10 things that defined the 2019 NFL season

By Sean Tyler (@seantyleruk)

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


1. Luck finally runs out as Colts’ QB retires


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

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

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

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

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

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


2. Player holdouts become a thing


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

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

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

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

Get 10% off at NFL Europe Shop with code FULL10

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

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

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


3. Antonio Brown quits the NFL


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

Lynne Sladky/AP

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

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

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

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


4. Kaepernick holds a weird workout


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

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

Carmen Mandato, Getty Images

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

USA-TODAY

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

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

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

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


6. Minshew Mania


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

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

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

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

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


7. Myles Garrett loses his head


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

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

Jason Miller/Getty Images

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

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

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


8. The Patriots play i-spy (again)


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

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

AP Photo/Gary Landers

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

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

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


9. Tough Mudder comes to the NFL


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

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

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

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

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

10. A new UK venue earns its spurs


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

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

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

Miles Willis Photography

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

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


11. And one more for luck…


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

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

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

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

There is just no Luck in Indianapolis… What next for the Colts?

By Rob Grimwood (@FFBritBaller)
The baby’s cry woke me up early on Sunday morning. The wife and I had only been home from an Ed Sheeran concert a few hours, but nonetheless, the kid was hungry. With a heavy sigh, I reluctantly rolled out of my bed whilst fumbling around to check the time and get my bearings in my somewhat groggy morning state of mind.

It was at that moment when I had to double take when looking at my notifications on my mobile phone. I had received a text message from one of my best friends in Canada which read “Oh man, Andrew Luch has retired”. Not only did I need to double take because of the spelling mistake, but I couldn’t fathom this to be true with my early morning baby-brain.

For a brief moment I was clutching at straws. Please tell me there is an NHL player called Andrew Luch who I hadn’t heard of… or even another sportsman from another sport I am not familiar with like NASCAR, or Water Polo, and my friend was merely making random conversation!

No, sure enough, it was the news that our franchise QB had indeed retired. Our leader, our Captain. Stunned into disbelief, I furiously scanned every media outlet possible with my phone clasped to my perspiring right hand. The left was busy attempting to deliver the milk bottle to my confused, impatient son. Milk was going everywhere except the kids’ mouth, but my mind was elsewhere.

Photo Credit: Michael Conroy/Associated Press

I balanced the milk bottle perfectly between forearm and the kid’s ravenous gullet as I watched the main man himself being booed off centre stage at Lucas Oil stadium. I immediately felt for all of the fans inside that building knowing that a public backlash was inevitable. But they, the non-Colts folk won’t understand. It wasn’t the player they were booing; it was the result of being strung along on this injury-plagued rollercoaster that started in 2017.

It’s frustrating not being told exactly what is wrong. Not knowing whether to feel jubilant for the upcoming season or whether to grit our teeth and hope the backups can take the next step and ride it out until we get our man back.

Lack of communication and information haunting us like 2017’s ghost is why the fans booed. The quick-fire delivery of this earth-shattering news is why the fans got upset. It wasn’t about Luck. They could have let us down more gently. They could have told us the situation was bad, season ending, heck, even career threatening. But not like this, just please, not like this.

With 24-hours passing and the disgruntled look etched upon my unenthused wife’s face who was sick of Sundays most used phrase “I can’t believe Luck has retired”, I decided to stop dwelling on the recent past and started to think about how the Colts can look to rectify the hole that it now finds itself in. Where do we go from here?

Internal Scouting

With Andrew Luck no longer atop the depth chart in Indianapolis, it is highly likely the Colts will ride the season out with one of the backups that have currently been steering the ship throughout the preseason.

Jacoby Brissett

Brissett will be the favourite amongst bookmakers and fans alike to be the man under centre come week 1. He’s had the role before when traded from the New England Patriots in 2017, the year Luck missed the entirety with the shoulder injury.

He played in all 16 games that season and was the starter from week 2 onward. It was an admirable season-long performance from the then 24-year-old out of North Carolina State (3,098 passing yards/13TDs) but was a long way off the dizzy heights that the Colts’ fans new Luck could provide.

After guiding Indy to a 4-12 record that season, you’d expect this to be a floor if he were to be the QB for the upcoming season due to the improvements the Colts have made since 2017. A better O-line and more explosive pass catchers would likely see Brissett have a better opportunity to win more games. Despite this though, it will still be a tall order to assume Jacoby, or anyone for that matter, would be able guide Indianapolis to a playoff berth.

Chad Kelly

Kelly was the last draft pick of the 2017 NFL Draft (253rd) when picked by the Denver Broncos. His NFL career got off to a pretty good start once he returned from a wrist injury as he seemingly edged out Paxton Lynch to be Case Keenum’s backup heading into the 2018 season.

However, the character problems off the field that had teams skirting around him in the draft rang true when he was convicted of criminal trespassing relating to an incident after a Halloween party hosted by teammate Von Miller.

He was subsequently released by the Broncos and his NFL career was in jeopardy. Fortunately for Kelly, Colts’ GM Chris Ballard happens to be a friend of his uncle Jim Kelly and Chad was offered a second chance during the 2019 off-season.

He’s seemingly taken the chance given to him too as so far he has impressed coaches and fans with a good showing throughout training camp with a 72% pass rate so far this preseason. This was on the back of 13 completions for 121 yards in preseason week 1 including 53 rushing yards and an impressive rushing touchdown. He also performed exceptionally in the wake of the Luck news on Saturday evening against the Bears, throwing for 209 yards and a touchdown of 16 completions, along with 34 rush yards.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Dermer

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that ‘Swag’ Kelly could end up being the starter for the Colts should the early season work not go Jacoby Brissett’s way. If he continues to take his chances should this scenario arise, Kelly could be in consideration to be Luck’s permanent replacement.

Phillip Walker

Originally signed on May 4th 2017, Phillip Walker has been added, removed, signed from, and cut from the Colts’ practice squad more times than I’ve changed my socks.

But again this offseason, Walker has had a chance to prove his worth to the team as the now current 3rd string QB.

Unfortunately though, unlike teammate Chad Kelly, Walker has only converted 24 of 48 passing attempts (50%) for a grand total of 259 passing yards (10.79 yards per attempt) and 0 touchdowns.

It’s fairly likely that Walker will remain as the 3rd string QB until further notice, but more likely until a new QB is acquired and therefore will probably find himself as a cut casualty in that case.

2020/21 Draft Class

If you don’t already know, the 2020 draft class is packed with elite-level potential quarterbacks. This ties in with Colts’ owner Jim Irsay’s method of operation nicely as since taking over the team in 1997, he has drafted 2 of the most important players in Indianapolis’ NFL history – franchise quarterbacks Peyton Manning (1998) and his eventual replacement Andrew Luck (2012).

On both instances though, the Colts have had the luxury of having that all important 1st overall pick in those respective drafts. Although now not out of the question for 2020, it’s unlikely the Colts will be picking within in the first 5 picks unless a trade is agreed.

Tua Tagovailoa

It is highly likely Tua will be drafted within the top 3 on the next draft night in Las Vegas. In fact, many analysts believe the Miami Dolphins have already decided to tank in 2019 in order to grab Tua with the 1st overall pick.

The Alabama quarterback has a quality arm which is more than capable to make any throw in the NFL. He’s a great athlete too which has become a very sought after trait in the NFL over the last few years.

His athleticism allows him to escape collapsing pockets and he has the ability to throw it deep and challenge defences. He doesn’t panic when the first read isn’t there and is generally an accurate passer.

In the right team, Tua could make it into the group of elite QB’s within the NFL and Indy would certainly be a team where that could be achievable. But this would require some draft pick trading in order to see that happen.

Justin Herbert

Herbert is another top prospect expected to go early in round 1. I can imagine a lot of the talk surrounding next years’ draft will be “Justin or Tua” based for the 1st overall pick.

So again, Indy would have to probably move up the board in order to grab Herbert if he is the QB that grades out to be the best fit. He has good size and a good arm. One of his best traits is the ability to throw the ball in exactly the right places for receivers to capitalise and gain extra Yards After Catch.

At 6 ft 6, Herbert uses his height to his advantage in the pocket where he remains calm and let’s routes develop before pulling the trigger, but his height doesn’t affect his rushing ability as he is more than capable of picking up yards on the ground.

Like Tua, Herbert would fit very nicely into the Colts offense but would likely need to work on his vision and focus in order to get the most out of the receiving options.

Jake Fromm

For me, Jake Fromm is the most NFL ready QB in this class. Bold statement, I know, but it’s his presence and leadership skill on the field which I like the most. That is the kind of mould that Indy possesses too. They like to take the leaders, the field generals if you will.

Photo Credit: Allen Kee / ESPN Images

Fromm is arguably the most accurate out of these projected top prospects in 2020. He avoids danger when throwing which will sit well with the coaches in Indy and also knows how to protect the ball and generally makes good decisions. Being an elite NFL passer isn’t solely down to arm strength. It’s what’s in between the ears that count, and Fromm certainly ticks that box.

If Tua and Herbert go 1 & 2 respectively, there will likely be a trade up for Fromm so I predict he will be a top 5 pick next year. This is where I can see Indianapolis putting their chips on the table and moving up if necessary.

Trevor Lawrence

I believe #TankForTrevor is already trending on twitter. Clemson’s signal caller is currently being described as a generational talent thus putting him in the Troy Aikman, Andrew Luck, Peyton and Eli Manning group of elite QB’s that are NFL ready coming out of college as the first overall pick.

But, Trevor Lawrence isn’t eligible for the 2019 draft pick. So unless, Jacoby or A.N Other can provide high enough performances in Indy over the next two years, it’s unlikely Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard an co will wait this long before grabbing their next franchise QB.

Who knows though, there could be a masterplan in place where this is possible. One thing is for sure; Lawrence will be worth the wait if the 2018 College season has anything to go by and would definitely fit in well at Lucas Oil.

Trade Ins

It’s unlikely that the Colts would trade for a starting QB as it’s not really how Irsay operates. But as we see year to year in this league, anything is possible and anything can happen.

Jameis Winston

Tampa Bay has put a lot of trust in to Winston for this upcoming year; They proved this by not re-signing 2018’s saviour at Raymond James Stadium, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jameis, however, is on a short leash. A fantastic talent who can make any throw and be a locker room leader, but it’s the mistakes that has impeded his journey to the top.

Should Winston and the Bucs start the season 0-3/0-4, the pressure might be on to cash in on any value and move away from Winston, especially with the talent available next April and the fact he is also currently unsigned passed 2019.

At just 25, there is still plenty of time to develop Jameis, and a change of scenery might well be the answer if Bruce Arians is unable to repeat the success he had with Carson Palmer in Arizona.

Dak Prescott

Like Winston, it’s unlikely that Dallas will want to move their starting QB, especially with the way Dak has progressed since being drafted there in the 4th round of the 2016 draft.

However, like Jameis, with his rookie contract expiring at the end of the season and no discussions being reported, if the right offer is on the table, could Jerry Jones be tempted to cash in? Like I said, unlikely, but don’t forget the Jones’ are business men first.

Mock Draft Monday – Draft 1.0

It’s Monday….*sigh* so what’s a good remedy to brighten up a Monday?

No, not a beer. A mock draft of course!

It’s never too early to mock draft unless its Week 2 of the regular season and seeing as though it isn’t Week 2 right now, it seems like a perfect time to mock draft.

This week we will be doing our draft with the following setup:

12 team, 1pt PPR , 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and 1 DEF with 6 Bench spots (there is not point doing kickers). The rookies coming in from the 2018 draft will be included in this draft.

As it’s the first one in this series, we shall go easy on ourselves and we will be picking from the number 3 spot. We are drafting on FantasyPros mock draft simulator. A very good tool to use to get comfortable in drafting.

There will be a post or podcast in the very near future on draft strategies so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Right, so we are picking from the 3 seed. I know for a fact that we will be going RB in this first round as i am such an advocate for getting the RB1 locked in and with the 3 spot, you can guarantee that you’ll get a volume type elite back. With it being a PPR league, I am hoping for either LeVeon Bell, Todd Gurley, Zeke or David Johnson types.

Todd Gurley went #1 off the board followed by Antonio Brown.

This leaves us with a decision to make; and whilst no pick here is necessarily a bad one, don’t overthink it. It’s likely that you’ll have your preferences however it comes to you, and for me it’s a coin toss between Lev Bell and Zeke.

I will go Lev Bell, purely on the passing down work that he gets.

So we start off with Lev Bell and as our pick is not until the 10th pick of the 2nd round, I would hope that someone like a Davantae Adams drops this far, although unlikely. Anyone that is a funnelled target monster would be great.

Now, the important thing when drafting, is remember where you are in the draft order. If you are in the middle of the draft order then this doesn’t apply so much but as we are pretty much at one of the book ends, it is vital that you look at the teams picking next to you in between your 2 quick picks (i.e the teams that selected 1st and 2nd overall. This way you can try and identify their moves and stay one step ahead. You have to consider their roster construction to see what positions they may try and fill or are in need of.

in the round 2-3 change around, it’s likely that the 2 teams will have at least 1 RB and 1 WR so in this change around, you should go with who you want and not worry too much about the other 2 teams as its likely 2 WR and 2 RBs go in those 4 picks between your next one in round 3. Therefore, in my mind, I want to look at tiers of players.

Are there any players here that I can grab before these other guys that represent a higher tier than the next guy. Also, looking at the draft board on the whole, 2 teams went double WR and 1 team went double RB. Full list as below:

2018-04-16

Here is what is currently available to me:

QBs: All

RBs: Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, Christian McCaffrey, Mark Ingram & Jordan Howard

WR: Adam Thielen, Tyreek Hill, Doug Baldwin, TY Hilton, Stefon Diggs & Brandin Cooks

TE: Everyone but Gronkowski (went 2.5)

When picking in the spot we are, you should always try and pick the players you like but also taking in to consideration which ones may not get back to you when the 3rd pick comes back round. I would put my house on Dalvin Cook being selected, and any other 3 from the list above. If is had to take a guess – Cook, Freeman, Thielen, Baldwin & maybe Kelce.

To me, this is an easy choice, but only because our turn comes back around very quickly and we will still be able to get the same tier of player when that happens. I am going to take Dalvin Cook, here. Purely because he could be a tier above the rest of the guys. I don’t feel overly comfortable taking a 2nd round pick on any of the WR but I will still be able to take one in the 3rd round (assuming 4 WR don’t go off the board).

So I have taken Dalvin Cook and that gives me 2 RBs to start (one note: if you would guarantee me that Joe Mixon fell to me in the 4th round, I would have gone WR most likely).

The next 4 picks are as follows: Rodgers (QB), Hill(WR),Kelce(TE), Baldwin(WR).

So we have had a bit of luck here as the 2 teams in between us reached a tad on Rodgers and Kelce (in my opinion). You’ll find picking at either end of the draft, that you feel that you may have to reach in order to get the players you want. Don’t be afraid to do that, especially if you think they are going to have a good year. Fantasy Football is all about opinions and it’s ok to make a wrong decision, as long as you learn from it.

So as we have 2 RBs already, it makes sense to go WR. We have Thielen, Hilton, Diggs, Cooks, Fitzgerald, Landry, Robinson. Like I said earlier with my round 2 pick, I want someone that will have targets funnelled to them as its a 1pt PPR. Whilst Thielen and Diggs will get plenty of receptions in this offence, my eyes are drawn towards Larry Fitzgerald – a PPR monster for god knows how long, and Allen Robinson, the new WR at Chicago who will be the focal point of the attack. whilst i don’t mind which WR anyone would go in this situation, for me it’s all about volume and opportunity so I will go with Larry Fitzgerald. Here’s one reason why: Larry fitz is around 90 or so catches from overtaking Tony Gonzalez and making it to No.2 on the all time list. Larry would not have come back unless the coaching staff said to him that we will get you to 2nd. As long Bradford stays healthy,  this will happen(even Mike Glennon can force feed WR, or the opposing Defence…).So with that in mind that’s 90 pts right off the bat for Larry Fitzgerald. The red flags here are injury or hitting the veteran wall (unlikely) and David Johnson. But in effect, this team has no WR apart from Fitzgerald as John Brown has been shown the exit door in free agency, as has Jaron Brown. Leaving just Fitz , FA Brice Butler and JJ Nelson so I am confident if healthy, Fitz gets the receptions record and then sets off into the Sonoran desert.

I take Fitzgerald and wait for a while before it comes back round to my pick at 4.10. On reflection, Larry Fitz as your no.1 WR seems a bit underwhelming, but you just have to trust on the production he will produce, especially in PPR leagues this year. In standard, I would have gone Thielen or Robinson.

So when the pick comes back to me in the 4th Round, here is the draft board:

2018-04-16-1.png

As you can see, most teams are pretty even in terms of roster construction. Team 1 does not have a running back yet so you can bet your bottom dollar that’s where he goes for at least 1 of his two picks that shortly follow mine and it’s hard to know what team 2 will do, having a RB, WR and QB on the board. Whilst Jordan Howard is VERY tempting here and likely will be picked up by team 1 if not team 2 and does represent a tier above the other RBs, there are some good PPR RBs that will still be there when it comes back to me in round 5 (Dion Lewis, Duke Johnson, etc) and i would rather have those than Howard, whose receiving is not the greatest. The WR available to me are: D.Thomas, M.Crabtree, J Smith-Schuster, Sammy Watkins, Pierre Garcon and Robert Woods. Easy choice for me here and it’s Thomas. Mr dependable in PPR for Denver, he is still their no.1 guy there (despite age getting scary for him but the same can be said for Sanders and they now have Case Keenum, who helped Thielen and Diggs have good years so I am really happy to get Thomas here.

The next 4 picks where Howard (gut wrenching stuff for Team 1 there), Russell Wilson (wayyyy too early) and Alex Collins for team 1, followed by Crabtree for Team 2.

So back to me in the 5th Round, I have Bell and Cook as my RBs paired with Larry Fitz and Demaryius Thomas at WR. I feel like this is an important pick here as from round 6, it could start to get a bit dicey. So essentially, this pick will go in to my flex spot and there are plenty of options. Could go QB with Tom Brady, could go TE with Engram or Olsen whereas the RB options are Duke Johnson, Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry, Chris Thompson and Jay Ajayi. My WR options are the same as Round 4 minus Crabtree. As this is a PPR league and RB in PPR are easy to come by, I am going to make a play for WR. As things stand and no big news of 49ers WR signings, I will go for Pierre Garcon here. He is getting on a bit with age, and has not yet played with Jimmy G but he was the focal point of the attack last year and again, I will go for the volume and possession receivers. Did consider Sammy Watkins at the value but he will be too boom or bust for me this year and I don’t want the headache of trying to get him right.

Back round to me in the 6th and we have the following draft board:

2018-04-16-2.png

Bit of a QB run in Round 6 and 4 TEs also went between my picks. So the good news is the WR and RB positions were not as decimated as they could have been. As I have gone 3 straight WR, I want to secure my third RB here. Dion Lewis is still available, but so is his former teammate, Rex Burkhead. Rex has just signed a new 3 year deal with the Patriots and seems to be entrusted with the backfield a bit. Tevin Coleman is also there so I am tempted to take Lewis as he is the fancier name with the Free Agency move and I will hope that one of Burkhead or Coleman come back round to me in 5 picks time.

They do indeed come back round and only Carlos Hyde was selected from an RB perspective. Woods, Shepherd and Edelman also were drafted before my 7.03 selection. There are not a lot of WR shouting out at me, with the best 3 options being Sanders, Kupp and Hogan. As I am an advocate of a late QB and late TE pick, I will go back to an RB. Jay Ajayi could be worth a go here, but I am going with Rex Burkhead.

So to recap, my team is currently Bell, Cook, Lewis and Burkhead at RB. Larry Fitz, D.Thomas and Pierre Garcon at WR. 5QBs and 8RBs went in the next 18 picks which is quite astonishing. I am the only team left needing a first QB, meaning i can probably wait until people start taking their 2nd (if at all), giving me great value filling up the other positions (4 teams still need a TE). I feel like i have to go either TE or WR here. TEs available are Delanie Walker, Jack Doyle, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton. As I am looking at Trey Burton as my TE, I think he wont go for another 2 or 3 rounds so can wait for him. WR available are Kupp, Hogan, Agholor, Benjamin and Lee. I think here is where i can go for a boom or bust player as my team is pretty stable as it is at the moment and I don’t need a QB. Considering how good the Rams were last year, I take the possession receiver Kupp as I want a part of that offence, in a division where defences are poor. He isn’t the boom or bust type, but there will be weeks where he scores big but has a safe floor. 3RBs and Delanie Walker were drafted in between my picks leaving us as follows:

2018-04-16-3.png

You could argue that I should have taken Walker and then a WR as Kupp may have been available which is fair. I’m regretting it already. I would say that now is the time for a TE or QB, but simply not many teams need a TE and none need a QB so i am going to risk the long wait for round 10 to take a TE and then my QB in round 11. I am going to pile in on another receiver. It’s either Agholor or Hogan for me here as they are in the more powerful offences and would rather them than someone like Kelvin Benjamin. I think Hogan was an integral part of the offence prior to injury last year so will take him here.

SPOILER: I wont be taking any rookies here unless its a 15th round flyer. I like to see it first before i draft it.

The Good news is, when it gets to me at 10.10, only 1 TE went. Annoyingly, it was Trey Burton. Seeing as that plan backfired, I feel like I will end up taking 2 TE now and playing them with the matchups. So I immediately take Jordan Reed, who has massive upside if healthy. This will force my hand in taking 2 TE but I am happy with that as my WR and RB are good in depth. Perhaps should take Jack Doyle in a PPR but the signing of Eric Ebron scares me and that Colts offence….yuk.

Jack Doyle is still there in round 11 but I am going to take my QB here. The best QB on the board at the moment is Kirk Cousins. Others available are Big Ben, Dak Prescott, Phillip Rivers, Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan. I am a bit scared of taking Cousins due to the Vikings not necessarily needing much from him with Dalvin Cook and that Defence. Big Ben is very up and down and that’s the case for all of these QBs at this point. But as there are a lot of weapons for Cousins, I will take him and change from my usual take Phillip Rivers ploy.

My team is as follows:

QB: Cousins

RB: Bell, Cook, Lewis, Burkhead

WR: Fitzgerald, D.Thomas, Garcon, Kupp, Hogan

TE: Reed

Options available to me now are TY Montgomery who has potential upside in the GB offence, Desean Jackson, Mohammed Sanu and Ted Ginn, boom or bust WR. However I am going to pick my backup TE to Jordan Reed in George Kittle. Probably not advisable to have players from the same passing attack, but I like Kittle a lot this season coming in to his second year. Could have gone Cameron Brate or Austin Seferian-Jenkins here also.

The turn saw Jacksonville defence come off the board (1st defence to be drafted) and as I am picking late in the last round, I do not want to be left with a middle of the road defence. It’s a take your pick from Minnesota, Philadelphia and for me, Los Angeles Rams. I am going to be controversial and take the Rams before the Vikings and Eagles defences. Don’t @ me. It’s a division where they could feast on the Seattle offence twice a year along with Arizona, one of the worst for giving up sacks last year.

My last pick could be absolutely anyone. RBs on the board are not inspiring: Abdullah, Martin , Breida and Robert Kelley. WRs are Desean Jackson, Corey Coleman, Mike Wallace,  Danny Amendola and Mo Sanu. I don’t need a TE and there is not point taking another defence or QB. So I plump for Sanu, who had some good weeks last year and is the No.1 in Atlanta, if Julio goes down.

So that’s my draft! The good thing about fantasyPros is that they grade your draft and here’s how I did:

2018-04-16-4.png

On reflection, there were probably one or two players I could have waited on a bit longer but this is why you practice drafts. to see what players are in which parts of the draft and get comfortable in predicting who you can get where. I love the RBs on this team and if it was real, i would look to trade one to an RB needy team. Not overly enthused about my TE but if Reed plays 16 games, then I perhaps have the steal of the draft.

Hope you enjoyed the ride! We will do another one soon. perhaps over a podcast as this was very painful to do as a blog and has taken almost 2 or 3 hours.

Love to hear your thoughts on my team or which team won in this draft. For reference, here are the final rosters below:

2018-04-16 (5)

Please get in touch on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and let us know your thoughts! Don’t forget our #raceto500 giveaway. When we have 500 followers we will give a prize away (likely an NFL jersey!). Please show some support on our website full10yards.com and look at some of the articles and mock drafts that are on there.

Finally, our podcast will be back later in the week where we will be looking at the 2018 NFL draft with our guest mock draft writer, Lee Wakefield.

 

Andrew – Finally out of Luck?

I think it’s about that time where I have formed an opinion on Andrew Luck.

I’m going to go ahead and say it – We’ve seen the last of him on an NFL field in a competitive game.

Now, there will be some out there that probably agree and it’s actually not a far fetched statement (maybe never play again is a bit drastic but certainly not a miniscule probability) whilst the common view is that he will step foot on to Lucas Oil stadium once more, but not with the same swagger, confidence or maybe even ability that he once had.

Before we get started – no I am not a doctor, no I have no idea of the finer details of quarterback mechanics or throwing action and no I don’t have any history of working in the NFL as a scout. So therefore, I am perfectly placed to give an articulate, well thought out argument as to why we wont see Andrew Luck throw another football in an NFL game.

So, how did we get here?

Luck injured his right (throwing) shoulder early in the 2015 season. Luck played through his torn labrum after missing two games in 2015 only to suffer and abdominal tear and kidney laceration that cost him the second half of the season. He started 15 games in 2016 before it was determined that he needed surgery to repair the shoulder injury that had lingered from 2015

There was a lot of smokescreen around when Luck would return and whether or not Luck had been throwing balls in order to get back on the field. After throwing in practice for a few days, Luck suffered a setback and was then placed on IR in November.

So what has happened since then?

Luck has seen numerous specialists, throwing coaches and had multiple different opinions, none of which we heard anything about and you always get riddles and unclear answers about the whole situation. Luck himself has said barely anything and when he does, its fairly candidly.

It’s now reported this week that it is likely that Luck will miss some games in this season, too.

There are a couple of things that have been niggling in this story which lead me to believe that my click bait headline may actually come to fruition.

Firstly, the first sign to me was Josh McDaniels walking out on the Colts in this offseason.

You’ve got a future Head Coach, taught from the best coaching tree possible in Bill Belichick walking through the front gate of your franchise. Surely, there were conversations from McDaniels along the lines of “What is the situation with Andrew Luck?”. Now i know there may have been a bit of ear pulling from the New England backroom staff to put doubts in McDaniels’ ear about the decision he had made and asked him to reconsider. It’s very likely, with the events that happened, that McDaniels will be the next HC of New England after the Belichick Era has ended and it would’ve been poetically and discreetly put that way to McDaniels in order to get him to essentially turn his back on more than just the Colts as the chain of events will prevent McDaniels being hired in a lot of other places.

However, I’m almost certain that the Colts were not able to give anything positive in the way of Andrew Luck to the extent of not even being able to guarantee that he could ever be the Andrew Luck that had a completion percentage of 63.5% in 2016.

At some point in the future, we will find out exactly what is wrong with Luck and get an answer as to what exactly went on behind closed doors (Luck could always get a book deal and earn probably just as much as he would in the NFL for 1 year).

The other piece to the puzzle and the bit I don’t get is, if we are still at the stage where we still don’t know the extent of Andrew Luck’s injury, is it possible that not even Andrew Luck knows? He still hasn’t thrown “the duke” and barely threw a tennis ball last year. How decimated is that shoulder? 

Regardless of what state it is in and how long there is left for it to heal and get in a state where Luck can throw a ball weighing less than a rabbit (#NationalPetDay people, staying current) more than 50 yards, Luck has to remember how to play Quarterback.

You know, the most important position on the field? The guy the touches the ball on every snap (colts rarely do wildcat ;)).

Andrew Luck not only must re-learn how to throw a ball, an accurate one at that, but also how to captain the Colts sinking ship.

That is perhaps the most difficult thing Andrew Luck will have to overcome. Reading defences, trusting his team mates to protect him, feel the pressure and escape the pocket and throw on the run, make plays. The list goes on and on.

The history of players that have had over a year out of the game are not kind, nor should they be. The NFL is a brutal sport to the body, which is why careers barely last longer than 10 years. Granted, QBs are a bit longer but Andrew Luck has to essentially start from the beginning and I feel that it will come to a point where Andrew Luck will give up. Not because he wants to, but because he has to.

If he has to change his throwing action or change his game in anyway, he is starting from the beginning. His muscles would’ve weakened considerably over the past few years, the muscle memory on making certain throws would have gone. To learn this all over again with a new throwing motion and style will mean that we will never get THE Andrew Luck back. Essentially its like learning how to kick a soccer ball with your weaker foot after a year out with a cruciate ligament injury.

I just think that when we eventually see Luck throw a football (again, we may never see this at the rate it is going), Luck is going to be nowhere near his former self and it’s likely that he will do this behind closed doors for a good while to establish whether or not the comeback can ever be completed. It’s ok to say that Luck can throw a ball, or to read NFL defences, but he still has to play in the game and take more hits.

WIth the new Andrew Luck we could potentially get back, it opens up avenues of further questions about his ability to play in the NFL.

Will the Colts have to change or alter the playbook for him? Will the coaches have any confidence in Luck to make certain plays or to stay healthy from here on out and will he get that game sharpness back- both mentally and physically. 

I just don’t think he can or will. It’s way to much to overcome considering what has gone on before and at some point, they will admit defeat.

Luck may just feel that it isn’t worth it (especially if his insurance pays out). He could quite easily go in to coaching and get his release that way and there would be plenty of people willing to listen. Players are now more conscious of their lives after NFL and I just think it is the sensible option to think about the long term.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I would love to see more than Luck put on that number 12 Jersey again and tear up the AFC and win a Superbowl his talents deserved. I’m not sure those talents can ever be resurrected again so if you cant give it your all, then you shouldn’t give anything as a QB in the NFL.

With McDaniels seemingly not getting any assurances about Luck, the Luck camp being awfully quiet about it all and the long lasting effects on Luck and his ability to reach his former self, all point to the conclusion that Andrew Luck may prematurely hanging up his cleats (whilst staying in the NFL in some aspect).

Sad times.