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

Follow Full 10 Yards CFB on Twitter @Full10YardsCFB

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.

Post Superbowl Mock Draft by Lee Wakefield

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs, congratulations to Andy Reid, Superbowl champions.

And that’s the end of the congratulations. If you want to hear more about Mahomes and the Chiefs, head over to your favourite podcast provider and tune into Tim, Shaun and Lawrence and see what they’re saying about it…

Over here on the college side of things, the Superbowl champions being crowned just means we know the exact draft order now, minus compensatory pick, of course.

So what better way to celebrate with a, not one, not two but three round mock draft.

Enjoy.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

No Explanation needed. Just enjoy the next decade, Bengals fans.

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

No explanation needed. Just enjoy the next decade, Redskins fans.

  1. Detroit Lions – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

No explanation… Nope. Ok, this one needs an explanation.

Yeah, so the draft starts when the Detroit Lions, or whomever is actually picking at 3, gets on the clock. This pick is/will be up for grabs to the highest bidder, I’m sure of it BUT no trades for me in this mock so here is the pick.

I almost feel bad for putting a position next to Isaiah Simmons. He is the modern NFL defender – Why wouldn’t Matt Patricia want that? I know Jeffrey Okudah, I know they need a corner but this draft is deep at corner and, spoiler alert, Detroit get a good one later on, so yes, enjoy him for the next decade, Lions fans.

  1. New York Giants – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

New York beat the Redskins to essentially gift wrap Chase Young for their divisional rivals so they better draft the best offensive tackle they can get.

Quick footed, agile, strong, can pass protect and loves to bury guys. All of the boxes are ticked when it comes to Wills. I don’t mind that he played on the right side at Alabama – every team needs two top tier bookend tackles nowadays.

  1. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

#TankforTua – Mission Accomplished. It doesn’t go down the way it was supposed to with Tua going #1 overall to the Dolphins but it’s done, nontheless…

However, food for thought – If Tua stayed healthy but Burrow still won the National Championship, would Tua have gone #1? I have a hard time looking past Burrow, personally.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

New stadium, new era under center and a fresh face to (hopefully) energize Angelinos into coming and supporting the Bolts on Sundays.

 Anthony Lynn has always wanted a more mobile QB to pilot his offense and Justin Herbert has everything you’d look for in a QB in the modern NFL and coaches will believe his kinks can be worked out. 

  1. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn

Do not rule out Carolina from being a team that gets aggressive on draft night – Maybe even looking to move up to Detroit’s spot at #3 – If they did they wouldn’t be taking Derrick Brown but in a no trade scenario it is the Auburn defender for the Panthers.

Brown is a terror for anyone he squares off against. He can play all along the defensive line, he’s an unbelievable athlete for his size with the quickness that’s as fast as a hiccup off the snap. Brown is also stout against the run too and could become a real leader for years to come for this new look Carolina team.

  1. Arizona Cardinals – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

Last year Kliff got his QB and gave him some weapons in order to be able to begin to execute his offense. Now it’s time to protect Murray – who was the joint most sacked QB in the NFL last year.

It’s also felt like Arizona has needed a tackle for years, so picking up a potentially elite talent with a high floor in Andrew Thomas feels safe, but ultimately sensible.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

How quickly do we think the Jags would run this card up should the draft play out like this?

Months after losing Jalen Ramsey, the Jags are able to select the best corner back in the draft class and get a potential lock down boundary corner for a fraction of the price and also a fraction of the ear ache.

  1. Cleveland Browns – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Wirfs is one of three tackles that I consider the tier 1 of offensive tackles in this draft along with Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas.

It is absolutely imperative that New GM, Andrew Berry and Cleveland build an offensive line to protect Baker Mayfield and give Kevin Stefanski’s offense time to flourish. Time simply wasn’t a commodity afforded to Mayfield in 2019 and why have the weapons the Browns have if you’re not giving them time to get downfield?

Oh and Wirfs can kill people in the running game too, so win/win – Another plus point for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

  1. New York Jets – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

Name the last edge rusher to have 10 or more sacks for the Jets and don’t use Google.

Yeah, exactly.

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

Jon Gruden wanted Antonio Brown to take his receiving corp and offense to the next level – Obviously, that did not go to plan.

Enter Cedarian Lamb. Lamb is a dominant wide receiver with excellent ball skills, ability to use his body in a nuanced way to keep the defenders away from the football and superb ability to create after the catch with ball in hand.

A true wide receiver 1.

  1. Indianapolis Colts – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

A few months ago, Jeudy dropping this far down the draft order was simply unheard of but Alabama didn’t make the college football playoffs and recency bias is real.

I am probably as guilty as anyone for that since I’m here giving him to the Colts at 13. Once the combine comes around, we’re all going to fall in love with Jeudy’s agility, dancing feet and route running and he’ll be back to being mocked in the top 10.

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

This is a marriage I’ve been hot on for a while, I just think it makes too much sense given how good Kinlaw is – he was a huge winner of Senior Bowl week – and given how much Tampa Bay needs to reload the defensive line.

Kinlaw next to Vita Vea with Shaq Barrett off the edge is a fun thought.

  1. Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Word around the campfire is that Denver want to add speed in the off season – Henry Ruggs III is about as fast as can be when we’re talking about draft prospects; he’s a blurr, he runs quick on slo-mo replays and he’s potentially going to break the 40 record at the combine in a few weeks time.

Courtland Sutton, Henry Ruggs and Daesean Hamilton – That’s a young, explosive and diverse mix of receivers, right there. Now add in Drew Lock, who looked good at the back end of the year, Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsay… Yeah, Denver is fun now. If only they had a line… Aha! The draft is but 7 rounds long.

  1. Atlanta Falcons – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Atlanta was surprisingly bad this year, right? Or is it just me who “Stans” for them every year and ends up with egg on my face?

Dan Quinn needs to have a good season and corner has been an issue for the Dirty Birds – ergo, draft Kristian Fulton and lock up one side of your defensive backfield, he’s the best corner in the class not named Jeffrey Okudah.

  1. Dallas Cowboys – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

It feels like Dallas has needed a safety for a while now, doesn’t it? And they can no longer tell everyone that they’re trading for signing Earl Thomas next year, either.

Xavier McKinney gives them a presence in the backfield and he could also enforce against the run, adding to what they already have in that department in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith.

  1. Miami Dolphins –  Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Quarterback? Check. Next up, offensive linemen to protect said quarterback.

Brian Flores was in New England the same time as now, Las Vegas Raiders left tackle, Trent Brown and Mekhi Becton has serious Trent Brown vibes about him – They simply do not build many folks like Becton.

An enormous young man at 6’8 and over 360lbs but he is a true dancing bear who doesn’t lumber and plod, but who looks light and agile like a man 40lbs lighter – a true rare specimen.

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

So, yeah… This is a bit of a reach. However, if your players turn out god then who cares?

Vegas need a lineback, badly and let me tell you, if you haven’t already heard, the 2020 NFL Draft is not the correct time to be desperate for a linebacker.

Queen has his issues tackling in space at times but he’s the modern day, sideline-to-sideline ‘backer who can run, cover and make tackles all over the field.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Jacksonville has a bunch of receivers who can run fast and get vertical but they don’t have a lot of guys to take advantage of the space creates underneath – Enter Justin Jefferson.

A nuanced route runner who although not possessing the top end physical gifts, always seems to be open and has the ability to make catches and find the end zone.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

This simply had to be a wide receiver or a corner back for Philly – both are huge needs where they require both starters and depth pieces.

Gladney is a sticky coverage guy who should fit the attitude of a Jim Schwarz defense. They can attack receiver in round and since both positions are loaded this year, the Eagles shouldn’t have to sweat on getting a good one.

  1. Buffalo Bills – A.J Epenesa, Edge, Iowa

I feel like Buffalo need a really big injection of youth on coming off the edge. Trent Murphy and Jerry Hughes have had solid careers but are getting up there in age and Shaq Lawson has been inconsistent at best through his first 4 years – 16.5 career sacks isn’t what Buffalo would have hoped for when he was drafted 19th overall, in the first round of the 2016 draft.

I feel that if Lawson is going to stick around, he can be the speed element whereas Epenesa can be the high motor, blue collar strong side end who can set the edge against the run and collapse the pocket from the opposite side. 

  1. New England Patriots – Zack Baun, Edge, Wisconsin

Bill Belichick and New England love these hybrid edge/linebacker types and they’ve had success with this type of player in the past; D’onta Hightower and Jamie Collins are two recent examples

Baun could be moved around depending on the down and distance – He has some value as a pass rusher and he would also be very comfortable playing as a SAM linebacker. This versatility would suit the Patriots down to the ground and Belichick would get a lot out of him.

  1. New Orleans Saints – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Can you imagine how fun this would be? It’s almost like, what’s better than Taysom Hill? That’s right, two Taysom Hill’s! Only one is a very good wide receiver.

Sean Payton’s creativity mixed with Shenault’s versatility would just be an absolute blast! Even just a wide receiver, Shenault would give the Saint’s opponents something else to think about aside from Michael Thomas and he would also offer a deeper threat to that of what Thomas offers.

  1. Minnesota Vikings – Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU

I’m not calling Garrett Bradbury a bust just yet, so don’t read too much into drafting another top center.

Having Bradbury and Cushenberry would allow Minnesota to be able to mix and match to find the best combination of 5 guys up front protecting Kirk Cousins – And that’s the bottom line – Protecting Kirk Cousins. The Vikings squad is Superbowl ready if they can get that right.

  1. Miami Dolphins – Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State

I don’t think Miami makes 3 first round selection on draft night but if they do, they will want to hit, QB, offensive tackle and edge rusher. The 3 most important positions in football and they’re all pretty big needs, corner, the next most important position comes with their next pick.

Weaver is a versatile edge rusher with power and scheme versatility. Coming off a productive college career at Boise State, Weaver will add another disruptive force on the defensive line, who will put the work in – Similar to Christian Wilkins, whom they drafted last year. Another culture guy for Brian Flores.

  1. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Uche, Edge, Michigan

Seattle is always tough to mock because of their unpredictability in the first round.

I know they selected L.J Collier last year and traded for Jadeveon Clowney but firstly, Collier was a reach and also will they resign Clowney?

Uche made himself a lot of money at the Senior Bowl a couple of weekends ago – He blew up the game and also performed very well in the practices, playing some edge and also some off ball linebacker.

Another little caveat here, the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, Jim Nagy, is a former Seattle scout – John Schneider will still be in contact with him and will have gotten Nagy’s opinion on Uche after the work he put in.

  1. Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Everyone knows that Baltimore blitz more than any team in the league, so they need weapons to enable themselves to continue to do so.

Murray is an incredible blitzing linebacker and he can also fill a role being a tackling machine all over the field.

Patrick Owuasor is out of contact and the Ravens could opt to replace him with a younger and cheaper model.

  1. Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn. State

The Titans defense really stepped up and alongside Derrick Henry, the unit really pushed this team to the playoff berth and a win.

YGM is a long and lean pass rusher who can compliment Harold Landry on the other side, really nicely. Good luck to teams defending those two and Jeffrey Simmons through the middle. Teams should be built to win their division, so given that the Colts have an incredible offensive line and the Texans have DeShaun Watson who is nye-on impossible to sack, the Titans need to have guys who can combat these factors.

  1. Green Bay Packers – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

Apparently, the word around the Senior Bowl was that most if not all teams have Brandon Aiyuk graded higher than N’Keal Harry last year and he’s seen by almost everyone as a first round talent. This shocks me and doesn’t fit with my rankings but when I hear something like that it’s tough to ignore.

Aiyuk fits nicely with Green Bay – He’d give Aaron Rodgers an underneath target and a smaller target which adds diversity to a receiving group that is taller guys who thrive downfield.

  1. San Francisco 49ers – Grant Delpit, S, LSU

The 9ers really need to upgrade at safety and like many teams in the league, they could use a center fielder with range and playmaking ability… Hello Grant Delpit. Yes, he has his tackling issues and his stock is lower than this time last year but he’s still a great prospect.

The problem and quandary for San Francisco is do they stay at this pick and potentially grab Delpit or do they trade back? They don’t have another pick until the 139th pick… That’s a long wait.

Are they one player away from making another run or, will they seek an offer from a team looking to jump back into the first?

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

The Champs defense definitely improved last season but they still have a glaring need at corner.

Diggs gives them a potential CB1 for years to come at the back end of the first round – something that doesn’t come around too often. He’s long and physical and comes with obvious pedigree from Alabama, but like every corner taken at this spot or later, he has his weaknesses and areas to work on. 

Round 2

  1. Cincinnati Bengals –  Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
  2. Indianapolis Colts – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
  3. Detroit Lions – Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama
  4. New York Giants – Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame
  5. Los Angeles Chargers – Josh Jones, OT, Houston
  6. Carolina Panthers – C.J Henderson, CB, Florida
  7. Miami Dolphins – Bryce Hall, CB, Virgina
  8. Arizona Cardinals – Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma
  9. Cleveland Browns – Matt Hennessy, IOL, Temple
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ross Blacklock, IDL, TCU
  11. Chicago Bears – Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
  12. Indianapolis Colts – Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
  14. Denver Broncos – Prince Tega Wanagho, OT, Auburn
  15. Atlanta Falcons – Robert Hunt, IOL, Louisiana
  16. New York Jets – Matt Peart, OT, UConn
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Johnathon Greenard, Edge, Florida
  18. Chicago Bears – Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
  19. Dallas Cowboys – AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
  20. Los Angeles Rams – Jabari Zuniga, Edge, Florida
  21. Philadelphia Eagles – K.J Hamler, WR, Penn. State
  22. Buffalo Bills – Quartney Davis, WR, Texas A&M
  23. Atlanta Falcons – Ashtyn Davis, S, California
  24. Miami Dolphins – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
  25. Houston Texans – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
  26. Minnesota Vikings – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
  27. Seattle Seahawks – Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
  28. Baltimore Ravens – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
  29. Tennessee Titans – Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
  30. Green Bay Packers – Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
  31. Kansas City Chiefs – J.K Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
  32. Seattle Seahawks – K.J Hill, WR, Ohio State

Round 3 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M
  2. Washington Redskins – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
  3. Detroit Lions – Noah Igbonoghene, CB, Auburn
  4. New York Jets – Cesar Ruiz, IOL
  5. Carolina Panthers – Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
  6. Miami Dolphins – Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
  7. Los Angeles Chargers – Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
  8. Arizona Cardinals – Bradley Anae, Edge, Utah
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
  10. Cleveland Browns – Antione Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
  11. Indianapolis Colts – Tyler Biadasz, IOL, Wisconsin
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
  13. Denver Broncos – Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
  14. Atlanta Falcon – Darrell Taylor, Edge, Tennessee
  15. New York Jets – Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
  16. Las Vegas Raiders – Troy Pride Jr, CB, Notre Dame
  17. Las Vegas Raiders – Damien Lewis, IOL, LSU
  18. Dallas Cowboys – Leki Fotu, IDL, Utah
  19. Denver Broncos – Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
  20. Los Angeles Rams – Ben Bartch, OT, St. John’s (Minnesota)
  21. Philadelphia Eagles – Marlon Davidson, Edge, Auburn
  22. Buffalo Bills – Rashard Lawrence, IDL, LSU
  23. New England – Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU
  24. New Orleans Saints – Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
  25. Minnesota Vikings – Shane Lemieaux, IOL, Oregon
  26. Cleveland Browns – Trey Adams, OT, Washington
  27. Las Vegas Raiders – Alex Highsmith, Edge, Charlotte
  28. Baltimore Ravens – Anfernee Jennings, Edge, Alabama
  29. Tennessee Titans – Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State
  30. Green Bay Packers – Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
  31. Denver Broncos – Jason Strowbridge, IDL, North Carolina
  32. Kansas City Chiefs – Nick Harris, IOL, Washington

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Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefield90

Season in Review – LA Chargers

By Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90)

Welcome to the Chargers season review, by me, a fan.

It’s January and unlike January last year, there has been no playoff football for the Chargers.

Yes, 2019 didn’t end in a Superbowl either, so it was a failure – Just as this season has been but at least the book closed with hope last season. This season, the book closed with questions, and lots of them.


Entering the Season


Well, at least we get to start on a positive note.

Like I alluded to above, yeah getting smoked in the divisional round to the Patriots wasn’t a great way to bow out of the playoffs last year but at least the Chargers had won a playoff game for the first time in what feels like forever and won 12 games in the regular season – Often having to dig deep in those games and get over the hump with a big play, or gutsy play call, or sometimes even a last minute kick.

Optimism was high and some people, fans and media members alike, where talking up the Chargers to make a Superbowl run in 2019. And you know what? The optimism wasn’t misplaced. The team, on paper looked talented and full of playmakers, they’d just come off a 12 win season and their playoff win was one where the coaches out coached the Ravens coaches and they shut down Lamar Jackson almost completely. It looked like everything was coming together.

Thomas Davis came in to sure up the linebacking room and add some experience and steel – Something that was deemed to have been required to stop teams running all over them, like New England did in Foxborough the night the season ended.

Jerry Tillery was added with the 28th overall pick – another mechanism for plugging running lanes but also to add some interior pass rush to match the high quality rushers off the edge that they already possessed.

The signings, whilst not plentiful, seemed sensible and logical. The draft class outside of Tillery contained exciting safety, Nasir Adderley and linebacker Drue Tranquill, and some potential high upside projects, like left tackle, Tray Pipkins – Something the Bolts thought they could afford to wait on, given the talent at their disposal.

It was all looking rosy… Until it wasn’t.

Melvin Gordon started his well publicised contract hold out, Derwin James broke a metatarsal and Russell Okung contracted a Pulmonary oedema.

Adderley then split a hamstring tendon and Tillery was taking longer to adjust to the speed of the NFL than expected and Pipkins wasn’t supposed to play yet…

Where did that sunshine go? Where did out draft class go?

Then the games began.

During the Season


After the early optimism. things weren’t looking great off the field in some respects, the spring felt quite a long time ago but we were going to roll with it and we still backed ourselves. Now the Colts were rolling into town

A prequel for a playoff game perhaps? An early season gut check. 

“At least Hunter Henry was back”, “we can get away with having no Gordon, we’ve got Ekeler and Jackson”, oh how we comforted ourselves.

And Derwin? Well yeah, we’ll miss him badly but he’ll be back around week 8 to lead us into the postseason.

Well, we beat the Colts, just. In overtime. “This is what we do, we can grind wins out against good teams”, “Just like last year”. Like idiots we allowed ourselves to think like this.

The signs were there. We just didn’t know what the signs were yet. Rivers was picked off superbly by Malik Hooker, in the endzone, in this game. Yeah… You know where I’m going. The Chargers, from week 2 onwards well, as the saying goes, Chargered (It’s a phrase that pisses me off whenever I see it, I hate it, it’s what idiots say on the internet to score cheap points or likes but I’ll use it, because this season was just as irritating).

Detroit, week 2 – Rivers threw a pick going for it all instead of just allowing the team to kick a field goal and Austin Ekeler fumbled on the goal line, trying to leap over the pile – Something he’d done successfully earlier in the game. 1-1.

Houston another winnable game goes awry and later Denver and Tennessee…

Gordon was back by now but looking extremely rusty. The whole holdout thing was how exactly not to do it, a disaster for all parties from start to finish.

When I say Gordon was back, it was just in time to fumble literally inches away from scoring a game winning touchdown in Tennessee as the clock ticked its final few ticks.

Image result for melvin gordon fumble tennessee
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

We’re 2-5 and weeks are ticking by, wins that should have been won are slipping through our fingers and players are dropping like flies. Adrian Phillips to a broken arm the latest. The glue of our defense gone.

No Derwin, no Philips, Tillery still not producing, no discernable attempt at fielding competence opposite Haywood at corner, King only present in body. Where has our defense gone?!

Christ this season is falling apart. Like I said, Chargering is irritating at best.

The weirdest game ever – in terms of my post match feeling, at least – followed. At Chicago, week 8.

A game we won as Eddy Piniero missed a walk off field goal. A WIN!

But I was p****d off, we played terribly and didn’t deserve the win. I didn’t feel like celebrating. This wasn’t the team we all thought it was from a year ago. This very much felt like it was papering over some exceptionally large cracks.

I’m eight weeks in now and the issue I mentioned in week 1 has bubbled without exploding in our face yet. It was about to. Through 8 weeks, Rivers had 7 interceptions. Many stupid, needless and costly.

“Rivers is always prone to the odd game like this”, “It’s the line’s fault”, “we’re 3-5, we can bring it back”.

Oh how we deluded ourselves. Well… to add to the delusions. We went and beat Green Bay. Just what we needed. Although it wasn’t. The Chargers would only beat a hapless Jags team the rest of the way.

We all know what happened from here… We threw it all away. Literally and repeatedly.

The team were disjointed on the field and lacked joined-up thinking off it. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, was a casualty and nothing much changed. Was it his fault? Or was it actually the offensive line?

13 more Rivers interceptions, 4 multi-pick games: questions about effort and in-fighting reigned from inside the locker room.

Image result for philip rivers
Image Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty

The end of an era was nigh. Rivers? Lynn? Telesco? All three? Who was going? In the end it only seems like it’s goodbye to Philip Rivers, and hello to, well, we’re not sure yet. Cam Newton or Justin Herbert? Or Tom Brady? Who knows… Rivers is reportedly moving himself and his family to Florida. Where everyone goes to retire, right?

All we know it’s there’s more questions than answers at this point and the optimism is long gone.


Offseason Outlook


Lots of work to be done. That’s what the outlook it.

Look, this group isn’t too bad, far from it, they have some very talented players and a bunch of good draft picks to take.

The General Manager and Head Coach probably won’t survive another poor season either, so you’d like to think it’s time to push the chips into the middle of the table and make some moves.

First things first – The deadwood needs clearing out. There are a few players who have either, just not worked out or are earning way too much to keep around compared to the end product on the field.

Next – Well, maybe this over anything but maybe you need the money from clearing out the deadwood but anyway, SIGN JOEY BOSA.

Don’t mess around like you did with his rookie deal. Walk in with a smile on your face and a blank cheque in your hand and say: “Joey, you’re the face of the franchise now, you write whatever number you’d like on that cheque and you can have it”. Get it done. No amount is too much. If this team is serious about making a fist of it in Los Angeles, then you absolutely have to keep Bosa in the building. AND! This team could do without the drama of another holdout. Thanks.

Next, have a good draft!

Telesco’s drafts have been spotty at best – We’ve had some notable hits but also some notable misses – Especially in round 3 (If Gordon goes elsewhere in free agency, the Bolts should receive a 3rd round compensatory pick), so eyes peeled for that one. I want to see another QB. Whether it’s Justin Herbert at 6 or Jalen Hurts on day 2, this team needs to usher in a new era at SoFi Stadium, even if the new era begins with Tyrod Taylor under center.

Hopefully we’ll see the 2019 draft class come to the fore too and therefore they’ll be like new signings too.

There’s always room for optimism in the offseason and as I said earlier, there is talent in every room for L.A. but some careful surgery is needed. If they receive that, then we could be looking at a worst to first candidate in 2020.

Maybe.

Post Black Monday Mock Draft; By Lee Wakefield

Yesterday Black Monday in the NFL and for 20 teams that means we can officially welcome them to #DraftSZN. Although for some, including your writer, draft season never sleeps.

So, what better way to kick off draft season than with a mock draft?

No mock trades at this point – It’s not even 2020 yet, the playoffs are still to come, so at this point I’m more interested in throwing out some names and thinking of scenarios, and above all having fun with it.

Enjoy!

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Let’s be honest, if the Bengals could hand their card in now, they would. Burrow has one game left in what could be one of the greatest standalone seasons for any player at the collegiate level, ever.

The Heisman Trophy winner is going home to play for Cincinnati, write this in sharpie, or blood, or whatever is the most permanent medium you wish to choose – I even think he’d survive a Laremy Tunsil-esque bombshell dropping on draft night.

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

Edge isn’t a particular area of need for the Redskins but when you’re picking second in the draft and the best player in that draft class falls to you, you have to ensure he doesn’t drop any further.

Young is the latest superstar pass rusher out of Ohio State – I want to avoid tags such as “generational talent” – So let’s stick with the description that Young is an absolute monster off the edge. When teams are triple teaming you to erase you out of the game, you’ve won and that’s what happened to Young on multiple occasions this season.

Don’t overthink this.

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

Matty P looks to have survived Black Monday at the time of writing so to me, minus a trade, Detroit will look to bolster their defense.

Patricia is straight out of the Belichick school of defense where man-coverage is king – Detroit has Darius Slay on one side, so selecting the best cover man in the draft to play on the other side of the field makes sense since teams literally avoid Slay. Pairing these two in the secondary forces teams to pick their poison.

  1. New York Giants – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

Daniel Jones fumbles 18 times in 2019, losing 11 of them. Jones also threw 12 interceptions – That’s a heck of a lot of turnovers for anyone to give up. The Giants also allowed 43 sacks this year.

Now, I’m not saying all of this was the fault of the offensive line – New York have more problems than just that – But I feel like building a robust and stable offensive line would be sensible and would benefit their young QB, Especially given that their victory over the Redskins ensured that their division rivals, the Redskins are probably going to get Chase Young – So the Giants have to be able to block Chase Young effectively for the next decade.

Jedrick Wills is, in my opinion, the best offensive tackle in the draft class. Wills is both an excellent pass protector and also seems to enjoy burying defensive linemen in the run game.

I’m sure Jones and Saquon Barkley will approve of this pick.

  1. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

How on Earth has Brian Flores won 5 games with this Miami team? For me, he’s a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate and to me, if he can galvanize this group of players, it seems like he has a good command of the building and that is certainly something to get excited about in Miami, especially after the chaos of Adam Gase.

All along, the plan was to shed players, acquire picks and lose enough games to be able to select a quarterback, preferably Tua Tagovailoa. Congratulations Miami. Mission accomplished.

Tua’s hip injury may mean that Miami will have to wait a little while to see him under center but it also could put teams off paying the price to trade ahead of Miami for a chance to get him.

Time will tell but for now, Tua is a Dolphin.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Sadly, the time has come for a new era for the Bolts and with that should probably come a new quarterback.

Philip Rivers has been an incredible player for the Chargers and as a Chargers fan, it will be weird to see him in another team’s jersey but he is on the decline and whether we like it or not, he’s tied to San Diego. Rivers and his family are a part of the community in San Diego and I think, with the move to SoFi Stadium – it’s even more of a reason to move on to the next era of Chargers football.

Justin Herbert is from the west coast, he’s got a strong arm, he’s young, marketable and also has the ability to move the chains with his legs that Anthony Lynn would prefer in his QB.

I do think this is a bit of a reach and the Chargers would maybe try to trade back and still be able to get Herbert in the 9-12 range (before Tampa Bay gets on the clock) but in this scenario, I’d be ok with it.

Thanks for the memories #17.

  1. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn

So in Carolina, Gerald McCoy, Kyle Love and Vernon Butler are all free agents, therefore the interior defensive line is in need of a boost.

How convenient that Derrick Brown, one of the most disruptive interior forces in college football is just waiting to be scooped up?

Brown can play from any spot on the line from 0 to 5 tech – Just line him up and watch him go after the quarterback or ball carrier. Speed, power, spins you’ll see it all – This is a home run pick at 7 for the Panthers as they get one of the best players in the whole draft class.

  1. Arizona Cardinals – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

In the 2019 NFL Draft, I think a lot of people applauded what the Cardinals did. I thought they had a good draft and did a good deal with Miami for Josh Rosen and selected, on the whole, a lot of good players.

However, one thing that I and many others were bemused by is their complete lack of investment in their offensive line.

And where did that get them?

Well, Kyler Murray was sacked 50 times. That’s where.

Thomas is one of only a few true left tackles in this class and is a mighty fine one, at that. Thomas is powerful in the run game, more than passable in the passing game, the ceiling is sky high and he is experienced, as a 3 year starter for Georgia.

You’re welcome Kyler.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

How someone convinced a 6’4, 230lb pure athlete like Isaiah Simmons to play defense will remain one of my favourite mysteries in football.

Usually these kinds of players are out on the field catching touchdowns and getting to dance in the endzone – That’s usually what appeals to the kids nowadays, right?

Simmons can line up pretty much anywhere on the defense – Will, Mike, Strongside linebacker rushing the passer, Nickel corner, outside corner, box safety and he can even cover routes deep down the field. Think versatile but then times it by a million and you get Isaiah Simmons – But the best thing is, his level ranges from “pretty good” to “outstanding” at all these spots.

Truly someone built for today’s NFL.

  1. Cleveland Browns – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

The Freddie Kitchens experience is over. It remains to be seen who will take over in Cleveland but whoever it is will surely want to protect Baker Mayfield much better than he was this season.

Baker needs to find himself again, in my opinion, much of this season he seemed unsure of himself and scatty in the pocket – He didn’t trust someone, whether that was the five guys in front of him or the guy calling the plays, who knows? But the bottom line is, the Cleveland Browns were a huge disappointment in 2019.

Tristan Wirfs can go some way to protecting Mayfield and he’s also a mammoth in the run game, so that’s going to be good news for Nick Chubb after a fantastic season from him. Wirfs definitely needs to add some polish to his game and the Browns would probably do well to keep him at right tackle for the time being whilst he brushes up on some things but long term, the sky really is the limit for the Iowa tackle.

  1. New York Jets – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

The Jets need a wide receiver 1. Well, actually, before that the Jets need to fire Adam Gase but that doesn’t seem like it’s happening so let’s try to make them better for the next guy, in 2021 (I’m there for you, Jets fans).

CeeDee Lamb will be the best friend to Sam Darnold for years – He’s big (enough), fast (enough), he’s a nuanced route runner, he’s strong at the catch point, he can get yards after the catch and after contact, he tracks the football in the air exceptionally well. Lamb is actually the complete opposite, in fact – He’s an alpha dog – He’s pretty similar to a guy who used to play for the other guys in New York not too long ago… You know who I mean.

  1. Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Jon Gruden wanted to have Antonio Brown as the focal point of his offense is 2019, unfortunately for him – Brown’s complete and utter meltdown; burnt feet, a banned helmet, racial abuse of General Manager; he was denied that focal point. Lucky for Gruden, there is a wide receiver who is also undersized, an exceptional route runner, quick and slippery, just like Antonio Brown and that is Jerry Jeudy.

As soon as Jeudy steps foot on to an NFL field, he’s one of the better route runners in the league and with that and his quickness, he finds separation very easily. Jeudy has suffered with some uncharacteristic drops at times and in some big moments for Alabama this season, but there’s a lot there to work with and he’s a born wide receiver 1 for any team.

  1. Indianapolis Colts – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Speed kills. Henry Ruggs III is the fastest guy in college football and I think he stands a great chance of beating John Ross’ 40 yard dash record at the scouting combine. Ruggs will also obliterate a bunch of other events in Indianapolis and when the Colts’ GM, Chris Ballard sees his performance in his building, I think we won’t want to let him out… I mean, I guess he’ll have to, he can’t hold him hostage but he’ll want him back ASAP.

I honestly believe that once the combine is over with, Ruggs’ performance could propel him ahead of Lamb and Jeudy, and he could be the first receiver off the board on April 23rd.

The Colts receiver room is bad outside of TY Hilton, fortunately for the Colts, pretty much all of them are out of contract too, so that should make the remodelling job a bit easier.

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

Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and Beau Allen are all free agents along the D line for the Bucs and I’m not sure if any of them are certainties to be back in 2020.

Shaq Barrett has played himself into franchise history by breaking the sack record off the edge and has also played himself into securing the bag. Like, a lot of bag. Which will impact the likes of Suh and JPP.

Javon Kinlaw is someone who could team up with Willie Gholston and Vita Vea on the defensive line and they could form a nice trio, especially given how Vea can move the pocket and Kinlaw definitely has that in his arsenal too, all of whom compliment Barrett off the edge and suddenly, Tampa Bay could have a very fearsome group up front. Thrown in grinders like Carl Nassib and then Devin White blitzing every now and then and this defense is looking pretty good…

Now, if only they had a QB who didn’t throw the ball to the other team so much…

  1. Denver Broncos – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

It feels like it’s the end of Chris Harris in Denver, so neither of the famed, no fly zone corners are in Denver anymore and it’s time for a new era.

Kristian Fulton has shown that he’s the best corner in the class not named Jeffrey Okudah. He’s been tested against high level competition in the SEC and now in the College Football Playoff and he’s looked like a high class player worth every bit of a top 15 selection.

Fulton is a man coverage corner with great fluidity and footwork and was even getting hype over Greedy Williams last draft season as the best corner for LSU.

Fulton does need to work on his tackling and hasn’t turned multiple pass deflections into picks but he also doesn’t get beat and teams respect him so much that they don’t throw at him – A reason why Derek Stingley, his running mate at LSU, has had such a productive year.

  1. Atlanta Falcons – AJ Epenesa, Edge, Iowa

Dan Quinn is surviving Black Monday when it seemed to be touch and go at one point.

I feel like Quinn is going to use this and work with GM, Thomas Dimitroff, and try to get back to the essence of his philosophy and that leads me to Epenesa.

Quinn is from the Pete Carroll/Seattle system where they love big, strong D linemen with high motors and Edge defenders who can kick inside as they did with someone like Michael Bennett.

Epenesa isn’t the most fluid or the most polished edge rusher in the class but I feel like he fits this mould to a tee.

  1. Dallas Cowboys – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Dallas simply do not have enough money to go round. They need to resign Dak Prescott – who will command a huge salary as the QB of the Dallas Cowboys. They need to sign Amari Cooper, who is their wide receiver 1 and whom they spent a first round pick to acquire from Oakland and they also need to resign Byron Jones, their hyper athletic defensive back who has been with the team for 5 years.

I feel like Jones is going to be the odd one out of these guys, so Dallas needs to turn their attention towards finding a replacement.

They shouldn’t look more than 20 miles.

Texas Christian University is located in Fort Worth, Texas. Their home field is a touch over 17.5 miles away from AT&T stadium. The Cowboys keep a close eye on players from universities in the area – They will know all about Gladney and his sticky coverage ability.

Gladney is another guy who I feel like fly up draft boards once the Scouting Combine is over with.

  1. Miami Dolphins – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

This year, we saw Jonathan Taylor become a complete offensive weapon as he added some receiving prowess to his game. The former track star had already long proven he was a dangerous player when running the football but this year saw him really complete his skillset to the tune of 2,118 all purpose yards and 26 touchdowns. Part of, 6,444 yards and 55 scores over the past 3 years.

Simply put, I think he’s the best running back in college football, he’s got the traits and he’s got the production.

These days, selecting a running back in the first round isn’t a done thing and is only reserved for the top echelon of prospects at the position.

Taylor is worthy.

  1. Las Vegas Raiders – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

*Edited: Just after the mock went live overnight, Dylan Moses announced that he was returning to Alabama for his senior year.

I had originally given the Raiders Moses since I think Gruden will want to keep building his defense around strong leader and culture guys.

Unfortunately there’s no linebacker really worth reaching for at this stage as a direct replacement but I’ll stay with a ‘Bama guy since I know Gruden likes to recruit from the big programmes – note that he picked 3 Clemson players last year and Josh Jacobs from Alabama.

Diggs has the size, he has the bloodline and he has the ceiling. The Raiders corner back room has undergone some surgery recently but Diggs has a chance to make himself the CB1 in Las Vegas. He gambles at times which results in burns but he’s comfortable in zone and man and can reroute receivers when in press – an essential skill in today’s NFL.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

The Jags definitely have a “type” when it comes to wide receivers and this pick fits the mould of that type.

If you can run down the field and catch the football, there’s a good chance the Jacksonville Jaguars want you to play wide receiver for them. Jalen Reagor can do just that, what he does do though, is he does it better than all the guys the Jags current have.

What this allows the Jags to do is to roll with Reagor and D.J Chark as the 1 and 2 and then diversify their receiving corp. Go get a shifty slot, go get a redzone/jump ball guy… Give Nick Foles (and later Gardner Minshew) a group of guys you can do different things with, because we know both of these QB’s can push the football downfield, that’s why they draft fash guys!

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Everyone saw the state of the Eagles wide receivers late in the season. Carson Wentz threw for 4,000 yards and didn’t have any of his wide receivers go over 500 yards… Give the guy some help.

Hopefully we’ll see JJ Arega-Whiteside make a leap, hopefully Alshon Jeffrey can get healthy and hopefully they can add to the ranks too.

That’s where Tee Higgins comes in. Higgins is another big bodied receiver, the kind that Philly love to collect. Higgins is also the kind of receiver that Clemson have a rich history in – speedy guys who can win downfield at the catch point.

Sounds like a win/win.

  1. Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State

A long and sturdy strong side defensive end who can also get off the ball in an instant and who is strong against the run. Sounds like the perfect foil for the speed and bend of Harold Landry on the other side – This would also move Jeffrey Simmons inside next to Jurell Casey… Yeah? You like the sound of that Titans fans?

You should do.

  1. Buffalo Bills – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Last off season, the modus operandi for the Bills was to protect Josh Allen and to put some weapons in place for him to use, to enable him and the offense to grow.

They were largely successful in doing so – However, the offense being based on John Brown and Cole Beasley as the leading receivers isn’t sustainable in my opinion. Brown is a decent option and Dawson Knox looks like a useful option at tight end but this team needs a WR1.

Enter Colorado’s offense, sorry… wide receiver Laviska Shenault. Shenault has been used in pretty much every way possible by the Colorado Buffaloes (I also love the symmetry of the team names here) – outside receiver, slot, in the backfield, wildcat QB, you name it – Outside of playing on offensive line, Shenault has done it.

The way I feel that Shenault helps Buffalo is that his RAC-ability gives Josh Allen, a QB who notoriously struggles with accuracy, some easy completions that Shenault can use his skillset to eat up yards after the catch. Furthermore, this team is built off the running game with Davin Singletary and Josh Allen (and probably a new running back to replace Frank Gore) – Now you can incorporate Shenault into that too.

Lastly, Shenault is used to playing in the cold in Colorado – Which is always useful in Buffalo.

It makes too much sense.

  1. Minnesota Vikings – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

The Vikings offensive line sticks out as an area that could definitely be upgraded. Riley Reiff, meh, Pat Elflein… hasn’t been great. Josh Klein, *shrugs*.

Brian O’Neill has evolved into something pretty good and although Garrett Bradbury hasn’t been good this year, I don’t think he’s a lost cause by any stretch of the imagination.

You get where I’m going here…

Alex Leatherwood has seen his stock drop a little bit recently, maybe because he’s not played to expectations this year and maybe it’s because of a little bit of juxtaposition because the other Alabama tackle is the hottest tackle in the draft class at the moment.

That shouldn’t matter. Leatherwood is steady and he can also play inside at guard too, which could appeal to the Vikings as they search for the most effective combination of 5 guys in front of Kirk Cousins.

  1. Miami Dolphins – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

Miami needs an edge presence. They brought in Christian Wilkins last year for some inside push but now the Dolphins need some speed. Chaisson gives them speed in abundance.

Chaisson has been a slow burner throughout his college career in terms of production and really, in terms of this season too.

Chaisson only produced 3 sacks prior to this year and only 6.5 during this season but he’s coming to the boil now and during the biggest games. I also feel LSU’s scheme is part of the reason that he doesn’t get as ton of production – it requires Chaisson to drop into coverage more than your usual edge rusher.

I’m very interested to see how far Chaisson’s athleticism gets him – The guy can MOVE.

  1. Seattle Seahawks – Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama

This is always the wildcard when writing a mock draft. When selecting for the Seattle Seahawks, you have to think outside of the box because you know that they don’t often do the obvious thing.

Davis isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I like him a fair bit but I know this a reach but this is Seattle.

Davis is a massive defensive tackle who is super smart, very disciplined and plays with really low pad level considering his length (6’7) and I feel like that’ll appeal to Seattle and the way they want to construct their defensive line and their defense.

Davis and Jarran Reed would be superb against the run and is Davis can work out some pass rush moves, which is an area where he can certainly improve in, they’ll have some push on the interior to mix in with Jadeveon Clowney (who they are almost certain to bring back).

  1. New England Patriots – Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State

Last year, I pegged Chase Winovich to the Patriots from very early on, I even think that I had the Patriots picking him in one of my earliest mock drafts, just as a method of getting my take out there.

I get the same vibes with the Patriots and Curtis Weaver.

Weaver has production, he can play inside and out, he’s good against the run, he’s a blue collar, red-hot motor kind of guy. He is a Patriot.

Let’s be honest, the Patriots don’t care for flashy pass rushers – They traded Chandler f’ing Jones! They care for guys who do their job™.

Weaver and Winovich as edge defenders gives the Patriots the most Patriots-y pair of edge rushers possible, I love it, pull the trigger, Bill.

  1. New Orleans Saints – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

The Saints have one of the best QB’s to ever do it, however he’s 41. I think Drew Brees will be back next year, for one last rodeo but the backup spot should be available since I think Teddy Bridgewater showed enough in lieu of Brees this season to earn a juicy offer to QB for another team next season.

Jordan Love isn’t perfect by any stretch and didn’t even have an impressive season for Utah State but the potential is all there – Physical tools galore and maybe, just maybe it was down to the lack of talent around him at Utah State…

It’s a perfect scenario for the Saints and Jordan Love to be a marriage in heaven – They have the chance to sit Love and let him learn his trade behind Brees for at least a year. They have Sean Payton, who is one of the best offensive minds is football and would surely come up with a plan for Love in a year. Lastly, the Saints play in a dome which makes it easier for QB’s – It’s a small point but it absolutely aids the transition of a young QB. 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

If there’s one thing I know about the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s that they like to collect players who are fast.

One thing atop of my scouting notes for Travis Etienne – it says, is fast.

Simple as that. You see how this is a good match?

Travis Etienne is absurdly fast, he has angle destroying speed, if it wasn’t for Henry Ruggs III, I’d be saying that Etienne has a chance to best John Ross’ 40 record, I guess he might but Ruggs is quicker.

KC also doesn’t have a long term viable option at running back and whilst this is a deep running back class, so there’s no rush to grab one at 29 overall but with the marriage of pure speed, I think it makes too much sense.

  1. Green Bay Packers – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

The Packers are desperate for a linebacker. It’s that simple. Their defense is good, really good, they have a strong defensive line, Preston and Za’Darius Smith have formed a fearsome pass rush duo, their safety tandem is young and extremely talented and they have good corners too.

The gaping hole is that Blake Martinez is a tackle machine but limited and I don’t even know what a BJ Goodson is. Fortunately for the Packers, both of those guys are out of contact. Martinez will likely be back though, which isn’t bad. Even more fortunately, the Packers can afford to drop a late first round pick on Kenneth Murray to give themselves a huge dose of athleticism in the linebacker room.

This pick gives the Packers another young star down the spine of the defense.  

  1. San Francisco 49ers – Grant Delpit, S, LSU

I’m not going to shy away from it… Grant Delpit has been disappointing this year. Some of that is because we all had sky high expectations of him coming into the year – I was calling him a top 5 player in the class prior to the season starting – So I was as guilty as anyone on that.

However, the disappointment mainly stemmed from the fact that he has literally forgotten how to tackle.

I don’t know how this has happened but Robert Saleh, you better fix him if you get your hands on him.

Let’s balance things up here… Delpit is still insanely talented and if any team can bag him at pick 31 or later it is AN ABSOLUTE STEAL.

  1. Baltimore Ravens – Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

The supply line from Tuscaloosa to Baltimore lives on!

Baltimore has the luxury of selecting well, a luxury player as they’re picking 32nd overall. Lewis is a play who has ridiculous athletic traits as a pass rusher but injuries have marred his career so far.

If he were to be parachuted on to this Ravens roster, there would be no immediate need to start him. He could play as a rotational pass rusher to begin with, whilst his body acclimated to the rigours of playing in the NFL. He would also need to learn how to control himself as a pass rusher and learn some actual pass rush techniques and counter moves when hand fighting with offensive tackles – this side of his game needs some serious polish but at pick 32 it’s all about upside.


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And a happy new year from everyone at The Full 10 Yards

Player Profile: Jacob Eason, QB, Washington by Lee Wakefield

Is there a prospect that had more intrigue surrounding him prior to the season than Washington QB, Jacob Eason?

The Huskies QB had just sat a year out in 2018 due to the NCAA transfer rules after he left Georgia. Eason, a former 5-star recruit who headed back to his home state to kick start his college career and I, for one, was excited to see what the future would hold for a player who was full of potential.

However, the issue at hand was that in the summer of this year, when we were going through our summer scouting routine, the only game tape we had of Jacob Eason was from 2016, when he was playing for Georgia. Operating in an offense that was different to the Jake Fromm Georgia offense that we see today.

We just had to wait and see…

Fast forward to today and Eason is 10 games into his Huskies career and I feel like now, we can at least begin to assess what kind of quarterback we have on our hands and whether it would be wise for Eason to declare for the NFL draft after this season, his Junior season, with another season of eligibility remaining.

Player Profile

Eason is 6’6 and weighs in at 227lbs, per school measurements. These are nice measurables that NFL scouts and front office staff will love, yet I would like to see Eason pack on a little bit of muscle before entering the pros – I feel like he looks sort of lanky and an extra 10 or 12 pounds would help him be more durable at the next level.

Coming out of Lake Stevens High School in Washington, Eason ranked the No. 4 overall prospect in the nation by 247 sports; rated No. 7 overall, as well as the No. 1 quarterback, by Rivals; listed by ESPN as the No. 13 overall prospect nationally.

So he was pretty good. No shock he was highly recruited and went to Georgia then.

Whilst in a Bulldogs uniform, Eason threw 204/370 (55.1%) for 2430 yards, 16 TD’s and 8 INT’s in his Freshman year.

The next season, in 2017, is when Jake Fromm arrived on the scene and assumed the role of starting QB in Athens. Eason only ended up appearing in 3 games and throwing 7 passes.

So far this season, Eason has completed 63.7% of his passes for 2472 yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

So What’s to Like?

So let’s start to dissect Eason then… Well he’s tall, he’s got a strong arm and he’s white, so he’s nailed on to be a first rounder. End of article. Thanks.


I’m joking, of course…Although John Elway is still an NFL General Manager.

Ok so, whilst (spoiler alert) he’s far from a perfect prospect, Eason is a good QB prospect who has good arm strength, which he can use to push the ball to the sidelines without the ball hanging in the air. He can also push the ball downfield when he needs to – This isn’t something we’ve seen a great deal of but there is evidence that he can do this. Here’s one fantastic throw – Strong armed, accurate and pushing the ball to the sideline from the opposite hash mark. Lovely. 


From the game film I’ve seen, Eason works really well off of play action and both offenses he’s worked in have used this trait to good effect to set up deep shots down the field. This example is again from the game against Arizona earlier this season – Eason has standard 5 man protection out of I-formation and finds his man deep.

When it comes to passing the football, I feel like Eason is best over short to intermediate distances and when he can get the ball out of his hand on time and in rhythm – Eason has a short, sharp release which aides him, especially when looking to hit receivers on horizontal routes. I feel like early in his career, he would often put the ball behind receivers running across the field and his ball placement generally was spotty at best. He’s still not got the greatest ball placement, don’t get me wrong. He still has the tendency to miss receivers high to this day, but it’s certainly an area of his game that he has taken strides in whilst on Washington’s scout team in 2018 and this year as the Huskies starter. Here’s a few examples below:

First off, the good stuff  – Eason hits Hunter Bryant in stride and leads his tight end for a 15 yard gain against Oregon.


Unfortunately, here’s an example of Eason missing an open receiver with a high pass from his Georgia days.


And another from more recently, against Oregon on a clutch 4th down play.


When it comes to being pressured, Eason isn’t afraid to hang in the pocket and find a pass knowing that he’s about to get leveled by an oncoming defender. Although that said, Eason has this crazy tendency to roll to his left when he feels pressure – I felt that this was a big enough issue that I will explore this later in the article. Before that, here’s a great example of Eason delivering a great pass in the face of a blitz and getting a whack for his troubles.


However, it must be stated that this isn’t wholly positive – Eason’s completion percentage drops below 40% when he’s under pressure. That’s pretty alarming and it’s lower than every 1st or 2nd round pick from the past three drafts aside from Giant’s QB, Daniel Jones. 

Just before we close out on the good stuff, I will mention that Eason displays sneaky athletic ability for a man his size when he does choose to tuck the ball under his arm and run. He needs to do a better job of protecting himself and the football when a runner but he is brave and has shown the ability to make tough yardage and a first down. Eason is also the master of the QB sneak – from what I’ve seen, the guy is pretty much Tom Brady-automatic from a yard or less.

And The Bad Stuff?

One thing I absolutely need to see from college quarterbacks is accuracy. If you’re not accurate in college, you don’t magically become more accurate when throwing against defenders who are better in coverage and better athletes at the next level – it simply doesn’t work like that.

Eason has improved his accuracy from 55.1% at Georgia in his Freshman season, to a mark of 63.7% (202/317), which is where he stands at the time of writing at Washington, as mentioned previously.

For comparison, Joe Burrow of LSU currently leads FBS quarterbacks with 78.9% (236/299), that mark is frankly outrageous but even an extremely high volume passer (and less talented QB) such as Washington State’s Anthony Gordon is throwing 71% (323/455) and Eason’s percentage is exactly the same as Hawai’i QB, Cole McDonald – someone who came into the season with questions over his own accuracy.

Food for thought.

The issue for Eason seems to be careless ball placement which crops up at times as discussed earlier. The other issue that I feel Eason is only just weeding out is that until recently, he seemed completely incapable of throwing the ball with any touch.


Woah there Jacob, we know you’ve got a strong arm… your receivers are probably better without broken fingers.

And that leads us into our next problem… Eason knows he’s got a pretty strong arm and at times he trusts it way too much.

This throw was super, ill-advised… trying to hit your guy who was in triple coverage against one of the best defensive backfields in college football.

Silly. Justin Blackmon east those up. 

This was the first of two picks that Eason threw in the game against Utah… the other one, Jaylon Johnson returned for a touchdown.


Speaking of throwing into coverage… Well, this is something that Eason seems to have a pretty annoying habit of doing. Is this a case of not having the mental processing skills associated with high level quarterback play? Yes. Could this improve in future? Maybe.

For every throw like this one against Oregon where he lays it in nicely in between zones…


There’s one like the Blackmon interception or one like this, from his Georgia days against TCU


I mean… Come on, it was a good thing he throws this one long.

Let’s get inside the pocket now and see what Eason is like as a pocket operator.

You’ll notice in the clips I’ve used that one thing that you don’t see much of with Jacob Eason is nifty footwork. In fact, you don’t see much footwork inside the pocket at all; no climbing; no sliding to give himself extra time; I just don’t see much movement.

In the modern NFL, you need your QB to be mobile. I’m not talking Lamar Jackson style athletic ability, that’s ancillary and a huge bonus, I’m talking that bare minimum is Brady/Rivers/Brees type little movements to just avoid that defender’s outstretched arm or just moving up in the pocket to allow your tackle to push the edge rusher downfield.

Eason is a statue, a lot of the time – I feel that this is something that comes with games and experience, knowing when to move, knowing the tendencies of you offensive linemen and of the pass rushers who are hunting you.

Obviously this could develop in time, but it’s just a matter of games,yet there’s no guarantee that it’ll click for him and Eason could just be the next (post Superbowl) Joe Flacco instead of the next big thing.

Now let’s dive into Eason biggest pocket habit…

To the Left, To the Left

Jacob always rolls outta the pocket, to the left…

It is startling to see. For a right handed QB to want to escape to the left this badly just doesn’t make sense. In the video below, you’ll see how often this happens, he even throws in a double spin to the left for good measure at one point.

Don’t get me wrong, he does escape pressure to the left at times but as a righty, it doesn’t make sense.

As a right handed QB, if you’re running to the left, it takes longer to turn your body to reset your feet to throw off of your usual base OR you end up throwing across your body – both of which result in your throw being less accurate and both of which are obviously compounded by having to throw under duress whilst on the move. These will be contributing towards the sharp drop in completion percentage when under pressure, which I went over earlier.

It’s something that Washington Head Coach, Chris Peterson addressed after the Utah game, saying, “We’re trying to emphasise him staying in the pocket. It’s your game to step up [in the pocket], not out”.

Here’s a short video on the issue:


Summary

I feel that Eason has a very high ceiling, both from what I’ve seen on tape and the improvements he’s made from 2016 to now and also the physical traits and measurables that he possesses.

However, the mental side of his game, his footwork and his accuracy aren’t what I would want from an NFL quarterback, especially one that I may be drafting in the first round, and these areas need work.

He simply wouldn’t get away with the shoddy ball placement and throwing into coverage nearly as much in the NFL as he does in the Pac-12.

NFL defensive co-ordinators would gameplan for his tendency to move to his left and just to apply pressure on him generally to see if they could exploit his lack of footwork and he would obviously have to avoid bigger and strong defensive players coming for him whilst trying to process the game quicker.

In short, I feel like Eason simply needs more experience. He’s got the talent but with another year of eligibility left, I feel he would be wise to use it and work on the aspects of his game that need some polish.

Jacob Eason turns 22 years old this Sunday, (17/11/19), next season may be the season when he takes the leap. It seems to be the way of things that QB’s hit a golden zone around the age of 22/23. Patrick Mahomes won NFL MVP at 23, Joe Burrow has taken a giant leap this season when he has turned 23 years old, Lamar Jackson (who is 4 weeks younger that Burrow(!!)) is tearing up the NFL at 22 and will be 23 in January.

Could Eason be the next QB to go through this growth spurt at this time? I think it’d be worth trying to find out… It’s an awful lot easier to develop in college than it is in the NFL.

Stay in school Jacob, it may just be on the verge of clicking.

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College Football Staff Midseason Mock Drafts: Lee

We are back! Maxwell delivered an excellent mock for all of you lovely people yesterday and I’m about to do the same.

I loved a lot of the picks we made as a group on last week’s podcasts but this in my chance to put across my ideas and just throw some possibilities around at this very early stage.

Here goes…

#1. Bengals – Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

Take the best player in the draft. Yes the Bengals aren’t good, hence why they’re nailed on for a top 3 pick but this QB class is good, and so is the next one, so if the Bengals aren’t good again next year they’ll have another high pick anyway.

Take a player who is going to be a top 5 player at his position, one of the most important positions in football, in the next two to three years. Young is a guaranteed star, that’s why you pick him first overall.

#2. Dolphins – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Wait… What? Tank for… Burrow? That’s not what what the people want!

No it isn’t but Joe Burrow is the hottest name in college football right now and he’s playing out of his mind. I don’t care what anyone says, LSU are the best team in college football and unlike what we thought before the season, it’s the Tigers’ offense that’s the driving force behind their great season.

Will Jeux Burrow be QB1 come April? I think there’s more of a chance than people think.

#3. Redskins – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

We know Trent Williams is done in D.C. and may even be dealt prior to the trade deadline in a few days time, so the Redskins will be in the market for a new blindside protector for Dwayne Haskins.

Andrew Thomas is by far the best tackle in this draft class and will be a ready made replacement for Williams.

#4. Falcons – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Can you imagine? Julio Jones on one side, Calvin Ridley in the slot and Jerry Jeudy on the opposite side?! Oh and Austin Hooper too for good measure.

First off, as much as he isn’t slowing down, Julio is getting up there in age and won’t be around forever. Having Jerry Jeudy alongside him and then take the mantle of WR1 when he’s retired means Atlanta’s offense has a go-to receiver for years to come which will be great for the next QB.

I also feel that Atlanta will go for an offense HC once they (surely) give Dan Quinn the bullet and a bright offense mind would love all those weapons to play with.

#5. Jets – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Sam Darnold needs some protection. I feel like Tristan Wirfs can provide some of the exorcism that he needs and he’s also very good in the run game which has the dual effect of opening up more lanes for Le’Veon Bell which relieves some pressure off Darnold.

Wirfs certainly needs work and isn’t a ready made player like Thomas is but he’s maybe got the highest ceiling of all the tackles in this class.

#6. Jaguars – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Replace Jalen Ramsey. That should be the modus operandi for the Jags with one of their two first round picks in April.

Jeffrey Okudah is the best corner in the class in my eyes imat this moment in time. He has the smooth athletic ability and the coverage skills to be a CB1 at the next level.

Another top quality defensive back out of Ohio State.

#7. Browns – Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

Baker Mayfield has been a real big disappointment this season and the Browns haven’t been as explosive as many had hoped. The reason for this, or at least one of the reasons is that he’s had a bunch of turnstiles masquerading as an offensive line.

I feel like drafting Lucas Niang would go some way to solving that. The TCU star didn’t allow a sack last season and only gave up 7 pressures, this year he’s been strong is pass protection again.

#8. Dolphins – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

A new QB needs some weapons and CeeDee Lamb is about as good of an offensive weapon available in this draft class.

Just put the ball in his hands and let him make plays.

I’m also a big fan of getting a young QB a young wide receiver and letting them grow up together to form a long term double act.

#9. Giants – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal. All corners that have been drafted by the Giants in the past few years. Do you think any of them will be stars?

I liked Love and I think he’ll make a decent career being a slot guy. Baker is an undersized but incredibly feisty outside corner who is ideally suited to being a CB2 on a team. To follow those guys up, Ballentine and Beal are project guys that you hope develop into good third and fourth corners, which is what you need in today’s NFL.

Jenoris Jenkins is over the hill so despite all this recent investment the Giants need to get a star corner…Enter Kristian Fulton. A tall and rangy corner with excellent cover skills. He’d add height to a shorter cornerback group and instantly be “the man”.

#10. Chargers – Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn

If Philip Rivers stays around and resigns in LA, he’ll need protection next year because simply put, this year hasn’t nearly been good enough in that area.

I feel that the Chargers need to make a few picks along the line next spring and the most sensible thing to do would be to invest a first round pick, something they haven’t done since DJ Fluker was drafted in 2013.

It’s time.

Prince Tega (an actual Prince, by the way), is a giant of a man with excellent athleticism for his size and can drop anchor and not move. He also possesses the power in the run game that would appeal to the Chargers staff.

I’d start him on the right side then allow him to take over from another tackle of Nigerian descent, Russell Okung, in a couple of years.

#11. Titans – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Marcus Mariota isn’t it, and nor is Ryan Tannehill so it’s time to start over in Nashville.

Justin Herbert has the accuracy, pocket movement and high level decision making to be an excellent pocket passer at the next level.

He also possesses great physical gifts to get him and his team out of a jam and pick up a first down.

He’s basically everything they wished Marcus Mariota was.

#12. Buccaneers – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Jameis Winston ain’t it, so it’s time to start over in Tampa.

Tua is a star and has been ever since he burst on to the college football scene.He’s got superb accuracy, he doesn’t often turn the ball over and has excellent arm strength to make all the throws in the book.

He’s basically everything they wished Jameis Winston was.

Mariota and Winston will always be linked; two can’t miss picks who have both missed; two can’t miss pick who will be looking for work at the same time. They’ll both get a second chance to prove themselves again but they’ll both be on a short leads.

@Bengals

#13. Broncos – Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Safety is criminally underrated in the draft. Last year, we didn’t know where we stood with the safety group we had before us and nobody had Darnell Savage as their top safety, yet he was drafted first.

The fall to 13 represents somewhat of a slip for someone as talented as Delpit, who will certainly be higher on my final big board come the spring.

A homing missile when coming downhill to make a tackle and has the range to break up passes down the field – a complete safety and a complete bargain for Denver.

#14. Cardinals – Tyler Biadasz, IOL, Wisconsin

It was really strange that whilst pimping out their offense with a new QB and a bunch of weapons in the last draft, the Cardinals neglected their offensive line.

Lightning can’t strike twice on that front or they’ll once again to hamstrung by the amount of duress Kyler Murray will face.

There’s not top level tackle worth taking at 14 in my eyes so they opt to boost the interior with the best interior lineman in the class in Tyler Biadasz.

Great in pass pro and possessing the athleticism to be a weapon in the run game, he’ll be a very good 10 year starter on the NFL and a great anchor to build the rest of the line around.

#15. Cowboys – Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State

Boise State have fed the Cowboys a few times down the years, most recently with Leighton Vander Esch.It’s time to use that supply line again and draft the second best edge defender in the class. Weaver is a pure pass rusher who can compliment DeMarcus Lawrence very nicely and even rush next to him from the same side.

I feel adding another productive pass rusher will take the already strong Dallas defense to another level.

#16. Jaguars – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

The NFL is always on the lookout for versatile defenders who can fill multiple roles. Isaiah Simmons is a safety turned linebacker with the kind of body type that you’d usually find in a wide receiver.

I believe Simmons has the potential to be one of the better mismatch neutralisers in the NFL in years to come.

#17. Lions – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Matty P would love another versatile defensive chess piece to deploy all over the defensive backfield and after the Quandre Diggs trade to Seattle, the Lions have an opening.

McKinney is an explosive athlete who can play close to the line of scrimmage or can play deep but most importantly, he can affect the game from any spot.

#18. Colts – Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame

As I was saying on the podcast last week, I feel the Colts need some star power off the edge. Their group is fine, just like the rest of their D… I feel like their defense is very much predicated on being more than the sum of its parts.

Okwara and his genuine game breaking speed off the edge, could really add some star power.

#19. Raiders – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State

Physical, aggressive and a damn good football player. Sounds like a Jon Gruden player who fits the “just win baby” ethos of the Raiders.

Wallace should dovetail very nicely with Tyrell Williams’ ability to take the top off the defense and if Derek Carr (or whoever is the Raiders QB in 2020) can just get the ball into his hands and see what he can create after the catch.

#20. Panthers – AJ Epenesa, Edge, Iowa

Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin are old so how does the speed of Brian Burns and the raw power of Epenesa… Sounds good, right?

Epenesa would be the hand-in-the-dirt traditional defensive end and Burns a stand up rusher and they could be the best young duos of edge defenders in the game pretty quickly.

#21. Eagles – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

The Eagles tried to get their hands on Jalen Ramsey just before he went to the Rams. They also have a need for a true CB1 despite making a fair bit of investment in the position via the draft in recent times. Much like the Giants before, it’s time to get a number 1…

Paulson Adebo is having a slight down year but he’s still one of the better corner prospects available. Super athletic and good ball skills… who wouldn’t want that?

#22. Raiders – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

Another area of need for the Raiders is corner, Jaylon Johnson is the best player on one of the best defenses in college football.

Tylan Wallace is a physical receiver and Johnson is an equally physical corner. Aggressive at the catch point, aggressive when in press at the line… Maybe a little too much at times but he is a Raider in that regard. He also has good ball skills to make splash plays and break up passes.

#23. Ravens – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

I would love to see Shenault meshed into the Ravens running game and their offense as a whole.

I also love the idea of adding Shenault to Miles Boykin and Hollywood Brown since they all bring a different skill set to the Ravens.

Shenault would really make the Ravens an extremely diverse offense and at times it would be unplayable.

#24. Vikings – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn

The Vikings have a really nice defense and a pretty complete roster in general so this pick can afford to be a little bit of a luxury.

Minnesota has one of the best edge rushers in the league in Danielle Hunter, now they can add a fantastic interior rusher and run stuffer in Derrick Brown.

Brown gives the Vikes a ready made replacement for Linval Joseph too.

#25. Dolphins – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

Leatherwood is a super athletic tackle prospect with the movement skills to match the speed rushers that litter the NFL.

He’s a little raw around the edges, I’ll admit that but he’ll be coming into the NFL well coached and since it’s a growing process in Miami, I guess that they won’t mind taking someone with a high ceiling.

#26. Bills – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State

I’ll go back to the podcast and I just feel the Bills need to strengthen their defense even further by adding some youth into their pass rushing ranks. YGM is quick off the line and his motor runs red hot every single down. He’s also long and understands how to use his length without playing with his pads too high.

#27. Saints – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Can you imagine how fun Henry Ruggs would be in a Sean Payton offense with Michael Thomas to take a lot of the defense’s attention away?

Ruggs is a legitimate candidate to break the 40 yard dash record at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, I expect a time in the 4.2 range, at the least.

#28. Seahawks – Trey Adams, OT, Washington

The Seahawks drafted a lot of guys who went to college on the West Coast last year. I feel like they’ll do that again and keep Trey Adams in Seattle to give a boost to their offensive line.

Adams has had his injury problems but when healthy he could be amongst the best tackles in this class.

#29. Chiefs – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia

Bryce Hall is the best cover corner in this class for my money. Hall is explosive and he’s got great man coverage skills, I don’t even mind that he’s injured and out for the year, he makes Kansas City’s defensive back room better, much better. He’s instantly the best player in that room even if he doesn’t play right away in his rookie year.

#30. Packers – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Imagine if Aaron Rodgers had a star running back alongside him? If the Packers keep Taylor in Wisconsin, that’s exactly what they would have.Taylor can do it all and he’s been putting up huge numbers for the Badgers for a few years now.I know Aaron Jones is OK, he might even be good, but he’s not Jonathan Taylor… He would add another layer to the Green Bay offense and dare I say it, make him better.

#31. 49ers – Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma

The 49ers are potentially the biggest surprise of the NFL season so far and probably won’t be picking at 31 come April but even so, I feel like they could get Humphrey in the 20’s and nobody would bat an eyelid.Humphrey is the linchpin of one of the better units in college football at Oklahoma.

Humphrey is great at dropping his anchor and not budging – he comes from a wrestling background and his gives him a fantastic knowledge of leverage, and you can tell immediately.

#32. Patriots – Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina

Kinlaw is having a great year and the tape he has from his recent game against Georgia is really one game he can hang his hat on.Super explosive off the snap and can easily gain penetration and get himself to the QB.

New England could add him to their defensive line rotation and at first they can pick and choose when to unleash him.

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