The GOAT and The Kid

It may only be the opinion of this writer, but in my experience, no other spectacle in sports of the last 20 years has produced as many captivating stories of suspense, heartache, and triumph as the Super Bowl – and this year seems right on track to do the same.

Gone are the days of big game blowouts of the 80s and 90s, as the turn of the millennium has resulted in some of the most exciting games in the history of competitive sports. I don’t believe it to be any coincidence that since the year 2000, half of the Super Bowls played have featured Tom Brady.

Even further, it’s no coincidence that the nine previous times he’s graced the gridiron’s biggest game have been some of the greatest games ever played. The man after all, is ‘The G.O.A.T.’

It’s hard to believe that once upon a time people tried to contend that no one would ever be greater than Joe Montana, but Brady has absolutely shattered any doubt surrounding the argument. He is undisputedly the greatest to ever take to the field.

What sets Brady apart from other legends of the game is his relentless pursuit of perfection in the excellence of execution. While not as physically talented as the likes of Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, maybe not the big arm capabilities of Drew Brees or Josh Allen, and not the mind of Peyton Manning – there is no greater competitor in sports. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is an understatement if you think you’re going to share a locker room with the man.

When you look at some of the players he’s thrown the ball to over the years, there isn’t to much to be impressed with outside of one amazing year with Randy Moss. Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, and Danny Amendola aren’t anything special. Throwing the check down to Gronk or James White, Dion Lewis, and Danny Woodhead hasn’t been to exciting either. But none the less, the style of play had worked near flawlessly for well over a decade thanks to Tom’s dedication to working with his receivers.

The amount of time he put into building trust and chemistry with his guys undoubtedly resulted in the obtaining of Lombardi trophies. By mastering the timing route, Brady always knew where and when a player was supposed to be on the field allowing him to place the ball almost without thought.

There’s an old saying that hard work with lesser talent will beat talent with lesser work, but when you put talent and hard work together the only way to be beat is if you beat yourself. But then … enter Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes is by far the most talented quarterback I have ever seen play the position, with a Brady type psyche and an Elway style playing ability. Similarly to Elway, it doesn’t matter if you know that Mahomes is going to throw the ball 9 times out of 10, he will find a way to beat you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And even more amazing, we’re only scratching the surface of finding out what Mahomes is capable of. No other player in his first three years as a starting quarterback has both a MVP and a Super Bowl win, and before this year is over he very well could double both of those categories.

With Kansas City going into Sunday -3.5, it’s clear that the oddsmakers are favoring the up and coming kid over the GOAT.

And while there is plenty of hype surrounding the idea of Brady passing the torch down to the next generation, I think its a fair point that we’ve seen other players we would have assumed to become the next GOAT. Dan Marino is still the only quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl in his rookie season. After being crushed by the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX, Marino would never return to the big game (And yes, he was crushed – ‘Laces out Dan’ is just a work of fiction.)

Russel Wilson is the other quarterback who joins Brady and Mahomes as the only to lead their team to a Super Bowl twice in his first three seasons as starter, and after winning in the first trip to the big game, I think we all remember how the second effort went. Wilson has yet to lead the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl or accumulate any MVP awards, in fact not even a single MVP vote.

I think this Super Bowl will be a humbling experience for Mahomes regardless of the outcome. It’s a known fact that it’s incredibly difficult to get to a Super Bowl, requires an insane amount of effort to win a Super Bowl, and it’s nearly impossible to repeat as champion – as we’ve only seen it to have occurred one time in this century.

My gut feeling is that Mahomes and the Chiefs must be mentally exhausted at this point. Reflective in their record against the spread this year as they went 7-9 against the spread and only covered once during the second half of the season.

While they’ve continued to find ways to win, this stat becomes concerning as it simply means the Chiefs have not been living up to the expectation set for them as the reigning champs. It should also be noted that the Chiefs at times struggled (albeit without Mahomes for portions of the game), against a Browns team that had not been to the playoffs since 2002 and was led by an inconsistent young QB and first year head coach.

They also allowed themselves to fall behind by nine against the Bills, led by another young QB/Coach duo and a franchise that hadn’t been to the playoffs in 25 years!

The story may be different for the Chiefs this Sunday if they underplay against the Buccaneers. With only a 3-point spread, it’s almost certain that failure to meet expectations will result in a defeat. Synonymous with the Brady-Belichick era in New England, Brady knows how to make teams pay for their inability to execute and it’s almost guaranteed he’ll put his team in a position to win.

Of course there are other factors that will play in to the outcome of the game – I do not trust Tampa’s secondary to be able to keep up with the speed of the Chiefs skill players. Plus, with Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s ability to generate pressure with a 4-man rush, the Bucs OL will have a challenge in keeping Brady upright.

But, if the game truly becomes the spotlight of two great quarterbacks, the legend and the prodigy – I would never bet against Brady’s ability to find a way to win. My man’s been winning Super Bowls since before Mahomes was old enough to play tackle football and in a tightly contested game, I think he does it again.

Brady fanboy or not, my prediction …

Buccaneers – 33

Chiefs – 31

Tom gets his seventh.

Enjoy the Game!

The Bengals Questionable Offseason

The 2-6-1 Cincinnati Bengals were up by two against the 2-7 Washington Football Team with a little over eleven minutes left in the third quarter. The Bengals were a half of football away from getting their third win of the year, and a big morale boost as well. Then, every single Bengals fan’s worst nightmare occurred.

Joe Burrow hit the ground once again – and immediately clutched his leg – and did not get up. The cart came out, and fans expected the worst. Shortly after, tweet by Burrow all but confirmed his season was done. Monday afternoon revealed he had torn both his ACL and MCL.

To blame the Bengals offensive line, front office, coaching, or anyone is irresponsible. Quarterback injuries are uncommon in general, and contact ACL injuries are even more rare. Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, and Daniel Jones have all been hit or sacked more times than Burrow has this season. But – anyone who has watched a Bengals game this year has had the same thought. Joe Burrow needs protection BADLY.

Even with a porous offensive line, Burrow has shown why he was drafted with the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. Yet the question remains, why was Burrow in this position in the first place?

Sure – first overall picks are usually in bad situations, but Burrow has absolutely no help up front. What were the Bengals doing this offseason?

The first place to start is on December 22nd, 2019. Week 16 of the 2019 NFL season.

The 1-14 Bengals were traveling to the 3-11 Miami Dolphins. With a little over eight minutes left in the third quarter, the Dolphins were in the driver’s seat, up 28-6 with victory clear in sight. Some Andy Dalton heroics occurred shortly after, and the game ended up going to overtime tied at 35-35, with Dalton throwing four touchdowns in the final eighteen minutes.

Regardless, a Jason Sanders field goal won the game for the Dolphins, and officially clinched the Bengals the number one pick in the NFL draft. The Joe Burrow Bengals jerseys being custom made by fans went from dream, to reality.

With the number one pick practically locked in months before the draft, the next step for the Bengals would be to improve their roster as much as possible for their quarterback of the future.

The offensive line wasn’t a priority, as Dalton had around the league average sacks and QB hits in 2019. Yet, the Bengals cut both their left tackles, Cordy Glenn and Andre Smith, beforethe 2020 season. They also let guard John Miller walk to the Panthers.

They kept their left guard, Michael Jordan, even though the lineman played nothing like the superstar with the same name. Their 2019 center and right tackle, Trey Hopkins and Bobby Hart, also returned – but neither has played well. Hart was moved inside to allow 2019 first round pick, Jonah Williams, to play – who has actually been good.

The Bengals thankfully had draft capital, and a ton of cap space to build up their roster. Yet, what they did to help Burrow transition to the NFL was spend on the other side of the ball.

Free agent defensive tackle DJ Reader was given a $53 million dollar contract over four years. Reader played five games at a subpar level before getting injured, and missing the rest of the 2020 season.

Trae Waynes was given a three year, $42 million dollar contract, but has yet to play.

Vonn Bell was given a three year, $18 million dollar contract, and has played terribly.

They paid free agent left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, then he got injured in September and also has not played. So, with the bulk of the Bengals cap space used on defensive players, it was evident that any offensive additions would need to be done in the draft.

The Bengals would obviously use their first pick on Burrow, and then they surprised many by taking Tee Higgins with their second pick. Higgins has played well, and was a smart choice if you believe another weapon would help Burrow. It’s after this pick the Bengals draft becomes confusing.

With their third pick, the Bengals drafted an inside linebacker, Logan Wilson. Wilson has not been great, and that choice looks worse when you see that guard Damien Lewis went a few picks later, and he has been great.

Then, in the fourth round, Cincinnati took outside linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, who has been terrible for them with only one start this season. Tackle Saahdiq Charles was taken with the following pick, and while he has not played due to an injury sustained in his first start, you have to wonder if he would have helped more than ADG has.

Entering the fifth round, the Bengals decided to keep the same formula, as they then took edge rusher, Khalid Kareem. Kareem has not played well for the Bengals, and only played following DJ Reader’s injury.

Two picks following Kareem was guard Danny Pinter, who would’ve certainly been an upgrade for this Bengals roster.

Three picks over two days, and the Cincinnati front office decided to just continue acquiring more and more defensive players, as if they hadn’t done the exact same thing in free agency months prior. While these moves do not directly lead to Burrow’s injury – as it was a freak occurrence that could happen to anyone on any play – you have to wonder why the Bengals just ignored their offensive line.

Thankfully for the Bengals, they have a clear shot at the second or third overall pick, and will probably take Oregon’s stud, Penei Sewell, to be their franchise LT for years to come. But until then, Bengals fans can only hope Joe Burrow comes back at 100% – both physically, and mentally.

No Risk, No Reward: How The Arizona Cardinals Broke The Mold With Their Rebuild

The 2018 Arizona Cardinals had all the looks of a classic NFL rebuild: highly drafted quarterback prospect, first time head coach with potential and a mix of some young and veteran talent. 

Everything was status quo, and then? They threw it all away.

Why? Because the status quo just isn’t good enough in the NFL.

The 2020 Arizona Cardinals didn’t get here by accident. Just two years removed from finishing 3-13, they’re now entering the upper echelon of teams in the NFC. A 5-2 start, wins over the undefeated Seattle Seahawks, the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers and a quarterback in MVP talks, they’re proving they belong. 

So what’s the difference between the Cardinals and teams who just can’t get their rebuilds right? (Looking at you, New York). They took risks. They threw the rule book out the window and did everything different. General Manager Steve Keim said to hell with how things are supposed to be done, and guess what, it worked.

Originally, Keim made a bevy of mistakes at his first attempt to rebuild his team. 

First, he hired Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator, Steve Wilks. Wilks may be a highly respected coordinator, but was an uninspiring head coach, to say the least.

He drafted UCLA’s Josh Rosen in the first round in 2018. Rosen was a highly regarded prospect, but right now he looks like one of the biggest quarterback busts ever. He’s currently a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad.

In the NFL, if you have the wrong coach or quarterback, you have nothing. If you miss on both, you usually don’t get another chance to fix it.

In 2019, Keim decided to throw away the rule book and change everything. He risked his job, his reputation and everything in between when he decided to burn his first attempt at a rebuild to his ground.

Instead of taking the safe route this time, he would take the road less traveled. He would take risk after risk, every decision being torn to shreds by the media and fans alike.

First, he replaced Wilks with former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury was coming off of losing his job as the head coach in Lubbock, but was ready to accept the position of offensive coordinator at USC. Keim saw the NFL changing around him into an offensive driven league, and his team needed a coach who could help his team do the same. Kingsbury was his guy.

The move was panned by almost everybody who covered the NFL and fans alike. Stephen A. Smith, of ESPN’s First Take, still stands firm in his stance to this day, stating that Kingsbury didn’t deserve the job.

Second, instead of sticking with his first round quarterback from 2018 in Rosen, he went out and drafted the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma, Kyler Murray, in 2019. His detractors said he was too small, that he wouldn’t even be able to see over his offensive line – Keim still didn’t care. It was another risk he was willing to take. He was all in.

The Cardinals could’ve played it safe and stuck with their mistakes, like most teams do. They could’ve kept Wilks and Rosen together for another year, drafted Nick Bosa and tried to let them gel together.

The Cardinals would still be in the NFC’s cellar if they did that.

Teams like the New York Giants, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars have been stuck in what seems like a forever rebuild because they stick with their mistakes for too long. Dave Gettleman, Adam Gase and Doug Marrone should’ve been unemployed a long time ago.

The NFL is a results driven business – if you can’t prove your worth, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first or tenth year, you can be replaced. The Cardinals didn’t get lucky during their rebuild, they were cognizant of their mistakes and wasted no time in fixing them. 

The bottom line? No risk, no reward. The Arizona Cardinals are a playoff team in contention to win their division. Teams that have played it safe? Only 185 days until the draft.

2021 Mock Draft 1.0

While most teams have only played 5 games this season (some playing less), it’s becoming clearer which teams are contenders and which are pretenders. Teams such as the Seahawks, Packers, Bills, and Chiefs look dominant, while others like the Giants, Jets, and Falcons are already looking ahead to April.

This mock draft is based on projected records at the end of the season by ESPN’s Football Power Index, and picks are made assuming the front office and coaching staff will remain the same as they are at the time of this article being written. While it’s obvious this won’t be the case come April, (looking at you – Dave Gettleman and Adam Gase), it’s impossible to predict what new staff’s will look at before we know who is hired. There are no trades either as those are also impossible to predict.

New York Jets – Trevor Lawrence

The Jets are bad. If you blindly threw a dart at their depth chart, odds are you’d hit a position of need. The modern NFL is offense based, and the Jets used their first pick on upgrading the trenches by taking LT Mekhi Becton. Unfortunately, the offense still stinks and it’s impossible to tell what the issue is specifically, as it’s most likely a ton of problems. Sam Darnold is not to blame for the Jets failures, but is he good enough to pass on a generational prospect at the most important position for a team? No. Darnold has had a terrible environment around him since entering the league, and he’s flashed potential, but the potential from Lawrence outweighs the potential that Darnold will suddenly become a star. Lawrence will give the Jets a clean slate for their current rebuild.

New York Giants – Penei Sewell

Danny Dimes survives .. for now. The Giants offense was average at best with Saquon Barkley. Without him, they are abysmal. Daniel Jones has been sacked the fourth most times this season, which makes it pretty difficult to move the ball. Sewell, alongside the Giants 2019 first pick Andrew Thomas, gives the G-Men a pair of tackles that Jones and Barkley can feel safe behind. While Jones might not be the quarterback of the future, it’s tough to pass on a prospect like Sewell when it fills such a huge need for the future.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Fields

Minshew Mania sadly comes to an end. While Gardner Minshew is the perfect representation of what a Jacksonville QB should look like, his play is streaky and inconsistent, and with each passing week he looks less and less like the guy. The Jaguars hope to finally have their first good QB in years with Justin Fields. He would be the highest QB taken by the Jags since Blake Bortles in 2014. Jaguars fans will be elated to be able to look forward to the Fields-Chark connection for years to come.

Atlanta Falcons – Micah Parsons

Atlanta fans might be upset that they missed out on Justin Fields for the hometown story only Hollywood could write, but this ain’t that and once they watch Parsons, they’ll feel much better. The Falcons defense has been bad for quite some time now, and Parsons would be an incredible upgrade for Atlanta. He can play in coverage alongside Deion Jones, or rush the QB alongside Takk McKinley. Either way, he’ll be a positive change for the Falcons defense.

Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase

Missing out on Sewell would be a tough blow to the Bengals, as Joe Burrow is on pace to be sacked SEVENTY times his rookie year. The offensive line is the biggest positional need for the Bengals, but it’s too early to reach here and there are no trades in this mock. Fortunately for Burrow, he gets his number one receiver from LSU in Ja’Marr Chase. Chase set a single season record last year for yards and touchdowns while playing with Burrow, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue dominating at the next level. Alongside Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, the Bengals receiving corps becomes scary.

Denver Broncos – Caleb Farley

Bryce Callahan has been a serviceable cornerback for the Broncos. Besides that, there’s a large gap in talent for that group. Farley would immediately become the best corner on the team. Vic Fangio would love a corner that acts like glue in man coverage, as Denver bolsters it’s defense in a division full of potent offenses. The continued development of Drew Lock, Jerry Jeudy and Sutton on offense, while Bradley Chubb and Farley grow on defense, Denver’s young core looks quite promising.

Washington Football Team – Trey Lance

Whether you think Dwayne Haskins could be the guy or not, it doesn’t really matter. Riverboat Ron has made his judgement known and feels that Haskins time is up. While Lance is a risk since he did not get to play this season due to the pandemic, his 28 touchdown to 0 interception season last year was enough to impress front offices. He’s already declared for the draft, and is expected to be the third or fourth QB off the board next to Florida’s Kyle Trask. With Lance, Rivera gets a QB who can make plays with both his arm and his legs, as the WFT trio of Lance, Terry McLaurin, and Antonio Gibson has the potential to be the best in their division after Dallas.

Philadelphia Eagles – Dylan Moses

Philadelphia is surprising most as they look flat so far this season. The offense and the defense are just not clicking, as both flail out week after week – leading to a 1-3-1 start. Nate Gerry is not meant to be a starting linebacker and it showed as Chase Claypool embarrassed him for his fourth touchdown of the day against the Eagles defense. Moses has been shaky this season, but he has the potential to be the hard hitting backer the Eagles have been missing.

Detroit Lions – Gregory Rousseau

The Lions defense is putrid and has been for awhile. They are tied for the second least amount of sacks in the league, which is sad because the only team behind them is the Titans who have played 2 less games. Rousseau can play alongside Trey Flowers and give the Lions the pass rush that they have been missing. If Matt Patricia survives this season, he’ll have a short leash, but Rousseau has the potential to help the Lions defense become the unit Patricia promised when he was hired.

Los Angeles Chargers – Creed Humphrey

Justin Herbert looks like the real deal – now, the Chargers need to protect him. They have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and their current center is not who you want protecting your franchise QB. Humphrey is a leader on the line, and as a former wrestler shows he can handle NFL caliber defenders. As someone who can help identity the middle linebacker as well, Humphrey provides multiple benefits for Herbert.

Miami Dolphins (via Houston) – Jaylen Waddle

While Devonta Smith is an intriguing option here for the Tua connection, Waddle adds a deep threat to an offense who already has a solid receiver in Devante Parker. A Waddle, Parker, Gesicki receiving corps would give Tua all the weapons he needs to succeed. The pieces are beginning to come together for Miami as they become more and more competitive.

Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II

The Cowboys secondary has struggled since Byron Jones left for Miami. Trevon Diggs has struggled so far this season and Dallas’ offense can only do so much. Surtain would immediately become the number one corner in Dallas, and help bring Dallas back to playoff contention. As the NFC East fills up with young receivers, Surtain can help limit their productivity as they face the Cowboys twice a year.

Minnesota Vikings – Marvin Wilson

The Vikings have a choice between cornerback or interior defensive line with this pick, and they go with the latter in Marvin Wilson. Wilson is an overwhelming force that alongside Ngakoue will give Minnesota the defensive trenches they need to make opposing offensive coordinator’s jobs difficult.

Miami Dolphins – Quincy Roche

After using their first pick to improve the offense, the Dolphins don’t have to look far for their next pick. Roche wouldn’t have to travel far from the Hurricanes to the Dolphins, and he’d give the Fins an edge rusher they desperately need. With a receiver and an edge rusher in the first round, Miami’s future looks pretty bright.

San Francisco 49ers – Tyson Campbell

Richard Sherman will be a free agent this offseason, and he isn’t getting any younger. After him the Niners corners drop off even more. Campbell can be an instant starter for San Fran helping their secondary while also being a positive contributor to their run defense. Having the number one defense is how they got to the super bowl, and if they want to return they’ll need some new pieces.

Carolina Panthers – Kyle Pitts

The Panthers didn’t pay Teddy to give up after one season. In an entire new scheme and offense he hasn’t looked great but he could be far worse. Pitts would give Bridgewater a new target that would make Carolina arguably the best receiving corps in the entire league. He’s been an incredible threat in Florida’s offense and alongside DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and CMC, Matt Rhule and Joe Brady would have a plethora of weapons at their disposal.

Arizona Cardinals – Wyatt Davis

When you have a young franchise QB in Kyler Murray, you want to protect him. When he has to go against Nick Bosa and Aaron Donald a quarter of the schedule, you really want to protect him. Davis would become an immediate plug and play for the Cardinals offensive line. With more time in the pocket, Kyler will be able to do more damage by air and help Kliff Kingsbury get the offense he envisioned.

New England Patriots – DeVonta Smith

Another first round wide receiver for Bill Belichick. Julian Edelman will be 35 next season and N’keal Harry has been okay so far when healthy but besides him, the Patriots don’t have many weapons. Smith would give whoever the future QB is for New England another weapon, something New England has lacked for awhile now.

Chicago Bears – Kyle Trask

Mitchell Trubisky is not the answer. Nick Foles is probably not either. Trask would give Chicago the one position they’ve been missing in quarterback. Allen Robinson continues to get frustrated with the quarterbacks he’s had in the league, but Trask has the opportunity to change that, and finally bring Chicago to the next level.

Indianapolis Colts – Rondale Moore

The Colts receiving corps has been lackluster for a few years. They addressed it last offseason by drafting Michael Pittman but an unfortunate injury shows how little depth they have. T.Y. Hilton is on the final year of his contract and he’s getting older. Whoever the next QB in Indy is, he’ll need weapons and Moore will help provide another one.

Las Vegas Raiders – Christian Barmore

The Raiders defensive line has been lackluster. Maxx Crosby is a great edge rusher, but Clelin Ferrell has shown nothing but spurts of potential, struggling to put it all together, and free agent acquisition Maliek Collins has yet to get another going. Barmore checks off Mike Mayock’s tendency of drafting from top pedigree universities, and can provide an interior rushing force to help the Raiders run defense and pass rush.

Tennessee Titans – Rashod Bateman

Corey Davis has shown some potential finally this season, and A.J. Brown is a young stud, but Bateman would become an immediate upgrade for the Titans passing game. With Bateman, Brown, Jonnu, and Derrick Henry, the Titans will become almost impossible to game plan for.

New Orleans Saints – Paulson Adebo

The Saints window is closing quick, and the defense is falling apart once again. Janoris Jenkins is not the answer at cornerback opposite Lattimore. Adebo is a quality outside corner who can help the Saints secondary reach the level it was during the Saints past few playoff runs. After losing to the Vikings twice in the playoffs on last second touchdowns, the Saints hope adding Adebo prevents this from happening again.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Pat Freiermuth

The Bucs window is even smaller than the Saints. Bruce Arians wants to give Tom all the help he can and Gronk is clearly past his prime. The Penn State tight end is a stud who will help Tom out on third down plays and in blocking. With him added to that offense, the Bucs will be virtually impossible when it’s firing on all cylinders.

Cleveland Browns – Hamsah Nasirildeen

The Browns defense is shaky outside of Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. Free agent Karl Joseph has not been that good, and Cleveland gets a shot at a complete upgrade at the safety position. Hamsah can roam around the field creating havoc, and will bring an intensity to the secondary level of the Browns defense that is much needed in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Alex Leatherwood

Whether Ben plays another year, or the Steelers look elsewhere for a new QB, Pittsburgh will need a strong offensive line to let their plethora of weapons go to work. Leatherwood is an immediate plug and play on the line and can help in the trenches battle.

Los Angeles Rams – Dillon Radunz

Jared Goff, like most quarterbacks, is at his best in a clean pocket. During the Rams superbowl run they had one of the best lines in the league as Gurley burst free for huge gains and Goff picked apart defenses under the instruction of Sean McVay. Then the Rams lost a bunch of their line and they fell apart. Radunz can help them try to recreate that incredible season where they were a few plays away from winning it all.

Buffalo Bills – Trey Smith

Josh Allen is beginning to play at an MVP caliber level. The Bills defense has taken a step back this year, but they’re still solid. The Bills offensive line has some holes in the middle though, and that’s where Trey Smith comes in. The Tennessee guard has some concerning health issues, but there’s no question about his talent, and what he can bring to that Buffalo offense.

Green Bay Packers – Jay Tufele

The Packers biggest needs would be sizable reaches here, so expect a trade down come April. For this mock though, the Packers bolster their defensive line with the USC D-Lineman. If you give Rodgers a strong defense the sky is the limit for the Packers.

Seattle Seahawks – Josh Myers

The Seahawks have finally given in and let Russ cook. Now it’s time to finally protect him. Myers can be the center of the future for Seattle, and protect Russ as he finally gets to air it out. The offensive line is something Seattle has ignored for awhile, but enough is enough.

Baltimore Ravens – Aidan Hutchinson

The Ravens could use an edge rusher, and Hutchinson provides a power rushing skillset that the Ravens lack. Jim Harbaugh will surely learn all the details of the Michigan edge rusher as all he has to do is call his brother in the north for any info he needs. The Baltimore defense is already scary, and adding Hutchinson only makes it better.

Kansas City Chiefs – Hamilcar Rashed Jr

What do the reigning super bowl champs need? Whatever they want. The Chiefs still have a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense, so this pick can be whatever they want. Besides Frank Clark, the Kansas City edge rushers are nothing special, and Rashed has the talent to develop into an impact player in both run stopping and pass rushing.

NFL Week One: Predicting Each Game (ATS)

In one of the craziest years we’ve ever experienced, the NFL rolls on. Kick back, relax, and let me help you make some money on opening weekend.

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9)

The two highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL will go head to head on opening night, when the post-DeAndre Hopkins trade Houston Texans take on the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. A rematch from last year’s AFC divisional round, the Texans won’t have a chance to blow a four touchdown lead in this game. The Chiefs get out to a fast start in their quest for back to back championships, taking care of business opening night.

The Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-9)

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5)

The classic 1pm, opening day match-up: the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. With the departure of Tom Brady from the AFC East, the Bills have become the sexy pick to win the division. News flash, there is nothing sexy about the Buffalo Bills. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a good team, but I’m not as convinced as everyone else is about them. The Jets had somewhat of a tumultuous offseason, trading away Jamal Adams and stuck in a never-ending, media driven soap opera between Adam Gase and Le’Veon Bell. Sam Darnold has to take another step forward this year, and he’s actually undefeated in Buffalo. Give me the Jets in a shocker.

The Pick: New York Jets (+6.5)

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (+1.5)

One team that has continually given Russell Wilson and the Seahawks fits over his career has been the Atlanta Falcons. The Seahawks might be one of the best teams in the NFC, but they’re also one of the mots inconsistent teams in the entire league. The Falcons had a season to forget last year, but they ended it on a good note. I think they carry that momentum, plus a classic nobody believes in us attitude, into this season. The Falcons are better than people think, and they’ll show it week one.

The Pick: Atlanta Falcons (+1.5)

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3)

If there’s an NFC version of the Jets-Bills match-up, it’s this match-up between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. The Bears were extraordinarily disappointing last year, but they still managed an 8-8 record. On the other hand, the Lions were one of the worst teams in the entire league, but a healthy Matthew Stafford, along with the addition of De’Andre Swift, should give their offense some life. It’s put up or shut up time for Mitchell Trubisky though, and I believe his talent will finally be on display this year *ducks*. I know it’s popular to disparage his ability, and I don’t know if he’ll do enough to keep the Bears starting job beyond 2020, but he’ll do enough to get the win here.

The Pick: Chicago Bears (+3)

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers both fell victim to the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs last season, and they’ll both be looking to improve upon good seasons from last year. The Vikings shipped out a big play receiver in Stefon Diggs, but they replaced him with first round pick, Justin Jefferson. The Packers on the other hand, they’re rolling with Allen Lazard as their number two receiver. I think the addition of Yannick Ngakoue will pay dividends for the Vikings as well, but it may take some time for him to get acclimated to an entirely new defense. The Packers swept the Vikings last season, and they look to do it again this year, starting with a victory in Minnesota.

The Pick: Green Bay Packers (+3)

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5)

The Miami Dolphins shocked the football world in Week 17 of last season, when they went up to Foxborough and defeated the New England Patriots, in what we now know was Tom Brady’s last regular season game as a member of the team. The loss helped set the table for Brady leaving for Tampa Bay, and for a new man under center in New England, a super-man, Cam Newton. I love the fit of Newton with Bill Belichick, and I think it’ll pay dividends for both. Fitz-Magic doesn’t reign supreme in New England again, as Newton and the Patriots offense will have something to prove this season.

The Pick: New England Patriots (-6.5)

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team (+6)

A rematch from week one last year, where the Washington Football Team got off to a blistering start, only to blow it to the Carson Wentz led Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles number one receiver going into this game will be DeSean Jackson, and no, this is not 2011. The Eagles did defeat the Washinton Football Team late last season with a former quarterback and converted tight end playing wide receiver for them, so it may not matter. I think the Ron Rivera led squad will keep it close, cover, but the Philadelphia Eagles win a close one.

The Pick: Washington Football Team (+6)

Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers (+3)

The first game of a new era for the Raiders, as they officially leave Oakland for ‘Sin City’, Las Vegas. This new story begins in Carolina, taking on a team in the Panthers who have also undergone a facelift. Baylor’s Matt Rhule is calling the shots now, and former Vikings, Jets and Saints quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, will be under center. Personally, I believe the Raiders should be much better than the Panthers this season, but the Raiders have also been consistently inconsistent over the last couple years. I expect this year to be no different, but who wouldn’t want to see the Vegas-Era start off with a win? Probably Panthers fans, but .. oh well.

The Pick: Las Vegas Raiders (-3)

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+8)

An eight point line, at home, on opening day, is disrespectful – even for the Jaguars. Have we forgotten all about Minshew Magic? The mustached super star? And this is a team three years removed from an AFC Championship game birth. Wait, they traded who? Released, waived, rid themselves of almost everyone? Man, maybe that eight point line isn’t so disrespectful after all. Phillip Rivers is reunited with Frank Reich, and the Colts will finally have some stability at quarterback this season. Sorry Jaguars fans, as much as you wish it was 2017 instead of 2020 .. it’s not.

The Pick: Indianapolis Colts (-8)

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-8)

The Cleveland Browns are a fantastic candidate for a post-hype sleeper team. They were a popular pick to win the division last season, but then, as things usually go, the hyped up team fell flat on their face. Coaches and General Managers were fired, Baker Mayfield went from someone who couldn’t shut up to a player you haven’t heard a peep from, and Kevin Stefanski is a much better candidate to get the most out of this team than Freddie Kitchens was. The Baltimore Ravens, at least in the regular season, were the best team in the league last year. They’re out for revenge after a disappointing playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, and Lamar Jackson is out to prove his MVP season wasn’t a fluke. The Ravens will be great again this season, but this will be a closer game than the line suggests. Ravens win, but the Browns cover.

The Pick: Cleveland Browns (+8)

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (+3)

The Los Angeles Chargers are entering a new era: the post Phillip Rivers era. Before they enter the Justin Herbert era though, Tyrod Taylor is here to interject and hopefully, to stay. Another team who’s turning over a new leaf? The Cincinnati Bengals. Hometown hero Joe Burrow fell into their laps at number one overall, and the fit couldn’t be more perfect. If there’s anyone who can get the best out of this Bengals team, it’s the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. In a battle of teams trying to start new era’s out with wins, give me the one with the better signal caller – Joe Burrow.

The Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (+3)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have quickly become the sexy pick to win the Super Bowl. They had a great offense last year with a quarterback who threw thirty interceptions, and now they replace him with the greatest of all time, Tom Brady. Bringing Rob Gronkowski out of retirement and getting former top five pick Leonard Fournette at great value, this offense could be an all timer. The New Orleans Saints let another great season be wasted by a disappointing playoff loss, and while they should still contend for the division crown, this is arguably the biggest game of week one. Who plays better in big games, Tom Brady or Drew Brees? And thats, that.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5)

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-7)

The San Francisco 49ers are the class of the NFC, but even during their magical season last year, the Arizona Cardinals gave them fits. I’m not buying the Kyler Murray-MVP hype, but I do think the Cardinals are one of the most improved teams in the entire NFL. De’Andre Hopkins and Isiah Simmons should produce instantly, and I can’t wait to see this team on the field. People have short memories, and I believe people have forgotten about just how good the 49ers were last year. The Cardinals will keep this one close, and I want to pick them to win here, but cooler heads prevail. I’ll throw them a bone though, with a cover.

The Pick: Arizona Cardinals (+7)

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (+3)

The Los Angeles Rams moved on from their star running back in Todd Gurley, but they got a formidable replacement in the Florida State product, Cam Akers. I think Akers will be great for the Rams, but it remains to be seen just how many touches he’ll get in week one. The Dallas Cowboys added more talent to an already talented offense with the addition of CeeDee Lamb, and even though they didn’t give Dak Prescott a long term deal this offseason like other top quarterbacks, I’m expecting him to play like one this year. It starts week one, and the Cowboys have always started the season hot. They keep the status quo this year with a win.

The Pick: Dallas Cowboys (-3)

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants (+5.5)

Ben Roethlisberger returns to the Pittsburgh Steelers starting lineup, a sight that will for sure be welcome after the play of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodgers last year. Juju Smith-Schuster should have a better year with his return, and the offense as a whole should be good. The New York Giants finally got rid of their lame duck head coach in Pat Shurmur, replacing him with the fiery Joe Judge. Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and the Giants offense should take a step forward with another year of development and new offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, calling the shots. All rise, the Giants get Joe Judge a victory in his first game as a head coach.

The Pick: New York Giants (+5.5)

Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos (+1.5)

The dreaded late night Monday game on opening week features the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos this year. Both these teams will be interesting, as they feature talented offenses with some stars on defense. The addition of Jadeveon Clowney should pay dividends for the Titans, even in his first game. The Broncos finally found their franchise quarterback in Drew Lock, and they got him some new weapons in the offseason, with the additions of Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Melvin Gordon. That offense will hum eventually, but week one belongs to the Titans.

The Pick: Tennessee Titans (-1.5)

CAM-TASTIC: Newton to Pats in NFL Summer Blockbuster

Bills Mafia? Take a seat. Fitz-Magic? More like a vanishing act. And an honorable mention to the New York Jets. Everything we thought we knew about the AFC East upended.

Agreeing to a measly $1M with up to $7.5 M in bonuses for one year, Cam Newton becomes the latest to have their shot at redemption in New England during the Belichick era.

It’s certainly been a long off-season for the former 1st overall pick and NFL League MVP. As the months have dragged on and the focus of the country has shifted to other issues away from sports, when and where Newton would end up became an after thought. And although we now know what uniform he will be suiting up in this fall, there are many questions left to be answered.

Ego and strange choice of attire aside, the most important question to answer is, will Newton be able to stay healthy?

Newton spent much of the 2018 season battling an on-going shoulder injury that required surgery at the end of the year and then suffered a Lisfranc fracture shortly after his return to football during the 2019 season, leaving him sidelined for the remainder of the year. Newton also underwent rotator-cuff surgery prior to the start of the 2017 season.

It is also important to note that the last time Cam saw any significant time on the gridiron, he completed a career high 67.5% of his passes, with an almost 2 to 1 TD to interception ratio, and a 94.2 QBR (second highest of his career). All while playing with the underlying shoulder injury. Proving, without a doubt, the man can deal some heavy blows to a defense whether he be at 100% or not.

The next glaring question surrounding the signing is how well is Cam going to fit into the New England culture?

Belichick has taken on his fair share of divas and personalities over the years; e.g. Randy Moss, Antonio Brown, Darrelle Revis. However, never has he taken such a risk at as an important position as QB. Of course there was no need to take that risk, considering he had the greatest of all time anchoring the position for the last 20 years.

We’ve also seen Belichick have both success and failure with these types of players. Randy Moss revived his career and set single season records; Revis helped anchor a defense that led New England to its first Superbowl victory in 10 years. But then A.B. and Josh Gordan seemed to fail take off. It is, however, considerably easier to supplement the position of WR and DB then it is at quarterback.

McDaniels and Belichick will certainly develop a gameplan around Newton’s talents, as they have proven countless times they can win by any means with essentially any player. What kind of relationship is built between Cam and the coaching staff and how he’s perceived in the locker room could be critical in determining if the second act of his career is a success or a flop.

The last question surrounding the Cam Newton deal I’ll take time to focus on is what this means for the rest of the league?

Certainly for everyone not a member of Pats nation, 2020 was finally going to be the year that New England could be written off as a championship contender and the decades long dynasty was at an end. Then, in the most Belichick way possible, the air that finally again filled your lungs was knocked right back out.

Needless to say, the Patriots are right back at the top of their division and once again contenders in the AFC and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

At the end of the day, this deal yields high potential and little risk for the Patriots who now have yet another MVP caliber quarterback, a top tier defense, and over $90M in cap space going into the 2021 season. In addition to a potential future franchise QB in Jarrett Stidham.

So fasten your seatbelts folks, there may be a Part III to this Dynasty after all.

Who Has The NFL’s Best New Uniforms? Ranking Team’s New Threads

This NFL offseason was one of the busiest of all time, fashion wise. More teams changed their uniforms than I can ever remember. Each one elicited a reaction, whether it was positive, negative, or indifferent. So, which teams are the best of the bunch? Here’s a definitive ranking of NFL team’s new threads.

6. Atlanta Falcons

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

First, the worst of the new uniforms, the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have such a great color scheme that these were the uniforms I was most excited for to be released, and man, I was disappointed. I HATE when teams put their city on the front of the jersey. The Browns did it with their most recent jerseys, it knocked the Jets uniforms down a couple rungs, and it makes the Falcons jerseys look cheesy. Their throwbacks are some of the best in the league, they had a perfect blue print and they just .. lost it. A gradient jersey? Gradient is cool to an elementary kid on paint, but a NFL uniform? Just dumb. I have a feeling the Falcons will be switching uniforms again pretty soon.

5. Los Angeles Rams

Credit: Los Angeles Rams

No team caught more flack this offseason than the Rams. Their logo was panned, their former players say they’re not being paid, and some experts are predicting them to finish fourth in their division, just two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. Their new uniforms are bound to be polarizing as well. While I don’t hate them, they’re obviously going with the same theme they took with their logo – eccentric, bright and in honor of their ‘new’ city, Los Angeles. Sadly for the Rams, their roommates uniforms blow these away. Sorry, but it’s tough not to compare them, and the Chargers get the victory here. Plus, the numbers look weird as hell. And what shade of blue is that? I’m getting dizzy trying to figure this out.

4. New England Patriots

Credit: New England Patriots

The Patriots are entering a new era, but I’m surprised they didn’t do more here. While it’s not bad, they just took their color rush uniform are made it their home uniforms, while also making a white version for the road. The part here that’s unique though is that they only have navy pants. Some teams have four different color pants in their uniform combinations, the Patriots will have one. I would’ve liked to see them go back to the Pat Patriot logo with a more modern version of those great jerseys, but I can see why they wouldn’t want to change up too much. These aren’t bad, but they’re not particularly exciting either.

3. Cleveland Browns

Credit: Cleveland Browns

The Browns went with a modernized ‘throwback’ after a failed experiment with their last uniforms. The team actually hated them so much that they wore their color rush jerseys as often as they could (which were great, by the way). The Browns jerseys are plain, they’re boring, but that’s how they’re supposed to look! They’re classic, and they’re a thousand times better than the ones with ‘BROWNS’ written on their pants. Odell Beckham Jr. will look much better complaining to Baker Mayfield in these jerseys.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sometimes, you have to go back to move forward. The Buccaneers made a massive mistake with their last uniform combination, looking like an alarm clock and a creamsicle had a baby. They basically took out the memory eraser from Men In Black and brought back their old uniforms, with a few tweaks. The result? Great, modernized throwbacks from their Super Bowl Era. Even their pewter color rush looks great. These are uniforms fit for Tom Brady. It would’ve been a travesty for the alarm clock Buccaneers to make the Super Bowl, in these beauties though? They can go as far as they want.

1. Los Angeles Chargers

Credit: Los Angeles Chargers

Was there ever any doubt? There is only one word to describe the Los Angeles Chargers new uniforms – beautiful. Every single iteration is gorgeous. The power blue, the white, the yellow pants, the royal blue, the navy, they all look fantastic. Personally, I’m a sucker for helmets with numbers on them as well, so that’s just another plus for these uniforms. The power of awesome uniforms is underestimated, it’s part of the reason why the Oregon Ducks’ popularity has shot up, and I can see it having that much of an effect for the Chargers. These are THAT good.

Carson Wentz: OVERPAID AND OVERRATED

Eagles Carson Wentz heroic for reporting concussion, NFL doctor ...
Credit: NFL

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes the Philadelphia Eagles have made was letting go of Nick Foles. In 2017, Carson Wentz tore his ACL in a week fourteen game against the Rams, which left them no choice but to give Big Dick Nick the keys to drive them to the Super Bowl with little preparation. Foles went on to beat the Falcons, who won the NFC in 2016, then put up 38 points against the Vikings, and finally defeated the GOAT himself, Tom Brady, in the Super Bowl.

You would think that after bailing out the Eagles when Carson Wentz was injured, the team would keep him. Instead, they decided to let Foles walk in free agency, putting all their eggs in the injury prone basket that is Wentz. Last June, he and the Eagles agreed to a massive deal of 4 years, 128 million dollars. That absolutely ridiculous and absurd. What has this glass-made buffoon done to earn such a deal? You know he has an injury history, so there is no way you should pay someone who a, frequently gets hurt and b, has never played a playoff game (and no, starting a playoff game and completing one pass doesn’t count). An injury prone quarterback that has yet to play in the playoffs should not be getting more guaranteed money than Russell Wilson.

In 2017, Wentz burst onto the scene with a debatable MVP caliber season. Shockingly, he got hurt in what may have been his most impressive game of the year against the Los Angeles Rams. Many argue that he should have been the MVP over Tom Brady, but looking back at it, Wentz was thrown a bone with a very easy schedule that year. The Eagles have the pleasure of playing in the easy going NFC East, or NFC LEAST as we should call it. Aside from playing those easy division opponents twice each, (lost to Cowboys once LOL), they also defeated a CJ Beathard led 49ers team, a 5-11 Broncos squad, and a .500 Cardinals team. Against the good teams, like the Chiefs and Seahawks, SURPRISE! Wentz was defeated. We all troll Cowboys fans about the same thing regarding Dak Prescott, but I am not about to give this Fraud Giroux look alike a pass. To his credit, he had two impressive wins against the Rams and Bears. However, that whole year, Wentz never threw for 300 yards in a game besides twice (against the Rams and Seahawks).

Let’s jump to the big excuse that wEntZ hAs No ReCeIvErs. I’m sure when you throw to your tight ends 50 times a week, it’s easy to think your receivers suck. But, Alshon Jeffrey is no slouch, and its criminal to ignore JJ Arceaga-Whiteside and his potential. Zach Ertz had over 2900 yards receiving from 2017-2019 and even eclipsed 1100 yards in 2019. Let’s not forget how well Miles Sanders emerged this past season, as a rookie running back no less. In a split backfield with Jordan Howard, Sanders had over 800 yards rushing and 509 yards receiving, while also averaging 10 yards per catch. Wentz is under a true test with rookie receiver Jalen Reagor and the newly acquired, yet speedy, Marquise Goodwin.

Do his teammates even like him? Last year a report came out that teammates described the overrated quarterback as selfish, and that he did not take any accountability. There could be some truth to that story, as it seems he only cares for his regular season stats that qualify him for personal awards, but then decides to rest when the lights are the brightest. Several anonymous players have said that Wentz plays favorites on the field, and it shows in his target share to Zach Ertz. He even scolded coaches for trying to run plays that Nick Foles succeeded at. The team actually played significantly better under Foles in 2018. In the same year, Carson Wentz started 11 games and the Eagles went 5-6, a losing record. On December 12th, 2018, “surprisingly“, Wentz suffers another injury, a spinal compression fracture that forces him to miss the rest of the year. Nick Foles to the rescue, AGAIN! Foles would go on to start the remaining 5 games and have a 4-1 record, which was able to lift them from a sub .500 team under Wentz, to a playoff team. The team clearly was able to operate better with Nick Foles under center than Wentz, which adds truth to Wentz not having good chemistry with his teammates. Foles would go on to lose a close one to the Saints in the playoffs, but the team could not have been there without him.

🌴🤬Sir Yacht🤬🌴 on Twitter: "LOL THE EAGLES JUST LIKE MY TWEET ...

Lets spark up another question. Does the team even believe in him? If you see the image above it’s certain the interns don’t. Eagles fans already think Wentz is the next best thing, but has the organization realized the mistake? In the 2020 draft, they made a big surprise pick, taking Oklahoma star QB, Jalen Hurts. Now, there is speculation that they will use him in certain plays, while Wentz maintains control of the offense. However, a former Eagles executive talked about how upset the team was when they missed out on Russell Wilson. Do they believe Jalen Hurts is the next Russ? When Wentz inevitably gets hurt again, they will call Hurts’ number. With the new speedy offense they have built involving Reagor and Goodwin, Hurts’ athleticism may light a fuse under them and help the team find huge success on offense.

Back to a point I made earlier, it’s fun to troll Cowboys fans about Dak being “trash” with an elite offensive line, playing in a weak division, and getting exposed by teams over .500. Did you know Wentz is 7-20 against teams over .500? But, I hear Eagles fan out here, hyping up Wentz for doing the same thing Dak Prescott is scrutinized for. Is there really that much of a difference Philly? Wentz also plays in the worst division in football, and plays behind an elite offensive line as well. We’re supposed to praise him for going 5-6 in 2018 and barely getting by with a 9-7 record last year? As my good friend Stephen A. Smith would say, THAT’S BLASPHEMOUS!

For the past 3 seasons, Wentz has operated in a great system, with an elite offensive line, but is coasting by with bare minimum results, all without playing a playoff game. The Eagles O-Line has been ranked in the top five each year by Pro Football Focus from 2017-2019. In fact, they were ranked number one in 2018 (when he started 5-6) and 2019 (when he apparently had no help). Russell Wilson is earning less guaranteed money with one of the worst offensive lines in the league and has seen much more post season success, while Carson Wentz has one of the best offensive lines in the league and no playoff wins. Let’s not forget he isn’t the most clutch quarterback either (must be why he avoids those bright lights). In 4th quarter game winning drive opportunities or otherwise known as comebacks, Carson Wentz is, get this, 4-14! HA! Quarterbacks worse than that are Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston, but we need take note that Jameis possibly played an entire season of football while blind. Anyways, did the Eagles really pay this injury prone, zero clutch gene having fraud $107+ million in guarantees?!

A recent twitter troll (yet realist) has broken down Wentz’ career in a short, yet mind boggling, paragraph. @Alex77033705 states that “In 4 seasons Wentz has ZERO playoff wins, 48 regular season fumbles. He is 7-20 vs. teams over .500. He has no heart and no desire to win. His teammates hate him. He has started 5-6 in 3 of his first 4 season. Foles is 24-6 in his last 30 games as an Eagle.”

So judging from those stats is he really much better than some like Dak Prescott, or is even better than Daniel Jones, who also fumbles a ton but with far more inferior offensive line? Eagles fans, I’m sorry if I appear as a “hater”, but after your stage of denial you will see I am just a realist. In the wise words of my doppelgänger, David Fizdale (shoutout Dave Stolte), “TAKE THAT FOR DATA!”

Hard Work, Intelligence, and Chess: Darnay Holmes is a Late Round Gem

By the time the fourth round of the NFL Draft rolls around, most people are already tuned out, thinking that these players will never see the light of day. If I don’t see them playing on Sundays, they must not even exist at all.

In reality, the fourth round of the NFL Draft has been home to players who have gone on to become household names, while having illustrious, successful careers. Jared Allen went on to be a hall of famer, Darren Sproles inspired a generation of undersized athletes, and Dak Prescott is about to become the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. All starting from the dreaded fourth round.

In this year’s fourth round, the New York Giants found their gem in UCLA defensive back, Darnay Holmes.

UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes (1) intercepts a pass from Southern California quarterback JT Daniels during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

“He’s really at the top of it, just the way he came in and took over the room. He’s one of the hardest working players that I’ve evaluated in my career” said Giants director of college scouting, Chris Petit. “All of the stuff that I’ve gotten back and all of the positive qualities about him. I’m really excited about what he’s going to bring to our team”.

Petit has been with the Giants for thirteen years, watching players like Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones go through the draft process. He knows what a hard worker looks like, he knows Holmes is the real deal.

It’s not just the football field for Holmes either, he finished his degree in less than three years, all while playing football at a high level for former Eagles and 49ers coach, Chip Kelly.

“Truthfully, I just mapped it out and executed my goal,” Holmes said of his extraordinary accomplishment. “I’m not keeping track of if it’s a record or if it’s an accolade. It’s just something I set out and I did what I had to do to get that degree.”

When he was introduced, hard work and intelligence are two of the main things Giants coach Joe Judge stressed about wanting in his players. Hard work and intelligence are Darnay Holmes’ middle names.

Holmes is a model player off the field, but his on the field play isn’t too shabby either. He was one of the best defensive backs in the PAC-12, starting 33 of the 35 games he played in, finishing his career with eight interceptions and two touchdowns in the pass-happy conference.

CORRECTS MONTH TO SEPTEMBER INSTEAD OF OCTOBER – UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes drops back in coverage against Arizona in the first half during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

One of the ways Holmes tries to stay one step ahead of his competition is by playing chess. In the past, the game was reserved for quarterbacks, to help speed up their decision making abilities. Holmes saw it as a way to gain a competitive advantage, working on his brain to help his play on the field.

“The reason I play chess is I want to have efficient thoughts. I want to make sure I am making forceful moves and I want to make sure everybody responds to things that I do”, said the newest Giant. “Everything I’m doing, I’m not a piece, I’m a player. I’m going to make sure the team is working accordingly and we’re all on one accord. Chess is a great thing for me to get my mind off of football but also get my mind in the state of being efficient in everything I do.”

Holmes is a player who gets it. He wants to succeed as much as he wants to breathe. He could make it strictly on athletic ability, but he knows there’s much more to being great than that. He doesn’t just want to be successful, he wants to inspire generations of his family, his friends, and his fans.

“Being there for my teammates and giving everything I can, every snap I can? Injured or not? That’s a life value. It’s bigger to me than football”, said Holmes. “My plan is for this to be a career. Now that I’m here, I’m planning on staying here a long time. A real long time.” 

I have a hunch a lot of teams will regret passing on Darnay Holmes. He’ll make sure of it.

Biggest Steals From Each Round Of The 2020 NFL Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft will always be remembered for what it was – a three day period of sports entertainment in a period of time when we sorely needed it. But the 2020 NFL Draft class could end up being remembered as one of the best we’ve seen in a long time.

In every round, it felt like teams that were at the bottom of the league last season improved, and the rich got richer, with contenders finding pieces to help them stay at the top. It’s rare that we leave a draft and think so highly of so many teams’ drafts.

The first couple rounds are easy though, you’re supposed to hit on those picks. Its rounds four through seven where the championship teams are made, and the contenders come out to play.

Each round featured some great players who will contribute big time to team success, and in this article I’ll examine one ‘sleeper’ pick in each round who can do that.

Round 1, Pick 30: Noah Igbinoghene, Miami Dolphins

Igbinoghene was not expected to go in the first round, but the Dolphins made the former Auburn Tiger a day one selection with the 30th pick. He’s a fantastic man coverage corner, who’s also a great tackler against the run. He has off the charts athleticism, and should fit in well behind Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Jones and Igbinoghene might be the most athletic defensive back duo in the entire league. My knock on him is that he doesn’t intercept a lot of passes, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities for that with teams throwing at him instead of Howard or Jones. This Dolphins focused a lot on their defense this offseason, and this pick can help turn their secondary into a huge strength. 

Round 2, Pick 46: KJ Hamler, Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy in the first round, which must’ve made Drew Lock do cart-wheels in his living room. I don’t know what he was doing after the KJ Hamler pick, but the Broncos doubling down on talented receivers have to have made him very happy. Hamler didn’t get as much coverage as he should’ve, with this being such a talented receiver class, but he’s the perfect receiver for this offense. He has incredible speed and runs super crisp routes, and he did nothing but make plays during his time at Happy Valley. With defenses already keyed in on Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant, Hamler should have plenty of chances to make big plays. I can see him having a big rookie season, even likening it to the rookie season Calvin Ridley had in 2018.

Round 3, Pick 80: Lynn Bowden Jr., Las Vegas Raiders

Lynn Bowden Jr. was one of my favorite players coming into this draft, and I definitely didn’t expect him to go as early as he did. I’m glad he did though, because I think he went to the perfect team. Jon Gruden will let Bowden Jr. do exactly what he did throughout his career at Kentucky – make plays. Whether it’s at wide receiver, running back or quarterback, Bowden Jr. will add a whole other layer to the Raiders offense. They’ll be dynamic and explosive, especially with the addition of Henry Ruggs III in the first round. Bowden Jr. just puts them even farther over the top. The AFC West will be fun to watch this year, especially with this Vegas squad. 

Round 4, Pick 108: Saahdiq Charles, Washington Redskins

Saahdiq Charles could’ve been a much earlier pick if it wasn’t for some character concerns, but he went to the perfect situation in Ron Rivera’s Redskins. Charles can develop into a suitable replacement for Trent Williams, and Rivera should be able to straighten him out. The Redskins haven’t exactly been a model for locker room culture over the years, but I’m confident their new regime will help. Charles has enough talent that he could develop into a franchise tackle, and in the fourth round, that’s a steal. 

Round 5, Pick 152: Kenny Robinson, Carolina Panthers

Kenny Robinson was the only XFL player to get drafted, and he probably will be for a long time, with the league folding. Robinson chose to go to the league instead of continuing his college career at West Virginia, and I think it will help him tremendously. Robinson and Panthers second-rounder Jeremy Chinn could develop into a dangerous, young safety tandem for the Carolina based franchise. Robinson was a standout for the St. Louis Battlehawks, and I think his XFL experience will help him immensely. He could become a great play-maker for Matt Rhule’s squad.

Round 6, Pick 210: Prince Tega Wanogho, Philadelphia Eagles

Tega Wanogho has one of the best stories in the whole draft, coming to America from Nigeria in search of a professional basketball career. He ended up playing football, loving it, and here we are. Now that’s a super short version of his amazing story, but I think Tega Wanogho has a chance to have a long, prosperous football career. He went to a team in the Eagles that’s great at developing offensive line talent, and he won’t be expected to do too much in his first couple years. Learning behind Jason Peters will help him immensely, as he’s been one of the best tackles in the league over his career. With Andre Dillard last season and Tega Wanogho this year, the Eagles might have their tackles for the next decade.

Round 7, Pick 255: Tae Crowder, New York Giants

Mr. Irrelevant isn’t always the most successful pick, but this could be the one. Tae Crowder is a former running back and wide receiver turned linebacker, so he’s wildly athletic for his position. He’s shown good instincts, playing well against the pass and the run while at Georgia. It was reported that up to 10-15 teams were going to offer him a contract as an un-drafted free agent, so the Giants drafting him might have actually been something he didn’t want. As it stands, the Giants got a much sought after player in the seventh round with their last pick of the draft, and he has potential to develop into a worthy contributor.