such as LSU’s, Grant Delpit or a physical corner such as Jaylon Johnson of Utah or Trevon Diggs of Alabama could really be that icing on the cake.

In reality, they will probably wait and see how the board falls on the night and see how it matches up with their board and go from there, but it, like the draft as a whole should be absolutely fascinating.

Either way, I’d back this group to do the right thing – I was part of the 49ers Hype Train last year and I think I’ll be signing up again for 2020.

Season In Review – Chicago Bears

By Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90)

Today’s “Season in Review” focuses on the Chicago Bears. The team a double doink away from a deep playoff run last year, expectations where high in the windy city. Could Trubisky take another step forward or were the team going to succumb to the high price paid for Khalil Mack?


Entering the Season


Coming off a 12-4 season and and NFC North divisional crown, things were looking rosy for the Bears coming into the NFL’s 100th season.

The question was, could the Bears defense, led by Khalil Mack, reach the dizzying heights that they did in 2018 without Vic Fangio running the show as defensive coordinator. Chuck Pagano was hired to oversee the unit, which on the face of it, wasn’t a revolutionary hire but also could be seen as a safe pair of hands.

On the other side of the ball, questions loomed around quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky and whether he could take the leap in Matt Nagy’s offense in year two. Bears fans needed to start feeling like they were winning games because of Trubisky, not in spite of him.

The Bears didn’t do much business in terms of incomings and outgoings during the offseason.

The team swapped safeties with the Packers – switching Adrian Amos for HaHA Clinton-Dix – Elsewhere in the defensive backfield, slot corner Bryce Callaghan was deemed too expensive to resign and went to Denver, and GM Ryan Pace brought in Buster Skrine in his stead. Speaking on backfields, the offensive backfield also underwent some renovations, with Jordan Howard traded to the Eagles for a 6th round pick and in came Mike Davis from Seattle and David Montgomery with Chicago’s third round pick on the 2019 draft.

Image result for david montgomery
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us nicely on to the draft and for the Bears, it was a pretty quiet affair.

Due to the monster trade for Khalil Mack, Montgomery was the Bears first selection of the draft and certainly the headline of their haul.

Pace said before the draft that the team didn’t have “pressing, huge needs” and could “select the best players”.

In that case, I guess he thought the Bears were primed for another divisional title and playoff run…


During the Season


Let me tell you, it did not go down like that.

Opening night, the NFL was full of celebrations, the Bears and the Packers squared off, a meeting of two of the oldest rivals in sport… Time for an offensive masterpiece between two QB’s at the top of their games… Right?

The Packers actually ran out 10-3 winners in what was a defensive battle, where neither team could get the running game going and to be honest, neither team could keep their QB on his feet.

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After that came a season of streaks for the Bears, both good and bad. Three wins over the Broncos, Redskins and Vikings meant that the Bears travelled to London to kick off the international series in a healthy 3-1 position. One aspect of the team that wasn’t healthy, however, was the QB. Mitchell Trubisky had suffered a shoulder injury in the win against Minnesota – Although to be honest, he was struggling to ignite the offense before then anway, having thrown only 3 TD’s (all of which came against Washington) to 2 picks and only managing 5.6 yards per attempt.

Anyway, on to The Khalil Mack Bowl at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – a stadium tasting its first NFL action.

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Tim Ireland/AP

The Raiders jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead on the back of rookie running back, Josh Jacobs. The Bears answered back with 3 unanswered scores to make things very interesting indeed but eventually succumbed to another Jacobs touchdown that handed Chicago its first loss since week 1.

Mitchell Trubisky returned in week 7 but the victories did not. Three more losses followed after the bye and the Bears, sat at 3-5 at this point, were at the stage where it really was put up or shut up.

The defense, as the year before, wasn’t the issue – They were holding up their end of the bargain, the offense on the other hand were not.

A win against Detroit and a loss against the Rams didn’t do much to aid the cause, in effect it was just two more weeks that ticked by but the situation remained the same. 4-6, surely there was no hope?

However, 3 wins followed and hope was alive, the Packers were out in front by now but the Vikings were catchable – Plus, amazingly, it was still in the Bear’s hands as they had to play both Green Bay and Minnesota in the final three weeks of the season – 3 wins were needed but this was a tough ask because the meat in the sandwich of these divisional games was Kansas City.

Unfortunately for Bears fans, it wasn’t to be – the only win that was had was on the final day against Minnesota.

Too little, too late. 8-8 and a bit of a damp squib, really.


Offseason Outlook


Do the Chicago Bears need a new quarterback?

Yes, Chase Daniel is out of contract.

Wait… What did you think I meant?

Of course I wasn’t suggesting that the Bears admit defeat on Trubisky – The traded up to get him with the second overall pick. He’s only 3 years into his career too.

Or was I?

Image result for mitchell trubisky
Isaiah J. Downing

In all seriousness, the Bears need to get someone in to put pressure on Trubisky, at least. Year 4 really is make or break for Trubisky’s long term NFL career, in my opinion – If he doesn’t perform to a high level in 2020, the Bears probably won’t pick up his 5th year option and he’ll be done in the Windy City – In the event that happens, the Bears will want a replacement to be in the building already.

In my most recent mock draft for the Full 10 Yards, I gave them a QB in round 2, you can see whom that was here.

That leads me on to the Bears capital both draft and financial… It ain’t good. Not a position you want to be in when you’ve just gone 8-8 and need a jump start in a very tough division.

Chicago probably needs to do some roster surgery, currently sitting with a smidge over $5m in cap, which ranks 28th in the NFL (according to Overthecap.com).

HaHa Clinton-Dix, Danny Trevethan, Nick Kwiatkoski and Aaron Lynch are all veteran contributors who are set to hit the open market – I can see these guys having to find new homes this spring, along with the aforementioned Chase Daniel. This will free up around $17m and give the Bears some flexibility.

This would mean that the shopping list will have the following positions; QB, linebacker, pass rush depth and tight end.

Yes, let’s talk about tight end for a second… The Bears got absolutely no production from the position last year and since overpaying for Trey Burton because he threw a Superbowl TD, two years ago. Burton caught 14 balls for 84 yards in 8 games in 2019 and in 2018, he amassed 569 yards (ranked 13th amongst tight ends) on 54 catches, 6 of which were touchdowns.

That isn’t a lot of bang for their buck at an average of $8m per year! $18m of his 4 year, $32m deal is guaranteed – the highest guaranteed money for tight ends in the league, as things stand.

That is not great, boys and girls.

The next problem for the Bears is that when it comes to the draft and acquiring the young talent to fill these gaps is that they simply do not possess the requisite capital which gives them a good chance of doing so – Ryan Pace needs to hit a few home runs in April. 

Still paying back the Raiders for the Mack trade the Bears have two seconds, two fourths, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh round pick. That is hard.

So to sum up the offseason outlook for Chicago is, well, I wouldn’t say it’s bleak but man, they have some work to do.

Pace has to do some off-field surgery and keep his roster decent via clever drafting and free agent moves without premium capital with which to deal. Nagy also has to get Mitchell Trubisky and this offense firing – What he was hired to do – And turn the Bears into a force in a very, very, tough division.

Good luck.