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Defending the Draft 2020: Las Vegas Raiders
Season Review submitted by vicsage83 to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]
The final season of the Oakland Raiders and the second in Jon Gruden’s second tenure had a small dose of optimism. After a paltry 4 win season in 2018 the Raiders brought in NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock to be the new General Manager. While few of the free agents that the Raiders brought in were able to make a major impact, save Richie Incognito at Left Guard and Trent Brown at Right Tackle, many of the rookies brought in did. Josh Jacobs, Trayvon Mullen, Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow, Foster Moreau, and Clelin Ferrell all saw significant snaps. Johnathan Abram was on his way to having a starter role but was lost for the season on week 1 due to a torn rotator cuff and labrum. There was also this whole Antonio Brown thing going on. I think it's safe to say that I don’t need to get into the details on that. However, Carr losing the best wide receiver he would have ever had to play with and whom a big chunk of the playbook was geared towards was a mighty bow to the Raiders offense.
When the schedule was released there was no question that the front half was brutal with 5 weeks straight of non-home games (4 away and 1 London). The optimism of a playoff berth in the Raiders final season in Oakland only grew when they made it through that stretch going into week 12 at 6-4. Sadly, that’s when the lack of depth and quality weapons started to rear its ugly head and the Raiders went on to win only 1 of their final 6 games including a dismal 4 game losing streak which had the Raiders getting blown out by the Jets, Chiefs, and Titans. In that stretch the Raiders managed to lose in the final game at the Oakland Coliseum to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not Great. However, they managed to split the last two games of the year, ending the season at 7-9 and in 3rd place in the AFC West. Notable Pre-Draft Acquisitions Corey Littleton, LB, LAR (3 years, $35.25m, $22m G)
PFF Grade - 78.9 (8th of 89) Carl Nassib, DE, TB (3 years, $25.25m,$16.75m G)
To say that the Raiders have had a dearth of talent at linebacker over the past decade is an understatement. Such names like Perry Riley, Nick Roach and Will Compton have seemed like upgrades for our team. Not very inspiring. Mayock and Gruden clearly wanted to focus on improving this position and attacked the best linebacker on the market in Littleton. The Raiders have been victimized by tight ends and pass catching running backs and having an athletic coverage specialist like Littleton will only help the Raiders defense.
PFF Grade - 69.3 (43rd of 106) Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, CHI (3 years, $21m, $13.75m G)
Even with the additions of Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby in the 2019 draft the Raiders had a need at defensive end. Nassib gives the Raiders another long and high motor rusher who can hold the edge. Nassib may not be a high end player, but he’s going to be a valuable piece on the defensive line.
PFF Grade - 72.6 (15th of 89) Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN (2 years, $17.6m, $7.5m G)
The Raiders doubled down with linebackers by adding Kwiatkoski to pair with Littleton. The Raiders have since said that they are going to have Kwiatkoski wear the green dot on defense and playing MIKE. Kwiat may be lacking in starting experience but the Raiders are betting on his upside after showing out for Chicago this past season. The former Bear LB showed good coverage drops in conjunction with intelligence and physicality and should be a nice partner to Littleton.
PFF Grade - 64.3 (27th of 37) Maliek Collins, DL, DAL (1 year, $6m, $5.75m G)
It's no mystery that Raider Nation has a love/hate relationship with Derek Carr. While Carr is the unquestioned starter, Mariota will be there in case Carr is unable to play up to the standards of Gruden. Mariota still has good mobility for the position but the Raiders have been vocal about wanting to get him healthy first and foremost.
PFF Grade - 65.1 (65th of 115) Jason Witten, TE, DAL (1 year, $4m, $3.5m G)
One interesting move made by the Raiders this offseason was the hiring of Rod Marinelli (and letting go of Bretson Buckner). Marinelli made his influence and presence known with two signings, the first of which was for Maliek Collins (the other being Jeff Heath but I’m not gonna devote a ton of time to a backup safety/ST player). Collins is a solid interior pass rusher who still has his best years ahead of him. Jon Hankins is locked into our starting 1T role but the 3T is up for grabs between Collins and Mo Hurst, who ended 2019 very strongly.
PFF Grade - 59.4 (43rd of 67) Damarious Randall, S, CLE (1 year, $1.5m, $1.5m G)
Yes yes. Of course a Jon Gruden-led team spent $4m on a possible TE2. Overpay aside, Witten gives Carr another red zone threat and the Raiders TE room a role model professional again. It’s only a 1 year deal so this deal won’t be too impactful but anytime you can sign a former Monday Night Football broadcaster you gotta do it right?
PFF Grade - 69.3 (40th of 88) Major Needs Entering Draft
The Raiders secondary was not good in 2019. They attempted to fix this by signing Byron Jones but Miami got him for more guaranteed money. They tried for Chris Harris Jr but he liked the fit of the Chargers deal. They even agreed to terms with Eli Apple but that fell apart due to medical issues. Once that happened they used some of that money to bring in Randall, who will compete with Erik Harris to play FS.
The Raiders entered draft day with 2 major needs, wide receiver and cornerback. They also needed depth all over the defense, especially at running back and linebacker. There was continuing talk of quarterback but despite the signing of Mariota there were still rumblings of a Jalen Hurts or Jordan Love selection. Las Vegas Raiders 2020 Draft Round 1 (12th Overall) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
5-11, 185lbs ---- Junior ---- PFF Grade: 75.0 Round 1 (19th Overall) - Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Team Fit: Wide receiver was the clear need for the Las Vegas Raiders coming into draft night. With their pick of the top 3 wide outs in the class they went for the one with the best athletic profile and that was Henry Rugs III. Ruggs should be able to start very quickly for the Raiders and gives Derek Carr an explosive weapon who can win in numerous ways. Mayock also brought up how Ruggs could possibly return kicks and use that 4.27 speed to flip the field in special teams. There were some rumors about the Raiders moving back with Tampa here but were pretty locked in on Ruggs. I’d assume they didn’t want to risk San Francisco getting yet another target in consecutive drafts (2018 was McGlinchey and 2019 was Bosa).
Vic Analysis: Ruggs came into draft day as my 15th overall player and WR4. I had a firm round 1 grade on him as well. It is no secret to say that Ruggs has an elite trump card in his speed and is able to use that speed both deep down the field and in his after the catch ability. Ruggs isn’t the typical speed target with bad hands either. His 10 1/8th” mitts show up on tape and he uses them to make catches outside his body despite his smaller size. The Raiders should make it a habit to get the ball in Ruggs’ hands as often as possible because his speed will stretch defenses both vertically and horizontally. The Raiders have a true #1 target in Darren Waller and a good slot in Hunter Renfrow, meaning Ruggs doesn’t need to put up gawdy stats in order to be influential or valuable. Just by being on the field he will open up things underneath for our other targets. Mayock and Gruden have both raved about Ruggs' work ethic and football intelligence. Ruggs does need to try and improve on his physicality while in his routes and at the catch point but at his size that’s not an easy task. However, with Ruggs combination of athleticism, ball skills, route running, football IQ, and fearlessness he should be a staple in the offense of the Las Vegas Raiders.
6-0, 195lbs ---- Redshirt Senior ----PFF Grade: 75.0 Round 3 (80th Overall) - Lynn Bowden Jr, RB, Kentucky
Team Fit: If wide receiver was the biggest need for the Raiders, second place would be cornerback. It was heavily rumored that the Raiders were interested in taking Clemson’s A.J. Terrell at 19 but when Atlanta scooped him up the Raiders went to the next guy on their board in Ohio State’s Damon Arnette. It didn't sound like there was much interest from other teams to move up to 19 so the Raiders stuck with their guns and picked up Arnette. Just like Clelin Ferrell in 2019, the higher than anticipated draft slot will shadow these guys throughout their rookie contracts. If they perform as the Raiders expect it won’t matter but that remains to be seen.
Vic Analysis: Arnette was my CB8 with a round 2 grade. Arnette may lack ideal length but he is an adept press corner and that makes him an ideal fit for Guenther’s defense. The former Buckeye is able to disrupt routes at the line of scrimmage by being physical and aggressive. He is highly experienced and technically sound as one would expect from a senior in an Ohio State secondary. Arnette has buttery hips that flip with ease and his feet are super quick as well, leaving him able to turn and run with receivers throughout their route. Arnette hasn’t had great ball production but he flashes the ability to make plays on the ball by anticipating the receiver and attacking the catch point even with his back to the ball. Arnette may have tested poorly in his 40 time (4.56)at the Combine, but he plays much faster on film and in my opinion his athletic profile is a plus, not a minus.
5-11, 204lbs ---- Junior ---- PFF Grade: 73.0 Round 3 (81st Overall) - Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
Team Fit: Raiders’ leadership has made it clear that they wanted to increase the number of weapons at Derek Carr’s disposal. Lynn Bowden Jr gives the Raiders QB a versatile weapon who projects best as an offensive chess piece, called a Joker in Gruden’s offense. Bowden can back up Jacobs at RB, jump into the slot at WR, and return punts as well. Bowen has overcome a tough upbringing, is gritty as hell, and still has a chip on his shoulder, making him an ideal Raider. Mayock has said that the Raiders are going to train Bowden, “..to be a running back. If he’s able to handle that job, then we’ll be able to do some other things with him. We’ll move him around, let him catch the football and return punts.”
Vic Analysis: Bowden was definitely a fun study. Despite spending much of the season playing wildcat QB after multiple QB injuries, Bowden ended up as my WR17 (RB8 if I put him with the RBs) with a round 3 grade. Bowden is a tough as nails player who thrives with the ball in his hands. As a runner he mixes his solid field vision with a willingness to run with both power and elusiveness. As a receiver he showcases good hands and the traits needed to improve as a route runner. He still requires some work releasing against press coverage and breaking free downfield against tight coverage. While Bowden has had some experience rushing from the backfield, that’s still going to need some development being a running back and not the QB. I expect that year 1 will be more schemed touches and that added development will give him a more defined role in the Raiders offense.
6-3, 215lbs ---- Senior ----PFF Grade: 77.9 Round 3 (100th Overall) - Tanner Muse, LB, Clemson
Team Fit: Did you know that the Raiders really, really wanted to improve their weapons? If you didn’t before it should be obvious now. So far, the Raiders have added a speedster in Ruggs, a do-it-all weapon in Bowden and now the big body possession receiver in Bryan Edwards. Edwards will probably start the year as the Raiders WR4, behind Ruggs, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Renfrow. I suspect in year 2 he’ll end up being our X receiver taking over for Tyrell.
Vic Analysis: Bryan Edwards graded out as my WR15 and a 3rd Round Grade. Edwards is a big bodied receiver who thrives over the middle of the field. He needs to improve the consistency in his hands catching, but he flashes the ability to do so. Edwards is physical and sneakily elusive with the ball in his hands. He has the explosiveness and long speed to win deep and the route running to win closer to the line of scrimmage as well. He’ll need to shore up his releases against press coverage but he certainly has the requisite tools in his toolbox to do so. He had to battle some awful quarterback play while at South Carolina and going from the likes of Jake Bentley to Derek Carr should help him continue to improve and be a contributor to the Las Vegas offense.
6-2, 227lbs ---- Redshirt Senior ---- PFF Grade: 83.0 Round 4 (109th Overall) - John Simpson, OG, Clemson
Team Fit: Even with the signings of Corey Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski the Raiders wanted to improve their linebacker room. After trading back from 91 they targeted a hybrid player from their favorite school, Clemson. Muse will start out playing special teams for Rich Bisaccia while growing and learning both MIKE and WILL linebacker. Muse fits the Raiders blueprint of a tough, fast athlete with high football and non-football character. Already good friends with Clelin Ferrell, Muse could end up being the third Clemson starter on defense come 2022.
Vic Analysis: I had Tanner Muse graded as a safety and it wasn’t great. He was S17 with a Late Day 3 Grade. Muse was at his best attacking downhill, shedding and avoiding blocks, and not having to do too much diagnosing. I’m not sure Muse will have the ability to keep up with shiftier backs or tight ends, but the potential is there for him to be a solid man coverage player. Worst case he can still blitz and be an early down contributor along with his special teams work. Are there players I would have preferred at 100? Sure are, but Muse fits the Raiders blueprint and with two locked in starters at linebacker getting a developmental player isn’t a bad move. It just might have been early and like with Arnette, if Muse performs his draft slot won’t matter too much.
6-4, 321lbs ---- Senior ---- PFF Grade: 70.2 Round 4 (139th Overall) - Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
Team Fit: Remember how I said Mayock and Gruden love Clemson players? Well here’s another one to add into the mix. The Raiders were surprised to see Simpson on the board come Day 3 and made a trade up to come and get their guy. With Richie Incognito getting up there in age and Gabe Jackson dealing with both injuries and underperformance (while having a cap hit close to $10m) the Raiders made it a priority to find someone to take over if they wanted to move on from either. There have been rumors the Raiders had Jackson on the trade block but couldn’t get any takers so he’s graduated to becoming a potential cap casualty. If that’s the case Simpson would compete with Denzelle Good at RG. Worst case I think he backs up Incognito before ultimately taking over at LG for the 37 year old veteran.
Vic Analysis: Simpson was my iOL10 (OG5) and had a 3rd round grade. Simpson is a big, thicc boi. The former Clemson Tiger thrives using his strength while in a phone booth. Simpson has elite length and hand strength, meaning once he gets hands on defenders he is generally taking them wherever he wants them to go. He lacks ideal foot quickness but masks it with decent vision and awareness. Simpson has an elite anchor but needs to make sure he doesn’t jeopardize it with getting too upright and risking his leverage. Simpson is a great fit for the Raiders west coast offense with a mix of gap/zone rushing concepts.
5-9, 180lbs ---- Junior ---- PFF Grade: 90.3 Note
Team Fit: It was borderline assumed at this point that the Raiders would trade back from 139, what with them not having any picks in the 5th, 6th, or 7th rounds. Instead, they stood pat here and selected the meanest, most fearless nickel corner they could find in Amik Robertson. Currently, LaMarcus Joyner is set to man the slot for the Raiders and if last year is any indication that isn’t the best plan. So, for insurance they went and got potentially the best slot corner in the draft in Amik Robertson. I think it's entirely possible that Amik ends up taking Joyners snaps bit by bit before starting in 2021.
Vic Analysis: Amik Robertson finished up as my CB9 with a round 2 grade. It might be safe to say that If Amik was a few inches taller that he would have gone earlier than that. Robertson plays cornerback like opposing players wanted to take his lunch money. Despite his size Robertson is able to win with physicality, instincts, and ball skills. His ability in short areas is sublime and while he can get over aggressive at times he is usually balanced covering double moves. Obviously he is going to get outmatched sometimes against bigger slot receivers but Amik will make them earn their wins.
: Mayock has said one of the reasons he was comfortable not having late day 3 picks was due to the shutdown related to COVID-19. With a shortened camp season he wanted to target players who would no question make the team over taking players who would be long shots. Post Draft Acquisitions (as of 5.21) Prince Amukamara (1 year, $1.05m, 50k G)
PFF Grade - 67.4 (43rd of 112) DeVontae Booker, RB, Denver (1 year, $1.0475m, $50k G)
Even with the Arnette and Amik draft picks, the Raiders had wanted to bring in a veteran corner who could compete with the young defensive backs on the roster for a starting role. Amukamara is a steady type who hasn’t had a ton of ball production but can get the job done in coverage. As of now he would probably be a starter with Trayvon Mullen but if Arnette shows why the Raiders picked him at 19 that could change quickly.
PFF Grade - 65.8 (Not enough snaps to qualify) Notable Undrafted Free Agents Dominik Eberle, K, Utah State
Booker gives the Raiders another veteran back to compete in camp. He’s sturdy and good in pass protection so he might make the roster as RB4 behind Jacobs, Richard, and Bowden.
Camp competition for incumbent Daniel Carlson. Eberle didn't miss an extra point in college, finished with a career percentage of 79.0, and handled kick off duties for the Aggies. Javin White, LB, UNLV
White is a hybrid defender who profiles best as a nickel linebacker and special teams player. If he's able to get ST reps he could make the back end of the roster while developing a true defensive home. Could see a path to playing time similarly to Corey Littleton. Kamaal Seymour, OT, Rutgers
4 year starter at a mighty Rutgers (for you Looch) program who profiles better on the inside then at right tackle. The Raiders brought in a ton of options at the interior so it will be a battle for Seymour to make the roster. Practice squad candidate. Nick Bowers, TE, Penn State
Bowers has good size and athleticism for the position. He was behind a possible 2021 1st round pick Pat Freirmuth's backup but dealt with health the majority of his time in Happy Valley. The Raiders have a deep tight end room so it will be tough for him to make the roster but he could be a practice squad candidate. Madre Harper, CB, Southern Illinois
Strong athlete with press man traits. Needs to improve his transitions and tweak some technical details but could make the roster and see some time as a special teams player while growing at corner. Siaosi Mariner, WR, Utah State
Jordan Love's go-to receiver in 2019, Mariner shows some decent traits at the receiver position to go with his 6-2, 205lbs frame. The top of the Raiders wide receiver depth chart is mostly set so Mariner is likely to compete for a practice squad spot. Mariner would be competing against Ateman, Doss, Gafford, Zay Jones, XFL Great De'Mornay Pierson-El and Anthony Ratliff-Williams for the final roster spot. Mike Panasiuk, DL, Michigan State
Strong as an ox with a body made for taking blocks as a two gap defender, Panasiuk has a chance to make the roster backing up Jon Hankins at 1T. Needs to improve his pass rush but I think the traits are there for him to do so. Liam McCullough, LS, Ohio State
He's a long snapper. He snaps the ball a long way. He will compete with current long snapper Trent Sieg. Conclusion
The Raiders entered the off-season with major needs at wide receiver, linebacker, and cornerback. I believe they addressed two of those, wide receiver and linebacker, strongly while still needing some development for our corner room. Mayock also made sure to improve our depth all around the roster. If Derek Carr is able to continue his upwards trend in year 3 with Jon Gruden, and the pass defense improves literally at all, then the Raiders could compete for a wild card spot. Like last year they will need to survive a tough opening slate, but this time they will need to keep their momentum and not falter down the stretch. The AFC West will be a battle however as each team has made significant improvements. You could make an argument for each of Denver, LA, or Vegas to come in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. 53 Man Roster Projection
QB - Derek Carr
, Marcus Mariota
RB - Josh Jacobs
, Jalen Richard, Lynn Bowden
FB - Alec Ingold
WR - Henry Ruggs
, Tyrell Williams
, Hunter Renfrow
WR - Bryan Edwards
, Nelson Agahlor, Zay Jones
TE - Darrren Waller
, Jason Witten, Foster Moreau
OT - Kolton Miller, Trent Brown
, David Sharpe, Brandon Parker
iOL - Rodney Hudson, Richie Incognito, Gabe Jackson
, John Simpson
, Denzelle Good, Andre James
iDL - Johnathan Hankins, Maliek Collins
, Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall, Daniel Ross
DE - Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby
, Carl Nassib, Arden Key
LB - Corey Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski,
Nicholas Morrow, Marquel Lee, Tanner Muse
OCB - Trayvon Mullen, Prince Amukamara
, Damon Arnette
, Isaiah Johnson
SCB - Lamarus Joyner
, Amik Robertson
FS - Damarious Randall
, Erik Harris
SS - Johnathan Abram
, Jeff Heath
K - Daniel Carlson
P - A.J. Cole
LS - Trent Sieg 2020 Draft Grade: B -
While the Raiders had some slight reaches, and not so slight (*cough*Tanner Muse*cough*), they also found some good values especially on day 2 with Bryan Edwards, John Simpson, and Amik Robertson. I think an aggressive projection has the Raiders with 4 players getting starter reps by the end of the season. More likely, I think Ruggs and Arentte start in 2020 and we see Edwards, Simpson and Amik each get more and more involved in 2021. Bowden will likely be a change of pace weapon throughout his rookie contract and Muse a special teams ace with some improved defensive playing time by 2022. 2020 Prediction: 8-8 (3rd in AFC West)
Defending the Draft: New England Patriots
Preface submitted by Woodennickel20 to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]
Going into the 2019 season, the Patriots held very high expectations. The defense that had just shut down the high-powered 2018 Rams offense had arguably gotten better. Although the offense had lost Rob Gronkowski, the addition of first-round WR N’Keal Harry and free agent Demaryius Thomas seemed to at least keep their offensive options. Combining this with Sony Michel coming off a successful rookie campaign and 4 of 5 starters of a strong offensive line, with Trent Brown being replaced by 2018 1st round selection Isaiah Wynn, the offensive situation looked optimistic for New England.
As the team progressed through the 2019 preseason and into the season itself, things began to look even better. Although N’Keal Harry injured himself in the first preseason game, the team was eventually informed that Josh Gordon would be reinstated, even being allowed to start Week 1. The defense showed its prowess throughout the preseason, especially against the Lions and Panthers, with the only bad game coming against the Giants, when the Patriots mainly played people at the bottom of the depth chart. To add to New England fans’ excitement, they saw their team sign WR Antonio Brown the night before the team’s debut against the Steelers. As New England embarrassed Brown’s former team 33-3, and then the Dolphins 43-0 it seemed almost inevitable that New England would become the first franchise to win 7 Super Bowls.
However, that was not how the season progressed. Brown couldn’t handle himself even under Belichick’s control, and his decision to threaten the children of one of his accusers of sexual assault found him released from the team. Josh Gordon was injured Week 6 against the Giants, eventually being medically released and later found to have relapsed when he was on the Seahawks. The rest of the offense was riddled with injuries: Julian Edelman had nagging rib injuries, Philip Dorsett hurt his foot early in the year and also sustained a concussion, Mohammed Sanu sustained an ankle injury in his first game, early kick/punt returner Gunner Olsewski was injured in Week 7, Brady himself reportedly struggled with his elbow. The worst effects of injury came against the Offensive Line, as 4 out of the 5 starters sustained some injury, and this is not including the fact that C David Andrews missed the whole season because of pulmonary embolism. The most impactful injury out of this bunch was LT Isaiah Wynn, as the team had to deploy Marshall Newhouse to replace him, a role that Newhouse did not fill adequately, to say the least. Blocking also suffered when FB James Devlin suffered a season ending injury, followed by his backup Jakob Johnson also being put on IR only a few games later. Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson both missed multiple games, forcing the team to only roll with Ryan Izzo at tight end at some times.
These many injuries, as well as a terrible TE corps, not only stunted the passing attack but also crippled the running game. Michel was often met and tackled in the backfield, resulting in a terrible YPC despite being the AFC East’s leading rusher. Despite these offense struggles, the team’s excellent defense performance, in combination with facing many subpar offenses, carried the team to a 12-4 record and the 3rd seed in the AFC. However, the offensive struggles were too great for the team; although the team’s defense held the red-hot Titans offense to 14 points and gave the offense multiple chances to pull ahead, the offense failed to perform when needed, unable to finish drives, even when on Tennessee’s 1-yard line. Sometimes you really do need an offense to win a championship.
QB Tom Brady, FA, Buccaneers: The one loss that seemed unthinkable until it really happened. Even though we knew that Brady’s contract voided after this year, many fans thought he was still going to re-sign and finish his career here. However, New England really did not have the cap space to do so and build a satisfactory team around him, causing Brady to decide to sign with the Buccaneers, a team with high offensive potential and has a shot at the super bowl. The Greatest QB of All Time will be missed here in New England, as the team experiences uncertainty at the position for the first time in nearly 20 years.
FB James Devlin, Retirement: When it was announced that it was a neck injury that sidelined Devlin for the rest of the season, his future with the team was in doubt. Once the team signed free agent Dan Vitale, it was almost certain that Devlin would announce his retirement sooner or later. James Devlin was an underrated part of the Pats’ success in the 2010s, where he proved to be a reliable lead blocker, bolstering the effectiveness of New England’s run game. His absence for most of 2019 was palpable as the team consistently struggled establishing a run game, and the Patriots have a tall task of finding an effective replacement for him.
K Stephen Gostkowski, Released: Gostkowski’s departure represented another long-time Patriot staple leaving the team, although the Patriots had started to live without him as his season ended very early due to an injury that required surgery. The Patriots missed Gostkowski’s leg last year, as the team could not reliably score field goals longer than 40 yards, causing the offense to attempt 4th down conversions deep into enemy territory.
LB Kyle Van Noy, FA, Dolphins: One of Belichick’s greatest successes in terms of correctly utilizing players that were previously viewed as ‘busts’ because their coaches could not use them correctly. Van Noy was acquired from the Lions for a measly swap of 6th and 7th picks midway through the 2016 season. Throughout his tenure with the Patriots, especially within the last two seasons, Van Noy became a staple piece in the team’s LB corps with his versatility and great fundamentals. Van Noy now joins his former LB coach Brian Flores in Miami, who will likely maximize Van Noy’s potential.
LB Elendon Roberts, FA, Miami: Elandon Roberts joined his teammate Van Noy in joining Miami to be coached under Brian Flores. Roberts was promoted to captain for his final season in New England, and primarily played most of his defensive snaps as a run-defending thumping linebacker. Roberts also filled in as an emergency FB when both Devlin and Johnson were injured, and played decently well for a third-string FB, I guess. Roberts represents another role that the Patriots had to fill through free agency and the draft.
LB Jamie Collins, FA, Lions: The Patriots added a familiar face in the athletic freak Jamie Collins heading into the 2019 season. Collins’ athleticism allowed him to flash in the early parts of the 2019 season, when he obtained a pick-six at Miami and almost blocked a Bills field goal attempt by broad jumping over the Bills’ line. Like Van Noy, Collins heads to a former Patriots defensive coach in Matt Patricia in Detroit. Unlike the Dolphins, the Lions front office did not watch the second half of the 2019 season, where Collins tended to lose discipline and become a liability in the defense, showing off some of his former issues. I highly doubt Lions fans will think Collins is worth his $10 million APY contract
DT Danny Shelton, FA, Lions: Patriots North scoops up another Patriots player, what a surprise. Going into the 2019 preseason, Shelton seemed like he might be on the outside looking in for the Patriots roster. It looked like other tackles such as Mike Pennel had the ability to replace Shelton. However, Shelton impressed and was able to earn his spot on the team. The nose tackle’s primary role throughout the season was to be a run defender, a role he played quite well. Shelton will help add some strength to a Lions defensive front that played badly last year.
DB Duron Harmon, Traded, Lions: Duron Harmon was a long-time player at the safety position, filling in the role of the third safety while working alongside McCourty and Chung. He earned the nickname of “the closer” due to his performances at the end of matches where he would end the game through obtaining an interception. The Patriots quickly found their replacement for Harmon, most notably adding DB/ST Adrian Phillips, so there really isn’t much worry for him leaving the team.
OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia, Retirement: Arguably the greatest loss that the Patriots suffered outside of Tom Brady, the OL guru has again decided to retire. Scarnecchia is responsible for the Patriots having great offensive lines throughout his tenure and is a sometimes underrated aspect of their wild success. Unlike Scar’s previous retirement in 2014 where he was replaced by Dave DeGuglielmo, both Cole Popovich and Carmen Briscillo have experience being an understudy of Scarnecchia, which will likely help to soften the blow of his retirement. There were also rumors that Scar was still advising New England on scouting the OL position for the draft, so perhaps you can never keep this man away from this team.
Additions, Extensions, Retentions,
C David Andrews, Returning from IR: Although this technically does not fit this category, Andrews deserves to be mentioned. Even though Ted Karras played decently as he was thrust into the starting role, the Patriots felt Andrews absence, especially in the run game. Losing Andrews also likely contributed to the rest of the IOL (especially Mason, who played a lot of the season with a foot injury) not performing as well as they could have. Andrews' return will improve Jarrett Stidham’s performance, both through his protection as well as increasing the effectiveness of the Patriots’ rushing attack.
OG Joe Thuney, Franchise Tag: Bringing back Thuney was a wise move for the Patriots. The star left guard will be instrumental to protecting young quarterback Jarrett Stidham as well as ensuring the run game operates smoothly. Although some consider IOL to be a low-value position, Thuney will help the team acclimate to the other changes that happened around the offense. Having a solid line is an important element of building a good offense, and Thuney will ensure that the left guard position will work reliably.
DBs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung: With Brady leaving, the Patriots found it valuable to keep long-time veterans around the team to maintain their team morale and culture while acclimating to the personnel change. McCourty has been a captain and locker room leader of the Patriots for quite some time and will be an important leader as the team adjusts to 2020. Both McCourty and Chung will feature in what should be a very strong secondary unit throughout the 2020 season.
DB/ST Adrian Phillips, FA: Boy do the Patriots love versatility special teamers! Phillips has played well as a special teamer and also played in many positions in the Chargers secondary, and will bring his veteran experience to the Patriots secondary. He will likely play in the rotation of safeties with Chung and McCourty, filling in a similar role to Harmon, who was traded the day before Phillips was signed.
DT Beau Allen, FA: The former Buccaneers DT will likely fill in as a replacement for Danny Shelton, who left the team to play for Detroit. Allen projects to play as a run-stuffing nose tackle that will ensure the Patriots can control the run.
FB Danny Vitale, FA: Vitale is an interesting signing. While he is listed as a fullback, he probably will not be a straight replacement for the retired James Devlin. Devlin primarily filled in as a lead blocker and sometimes as a rusher, but very rarely was used as a downfield threat. Vitale has some decent athleticism and pass-catching experience that the Patriots will likely utilize. His versatility may mean the Patriots move him around a lot instead of just using him as a lead blocker, though he has decent experience at that position as well.
LB Brandon Copeland, FA: Copeland was a signing the Patriots made to help account for the losses they had in free agency. The veteran LB recently played for the division rival Jets, where he primarily performed off the ball under Gregg Williams. Copeland brings some versatility and leadership as he has had to adapt from playing from the defensive line to off the ball.
WRs Marqise Lee and Dameire Byrd, FA: Byrd’s main attribute is straight-line speed, though he really has never been able to convert it into a high amount of production, in part due to injuries. Perhaps it’s because Dorsett was on this team for three straight years, but I am not going to bet on Byrd producing just because he has speed. Lee is much more interesting, as he was able to produce solidly during 2016-17. However, Lee has not performed nearly at all in the last two years because of injuries. If Lee can return to his pre-injury form, (though not very likely), he could carve out a pretty decent role on this New England roster.
2.37 Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Rhyne:
It wasn’t a surprise to many Patriots fans that the team elected to trade out of their first round pick, though some that held up hope the Patriots would make a selection might have been disappointed. Many fans wondered where the team would go with their first pick, and when it was announced that the team chose a DB from a division II school, people were initially exasperated.
Belichick’s record with 2nd round defensive backs is quite well known such that it has become a meme within the fanbase and around the NFL. His main success with the position in the second round was with Patrick Chung, and even he wasn’t very successful until his second stint. Obviously, we can’t declare a player a success or failure just because of prior trends or draft position and instead should look at the player himself if we are to make a judgement upon him.
Coming out of high school, Dugger only received offers from DII schools because he was very undersized. As he eventually grew into his frame in Lenoir-Rhyne, he elected to commit to the school that recruited him. Dugger is a hard-hitting player who most likely will transition to playing in the box as a safety for the Patriots, likely eventually taking over for aging veteran Patrick Chung.
What separates Dugger from many other defensive backs the Patriots have selected over the recent years is his athleticism. Dugger running a 4.49s 40, jumping 42 inches in the vertical jump and 134 in the broad jump while being 6’1” and 217 pounds presents a mixture of speed, size, and athleticism that is rare for a safety. The main aspect of his game that the Patriots need to work on is his transition to playing against NFL-level competition. Generally, the jump from a DI school to the NFL is quite large, the difference from DII to the NFL is even larger. It will likely take a year or two for Dugger to be ready to be a significant contributor on the defense as he adjusts to his new system. Adapting to these circumstances, the Patriots have ensured that Dugger will not have a lot of pressure to perform on defense early on through extending Chung and signing Phillips. Interestingly, Dugger’s coaching throughout his years at Lenoir-Rhyne has been inconsistent, he had to play under three different coordinators during his four years at the school. Hopefully with some great coaching and system stability with Bill and Steve Belichick Dugger can carve out his role as a future player in the secondary.
Perhaps to the disappointment of some Patriots fans, Dugger’s contributions early in his career will most likely be on special teams. Dugger had experience being a returner in college, and I would not be surprised if that becomes his primary role early on in his tenure. Dugger’s athletic ability gives him the potential to become a future star on the team if he can adapt to the NFL. Only time will tell whether he works out or becomes another player too add to the list of failed second round picks.
2.60 Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan:
Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio remarked that prior to day two, the Patriots had three players they had a priority on acquiring: Dugger was one of them, and Uche was the other that the Patriots were able to draft with their selections.
Like Dugger, Uche is an explosive athlete with great speed as well as motor. Due to enduring an injury in the senior bowl, he was unable to participate in the combine. However, his athleticism shows up on film. Uche is a very versatile player, being able to play both on the line as well as off the ball and his efforts got him named the most versatile player by PFF in their 2020 draft guide. Michigan DC Don Brown said that he put Uche in nearly every position on the defense. I am sure Belichick was quite happy when he saw the 245 pound linebacker in coverage downfield against Penn State WR KJ Hamler. Amongst his versatility, his pass rush ability is what truly stands out. His 23.2% pressure rate and 28.2% pass rush win rate were second in both categories in the FBS. Uche achieved these great statistics through his incredible getoff off the line as well as good hand placement combined with his fantastic athleticism. Don Brown stated that Uche’s primary motivation was to become the best pass rusher in the country, and the dedication and work that Uche put in to be amongst the best in the country showed throughout the 2019 season. The primary aspect of Uche’s game that he needs to solidify in order to increase his role on the Patriots is increasing consistency with run defense.
Uche marked the first of five consecutive selections the Patriots made that addressed pressing needs. Considering the amount of LB talent that left over the offseason, it is possible that Uche will see a decent amount of playing time on the defense, perhaps in a similar role to former Wolverine Chase Winovich, whom Uche now rejoins in New England. I see Uche likely being the second-most impactful rookie to play for the Patriots this season, helping to strengthen the team’s pass rush, resulting in a more effective pass defense overall.
3.87 Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama:
Jennings’ selection serves as a nice complement to Uche’s. While Uche is this very athletic and undersized linebacker, Jennings better fits into the traditional, big, physical type of linebacker. Coming from Alabama, Jennings offers great fundamentals and football IQ that come from developing under Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. While he may not be the most athletic or flashy player, Jennings will likely cement his role in the Patriots defense as a solid and reliable player, especially against the run. Jennings registered great production during his time at Alabama, leading edge defenders in FBS for run-stop rate at 12.6%. The Alabama product has often been compared to former Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy due to his ability to be a versatile piece across the line.
Jennings is a very persevering player as well. In 2018 he suffered a worrying knee injury. Fortunately, the injury did not prevent him from returning to the field, but Jenninngs had to put in a lot of effort in order to return to his previous form. Saban also complimented Jennings’s dedication to improving himself in practice sessions. Jennings likely projects as an edge defender who will play very well against the run while also sometimes dropping into coverage. Jennings will likely see a fair amount of action as a rookie, especially on rushing downs. While he may not have a high ceiling, Jennings will likely be an anchor of the Pats’ defense as he progresses through his contract.
3.91 Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA:
On the offense, New England desperately needed to do something with their TE situation. Matt Lacosse may be a replacement level backup, but Ryan Izzo is not an NFL-caliber player. With very little cap space to address the position in free agency, the Patriots looked to the draft to fill their TE position. By selecting Asiasi in the third round, it is the first time the Patriots have spent a day two or higher pick on a tight end since 2010, when they selected Gronkowski.
Asiasi will likely become the Patriots number 1 option at the position. When looking at Bill Belichick’s 1991 scouting notes shared by Daniel Jeremiah, NBC analyst Phil Perry noted that Asiasi seems to fit the bill for the number one role. Devin Asiasi displayed great catching ability throughout his year starting at UCLA, only having one drop throughout the entire year. Asiasi also demonstrated great ability to run after the catch, averaging 5.6 yards in this category. Another ability that Asiasi brings as a TE that the Patriots sorely missed in 2019 is blocking. Even if Asiasi won’t perform as a great blocker (which is best reserved for #2 or #3 TEs anyway), it will most likely be better than the awfulness that was Patriot tight end blocking last year.
Asiasi was suspended for three games in the 2018 season for undisclosed reasons by Chip Kelly. However, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are on good terms with UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, meaning that they were able to confer with Kelly and confirm that Asiasi would be a good fit with the team and his suspensions were nothing to.worry about. Asiasi also possesses high football intelligence, being able to run complex concepts such as option routes in Kelly’s TE heavy offense. Even though Asiasi is undersized for what people normally think of a #1 TE , only being 6’3” and 257 lbs., his athletic ability and smooth movement should translate well into the NFL. Although Asiasi will likely be the starting Y-Tight End for the Patriots offense, I would not bet on him to break the trend of rookie TEs having low production, though Asiasi will definitely contribute in blocking.
3.101 Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech:
The Patriots also repeated something that they did 10 years ago, which was taking two tight ends in the draft. Dalton Keene is an interesting prospect to project for the Patriots. His playstyle resembles that of an F or move tight end. Even Belichick admitted after drafting Keene that they would have work to do in terms of finding him a role on this team, since the role that Keene played in the Virginia Tech offense is nothing like anything the Patriots run in their offense.
If Keene seems to be such a confusing fit for the Patriots, then what made the team trade back up into the third round in order to select him. The most defining feature that Keene exhibits through his play is toughness. He is a very dedicated and ruthless player, oftentimes toughing it out through injury and not playing with high regard to his health while on the field. The aggressiveness that Keene displayed both during practice and games caused his teammates to give him the nickname of “Rambo”. Keene’s offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen called him the toughest player he has ever seen. Keene has never produced that much in the receiving game, only racking up 341 yards in his most productive receiving season. Perhaps given his athletic talent it suggests that Virginia Tech underutilized his ability in the passing game, instead placing more focus upon his ability in the run game instead. Keene will be a versatile player and likely fill multiple roles as the Patriots’ second tight end, primarily being used as that F tight end, move tight end, or perhaps H-back. He may in fact share similar duties to FB Danny Vitale. I would be more than happy if Keene and Asiasi can combine for about 600-700 receiving yards and a few touchdowns in their rookie year.
5.159 Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall:
Another need that the Patriots needed to fill during the draft or free agency was the kicker position. Many people expected the Patriots to take someone like Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass, or Chase Vinatieri from South Dakota. When the Patriots selected Rohrwasser, a kicker who was so unknown that he didn’t even have a profile on the NFL’s website many people were confused.
What caused the Patriots to select this unknown kicker from Marshall. Rohrwasser displayed great performance throughout the 2019 season, having a statistically better season compared to the other higher profile kickers in the draft. Rohrwasser made 18 of 21 field goals and 35 of 36 XPs. He was perfect on kicks greater than 50 yards out, even hitting a clutch field goal from 53 yards against Western Kentucky after being iced twice. Belichickj stated that the Patriots have watched over 250 kicks and were impressed by his ability to kick in clutch situations as well as poor conditions, something Rohrwasser will have to do often in the AFC East. It is unclear whether Rohrwasser will relieve punter Jake Bailey of his kickoff duties (thought I think it’s more likely than not). If there is any position I trust Bill to evaluate, it’ s the placekicker. Rohrwasser will likely be the most impactful rookie on the patriots, mainly because he is the only surefire starter out of all of them. If Rohrwasser succeeds, the Patriots will be able to not go for fourth downs deep in enemy territory again and have a good kicker on a cheap rookie deal.
6.182 Michael Onwenu, OG, Michigan:
After addressing many immediate needs, the Patriots decided to take some shots at reserve linemen. Considering what happened in 2019, it is smart for the Patriots to add some young talent to the Offensive Line in order to account for things not going according to plan.
The first thing that strikes people when they look at Onwenu is his size. This man is HUGE, especially for an interior lineman. Coming in at 6’3”, around 350 lbs (he actually weighed closer to 370 during the season at college), Onwenu is a very physically imposing presence. He is very good at doing his job of not letting defenders get by him. During his past two years at Michigan, Onwenu played 1198 snaps, Onwenu only allowed 13 pressures and 2 sacks. He plays with great power and if he is able to get his hands on the defender, then it is over. Onwenu also possesses decent movement ability for his size; he will be able to perhaps do downfield blocking a bit better than people expect him to. Also, according to Michigan’s OL coach Ed Warriner, Onenwu really doesn’t have the ability to go much lower than 345 lbs.
Onenwu will start out on the team as a backup in the iOL, though more likely in his natural position of RG. Onenwu is quite different compared to New England’s other iOLs, he is 50 pounds heavier than the rest of our starting interiors. It will be interesting to see how Onwenu is able to execute the Patriots’ offensive scheme considering how physically different he is compared to Thuney, Andrews, and Mason. Either way, Onenwu will be a reliable depth piece that can protect Stidham if any of the starters go down.
6.195 Justin Herron, OG/OT, Wake Forest:
The second lineman that the Patriots invested draft capital in was Justin Herron. Herron started 51 games for Wake Forest, exclusively at the LT position. Herron’s experience at the position will likely slot him in as the primary backup to Isaiah Wynn, who has spent a lot of time of his career injured. Herron did suffer an ACL tear in the first week of the 2018 season, but rebounded quite well in 2019. Herron, like Onwenu, is a great pass-blocker. In 2017, the season prior to tearing his ACL, Herron allowed zero sacks. In 2019, when he recovered from his ACL injury, he only allowed four sacks and 13 pressures.
Some analysts raise questions about Herron playing tackle at the next level, instead projecting him as a guard. Interestingly, analysts made similar remarks about now-starting LT Isaiah Wynn. Considering that he only played left tackle during his time in college, I think the Patriots evaluated him and will use him as a tackle. If New England wanted an interior lineman, they likely would have selected someone else. Another concern that some have about Herron is his athleticism, which showed up at the combine, especially in his 8.41s three-cone drill. Scarnecchia often said the Patriots don’t care too much about athleticism in the OL, saying that they only needed to be athletic-enough. If the Patriots were that concerned about his athletic ability, he likely wouldn’t have been selected. Even so, it’s a great idea to grab a tackle who played solidly in college and will spend most of his rookie deal as a reserve player. This pick will be a success if Herron makes the team and can competently back up Wynn if he finds himself injured again.
6.204 Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming:
In the midst of the Patriots grabbing multiple offensive lineman, the Patriots selected another linebacker to increase their depth. During the 2019 season, Maluia went relatively under the radar due to his fellow linebacker and 65th overall pick Logan Wilson. However, those who studied Wilson likely saw Maluia pop out on a few occasions and make great plays. Maluia is an athletic and undersized linebacker, weighing in at only 231 lbs. His athleticism showed up both on tape and on the field, where Maluia displayed versatility across the field being able to both be a thumper as well as a decent coverage player. Maluia’s biggest concern is probably his tackling form, as his aggressiveness caused him to miss a fair amount of times. If Maluia makes the 53 man, he will likely contribute mostly as a special teams player, though his athletic ability might allow him to play a few snaps at defense.
7.230 David Woodard, C, Memphis:
With their final selection in the 2020 NFL draft, the Patriots threw a dart at another reserve lineman. Woodard played all across his the iOL throughout his college career, displaying the versatility that is desired in a backup lineman. Woodard does not have athletic testing available, though some analysts expressed concern about his athletic ability and his size, as Woodard only weighs 291 lbs. As detailed earlier, the Patriots generally concern themself more with technique than pure size and athleticism, and Woodard displays great technique. He graded out as the best run-blocking and second best pass-blocking center in 2019 through PFFs metrics. The Patriots will likely have to still improve Woodard’s technique to make him a future part of the team. Woodard projects as a reserve interior guy, particularly backing up C David Andrews if he makes the team.
Considering that a UDFA has made the New England roster for 16 straight years, I think it is appropriate to talk about some of the more interesting prospects in short. These are not all of the FAs the Patriots signed but some that I think are the most interesting and have the greatest chance to make the team.
For the QB position, the Patriots signed Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith. Lewerke initially showed promise but a shoulder injury he suffered in 2018 really derailed his career. Smith is more interesting, as he displayed his athleticism throughout his career, as well as possessing great arm strength and ability to make flash off-platform throws. He was suspended for a game, but in his 11 starts he went 10-1 and won C-USA offensive player of the year. Neither QB really poses much threat to Stidham, but if one of them shows promise (especially Smith, who reportedly had a few offers from other teams), don’t be surprised if Belichick makes space for them on the 53 man roster.
For the WR position, which many people were surprised the Patriots did not take a shot at in the draft, the most interesting players are Auburn WR Will Hastings and Miami WR Jeff Thomas. Hastings was Stidham’s former slot receiver in college, racking up 26 receptions and 525 yards with the QB in 2017. Hastings tore his ACL prior to 2018, and Stidham missed his reliable option during the season. Hastings ran a 4.49s 40 and a blistering 6.64s 3-cone during his pro-day. Hasting’s connection with Stidham may allow for him to sneak onto the team. Thomas, on the other hand, mostly specialized as a deep threat for the Hurricanes. Even though he is undersized at 5’9 and 170 lbs, many scouts said he displayed draftable talent throughout his career. The aspect of Thomas that was more influential in making him a UDFA is his character concerns. Thomas has had an issue with nearly every coaching staff that he has interacted with, and got kicked off the 2018 team for attitude issues. If Thomas can pull himself together and realize that there are no more chances, he could transform into a future weapon for the Patriots.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor is another interesting pickup for the Patriots. He is very short, coming in at only 5’5” tall (never in my life did I think I would be taller than a Pats player), but still manages to pack 185 lbs. Despite his size, Taylor is quite talented, displaying some decent shiftiness as well as the ability to bounce through contact. Perhaps because of his size and elusive playstyle, he has drawn comparisons to former Patriots RB Dion Lewis. If Taylor can show enough ability throughout the offseason, he might be able to get the Patriots to replace a RB, primarily Rex Burkhead, who many Pats fans theorize the team will cut for a few years now.
Ohio State TE Rashod Berry is another interesting player the Patriots picked up. He reportedly may change his position to OLB. Berry had some experience playing defense for Ohio State early in his career, though he did some snaps along the defense for a few games in his senior year. Many Ohio State fans say that Berry is a very athletic player who was underutilized by the Ohio State system. Wherever he plays, it will be interesting to see how his skill translates to the next level.
On the defensive side of the ball the Patriots were able to sign Auburn EDGE Nick Coe after negotiations between him and the Bills fell through. Coe was one of the top ranked free agents after the draft talent-wise, as he produced well in his first few seasons at Auburn. He is a much more prototypical big edge player the Patriots generally use in their system, but also has the versatility to play off the ball. However, Coe seems happiest playing as an edge rusher off the line. Coe’s main issue is his off-the field issues, where he feuded with his coaching staff over his assignments on the team, and also did not put in as much effort as a result. Coe is a very high-potential signing, but he will have to accept whatever role New England gives him if he wants to succeed.
The signing that gave the most guaranteed money went to Arkansas LB De’Jon Harris. Harris primarily plays as a thumping linebacker, which will likely be his role if he manages the Patriots. He has been theorized to fill a similar role to Elandon Roberts did last year (though likely not as a FB on offense). As a thumper, Harris’ best ability is tracking down and meeting the ball carrier, except he does suffer from some tackling issues.
The Patriots somehow managed to convince Bill Murray to join the team, where he will slot in on the defensive line. The DT from William & Mary displays good ability to be disruptive along the defensive line, though keep in mind that this was against FCS competition. Murray also managed to block 10 kicks during his tenure, something that Belichick is surely proud of. He reportedly is also a guy who is great at making his teammates laugh, perhaps like his celebrity counterpart. Considering that DL is a weaker position on the Patriots, Murray has a real shot to get on the team with his talent.
If I am going to talk about UDFAs that have a great chance of making the team, I am not going to overlook the secondary. The DB that the patriots signed this year was Washington’s Myles Bryant. Bryant is another undersized player, only coming at 5’8” and 183 lbs.. and primarily played free safety in 2019 after playing slot corner for the previous two years. Bryant showed good short-area quickness on the field as well as in athletic testing, running a 6.81s 3-cone. His greatest weakness is tackling, likely worsened by his small size. Bryant will need to improve his tackling if he wants to make the team. I also wanted to shout out 2019 UDFA UNM DB D’Angelo Ross, another undersized corner that showed some promise in the preseason prior to suffering a season-ending injury. I still don’t fully understand why Belichick spends so many premier picks on DBs when he can just pull great ones out of his rear nearly every year in the UDFA market.
Projecting the Patriots roster is especially difficult due to the amount of bodies at many positions such as OL, LB, and DB. This problem is exacerbated by the fact I haven’t seen anyone play yet or have the most recent updates on everyone’s health. I am not confident that this roster will be that accurate to the final roster that appears week 1.
QB (2) - Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
RB (5) - Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris
FB (1) - Dan Vitale
WR (7) - N’Keal Harry, Mohammed Sanu, Julian Edelman, Marqise Lee, Jakobi Meyers, Matt Slater, Jeff Thomas
TE (2) - Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene
OL (9) - Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu
DL (4) - Adam Butler, Beau Allen, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart
EDGE/LB (9) - Deatrich Wise, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Cassh Maluia, Brandon King
CB (6) - Stephon Gilmore, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Justin Bethel,
S (5) - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Terrence Brooks
K - Justin Rohrwasser
P - Jake Bailey
LS - Joe Cardona
KR and PR - Dugger
The Patriots enter a time of uncertainty that hasn’t existed in my lifetime. This 2020 squad is very hard to predict because of all the unknowns that exist all over the team, most notably at QB. It is possible that the Patriots perform better on the offense this year due to the sheer amount of players that are now healthy, especially alongside the offensive line. Although it is most likely the Patriots will not be a contender this year, depending on how well Stidham and the rest of the offense perform and develop, the team could bring itself into contention as early as 2021. I anxiously, but optimistically, await this team’s future.
I'mma head out
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Offseason with Cidolfus: Quarterbacks
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There’s no way to discuss the Miami Dolphins looking ahead to the 2020 season without addressing the elephant in the room. Ever since Ryan Tannehill was shipped off to the Titans, a single question has loomed large over the future of this franchise: who is the long term answer under center? As we head into the 2020 draft with a top-five pick, it’s a question we’re going to be hearing an awful lot over the next few months.
I’ll be blunt from the outset: a great deal of this series this year is going to deal with that question. I understand that this is going to cause contentious debate, just as it has throughout the season and will continue to throughout the offseason. I understand also that some of my takes about our strategy this season are going to be controversial.
I’ve tried to stay out of the pro-/anti-tank arguments throughout the season as much as possible. I have not always been successful. Spoiler alert for those who hadn’t already caught on: Cidolfus was pro tank. I understand that this position makes many of you viscerally angry just as I understand that many who supported tanking were annoyed at those celebrating “meaningless” wins. So before we get going, I want to ask everyone to keep one thing in mind not only in regards to my own commentary to follow, but for any discussion in this series or in the many other posts that are sure to occur over the next several months:
Let people be fans in whatever manner makes them happy.
I understand that we have emotional reactions to this sport. Nevertheless, it bears reminding: football is a sport and watching is supposed to be fun. If someone wants to win every Sunday because it’s just more fun to win? Good for them. If someone is willing to trade losses now for a perceived advantage in the long term and is happy to see us lose now because they think it’ll be better later? Good for them. If someone wants to bandwagon a team because they just like to watch winning football on Sundays? Good for them. If someone wants to pick the Dolphins as their team for the future because they like the animal? Pity the poor fool, but good for them.
It’s not my job, your job, or anyone else’s job to tell someone else how to enjoy watching sports, so we should all just try and live and let live. That’s not to say that we can’t discuss these differing viewpoints. The whole point of this series is to generate discussion. Just keep it respectful.
Like last year, I plan on posting one of these each week throughout the postseason, and then when I can find time as appropriate through the offseason I’ll try to follow up with an additional free agency and draft discussion. I’m expecting a lot of real work to hit me beginning on March, though, so we’ll see what happens. As always, this series will be primarily geared towards team-building with a focus on contract management under the salary cap. I don’t pretend to be any great evaluator of NFL talent and instead rely pretty heavily on other sources for that type of analysis. This analysis is pretty statistics heavy, by which I mean the math part. Disclaimer: I’m not a statistician and I’m pretty far removed from what little stats I took in college at this point, so as far as the real math goes, it’s still going to be pretty rudimentary.
With all that said, let’s start The Offseason with Cidolfus III
The Quarterback Conundrum Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic of Flores as the coach to drag this franchise kicking and screaming out of mediocrity, I hope it is not too controversial to suggest that getting a quarterback should be our first priority from a roster-building standpoint.
But of course it is.
Especially due to the recent uncertainty regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s intentions to declare for the 2020 NFL draft, this subreddit has seen enthusiastic suggestions from using any of our three first round selections all the way to not even drafting a quarterback in the first three rounds at all and instead rolling into the 2020 season with Fitzpatrick and Rosen. Some suggest faith that Rosen can still develop into the heir apparent. Others recommend punting to the 2021 draft where we can try our chances at Lawrence or Fields. Still others suggest that first round quarterbacks are overrated and point to successes found in the middle and later rounds.
Those who have read these posts in previous years know that I’m a numbers guy. So I spent a good chunk of my holiday vacation this year compiling statistics on every quarterback drafted since 2000 to see what we can learn to inform a strategy as how to best find your future quarterback in the NFL. The data has mostly been culled from Pro Football Reference cross-referenced with Wikipedia for information on when players were rostered but did not play. Being a numbers guy, I would have liked to get into some more advanced metrics like ANY/A+ (which is useful for comparisons over a long period of time since it’s normalized to the league average over a three year period). Unfortunately, this information, and many other stats (like QBR) were not available going back the full twenty years, and I wanted to be as consistent as possible. Instead, I decided on 12 different values across three broader categories:
Activity: Availability is the best ability in the NFL. How many games did the player start? How many seasons was that player on an active roster? What percent of their possible games played did they start? What was the QB win percentage in starts?
Accolades: How many accolades did the quarterback acquire over their career? A lot of people will make appeals to these accolades when determining a player’s value, and while I find them the least helpful for this discussion, it’s good to know for argument’s sake. How many Pro Bowls, First Ballot All Pros, and MVPs did the player receive? How many Super Bowls did they win?
Stats: Nothing too fancy here. How did the player perform over their career? We’re looking mostly at career completion percentage, touchdown to interception ratio, adjusted net yards per attempt, and passer rating. These are some easily-digestible, high-level metrics on a quarterback’s general passing performance. I intentionally omitted rushing performance from this analysis because it’s so extremely skewed in favor of a small handful of quarterbacks that the data wouldn’t be particularly useful.
Some Caveats and Acknowledgments I tracked total attempts initially as a metric to exclude or weight individual quarterback stats. For example, when calculating the average ANY/A, I wasn’t satisfied with simply taking the simple mean of the stat across all quarterbacks in a given round. After all, why should Tyrod Taylor’s 5.96 ANY/A on 1362 attempts be weighed just as heavily as Jordan Palmer’s -2.50 ANY/A on a mere 18 pass attempts?
On the other hand, weighing these stats would vastly overinflate the value of any single long-time player to skew the averages of any single round. Tom Brady’s 9959 career attempts, for example, account for more than 50% of passes thrown by sixth rounders drafted in the past 20 years. Tom Brady is obviously an outlier in the dataset: to weigh his 7.08 ANY/A as over 50% of the entire sixth round would dramatically skew the results even further.
As a result, I have not weighted any of the stat averages based on attempts or games player or any other metric of longevity. I admit that this skews the results the other way. Sticking with the sixth round, 26 of the 43 players drafted threw 50 or fewer attempts their entire career. Many of them never threw a pass in an NFL game, which I evaluated as straight 0s across the board. I decided that this is very much the point for this analysis: if a quarterback never throws an NFL pass, that is a completely unsuccessful draft pick.
I do not expect NFL drafting behaviors in general to change. Most sixth-round quarterback selections will never get a legitimate chance to start, so tracking averages in such a way that devalues a sixth-round quarterback by scoring them as straight 0s while allowing even bad first round selections to put up marginally better numbers is at least an acceptable reflection of a team’s actual attempts to draft quarterbacks.
There are going to be variables I can’t account for, at least not with the data available to me. Rules changes and general trends in the NFL have resulted in the bar moving pretty dramatically upwards especially in the past couple years.
With that all out in the open, let’s take a look at the past 20 years of drafting quarterbacks. As a quick note, I’ve made the assumption that Lamar Jackson wins the MVP this season (because obviously), but I’ve not projected a winner of the 2020 Super Bowl.
Round by Round The quick and dirty: 242 quarterbacks were drafted between 2000 and 2019. Let’s start with a simple breakdown of the averages.
Means by Round
|Round ||Players Drafted ||Games Started ||Seasons Rostered ||Start % ||Win % ||Pro Bowls ||All Pros ||MVPs ||Super Bowls ||Completion % ||TD:INT ||ANY/A ||Passer Rating |
|7 ||36 ||8.44 ||3.86 ||5.31% ||6.39% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||22.86% ||0.28 ||1.06 ||24.87 |
|6 ||43 ||15.53 ||4.58 ||8.86% ||13.87% ||0.39 ||0.14 ||0.08 ||0.17 ||36.67% ||0.67 ||2.34 ||43.02 |
|5 ||34 ||3.50 ||3.74 ||4.77% ||15.27% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||27.38% ||0.35 ||1.81 ||31.80 |
|4 ||26 ||16.08 ||5.35 ||14.57% ||21.05% ||0.12 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||50.07% ||0.72 ||3.17 ||60.43 |
|3 ||26 ||22.42 ||6.08 ||19.42% ||22.41% ||0.35 ||0 ||0 ||0.08 ||50.17% ||0.98 ||3.64 ||62.03 |
|2 ||21 ||41.38 ||7.29 ||30.83% ||35.97% ||0.48 ||0.19 ||0 ||0.05 ||53.18% ||1.07 ||4.28 ||67.06 |
|1 ||56 ||70.52 ||7.38 ||58.57% ||46.68% ||0.93 ||0.11 ||0.11 ||0.13 ||60.12% ||1.59 ||5.50 ||82.68 |
|ALL ||242 ||28.16 ||5.41 ||23.02% ||23.96% ||0.36 ||0.06 ||0.04 ||0.07 ||43.10% ||0.95 ||3.18 ||53.88 |
Medians by Round
A couple things to note looking at both of these tables in tandem: accolades are a poor metric by which to judge the worth of a quarterback pick in each round. This is easy enough to explain: the same few players have won the same awards multiple times in the past 20 years and there are also a limited number of each award per season. Only one quarterback can win MVP or win the Super Bowl, but multiple players can post a solid ANY/A over 6.00 each season. This scarcity is reflected by the median where the vast majority of players never win any of these awards. Case in point: Tom Brady accounts for 13.63% of all Pro Bowl nods, 33.33% of all First Team All Pros and MVPs, and 37.5% of all Super Bowl victories in the entire population examined. That doesn’t change that drafting a quarterback in the sixth round is functionally worthless.
|Round ||Players Drafted ||Games Started ||Seasons Rostered ||Start % ||Win % ||Pro Bowls ||All Pros ||MVPs ||Super Bowls ||Completion % ||TD:INT ||ANY/A ||Passer Rating |
|7 ||36 ||0 ||3.00 ||0% ||0% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 |
|6 ||43 ||0 ||3.00 ||0% ||0% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 |
|5 ||34 ||0 ||3.00 ||0% ||0% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||35.80% ||0 ||0.11 ||17.05 |
|4 ||26 ||3.00 ||4.50 ||4.48% ||5.00% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||56.80% ||0.59 ||4.37 ||63.95 |
|3 ||26 ||10.00 ||5.00 ||13.28% ||22.22% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||59.00% ||0.89 ||4.45 ||74.10 |
|2 ||21 ||21.00 ||6.00 ||26.79% ||38.71% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||58.60% ||0.86 ||4.68 ||72.70 |
|1 ||56 ||50.00 ||7.00 ||63.54% ||47.54% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||60.30% ||1.43 ||5.47 ||81.70 |
|ALL ||242 ||7.50 ||4.00 ||93.11% ||20.00% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||56.20% ||0.71 ||4.11 ||69.00 |
Similarly, the number of seasons rostered and games rostered correlates very strongly to draft position. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as even poorly performing players often get more opportunities to start draft position. The steadily increasing seasons rostered also indicates that the higher drafted a player is, the more likely they are to play a second contract. A median seasons rostered of 3.00 for rounds 5-7 indicates that quarterbacks drafted in those rounds are more often than not cut before completing a standard rookie contract.
At a glance, the data confirms what most probably suspected already: the higher a quarterback is drafted, the more likely it is that the team got it right and the quarterback in question was a successful pick. What can be observed from above is the general trend that all statistical measures trend positively with the round the player is selected. In general, from the data here it should be pretty obvious that a team is not likely to find their franchise quarterback after the third round as the means for nearly every category for all of those are lower than the means of all quarterbacks drafted. Shocker: quarterbacks in the back half of the draft are, on average, worse than the average of all quarterbacks drafted. So the question then becomes: how do the top three rounds stack up?
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All |
|1 ||60.12% ||3.82% ||0.64 |
|2 ||53.18% ||17.81% ||0.38 |
|3 ||50.17% ||21.73% ||0.27 |
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All |
|1 ||1.59 ||0.81 ||0.42 |
|2 ||1.07 ||0.80 ||0.08 |
|3 ||0.98 ||1.02 ||0.02 |
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All |
|1 ||5.50 ||0.98 ||0.79 |
|2 ||4.28 ||2.09 ||0.38 |
|3 ||3.64 ||2.15 ||0.16 |
Again as expected, the first round selection is, in aggregate, better. Importantly, though, first round selections are better not just because they have higher mean values for the stats we’re tracking here; they are better because they typically have less variance and also because they’re notably better relative to an average quarterback from the entire draft. Not only is the average ANY/A of a first round selection much higher than that of a second or third round, the standard deviation within its own population is dramatically lower. It’s a safer pick. The standard deviations of the mean from the mean of all draft selections also suggest that the average first round pick is, in general, better relative to the average of all picks than the second or third is. Again, that shouldn’t be a surprise given what we’ve already seen and the positive correlation between draft status and performance.
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All |
|1 ||82.68 ||9.89 ||0.79 |
|2 ||67.06 ||27.33 ||0.36 |
|3 ||62.03 ||29.78 ||0.22 |
The takeaway from this should not be that you can only find success in the first round of the NFL draft for QBs or that top-selected quarterbacks are locks (more on that later). This is obviously and demonstrably not true. The takeaway should be that in the aggregate, quarterbacks in the first round are more successful than those drafted in any other round, and it’s not particularly close.
This brings me to the first of the draft suggestions proposed that I want to directly address.
But the best quarterback from the 2011 draft was a third rounder! Look at Russell Wilson! Look at Dak Prescott! Drew Brees! Tom Brady! They are some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and they were all drafted outside of the first round. Tony Romo was a really good quarterback, and he even went undrafted! You don’t need to draft a quarterback in the first round to find your quarterback of the future.
Let’s look at all the teams in the NFL and who was projected as the team’s starting quarterback headed into the preseason and what round they were drafted in.
Only 10 of 32 teams planned to start a quarterback drafted outside of the first round at the beginning of this season. Of those teams planning to start a quarterback drafted outside the first, three of them were rostering quarterbacks drafted in the first who were expected to start at some point of this season (Josh Rosen, Dwayne Haskins). A full 75% of NFL teams went into 2019 planning to start a first rounder at quarterback at some point.
|Team ||Quarterback ||Round |
|Arizona Cardinals ||Kyler Murray ||1 |
|Atlanta Falcons ||Matt Ryan ||1 |
|Baltimore Ravens ||Lamar Jackson ||1 |
|Buffalo Bills ||Josh Allen ||1 |
|Carolina Panthers ||Cam Newton ||1 |
|Chicago Bears ||Mitch Trubisky ||1 |
|Cincinnati Bengals ||Andy Dalton ||2 |
|Cleveland Browns ||Baker Mayfield ||1 |
|Dallas Cowboys ||Dak Prescott ||4 |
|Denver Broncos ||Joe Flacco ||1 |
|Detroit Lions ||Matt Stafford ||1 |
|Green Bay Packers ||Aaron Rodgers ||1 |
|Houston Texans ||Deshaun Watson ||1 |
|Indianapolis Colts ||Andrew Luck ||1 |
|Jacksonville Jaguars ||Nick Foles ||3 |
|Kansas City Chiefs ||Patrick Mahomes ||1 |
|Los Angeles Chargers ||Philip Rivers ||1 |
|Los Angeles Rams ||Jared Goff ||1 |
|Miami Dolphins ||Ryan Fitzpatrick ||7 |
|Minnesota Vikings ||Kirk Cousins ||4 |
|New England Patriots ||Tom Brady ||6 |
|New Orleans Saints ||Drew Brees ||2 |
|New York Giants ||Eli Manning ||1 |
|New York Jets ||Sam Darnold ||1 |
|Oakland Raiders ||Derek Carr ||2 |
|Philadelphia Eagles ||Carson Wentz ||1 |
|Pittsburgh Steelers ||Ben Roethlisberger ||1 |
|San Francisco 49ers ||Jimmy Garoppolo ||2 |
|Seattle Seahawks ||Russell Wilson ||3 |
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers ||Jameis Winston ||1 |
|Tennessee Titans ||Marcus Mariota ||1 |
|Washington Redskins ||Case Keenum ||Undrafted |
Tom Brady is one of 43 sixth rounds who has amounted to anything. Minshew has a chance at being the second, but his head coach won’t even commit to him as the starter for next season despite his solid performance. What Brady and Minshew have in common is that both got their first opportunity to start because the guy ahead of them on the depth chart who had just inked a massive new deal got injured.
Drew Brees had an up-and-down start to his career in San Diego before he started lighting the world on fire in New Orleans. Dak Prescott, like Brady, got the nod to start because Tony Romo got injured. He looked good in pre-season and flashed there, but if Romo doesn’t go down, is Prescott still the heir apparent? Does he survive two seasons on the bench, or do the Cowboys bring in competition when Romo retires?
Even Russell Wilson wasn’t projected to be the starter when he was drafted. The Seahawks had just inked a deal with Matt Flynn and he was expected to be their starting quarterback. Nobody was betting on the undersized guy to beat him out for the starting gig. Wilson came in and started playing extremely efficient football, sure. But without Beastmode pounding away on the ground and the Legion of Boom keeping scores low, how does that story go?
To be clear, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I’m not saying this to discredit these players, but rather to demonstrate the reality of the circumstances in which they were drafted. The Patriots and the Seahawks didn’t outsmart everyone by drafting Brady and Wilson late. They got lucky. If Bill Belichick really, truly believed that Tom Brady would lead the Patriots to six Super Bowls, he wouldn’t have waited to the sixth round to draft him.
Banking on getting lucky is not a valid team-building strategy.
Tom Brady, Gardner Minshew, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Drew Brees are the only quarterbacks drafted outside of the first round in twenty years to have a completion percentage of 60%, a TD:INT ratio over 2.00, and an ANY/A rating over 6.00. That’s a pretty low bar for franchise quarterbacks these days, and only eight out of 186 quarterbacks drafted outside of the first round qualify.
I’ll say it again for those in the back: banking on getting lucky is not a valid team-building strategy.
First Round Breakdown So Cidolfus, you might say, what about within the first round? Top quarterback picks are overrated. Look at the past few seasons: the top QB drafted often isn’t the best QB in the draft. This is often true, so let’s take a look at the numbers here, too. I’ve broken down the quarterbacks selected in the first round by those taken in the top 5, those with picks 6-15, and those with picks 16-32.
Means by Pick
|Picks ||Players Drafted ||Games Started ||Seasons Rostered ||Start % ||Win % ||Pro Bowls ||All Pros ||MVPs ||Super Bowls ||Completion % ||TD:INT ||ANY/A ||Passer Rating |
|16-32 ||17 ||50.76 ||7.41 ||38.59% ||44.77% ||0.59 ||0.18 ||0.18 ||0.12 ||58.99% ||1.60 ||5.12 ||76.70 |
|6-15 ||14 ||55.14 ||6.07 ||56.32% ||45.94% ||0.79 ||0.07 ||0.07 ||0.14 ||60.19% ||1.59 ||5.45 ||82.87 |
|1-5 ||25 ||92.56 ||8.08 ||73.42% ||48.39% ||1.24 ||0.08 ||0.08 ||0.12 ||60.85% ||1.58 ||5.74 ||84.22 |
Medians by Pick
The first round plays out similarly to the entire draft. In general, quarterbacks taken in the top five (which, in this data set functionally means quarterbacks drafted in the top three, as only Philip Rivers and Mark Sanchez have been drafted at fourth and fifth overall respectively) are better in the aggregate than those selected elsewhere in the round.
|Picks ||Players Drafted ||Games Started ||Seasons Rostered ||Start % ||Win % ||Pro Bowls ||All Pros ||MVPs ||Super Bowls ||Completion % ||TD:INT ||ANY/A ||Passer Rating |
|16-32 ||17 ||33.00 ||7.00 ||32.64% ||41.67% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||58.10% ||1.19 ||5.12 ||76.70 |
|6-15 ||14 ||33.50 ||5.00 ||57.29% ||46.22% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||59.20% ||1.40 ||5.38 ||78.95 |
|1-5 ||25 ||73.00 ||7.00 ||76.79% ||50.00% ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||61.50% ||1.57 ||5.80 ||86.10 |
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First |
|1-5 ||61.50% ||3.16 ||0.36 |
|6-15 ||59.20% ||4.00% ||-0.24 |
|16-32 ||58.10% ||5.00 ||-0.53 |
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First |
|1-5 ||1.58 ||0.47 ||-0.01 |
|6-15 ||1.59 ||0.91 ||0 |
|16-32 ||1.60 ||1.14 ||0.01 |
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First |
|1-5 ||5.80 ||0.78 ||0.31 |
|6-15 ||5.38 ||1.32 ||-0.12 |
|16-32 ||5.12 ||0.93 ||-0.39 |
Like before, nothing too surprising here. We already knew that first round picks had relatively low variance, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see statistics clustered really heavily here. Only the touchdown to interception ratio doesn’t outright favor the top five picks, and even then the first five picks have the lowest standard deviation and a difference of 0.02 on a touchdown to interception ratio is only one extra touchdown for every fifty interceptions. That the standard deviation of the means for the 6-15 and 16-32 picks are below the mean of the entire first round in general also isn’t too surprising when considering that nearly half of the quarterbacks taken in the first round in the past twenty years have been taken in the first five picks.
|Round ||Mean ||St. Dev. ||St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First |
|1-5 ||86.10 ||7.71 ||0.34 |
|6-15 ||78.95 ||12.45 ||-0.37 |
|16-32 ||76.70 ||10.85 ||-0.60 |
What This Means About the Draft So, to summarize so far: quarterbacks taken in the first round tend to be better than quarterbacks taken in any other round. They generally post better aggregate stats and there’s also a trend of decreasing variance among draft picks the higher you pick. The same applies to the first round itself but on a smaller scale. In the aggregate, a top five pick on an NFL quarterback not only typically yields the highest average performance, it is also the safest place to draft a quarterback as those who are drafted in that position exhibit the lowest variance of their performances. All of these numbers support what conventional wisdom already tells us.
What should definitely not be ignored in this conclusion, however, is that the data also tells us one other very important thing, and it’s yet another thing that conventional wisdom tells us: drafting a franchise quarterback is really, really hard. If we conclude that the average top five pick is the best chance we have in the aggregate, we also have to come to terms with the fact that the average top five pick also isn’t a great quarterback.
A career completion percentage of 60.19%, a touchdown to interception ratio of 1.59, an ANY/A of 5.45, and a passer rating of 82.87 for a player who wins 46.22% of their games and starts for not even three and a half seasons of games is not great. For some perspective: those numbers are worse than Tyrod Taylor’s career numbers.
A top five quarterback pick is obviously not a lock for a franchise quarterback, but it offers the best chance to find your guy.
What About Free Agents or Trades? All right, so that’s the draft, but that’s only part of how you put together a roster in the modern NFL. What about our options in free agency or on the trade market? Historically speaking, starting quarterbacks who hit free agency or are traded do so for a reason. You don’t have to go back nearly as far as 2000 to demonstrate my point here. Just look at the last several seasons of transactions:
Hindsight on most of these has looked pretty bad for the team acquiring the quarterback. Cousins and Tannehill have been the most successful of the bunch, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Tennessee is obviously glad to have Tannehill this year (as are we all), but in 2019 Tannehill and Derrick Henry had a combined salary cap cost under $4 million. The Titans have $48 million in cap space in 2020 and Ryan Tannehill, Logan Ryan, Jack Conklin, and Derrick Henry are all unrestricted free agents. Cousins hasn’t lit the world on fire in Minnesota, and I don’t think anyone is rushing to call his fully-guaranteed contract the deal of the century, but it hasn't been the worst deal in the world.
- Josh Rosen traded to the Dolphins for a 2nd and a 5th
- Ryan Tannehill and a 6th traded to the Titans for a 4th and a 7th
- Nick Foles signed by the Jaguars, 4 years, $88 million
- Joe Flacco traded to the Broncos for a 4th
- Case Keenum and a 7th traded to the Redskins for a 6th
- Case Keenum signed by the Broncos, 2 years, $36 million
- Kirk Cousins signed by the Vikings, 3 years, $84 million
- Alex Smith traded to the Redskins for Kendall Fuller and a 3rd
Teams do not generally let good quarterbacks go unless they have a clear successor ready to roll in their absence. When you see names like Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, or Jameis Winston thrown around this offseason, take a look at who’s replacing him on that roster and ask why we would want to pay veteran quarterback money for someone another team is ready to walk away from.
Okay, So What? That’s all great, but what does this tell us? There are three prime takeaways from this:
In the aggregate, quarterback performance appears to correspond with draft position. The higher the quarterback is drafted, the better the in general he is likely to be. Most quarterbacks drafted aren’t very good. Busts are common even at the top of the draft where a team has the best chance to find their guy. Free agents are free agents for a reason. If a team is willing to let a quarterback go, odds aren’t good that he’ll be someone substantially different with another team.
With all of this in mind, how should it inform our strategy moving forward? The first takeaway suggests that we shouldn’t bet on beating the system by passing on quarterbacks until later in the draft. It takes a special kind of hubris as a general manager to believe that you’re smarter than everyone else and will be able to find your guy that all the other teams slept on. In the hunt to find a quarterback, most teams will have to invest meaningful draft capital into the position. We have the fifth overall pick, and if a guy we think can be our franchise quarterback is available at that position, we’d be foolish to wait until one of our later firsts or even our seconds to draft him. The only reason that we should be passing on a quarterback in the first round this year is if we do not think that guy is there.
The second takeaway suggests that the single most important thing that we can do to maximize our chances to find our quarterback of the future: keep drafting them. Since Dan Marino left, the Dolphins have drafted six quarterbacks:
That’s fucking scandalous. In the twenty years since Dan Marino retired, the Dolphins have drafted only six quarterbacks, and only one of them in the first round. We’ve relied heavily on free agents and castoffs from other organizations trying to replace one of the greatest pure passers of all time.
- Josh Heupel (2000; Round 6, Pick 177)
- Josh Beck (2007; Round 2, Pick 40)
- Chad Henne (2008; Round 2, Pick 57)
- Pat White (2009; Round 2, Pick 44)
- Ryan Tannehill (2012; Round 1, Pick 8)
- Brandon Doughty (2016; Round 7, Pick 223)
Last year we spent a second round and fifth round selection to trade for Josh Rosen, a first round pick only a year removed from being selected 10th overall. He hasn’t been able to supplant the textbook definition of a journeyman quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick this season. There’s no indication beyond wishful thinking that we should be willing to allow Rosen to be the only young quarterback developing on our roster right now. I believe strongly that unless our front office truly, truly believes that our quarterback of the future isn’t in the 2020 draft, we should be spending our fifth overall pick drafting a quarterback. And even if we don’t love anyone enough to take them at five, we should still be open to drafting someone in the second or third if anyone falls.
As mentioned earlier, the hiring of Chan Gailey as our offensive coordinator probably suggests some level of commitment to Ryan Fitzpatrick as a starting quarterback for at least the beginning of the 2020 season, but no sane fan believes that the 37-year-old journeyman is our future. That said, keeping him on does allow us to avoid throwing a quarterback right into the fire. The reality is that quarterbacks drafted in the first round rarely sit for their rookie seasons anymore. Mahomes only played the last game of his rookie season after the Chiefs had already clinched and Rodgers obviously sat behind Favre, but they’re the two notable exceptions in more than a decade. Even though I expect Fitzpatrick to kick the season off, it’s a good bet that he won’t start the full season.
And then, until we are absolutely certain that our young starting quarterback is the future of our franchise, we should continue to draft quarterbacks. Obviously you don’t need to continue to invest high picks every single year, but until a team has committed to a quarterback on a long-term, veteran contract, it’s in the team’s best interest to continue to invest picks in rounds 2-4 on quarterbacks at least every other year.
One of the biggest mistakes the Dolphins made during Ryan Tannehill’s tenure was ignore the quarterback position after drafting him. The front office should have been drafting quarterbacks if not to push him then to have a young, cheap back-up quarterback with upside. When Tannehill went down with an ACL injury, it’s an absolute travesty that our front office made no effort to augment our QB room until Tannehill reinjured the ACL and missed the season and instead overpaid to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement.
Tannehill’s injury not progressing as expected or being reinjured should have been a scenario we planned for, and that we signed Cutler so late suggests that we never had a serious conversation about what a season of Matt Moore would look like. With Tannehill recovering from injury, we should have used that as an opportunity to add a young guy with upside to our quarterback room. Would it have worked out any better? Given the quarterbacks who came out of the later rounds of the 2017 draft, probably not, but that’s something we know in hindsight, and given the results of the 2017 season and the cap cost of Cutler, it’s a move we should have made.
This team shouldn’t make the same mistake again. The Miami Dolphins have pussyfooted around investing in finding a quarterback for the future through the draft for years, and it’s time that changes. I’ll address my specific thoughts on our options in the draft later in this series. Frankly, until Tua Tagovailoa makes an announcement tomorrow, it’s really too early to say anything for sure. Even if you’re skeptical of Tua for whatever reason, his availability likely shifts how other quarterback-needy teams act (including the possibility of jumping us as the Cardinals did to secure Rosen). In the meantime, to sum up my thoughts on general strategy:
We should almost certainly draft a quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft. Probably at fifth overall unless we really, truly, do not believe in any of the guys available. We should continue to spend middle-round selections on quarterbacks in subsequent seasons until we’re absolutely certain we have our quarterback of the future. Even after we have our quarterback of the future, we should continue to invest in selecting quarterbacks in the later rounds regularly (although not every year) to try to develop talent from within.
What are we looking to find? Based on the numbers, in order to meet what most people would expect of a starting quarterback in today’s NFL, expect the quarterback to hit the following benchmarks at minimum:
Typically, if a player manages to hit all three of those benchmarks, he’s well on his way to being a winning quarterback, although not necessarily an elite one. And as we’ve just seen in the wildcard round, having a quarterback who’s good enough can sometimes be enough.
- Completion percentage of at least 60%
- TD:INT ratio of at least 2.0
- An ANY/A of at least 6.0
Next week, I'll be continuing with where I usually start with this series, the season review including thoughts on the coaching staff, player performance, and a review of in-season transactions. Enjoy the rest of wildcard weekend, all.
2020 Recruiting Superlatives
Note from the editor: This post has been in the works since the beginning of March. It was nearly ready to go 2 weeks ago, and then certain events transpired. Some of these responses will take those events into account, and some of them won't. I tried to implement a few of my thoughts on that, but really there's just a little more uncertainty than usual in how the immediate season will play out and how it will affect the roster and development. Ok. Let's get started. submitted by zlatandiego to FloridaGators [link] [comments]
As is tradition, the mods are going to roll out a few post-signing day threads. We will start with the 2019 class superlatives. For reference, here is the 2019 version
for all of y'all to mock us on our predictions and expectations.
Time to set ourselves up for failure once more, with the official edition of our 2020 Recruiting Superlatives!
|Award ||zeusapollo2990 ||thehammersuit ||WelcomeToMoes ||TopheryG8er ||zlatandiego |
|Favorite Recruit ||Derek Wingo ||Derek Wingo ||Derek Wingo ||Gervon Dexter ||Derek Wingo |
|Offensive Sleeper ||Richie Leonard ||Jonathan Odom ||Jonathan Odom ||Jaquavion Fraziars ||Anthony Richardson |
|Defensive Sleeper ||Tre'Vez Johnson ||Tre'Vez Johnson ||Tre'Vez Johnson ||Tre'Vez Johnson ||Tre'Vez Johnson |
|Instant Impact ||Josh Braun ||Lamar Goods ||Josh Braun ||Xzavier Henderson ||Gervon Dexter |
|Highest Ceiling ||Derek Wingo ||Gervon Dexter ||Antwaun Powell ||Anthony Richardson ||Jahari Rogers |
|Biggest Surprise ||The lack of a surprise ||Princely Umanmielen ||Xzavier Henderson ||Josh Braun ||OT |
|Best Position Group ||Defensive Back ||Defensive Back ||Defensive Line ||Defensive Line ||Defensive Back |
|Worst Position Group ||Runningback ||Runningback ||Runningback ||Runningback ||Runningback |
|Most likely to put a small, family-run all you can eat buffet out of business ||Lamar Goods ||Jeremy Crawshaw ||Issiah Walker ||Gerald Mincey ||Josh Braun |
|Most hype to live up to ||Gervon Dexter ||Gervon Dexter ||Gervon Dexter ||Gervon Dexter ||Gervon Dexter |
|Most likely to be in a boy band ||Ethan Pouncey ||Ethan Pouncey ||Jeremy Crawshaw ||Derek Wingo ||Avery Helm |
|Most likely to play an old guy in a movie ||Richie Leonard ||Anthony Richardson ||Johnnie Brown ||Richie Leonard ||Richie Leonard |
|Ethan White Award for most likely to shut the haters up ||Billy Gonzalez ||Richie Leonard ||Fenley Graham ||Fenley Graham ||Fenley Graham |
Extra thoughts and reasons behind the picks
Favorite Recruit Hammer: Derek Wingo
- Wingo reminds me of Von Miller in that he possesses the rare combo of elite speed and athleticism for a LB. I expect Wingo to make a major impact at Florida and then eventually on Sundays. Moes: Derek Wingo
- Freak athlete, natural leader and very smart. All things we desperately need at LB. Tophery: Gervon Dexter
- I tried to concoct a hipster opinion here, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't Gerv.
He's a big-time impact player with a big personality who put in work recruiting others to come to UF with him. Zlat: Derek Wingo
- Wingo is like Brandon Spikes, but faster and with backflips. The dude is an insane athlete that can play any LB position. He's already shaping up to be a team leader, and will be running this defense for 2-3 years before doing the same in the NFL.
Sleeper - Offense Hammer: Jonathan Odom - While a legacy recruit he is coming in with very little hype. Great size for a TE - 6’5/250 and is technically sound in blocking. He has the potential to surprise a lot of people.
Moes: Jonathan Odom - This class' lowest rated recruit is a 6'5" 250 lb TE whose father just happened to play at UF and for the Bucs. With Brewster coaching and Pitts mentoring, this kid could blow up.
Tophery: : Jaquavion Fraziars - It seems weird to put a top 200 recruit as a sleeper, but he almost seems like an afterthought in a lot of the analysis of this class, likely because he committed way back in the fall of 2018. He's a big WR who plays physical football leveraging his size advantage over most DB's. Given a year or two to learn the offense and polish his route-running, he could be a star.
zlatan: Anthony Richardson - Not as much of a bluechip afterthought as Fraziars, but this is a guy hand-molded to be the perfect Dan Mullen QB who has gotten almost zero national attention. He is one of the most athletic QB's in the country with Cam Newton's size and legitimate 4.5 speed. He has an incredible arm, winning the longest throw at Elite 11. I realize that rankings don't typically take into account system or coach, but with Dan Mullen's development, it's absolutely insane that Richardson isn't listed as a top 100 player. He will be on top 25 lists soon enough.
Sleeper - Defense Hammer: Tre'Vez Johnson - This is arguably the best DB class in the last ten seasons and is very top heavy. Johnson is the lowest ranked DB in the class but I have watched his tape and he has great instincts but his biggest attitude is that he might be the fastest player on the team. You can’t coach speed.
Moes: Tre'Vez Johnson - Kid is fast fast.
Tophery: Tre'Vez Johnson - This is the biggest sleeper in this class overall. Would be a mid-tier 4 star if Rivals and ESPN didn't have their heads up their ass.
zlatan: Tre'Vez Johnson - Our first unanimous choice. As much as I want to say Lamar Goods or Rashad Torrence, I just can't get past Tre'Vez being a composite 3-star. He was the best DB in Jacksonville last year and will be a fixture either at Safety or Nickel as early as the 2021 season.
Instant impact Hammer: Lamar Goods - You could put Walker, Braun and Dexter here and I wouldn’t disagree with you. I think Goods is a solid DT prospect and he is the only early enrollee at the position. Already has an SEC ready body and a full offseason with Savage and Grantham, and the lack of depth at his position gives him the slight edge in my opinion over the others.
Moes: Josh Braun - In a system where freshmen rarely start, he'll push for playing time early. Savage has already been talking him up.
Tophery: Xzavier Henderson - Very prepared to step in and play at a position of need.
zlatan: Gervon Dexter - This spot is sometimes more predicated on the biggest need rather than the most game-ready player, but in this case, Dexter fulfills both roles. I considered early enrollees like Rashad Torrence, Josh Braun, and Lamar Goods, but we all saw how early Kaiir Elam worked his way into the rotation last year despite not joining until the summer. Dexter is at a position where even more rotation is necessary. I expect to see him playing early and often.
Highest Ceiling Hammer: Gervon Dexter - Dexter is an amazing prospect. Physically dominate and reportedly had an incredible work ethic. Coach Turner has developed quite a few elite DL players and if Dexter buys into the coaching I can see him becoming a Suh or Brown level impact in his entire career at Florida.
Moes: : Antwaun Powell - Powell has great size and speed, and is a former 5-star. However, consecutive years of shoulder injuries dropped his stock and made his commitment an ultimately quiet deal. However, if he stays healthy, he can be a monster in a Grantham defense.
Tophery: AR15 - A QB with his skills in Mullen's offense? He could have a statue outside BHG someday.
zlatan: Jahari Rogers - There are a few other guys that could easily be future first round talent, but I'm going to go with a guy that reminds me of our highest drafted DB of all time. He played QB throughout most of his high school career and only switched to CB his senior season. He already has shown an ability to make plays on the ball and has incredible change of direction. He's not going to win track competitions, but he's more than fast enough and has a reactive quickness that is off the charts. He may not have as much playing time as Kaiir Elam did his freshman year due to more depth in the defensive backfield, but I think he will be starting full-time in 2021.
Biggest Surprise Hammer: Princely Umanmielen - I honestly had no idea who he was before signing day so it was a surprise to me to see him pick Florida. You have to like his commitment as well. We have a plethora of talent at DE and LB so he knows that playing time is not guaranteed but he signed anyway.
Moes: Xzavier Henders - Pleasantly surprised we beat Clemson in a head-to-head battle after ESD.
Tophery: Josh Braun - Thank you Arkansas
zlatan: Offensive Tackles Issiah Walker and Josh Braun - It may be cheating to pick two, but I had major doubts about Hevesy's ability to land two elite guys at the top of our board in the same year. Braun is the most college ready OL in the state of Florida and close to one of the most college-ready OLs in the country for the 2020 class. Issiah Walker has one of the highest ceilings of any OT in the southeast. OL usually takes longer to develop, so Walker likely won't work his way into the top 6-7 until 2021 at the earliest, but these guys could easily be the starting LT/RT combo in 2022.
Best position group Hammer: Defensive backs - You can put Defensive Line here as well and I wouldn’t disagree. I do however think the DB class gets the slight edge. Five blue chips and two borderline blue chips creates the best DB class we have had in a decade.
Moes: Defensive Line - After years of struggling to land DTs, we loaded up with elite talent and plenty of it.
zlatan: Defensive backs - Absolutely insane group. I've covered Jahari. Ethan Pouncey has a fantastic ceiling and great length for CB. Fenley Graham is small, but has do-everything ability - Think Brandon Boykin at UGA. Rashad Torrence is on campus and on the verge of jumping some current safeties on the roster already. Avery Helm would have been a top 200 player if not for a knee injury during the major camp season. Mordecai McDaniel may now be the fastest player on the team. Tre'Vez Johnson will have McDaniel working for that title, and has already been covered extensively. Talent, numbers, and multiple skills/styles are all covered in this group. One small note: Missing out on Timothy Smith is the single piece keeping DL from being the top group by a landslide, because the combo of him and Gervon at DT would have been the best tandem in the country. Both position groups were outstanding in every sense of the word.
Worst position group Hammer: Running backs - We didn't sign any
Moes: Running backs - Not signing a RB this year wasn't terrible after adding Lingard from the portal, but we whiffed on a lot of targets. Maybe something happens with Zach Evans though.
Tophery: Running backs - Pending future developments
zlatan: Running backs - No surprise here with a unanimous decision. The recruitment at this position with all of the talent in the southeast and in Florida and with our prime depth chart has been awful. Every one of these was a bluechip in Florida or Georgia, or the son of a Florida all-time great RB: Demarkcus Bowman, Tank Bigsby, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jaylan Knighton, EJ Smith, Don Chaney Jr, Jo'Quavious Marks, Caziah Holmes, Henry Parrish, Lawrence Toafili, Daijun Edwards, Keyvone Lee - Can I come up with a completely valid reason for any one of those as to why we couldn't sign them or passed on large chunk of them? Absolutely. Can I come up with a valid reason that we didn't get a single one? Absolutely not. Zach Evans isn't a guarantee to enroll at UF, and even if he does, he's still no guarantee. We better count our blessings that Tim Brewster is here to help close on elite prospects and that he's able to help out Greg Knox and Billy Gonzalez in the recruiting department with TE all but wrapped up for 2021, because I could write just as scathing of a review on our WR recruiting this past class. In fact, I think I will.
zlatan2: Wide Receiver - WR recruiting this cycle was able to pull through a bit in the end, but I don't want to give it a free pass just because RB looked so awful and we had a nice close with Xzavier and Shorter. I don't care what Mullen said in the presser, I refuse to believe that we wanted any fewer than 4 top WRs to add to this class 4 top WRs leaving. With the passing offense we showed last year, the wide open position battle we have coming up this year, our location in Florida, and the way the depth chart currently looks, there may not have been a team in a position to land better WR group in the country other than Clemson/Bama/LSU. The state of Florida had 4 elite WRs that we pegged from the start. Kirby Smart and Georgia landed the top 2. That is the most asinine thing I have ever typed regarding recruiting. Thank God we were able to pull through with Xzavier Henderson, because this was almost a bigger disaster with Clemson/Bama/UGA all making huge pushes there. Leonard Manuel turned into a dude that could have been a high-talent luxury into a guy that we needed to pray makes it onto campus...and I would keep my expectations as low as can be there. I love Jaquavion Fraziars as well, don't get me wrong. We needed 2-3 elite WRs and another 2 great ones. Instead, we got 1 and 1, with a high-ceiling lottery chip in Shorter. Bryan Robinson is a Florida guy we could have stolen from Miami, and instead we didn't bother and let FSU swing in and nab him instead. Malachi Wideman is a guy we could have easily stolen from FSU, and instead he went to Tennessee. The same thing happened in 2019 with Trey Knox and in 2018 with Jamar Chase and TyQuan Thornton. We missed on Sam Brown this cycle because we waited way too long to give the go-ahead. Seeing a pattern? We rotate 6-8 guys a game at this position, yet we seem to pass on guys with elite talent or wait to pursue until it's too late. We're doing the same right now with Christian Leary.
Most likely to put a small, family-run all you can eat buffet out of business Hammer: Jeremy Crawshaw - Every Australian I have ever met eats like they won't ever eat again.
Moes: Issiah Walker - Walker was born in the buffet, molded by it. You don't take as many trips as he did to Miami and FSU to watch football. I'm sure he was all about that Honey Fried Chicken and whatever shit Miami serves up.
zlatan: Josh Braun - The kid is immense. His family is immense and full of offensive linemen. If you don't eat fast in his household, you don't eat.
Most hype to live up to Hammer: Gervon Dexter - We haven’t had a prospect with this much hype come to Florida in quite some time. He will be expected to immediately compete for playing time and if he isn’t elite by his sophomore season I expect quite a few Florida fans to be disappointed.
Moes: Gervon Dexter - The hype is impossibly high for Florida's first five star recruit in ages. He's good enough handle it though.
zlatan: Gervon Dexter - Another unanimous choice, this one seems fairly obvious. The first UF composite 5-star since 2015, 12th in the composite, a consensus top 25 player, and ranked as high as 6th overall. Going to be tough to have higher expectations than what people are putting on Gervon's shoulders.
Most likely to be in a boy band Hammer: Ethan Pouncey - His 24/7 profile picture just screams I am in the “Pouncey Brothers Band”
Moes: Jeremy Crawshaw - Just read the name and tell me I'm wrong
Tophery: Derek Wingo - He's the most handsome heartbreaker of this class, and it's not close
zlatan: Avery Helm - While I can see great arguments for Ethan Pouncey or Derek Wingo (he just looks like a guy who can sing), this question will always come down to the best hair
Most likely to play an old guy in a movie Hammer: Anthony Richardson - He looks like he is 40. His before and after pictures look like the new AR15 ate the old Anthony Richardson.
Moes: Johnnie Brown - He already looks like a grown ass man, so why not.
Tophery: Richie Leonard - This is a 43yo man who is going to move mountains to send you home with the Whirlpool kitchen set and 5 year warranty TODAY.
zlatan: Richie Leonard - Not only does he look the part, but has the name down as well. This is a slam dunk.
Ethan White Award for most likely to shut the haters up Hammer: Richie Leonard - Like White last year a lot of people were not happy with Hevesy signing a low ranked prospect. Leonard is an early enrollee and could see some playing time this fall if he buys into the development and coaching like White did.
Moes: Fenley Graham - Many thought we only took him because of the connection to Bowman and Lakeland, but he's an elusive athlete that could be an instant impact on special teams, or maybe even STAR.
Tophery: Fenley Graham - A lot of shit was talked in his commitment thread, including me.
zlatan: Fenley Graham - We needed quality and numbers badly at DB this class. When we snagged Tre'Vez Johnson and Fenley Graham in the same week, I was pretty disappointed that we were taking two guys who I considered "projects". Tre'Vez would have been my pick here a few months ago, but has already shed that label. Hoping that Fenley Graham can do the same.
Additional Awards submitted anonymously Biggest miss: Avantae Williams
Most likely to be a Hufflepuff: Jeremy Crawshaw
Most likely to secretly browse /FloridaGators: Gerald Mincey
Most likely to say "that's what she said": Xzavier Henderson, but only to get into CJ's head
Most likely to cry when you ask them if they are going to cry: Xzavier Henderson, but only when asked by CJ
Trent Whittemore Award for worst signee retroactively: Chris Steele
Trent Whittemore Award for worst signee retroactively: Trent Whittemore. Nothing more needs to be said here.
Some final thoughts I know I ragged on RB and WR a ton, but I don't want to mislead anybody - I'm incredibly happy with this class. This is a class that you can build championships from. I'm just at a point where it's easier to point out the glaring flaws or even minor issues than it is to point out the tons of positives. It hit even harder for me, because RB and WR were one of our biggest needs, and I had predicted in my preseason write-up that we were going to have a group similar to the LB group in 2019. Not even close. All of that said, this is a defense that can win championships. Mullen showed us what he could build in the trenches and on defense at Mississippi State with a few top targets and a majority of lowly ranked players. Now he's building trenches and a defense with the top targets combined with a majority of much higher ranked players in the 200-400 national range rather than the 500-1,000 range. We may have missed on skill positions, but we supplemented in a fantastic way with transfers like Lingard and Shorter. I do have complete faith in Mullen's ability to make things work and create a successful offense with all types of players, so if there is a side of the ball where we should be less upset with underperforming in recruiting, it would be offense.
Players who who I expect to outperform their ranking (composite ranking in parentheses):
Recruiting is going to be incredibly unique over the next few months. Some of the normal trends that we can pick up on are getting flipped upside down entirely with how visits are shut down and the uncertainty in regards to practice, training, enrolling, being with the team, and even when/how the season will roll. I think that some of these kids who were close to making decisions are taking a step back to see how things play out over the summer. That includes a particular 2020 RB, who was already going to be a huge mystery until we saw when/where he showed up on a campus. At this point in late March, the safest bet is to assume that he will not be in the class.
- Anthony Richardson (201) - Covered more than enough in my offensive sleeper analysis post above. 201 is a good ranking if he had committed to play at Penn State. 501 if he went to play for Kirby Smart. Top 100 with Dan Mullen.
- Josh Braun (270) - Far too low of a ranking for a top 10 OL in the country. I can understand why the rankers put him here - When you are incapable of properly analyzing ability and potential from film, you are limited to basing a lot of grades from camps/competition/offers. Braun only hit on the 'offers' part of that group. This guy has the ability and work ethic to be a 2-3 year starter for us.
- Rashad Torrence (332) - Noticing a weird pattern with the bottom half of this class. The majority of that group is sitting in that 300-500 range, right on the verge of low four star or high three star. It's a nice change of pace picking out signees in the 300's or 400's as underrated gems compared to a few years ago, when we had to resort to doing the same with guys in that 500-900 range. Torrence should be ranked near the 200 range like McDaniel, and is one of the most game-ready players in our class.
- Mordecai McDaniel (357) - Reminds me a bit of Jaydon Hill (323 in 2019) with the teams who pursued heavily, but unlike Jaydon, he isn't coming into the season off of a major knee injury. He's also the one of the fastest players nationally in the 2020 class. If using Hill as a base measurement, McDaniel should be ranked closer to the 200 range based off of potential alone.
- Lamar Goods (359) - Before missing spring practice, I expected this guy to get as much or more play on the DL than Gervon Dexter. Still could happen.
- Tre'Vez Johnson (473) - Absolute insanity that the best DB in Jacksonville is this low, while Fred Davis is in the top 60. He's already shut haters up from UF. Time to see if he can roast the rankers. This is a potential top 100 player at a top 500 price.
- Gerald Mincey (654) - This guy is one of the most Hevesy recruits that ever Hevesy'd. He is mean when he plays. Fantastic size and a wide frame. If this were Vegas and you were looking for the biggest gains, Mincey would be a can't miss option.
- Jeremy Crawshaw (3,058) - You're telling me that this motherfucker (1,936) who signed with Montana State is worthy of a ranking above .8000 and our boy Crawshaw (.7940) isn't? 4 punters ranked above .8000. 8 punters ranked above Crawshaw per the 247 composite, with only 4 of them signed to P5 teams (Colorado, South Carolina, Cal, and Minnesota). Might as well not rank them at all if you're going to have these garbage rankings on your site. Punters are people too.
Going to close the book on the 2020 class for the most part and transition my Spring/Summer posts to focus on 2021 recruiting (where the coaches have been focusing since the Fall).
2019 college football betting trends — Week 3 Pittsburgh is 12-6 as a road underdog since 2015, and the visiting team has covered the last three years in the Pitt-Penn State series. By Bruce Betting Trends. NFL. NFL Odds and Futures; College Football. College Football Odds and Futures; College Football. League News. College Football Trends-Clemson will start the 2020 NCAA football season as the top-ranked BCS team and will resume a trend of 18 straight games as a double-digit home favorite. College Football Week 3 Betting Trends. Posted on September 9, 2014 | by Noah Williams. Two weeks of college football betting have come and gone. Sports fans have already seen a bevy of upsets. Teams riding the wave of off-season hype, coming up lame in the first two weeks of action. While some under-hyped squads have made names for themselves View Top NCAAF ATS, SU & Over/Under Betting Trends for NCAA College Football games, including Head-to-Head Series History from over the past 15 years. The sample size is still small (fewer than 200 games on record), but the "over" record of 87-74 in non-overtime games is one of several interesting college football betting trends entering Week 3.