I think most people would agree that it was a terrible loss for the Packers on Sunday as they lost to the Arizona Cardinals 20-17. That game ended up being the last straw for Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and deservedly so as the Packers fell to 4-7-1 on the season. However, the decision that was made to fire Mike McCarthy was poor timing and somewhat disrespectful for a coach that has done so much for the franchise. There is no doubt that McCarthy deserved to be fired because his team has severely underachieved since the beginning of the 2017 season. That being said, he doesn’t deserve all of the blame for the failures of the Packers this season. The Packers have had to deal with numerous injuries especially on defense and the roster has been poorly constructed on both sides of the ball. McCarthy deserves some share of the blame, but the general manager and the players deserve a lot of blame as well. I don’t disagree with the decision to fire McCarthy right now because it really has no benefit at all. The team should have waited until the end of the season to fire him because firing him during the season is just disrespectful considering how much he has accomplished. McCarthy deserved to finish the season especially since he gives the team the best chance to win right now. Most coaching candidates won’t be available until after the season, so there is really no benefit of firing a coach at this point in the season. Firing McCarthy has just created even more dysfunction in the Packers organization and they should’ve let McCarthy finish the season. Overall, McCarthy did a very good job with the Packers as he led the team to the playoffs 9 times in his nearly 13 seasons as the head coach. McCarthy will certainly get another coaching job very soon and it is just unfortunate that the Packers made such an impulsive decision to fire him just a few games before the end of the season.
Arizona Cardinals – Brice Butler – Wide Receiver
The Cardinals didn’t make any really surprising cuts prior to the 2018 season, but the one that sticks out the most is receiver Brice Butler. He has been productive as a receiver most notably with the Cowboys the past few seasons. Butler wasn’t expected to be the number two receiver for the Cardinals, but he could have provided some much needed depth as a 3rd or 4th receiver. Arizona is rather unproven at wide receiver besides Larry Fitzgerald which is why it was so surprising that they decided to let go of a quality veteran receiver like Butler. He could have at least provided better depth at receiver, but he shouldn’t be on the free agent market for too long.
Atlanta Falcons – Ron Parker – Safety
Ron Parker might be the most notable player to be cut by an NFL team just prior to the 2018 season. Parker wasn’t really expected to be a starter for the Falcons, but he has proven that he can provide terrific depth at the safety position. In fact, Parker showed his value the past few seasons with the Chiefs as he was a starter on a good defense for the past 4 seasons. Parker has already been picked up again by Kansas City, but he could have definitely provided the Falcons with a reliable backup safety.
Baltimore Ravens – Breshad Perriman – Wide Receiver
Breshad Perriman is a very talented receiver and that is why the Ravens selected him in the 1st round of the 2015 draft. However, injuries and inconsistent play really held him back from reaching his full potential with the Ravens. It shouldn’t be too shocking that he was released considering the Ravens added a ton of wide receivers to their roster this offseason. However, Baltimore could have given him another opportunity as a 3rd or 4th receiver. Either way, it is a disappointing end to Perriman’s tenure in Baltimore that didn’t live up to the hype. However, he shouldn’t be on the free agent market for long as there should be some team that takes a chance on the young receiver with some potential still.
Buffalo Bills – Corey Coleman – Wide Receiver
Corey Coleman is yet another former 1st round wide receiver that has yet to prove his value. Coleman struggled tremendously with injuries and inconsistency during his two years in Cleveland and they surprisingly ended up just trading him away to Buffalo this offseason. However, Coleman didn’t last long with the Bills as he was cut just after the end of the preseason. It is especially surprising that he was released considering how thin the Bills are at the wide receiver position. Also, it is surprising that they let him go this soon especially considering that the team gave up a draft pick to do so. Coleman should find a role as a 3rd or 4th receiver on another team since he is still really young with lots of potential. However, if he couldn’t succeed with the Bills then it is hard to envision him finding much success elsewhere.
Carolina Panthers – Daeshon Hall – Defensive End
The Panthers hoped that by drafting Daeshon Hall in the 3rd round last year that he would provide some much needed depth to the pass rush. However, Hall only played in one game last year before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury. He returned from the knee injury and he wasn’t very impressive this preseason for the Panthers. That being said, it is weird to see Carolina give up on such a high draft pick after only one season. Hall still has tons of potential and he should be picked up as a developmental project by another team, but it is disappointing to see his time in Carolina end before it really even started.
Chicago Bears – Doran Grant – Cornerback
Doran Grant had a very strong preseason for the Bears and it was thought that he was likely to make the 53-man roster. However, that didn’t end up being the case as it was a somewhat surprising move for him to be released. Cornerback Marcus Cooper really struggled in the preseason and it was thought that he might be cut, but instead it was Grant who was the odd man out. Grant still should be picked up by a team that needs depth at cornerback and his strong preseason performance only helps his cause.
Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Johnson – Defensive End
This might be the most notable player that was released on cut day, but it shouldn’t be very surprising. The reason this move didn’t come as much of a surprise as he has under performed in comparison to his contract and this moves saves the Bengals about $5 million. Also, Johnson’s release allows for some of the Bengals promising young pass rushers like Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson to get more playing time. Johnson could re-sign with the Bengals if he takes a pay cut, but he is still a player that can help other teams that need a good pass rusher.
Cleveland Browns – Nate Orchard – Defensive End
Add defensive end Nate Orchard to a long list of high draft picks for the Browns that have been busts. Orchard was a 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft and he was never really able to establish himself as a full-time starter with Cleveland. Orchard had been a backup defensive end for the Browns and he never really proved himself as he only had 5 sacks during 3 seasons with Cleveland. Some team will likely pick up Orchard as he can provide some solid depth at defensive end, but it was still a disappointing tenure for him with Cleveland.
Dallas Cowboys – Dan Bailey – Kicker
This move was arguably the most stunning move of the entire cut day as Dan Bailey seemed sure to be the starting kicker for the Cowboys in week one. Brett Maher didn’t seem like much competition since he was a 28-year old that had never even attempted a field goal in an NFL regular season game. Bailey was considered one of the best kickers in the NFL for several seasons with Dallas and that was why they gave him a 7-year deal back in 2018. However, injuries really held him back last season and he had the worst season in the NFL as he only made 15/20 field goals. This decision is purely based off of money as Bailey was going to make $3.4 million this year and Maher is playing on an extremely inexpensive contract. Bailey is still a very good kicker, so don’t expect him to be unemployed for too long. However, it is still surprising that the Cowboys would release arguably the best kicker in franchise history.
Denver Broncos – Paxton Lynch – Quarterback
Paxton Lynch never really got the chance to be the full-time starter in Denver as he couldn’t even beat out Trevor Siemian for the starting job the past 2 years. Lynch started this offseason as the clear backup to new quarterback Case Keenum. However, Lynch’s awful preseason performances cost him the number two quarterback role as Chad Kelly played extremely well and jumped Lynch on the depth chart. After Kelly was officially named the backup quarterback it made it very clear that Lynch would probably not make the opening-day roster. There is a lot to like about Lynch as he has a good arm and terrific athletic ability for a quarterback. That was why the Broncos selected him in the 1st round of the 2016 draft, but he struggled in the limited opportunities that he had as the starting quarterback. Lynch didn’t have a good tenure with the Broncos, but being released should benefit as he should be able to get a fresh start as a backup quarterback elsewhere.
Detroit Lions – DeShawn Shead – Cornerback
Detroit signed veteran cornerback DeShawn Shead in hopes that he would compete for the 3rd cornerback role. However, Shead didn’t perform well mostly due to injury and now it turns out that he won’t be making the roster at all. The Lions are going with rookie Teez Tabor in the 3rd cornerback role, but it is kind of surprising that they didn’t keep Shead around for some veteran cornerback depth. Either way, the Lions gave Shead some decent guaranteed money this offseason and now he won’t even play in a regular season game for the team.
Green Bay Packers – Aaron Ripkowski – Fullback
The Packers didn’t really make any notable roster moves, but Aaron Ripkowski was probably the most well-known name to go. Ripkowski established himself as the Packers starting fullback the past few seasons, but he wasn’t used too often. There just wasn’t much of a role for Ripkowski in the backfield with Green Bay especially with the team not using a fullback too often anymore. Ripkowski might struggle to find a new team considering not many teams use fullbacks consistently, but he was a reliable player for the Packers the past few years.
Houston Texans – Braxton Miller – Wide Receiver
This was one of the most surprising moves on cut day mostly because the Texans lack depth at the wide receiver position. Miller was supposed to be a dynamic play maker when the Texans drafted him in the 3rd round in the 2016 draft. However, Miller failed to establish himself as Houston’s 3rd receiver as he only had 34 catches in two seasons. Miller has struggled with injuries and it was clearly a tough transition for him to go from playing quarterback in college to being a starting NFL wide receiver. Miller still has tons of potential and it shouldn’t take long for him to find a new team, but it was disappointing that he never lived up to the hype with Houston.
Indianapolis Colts – John Simon – Defensive End
John Simon was one of the very few veteran players on an extremely weak and inexperienced Colts defense. That is part of the reason that the Colts surprisingly decided to part ways with the defensive end on cut day. Simon has struggled with injuries and he was one of the Colts best pass rushers last season as he had 3 sacks. He isn’t a very good starter at defensive end, but he was still arguably the best defensive end that the team had right now. What makes this move even more surprising is that Simon had a terrific preseason as a starter and now he is just off the roster. Simon wasn’t the best option as a starter in the 1st place, but the problem is that the Colts don’t really have much to replace him. Simon should provide good pass rush depth for another team, but it was silly for Indianapolis to release him considering their troubles on defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Sealver Siliga – Defensive Tackle
None of the moves that the Jaguars made are surprising at all and the release of Sealver Siliga was foreseen as well. However, Siliga is a veteran defensive tackle that has provided solid depth at that position for several different teams. He shouldn’t be a starter like he was with the Patriots a few years ago, although he could have helped provide some depth for the Jaguars defensive line. The Jaguars are deep on the defensive line which is why Siliga likely didn’t make the team, but it is notable that he couldn’t secure a final roster spot.
Kansas City Chiefs – David Amerson – Cornerback
David Amerson looked like a lock to make the Chiefs roster as the 3rd cornerback heading into training camp. However, that all changed when the Chiefs decided to add Orlando Scandrick during the preseason. Also, Amerson struggled during the 3 preseason games that he appeared in and that didn’t help his cause at all. Amerson was once a decent starter with the Redskins and Raiders, but his career has progressively continued to go downhill. Amerson shouldn’t be counted on as a starter anymore, but he can still be a decent 4th cornerback for a team in need of some depth.
Los Angeles Chargers – Roberto Aguayo – Kicker
The Chargers had an intense competition at the kicker position between veteran Caleb Sturgis and former 2nd round pick Roberto Aguayo. However, Sturgis proved to the Chargers throughout the preseason that he was the more reliable kicker. Aguayo clearly has more potential, but he just has yet to put it together in the NFL after having an outstanding college career. Aguayo has now been with 3 teams since being drafted in the 2nd round a couple of years ago and it appears that his time to land a regular season role is dwindling. Aguayo hopefully can find some consistency and turn his NFL career around, but it isn’t a good sign that he couldn’t win the Chargers kicking job.
Los Angeles Rams – Temarrick Hemingway – Tight End
There were absolutely no surprises for the Rams on cut day as there weren’t really any notable cuts. However, one that caught my eye is tight end Temarrick Hemingway who was battling for the 3rd tight end role on the Rams roster. Hemingway missed all of last season due to injury and he didn’t perform well at all during the preseason. That was apparently enough for the Rams to part ways despite not having too much talent at the tight end position to begin with.
Miami Dolphins – Tony Lippett – Cornerback
It wasn’t too long ago that Tony Lippett was a starting cornerback for the Dolphins as he had 4 interceptions during the 2016 season. He was expected to be a starter once again last season until suffering a season-ending Achilles injury. Lippett came back this offseason, but he never really looked the same after the injury. Also, Lippett clearly fell down the depth chart and the team just decided to part ways. It is really surprising that Miami decided to let Lippett go considering their lack of depth at cornerback, but he will surely find another job relatively soon.
Minnesota Vikings – Brian Robison – Defensive End
The Vikings made several stunning moves on cut day, but perhaps nothing was more stunning than the release of longtime Viking defensive end Brian Robison. Just a few years ago Robison was one of the most underrated defensive ends in the entire NFL. However, his play had dropped off last season as he only had 4 sacks for Minnesota and he is likely slowing down considering that he is 35 years old. That being said, it is still very shocking that the team would release him especially since the Vikings didn’t save much money and he wasn’t going to be a starter anyway. Also, Robison has been with the Vikings his entire career since being drafted by the team in 2007 and it makes no sense that they wouldn’t keep him as a reliable backup. Another thing is that Minnesota didn’t have much depth behind Robison and they will be going with a couple of really inexperienced players as the new backup defensive ends. Overall, this is a poor decision by the Vikings especially since Robison still could have helped the team as a backup pass rusher. Either way, Robison should find another job soon, but it would be really disappointing to see him play for another team after having him play for the Vikings his entire career.
New England Patriots – Cyrus Jones – Cornerback
Jones was a rare draft bust for the Patriots as he was a 2nd round pick by the team just two years ago. However, Jones struggled to carve out a role in the secondary with the Patriots as he was basically relegated to full-time special teams role during his rookie year in 2016. Jones ended up missing last season due to injury and he wasn’t very impressive upon his return to the field this offseason. Jones could have possibly found a role in the Patriots secondary this season since it is likely weaker than last season. However, Jones just fell out of favor with the coaching staff and he never got the opportunity to be a starter. Jones still has tons of potential, so maybe he can make an impact elsewhere, but it is surprising to see him released so soon.
New Orleans Saints – Rick Leonard – Offensive Tackle
The Saints cut a few of their late-round draft picks from the 2018 draft, but one surprising release was rookie 4th round pick Rick Leonard. Sure, Leonard probably needs some more time to develop, but the Saints knew that when they drafted him. Leonard wasn’t expected to play right away, but releasing him so soon doesn’t make too much sense. However, Leonard did sign to the practice squad which is probably best as it allows him time to develop, but the Saints shouldn’t have drafted him that high if they didn’t think he would be ready to make the roster.
New York Giants – Darian Thompson – Safety
New York made an absolutely shocking move by releasing safety Darian Thompson who was started all 16 games last season. It is especially surprising to see him released so soon considering that he was a 3rd round pick just last season. That being said, the Giants now are very young and inexperienced at one of the safety positions. Thompson might have been released because he is dealing with a hamstring injury, but if he gets healthy soon then there should be plenty of teams interested in signing him.
New York Jets – Kevin Minter – Inside Linebacker
The Jets apparently feel comfortable about their depth at linebacker as they released veteran Kevin Minter on cut day. Minter struggled with injuries last season, but he is still a decent linebacker that could be a starting linebacker. Minter is probably just a good backup at this point, but he should generate plenty of interest in free agency from teams that need linebacker depth. It was surprising to see the Jets release Minter since he could have provided solid veteran leadership on a relatively young team, but he shouldn’t have a problem finding a job elsewhere.
Oakland Raiders – Martavis Bryant – Wide Receiver
Oakland made several hugely stunning moves on Saturday, but the one that sticks out the most is wide receiver Martavis Bryant. The reason this move is so stunning is because the Raiders traded a 3rd round pick to the Steelers to acquire him during the draft in April. Bryant was expected to play a big role in the Raiders offense as their 3rd receiver, but he was basically nonexistent for the Raiders during the preseason. Also, Bryant has some serious character concerns which made it strange that Oakland would give up so much to acquire him in the first place. Bryant is facing yet another suspension for drug-related issues and it is likely that he would be suspended for at least one season like he was in 2016. However, it appears that Bryant has self-destructed his own career and it is disappointing to see a player with such tremendous talent basically waste it. At this point it would actually be very surprising if any team takes a chance on Bryant ever again especially if he is officially suspended by the league soon. Bryant is a very talented receiver, but at this point his chances of returning to the NFL are basically nonexistent.
Philadelphia Eagles – Donnel Pumphrey – Running Back
The Eagles are giving up on last year’s 4th round pick Donnel Pumphrey already as the team released him just prior to the start of the 2018 season. Pumphrey had a remarkable college career at San Diego State where he became the all-team lead rusher in NCAA history. However, Pumphrey hasn’t adjusted well to the NFL level as he has struggled tremendously with injuries. Pumphrey missed all of last season due to injury and he missed most of the 2018 preseason as well. It is kind of surprising that the Eagles released him so soon especially since the team doesn’t have as much depth at running back this year. Overall, it was disappointing that Pumphrey never even got an opportunity to play in a regular season game for the Eagles, but he should find a job soon as he can provide quality running back depth for basically any team.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Landry Jones – Quarterback
It appears that the Steelers have decided on who their backup quarterback will be as they released veteran backup Landry Jones on cut day. Jones has seen action during the regular season each of the last 3 years, but he wasn’t very impressive when given an opportunity. Jones wasn’t a very good backup, but it will be interesting to see whether a team in need of a backup takes a chance on Jones. Meanwhile, Josh Dobbs looked like the odd man out for the Steelers at the quarterback position, although he will surprisingly stick around and be the new backup to Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh also has Mason Rudolph who was the team’s 3rd round pick this year, but the Steelers will likely just keep him as the 3rd quarterback for now while he develops. Landry Jones never really amount to anything in a backup and it was probably the right move for the Steelers to let him go considering the depth that they have at quarterback.
San Francisco 49ers – Jeremiah Attaochu – Defensive End
It has been a really disappointing NFL career for defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu who was a 2nd round pick of the Chargers back in 2014. He will have to find yet another new team as the 49ers released him after a short tenure with the franchise. This move makes sense for the 49ers though as Attaochu has struggled with injuries in recent years. Also, he wasn’t that impressive even when he was on the field for the 49ers this preseason. This move is somewhat surprising though because the 49ers lack good options with their pass rush right now and Attaochu has shown that he might be able to help a little bit in that area. He should find a job somewhere soon as a rotational pass rusher, but he just wasn’t a fit with the 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks – Maurice Alexander – Safety
This move is kind of surprising considering that the Seahawks are searching for some depth at the safety position with the contract holdout of star safety Earl Thomas. Alexander could have at least provided Seattle with a good backup safety while Thomas is out, but the Seahawks instead decided to add some young inexperienced safeties to their roster. Alexander certainly has proven his worth at the NFL level as he had 18 starts for the Rams during the past 2 seasons before he was released. Alexander might be able to be a backup on another team, yet it was a bad mistake for the Seahawks to release a guy that could have helped their team tremendously.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Keith Tandy – Safety
It wasn’t too long ago that Keith Tandy was a starting safety for the Buccaneers and he made some big plays that almost helped lead the Bucs to the playoffs in 2016. He lost his starting safety job last season, but he was still a quality backup that usually played well when called upon. This move is especially surprising considering Tampa Bay’s lack of depth at the safety position and he would probably be an upgrade over current starter Chris Conte. Tandy’s hamstring injury probably played a big factor in the decision to let Tandy go, but if he can get healthy then another team could be adding a very quality backup safety.
Tennessee Titans – Luke Falk – Quarterback
Luke Falk had a terrific college career at Washington State and it looked at one point that he might even be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Falk fell all the way to the Titans in the 6th round for some reason and he was competing for the backup quarterback spot behind Marcus Mariota. However, Falk couldn’t beat out veteran Blaine Gabbert for that role and Falk ended up losing his roster spot with the Titans as well. Falk could be a solid backup for a team in need of one, although it might take some time to develop him. Falk has already found another team though as the Dolphins claimed him off waivers and he will compete for a roster spot there. It is unfortunate that Falk didn’t last very long with the Titans, but he is probably going into a better situation with Miami.
Washington Redskins – Kapri Bibbs – Running Back
The Redskins have been absolutely decimated at the running back position during the preseason as Derrius Guice and Byron Marshall both suffered serious injuries. That led the team to sign future hall-of-fame running back Adrian Peterson just before the start of the regular season. However, it appears that signing came at the expense of young running back Kapri Bibbs who barely missed making the active roster for the Redskins. Bibbs has been impressive during the preseason because of his versatility as a runner and a pass-catcher as well. Bibbs might draw interest from other teams in need of running back depth, although he was re-signed to the Redskins practice squad for now. It was surprising to see Washington let go of Bibbs considering the injuries they’ve had at the position, but it might not be too long before he is back on the active roster.
Arizona Cardinals – Biggest Question: Can David Johnson stay healthy?
The Cardinals actually did fairly well last season as they finished 8-8 despite missing star running back David Johnson for basically the entire season. It is especially important that Johnson stays healthy this season since the Cardinals have such uncertainty at the quarterback position. Johnson is undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the NFL, but if he misses significant time then the Cardinals offense could have serious issues.
Atlanta Falcons – Biggest Question: Will the offense improve with Steve Sarkisian as the play caller?
Atlanta had a dynamic offense in 2016 as quarterback Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP while leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl. However, Ryan’s play dropped off significantly last season with 1st-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Atlanta has too many weapons on offense not to be successful, so it is up to Sarkisian to do a better job with play calling in his 2nd season as offensive coordinator. Expect better results from the Falcons offense in 2018, but Sarkisian certainly needs to do a better job organizing the offense.
Baltimore Ravens – Biggest Question: How long will Joe Flacco last as the starting quarterback?
Joe Flacco is entering yet another season as the clear starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. However, there is much more pressure on Flacco in 2018 after the Ravens drafted rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 1st round. Jackson proved that he is still a raw prospect during the preseason as he struggled with his passing at times. However, if Flacco plays poorly again this season then Baltimore might be pressured to make a change sooner rather than later. Flacco’s starting role should be safe at least for this season, but the Ravens clearly didn’t draft Jackson just to have him sit on the bench for a long time.
Buffalo Bills – Biggest Question: What is the Quarterback situation for the Bills?
The Bills enter the 2018 season with a very strange situation at the quarterback position as they basically have three guys competing for the starting role. Rookie Josh Allen has the most potential for sure, although he proved during the preseason that he likely isn’t the immediate answer for the Bills. Nathan Peterman has looked good in the preseason, but he still might not be even a good short-term solution for the Bills. A.J. McCarron seemed like the clear short-term starter for awhile, yet his injury kind of took him out of the race to be the week 1 starter. Either way, the Bills have three young and inexperienced starters that are all competing for the starting job. The Bills have many issues on their team, but the quarterback position is a complete mess right now.
Carolina Panthers – Biggest Question: Will the offensive line be up to the task?
The Panthers have some elite offensive talent especially with quarterback Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. However, the offensive line is definitely the biggest question mark on offense for the Panthers heading into the 2018 season. The loss of guard Andrew Norwell this offseason really hurt Carolina especially since they didn’t do anything to replace him. Meanwhile, the Panthers have already tested their offensive line depth in the preseason as they have dealt with a few injuries to their starting offensive line. Carolina is looking for Cam Newton to play better this season, but if the offensive line doesn’t give him much time then it could be a problem for the Panthers offense.
Chicago Bears – Biggest Question: Is Mitchell Trubisky ready to be a quality starter?
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky took over as the full-time starter late last season for the Bears and he wasn’t very impressive to say the least. Most of that could be attributed to the horrible supporting cast that they had to throw to. However, last season showed that Trubisky might not be ready to be a good NFL starting quarterback. There is a lot to like about Trubisky as he is a very good playmaker with terrific athletic ability. Hopefully having a full offseason of preparation as a starting quarterback and some much better receivers to throw to will help him out. Either way, Trubisky is clearly the starter now and the pressure is on him to perform because he has much more around him this season.
Cincinnati Bengals – Biggest Question: Will the offensive line play better?
The Bengals offensive line was an absolute disaster last season and that was the main reason that the team struggled. However, the Bengals took the initiative to fix the offensive line as they added Cordy Glenn as their new left tackle. Also, the team drafted center Billy Price in the 1st round and he figures to start right away as a rookie. We’ll see how big of a help those two players will be for the offensive line, but they couldn’t be any worse than what the team had last season. If the offensive line can just play at respectable level then the Bengals have some good talent to improve the offense in a major way.
Cleveland Browns – Biggest Question: When will Baker Mayfield take over as the starting QB?
Tyrod Taylor is clearly the starting quarterback for the Browns at least early on in the 2018 season. However, it certainly won’t be long before 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield has the chance to turn around the Browns franchise. Mayfield certainly looked like the real deal during the preseason and the team didn’t just draft him that high to have him sit on the bench. It might not be this season that Mayfield gets his chance as the starter especially if Taylor continues to play well. However, it is possible that Mayfield could become the full-time starter soon rather than later.
Dallas Cowboys – Biggest Question: Who will step up as the top receiver?
Dez Bryant is no longer with the Cowboys and that means the Cowboys group of receivers will look way different this season. Allen Hurns was brought in to possibly take over the role as the number one receiver, although his injury history shows that he might not be a very reliable option. Rookie receiver Michael Gallup has impressed during the preseason as well, so he figures to have a big role early on. Also, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley figure to have a decent role in the offense as well. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are a complete mess at the tight end position after the sudden retirement of Jason Witten. Dallas is now without their only two reliable pass catchers and they must replace those guys effectively or it could be a long season for the Cowboys offense.
Denver Broncos – Biggest Question: Is Case Keenum the answer at quarterback?
Denver had poor quarterback play last season and that was the main reason they struggled so much. However, the Broncos have their quarterback for the 2018 season as they signed Case Keenum to a rather big deal this offseason. Keenum really should be an upgrade over what the Broncos had at quarterback last season. He was surprisingly really good with Minnesota last season as he led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game. However, Keenum has been a journeyman backup for basically his entire career and it makes you wonder if last season was just a fluke. Keenum has plenty of talent around him with the Broncos and there is no reason that he shouldn’t replicate last year’s success. That being said, Keenum wasn’t too impressive during the preseason and it will be interesting to see if he is the answer for the Broncos at quarterback.
Detroit Lions – Biggest Question: Will the Running Game improve tremendously?
The Detroit Lions have struggled at the running back position for awhile now, but the good news is that they made some serious improvements in that area this offseason. Detroit signed LeGarrette Blount in free agency and he figures to be the starter at least early on this season. Rookie 3rd round pick Kerryon Johnson should see plenty of carries throughout the 2018 season as well. Meanwhile, Theo Riddick has his role basically carved out as the 3rd-down running back and last year’s starter Ameer Abdullah could see some carries as well. Detroit still doesn’t have a great running back group, but it couldn’t be any worse than it has been in recent years. If Blount and Johnson can play well then it should take a lot of pressure off the Lions passing game.
Green Bay Packers – Biggest Question: Who is the starting running back?
Green Bay’s passing offense should be fine as long as Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback. However, there is a major question mark at the running back position for Green Bay as they have 3 players vying for carries this season. Ty Montgomery was the starter for the Packers basically the past two seasons, but he might be in for a lesser role this season. Also, Montgomery hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy consistently which is a major concern for the Packers. Jamaal Williams appears in line to be the starter early on and he should see most of the carries this season. Meanwhile, Aaron Jones seems like he might not have a big role especially since he is suspended to start the season, yet he could still see plenty of carries when he returns. Green Bay doesn’t have a clear starter right now and it seems as if the Packers are using a committee approach with their running backs. Either way, Green Bay is hoping that somebody takes the job and runs with it.
Houston Texans – Biggest Question: How effective will the offensive line be?
The Texans offensive line was definitely the main source of issues for the Texans offense last season and it is still a major concern heading into the 2018 season. However, Houston did at least attempt to solve their offensive line issues in free agency. They added Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete to be their starters at both of the guard spots. Also, they added Seantrel Henderson to be the new starter at least temporarily at the right tackle position. Those three shouldn’t make a huge difference for the Texans offensive line, but they certainly should be an upgrade over the disastrous offensive line that the team had last season. The number one priority for the Texans should be keeping quarterback Deshaun Watson healthy and it is still unknown if they will be able to protect him effectively.
Indianapolis Colts – Biggest Question: Can the defense at least be average?
It is the same issue every year, but the Colts just can’t seem to find a way to try and improve their defense. The good news is that star quarterback Andrew Luck will be back to start the 2018 season, but there is only so much that he can do. The Colts did add some young talent to the defense early on in the draft and that should upgrade the defense a little bit. That being said, there are still major concerns all across the board on defense especially in the secondary after they let go of their starting cornerbacks. Young safety Malik Hooker is really the lone bright spot in the Colts secondary and he will be relied upon to help carry the defense. Meanwhile, veteran Jabaal Sheard is the anchor of the Colts defensive line as he led the team in sacks last season. However, the Colts will have to rely upon their rookie defenders early on as Darius Leonard will be expected to start right away at linebacker. Also, rookie defensive end Kemoko Turay will be relied upon to start immediately and hopefully help the Colts defense that finished 31st in sacks last year. Rookie 2nd round defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis also could see plenty of playing time early on, although he shouldn’t have to be a starter immediately. Overall, the Colts defense is extremely inexperienced and they still have to improve at basically every position.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Biggest Question: Who will step up at wide receiver?
The Jaguars wide receiver group will look a lot different than it looked at the start of last season. Most notably they lost their top two receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in free agency this offseason. They did give Marqise Lee a big contract to keep him around, although he is out for the season after suffering a gruesome knee injury in the preseason. Jacksonville did add Donte Moncrief in free agency and he figures to now become the number one receiver for the team after the injury to Lee. However, Moncrief hasn’t proven that he can be a consistently reliable receiver during his time in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, rookie 2nd round pick DJ Chark could also see a much bigger role sooner than expected in the Jaguars offense. The good news is that Jacksonville has arguably the best running game in the NFL, but the offense could struggle if they need their receivers to step up and make big plays. The Jaguars already came into the preseason with a big need at wide receiver, but now they are even more thin at the position and they will need their inexperienced receivers to step up.
Kansas City Chiefs – Biggest Question: Can Patrick Mahomes prove that he is the franchise QB?
The Chiefs had plenty of consistency at the quarterback position for the past few seasons with veteran Alex Smith leading the offense. However, Kansas City is going in an entirely different direction this season with 2nd-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the new full-time starter. Mahomes is basically a rookie since he only had one start last season for the Chiefs, but there is no quarterback competing with him for the starting job this year. There is a lot to like about Mahomes as he has a terrific arm and he has terrific athletic ability as well. However, there are some concerns that he might turn the ball over too often which is certainly not what the Chiefs have been used to with Alex Smith under center. There is plenty of weapons around Mahomes though as he has Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins to throw to this season. Also, he has terrific running back Kareem Hunt alongside him to try and take some of the pressure off. The Chiefs entire season will depend on the success of Mahomes and they are hoping that he can live up to the hype and follow in the footsteps of Alex Smith.
Los Angeles Chargers – Biggest Question: Can the Chargers find some stability at Kicker?
The Chargers had a revolving door at the kicker position last season as they had 4 different kickers appear during the regular season. This season they are hoping to have much more stability as Caleb Sturgis heads into 2018 as the new kicker. Sturgis has been very reliable throughout his career and the Chargers are hoping that they can rely on him. The Chargers are a team with playoff aspirations this season and if the kicking situation isn’t solved then it could have the potential to cost them a chance at the postseason. Caleb Sturgis seems like he will be a major upgrade for the Chargers at kicker, but until he proves his worth then it will continue to be a huge question mark for the team.
Los Angeles Rams – Biggest Question: Can Jared Goff continue to improve?
Quarterback Jared Goff had an absolutely miserable rookie year in 2016, but last year the new coaching staff made a huge difference in his performance. Goff ended up playing at a pro-bowl level last season for the Rams and he proved that he is the franchise quarterback. However, this year is absolutely crucial for Goff as there is much higher expectations for him and the Rams in 2018. Goff has even more talent around him this season, so there is really no excuse for him not to take another step forward in 2018. I don’t think he will regress to the type of player that he was in his rookie season, but he needs to prove that last year wasn’t just a fluke.
Miami Dolphins – Biggest Question: Is Ryan Tannehill the answer at quarterback?
The Dolphins had some major issues at the quarterback position last season and it made them realize how much they actually missed Ryan Tannehill as the starter. Tannehill missed all of last season with a knee injury and it will be interesting to see how well he has recovered. Even when he is healthy Tannehill hasn’t yet proven that he is anything more than an average starting quarterback. It certainly won’t help that Tannehill doesn’t have much to work with on offense especially after the departure of star receiver Jarvis Landry. Tannehill has been in the league for awhile now, yet he still hasn’t proven that the Dolphins can rely on him consistently. However, if the Dolphins want to compete at all this season then they will need much more out of Tannehill especially considering that they don’t have much talent with the rest of the roster.
Minnesota Vikings – Biggest Question: Was Kirk Cousins worth the money?
The Vikings had some good quarterback play last season from Case Keenum, but they decided to try and upgrade even more by signing pro-bowl caliber quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency. Cousins is clearly an upgrade over Keenum, but many believe that the Vikings paid Cousins way too much. Minnesota gave Cousins a fully guaranteed $84 million contract which is a lot especially for a quarterback that isn’t even considered a top 5 QB in the NFL. Cousins has much more around him than he ever had in Washington as the Vikings have super bowl aspirations this season. Cousins has plenty of weapons especially on offense, so there is really no excuse for him not to play at an elite level in 2018. Cousins is set up for success, but he will have to prove a lot if he wants to show that he was worth all of that guaranteed money.
New England Patriots – Biggest Question: Who will step up at wide receiver?
The Patriots didn’t have an elite group of receivers last season, but it seems to be an even thinner group this season after the departure of Brandin Cooks. New England has tight end Rob Gronkowski and he figures to play a huge role as long as he stays healthy. However, the Patriots don’t have many great options at wide receiver especially early on in the season. Julian Edelman would likely be Tom Brady’s top target, but Edelman is suspended for the first 4 games of the season. Chris Hogan figures to be the top receiver while Edelman is out and Hogan should see a huge role in the offense even when Edelman returns. However, beyond Hogan and Edelman there is a huge question mark at the wide receiver position. Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett are likely the next options, although both of them haven’t proven that they can be relied upon as receivers. The Patriots passing game should still be elite as long as Tom Brady is the quarterback, yet it is a little bit of a concern that he doesn’t have many good options to throw to.
New Orleans Saints – Biggest Question: Has age catch up to Drew Brees?
The New Orleans Saints arguably have the best roster that they’ve had in the Drew Brees era, but the problem is that Brees is nearing the end of his career. Brees was still very accurate as proven by his 72% completion percentage. However, Brees just had a relatively average season by his standards. That being said, his decline in yards and touchdowns could be attributed to a much better running game for the Saints. Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but we’ll see if his statistics continue to drop as he turns 40 years old in a few months.
New York Giants – Biggest Question: Will Eli Manning ever return to pro-bowl level?
Age has definitely not been kind to Giants quarterback Eli Manning as it appears that he is just an average starting quarterback these days. However, the Giants hope that having Odell Beckham back from injury and the addition of elite running back prospect Saquon Barkley will help Manning out. Manning certainly has plenty around him, so now there isn’t an excuse for Manning not to play well in 2018. However, Manning needs to stop turning the ball over which has been a problem throughout his career. He has always been inconsistent as he has had some terrific seasons, but he has also had a few really bad seasons. The Giants have the overall roster to be playoff contenders once again, although if Manning doesn’t play well then it might be time for the Giants to find their quarterback of the future.
New York Jets – Biggest Question: Is Sam Darnold ready to be the starting quarterback?
The Jets knew that they were making a big investment when they traded up to select quarterback Sam Darnold with the 3rd overall pick in the draft. However, the Jets expected to develop Darnold slowly and let Josh McCown be the short-term starting quarterback. That plan apparently didn’t last very long as Darnold was named the week 1 starter for the Jets and he will be the youngest week one starter in NFL history. The Jets clearly believe that Darnold gives the team the best chance to win right away. Darnold is no doubt the quarterback of the future, but it might not be the smartest move to play him right away if he isn’t ready.
Oakland Raiders – Biggest Question: How will the Raiders replace Khalil Mack?
Oakland’s defense was already bad enough last season, but it just got even worse as the Raiders traded away elite pass rusher wKhalil Mack to the Bears. Mack was the only reliable player on Oakland’s defense, but now the Raiders defense appears terrible. The main question is how the Raiders will replace Mack for the 2018 season. It isn’t like they can just go out and sign a good pass rusher at this time of year, so it appears they’ll need their current defensive ends to step up. Tank Carradine seems like the most obvious replacement as he has been the starter for the entire preseason. However, Carradine only has 5.5 career sacks which isn’t exactly a sign of optimism for the Raiders. It will be tough to replace Mack, but the Raiders are hoping that someone can surprise them and at least somewhat fill that void.
Philadelphia Eagles – Biggest Question: How much will Carson Wentz play this season?
Starting quarterback Carson Wentz is coming off of a season-ending knee injury late last year. The thought was that he would be ready to start the season, but the good news is that the Eagles have the luxury of having a very good backup with Nick Foles. We already know that Wentz won’t start in week one, but beyond that it is unknown when he’ll be ready. Philadelphia doesn’t seem to be in a rush to play Wentz until he is 100% healthy, yet it will be interesting to see how long Wentz will be out. Nick Foles has proven that he can play just as well as Wentz and it allows the Eagles to take their team and wait until Wentz is completely ready.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Biggest Question: Are the Steelers prepared to be without Le’Veon Bell?
Steelers star running backLe’Veon Bell is clearly unhappy with being franchise tagged once again this offseason and he has held out of the entire offseason for the 2nd straight year. However, the regular season is nearing and it is concerning that Bell still hasn’t reported to the team. Sure, he could decide to report just a few days before the regular season like he did last season, but it is still up in the air if that will happen. Either way, it appears that this is very likely Bell’s last season in Pittsburgh unless the two sides can miraculously agree on a new contract. The Steelers must prepare for what they will do if Bell departs after this season. That plan likely includes James Conner who got some valuable reps with the 1st-team in the preseason while Bell held out. Conner has been impressive so far and he is a good backup option if Bell decides to leave the Steelers. Even if Bell ends his holdout, the Steelers would be wise to give a bigger role to Conner as they prepare him to be the possible starter in 2019. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the Steelers handle the running back situation this season.
San Francisco 49ers – Biggest Question: What will the 49ers do at running back?
The 49ers seemed to find their new starting running back when they signed Jerick McKinnon to a big contract this offseason. However, the 49ers got some terrible news just prior to the season as McKinnon tore his ACL during practice and he will be out for the season. That means backup Matt Breida and newly signed veteran running back Alfred Morris will likely share the backfield for the 2018 season. The good news is that Breida and Morris have been impressive this preseason, although it will be difficult to replace the explosiveness of McKinnon. Breida figures to be the lead running back, but it is important that both running backs do well or else the offense might really struggle.
Seattle Seahawks – Biggest Question: How long will Earl Thomas hold out?
Earl Thomas has been away from the Seahawks all offseason as he has been seeking a new contract from the team. However, it doesn’t appear that there will be a resolution to this situation anytime soon as Thomas seems likely to not play any regular season games until he gets a new contract. Seattle also seems unwilling to trade Thomas unless they get good compensation in return like a 1st or 2nd round pick. Either way, Thomas is a free agent after the season and it seems unlikely that he will re-sign with the team. Thomas is really important to the Seahawks especially since they lost several key players from their defense this offseason. Thomas probably won’t play until he gets a new deal and the Seahawks probably won’t even negotiate a contract until he ends his holdout. Either way, both sides need to compromise or else this holdout could last all season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Biggest Question: Is Jameis Winston the answer at quarterback?
There is no doubt the talent that Jameis Winston has and he showed it off during an impressive preseason. However, his character has once again come into question as he is suspended for the first 3 games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The main question though is whether he is the franchise quarterback that the Buccaneers have never really had. Winston often makes incredible plays, but he also makes way too many incredibly dumb decisions. Ryan Fitzpatrick certainly isn’t too much of a threat to take over Winston’s job long-term, yet if Fitzpatrick plays well the first 3 games of the season then it is very possible that Winston will be benched. Either way, this season is very important for Winston as he will need to prove that he is the answer for Tampa Bay at quarterback. If he fails to do that then the Buccaneers may be looking for a new starting quarterback very soon.
Tennessee Titans – Biggest Question: Can Mariota have a comeback season?
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t exactly have a good 2017 season as he threw for 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Tennessee still somehow managed to sneak into the playoffs and win a playoff game, but it was still concerning that Mariota played so poorly. Mariota was still a threat running the ball and he will continue to be a good dual-threat quarterback, but he needs to become more consistent as a passer. Mariota needs to return to the type of player that he was in 2016 when he played at a very high level and he didn’t turn the ball over very often. Mariota definitely has the potential and supporting cast to return to that type of season, but the Titans need him to play better because it will be difficult to win without him. It is likely that Mariota will bounce back in 2018, yet he needs to prove that he is the franchise quarterback for years to come.
Washington Redskins – Biggest Question: Is Alex Smith an upgrade over Kirk Cousins?
Washington was very fortunate to have pro-bowl caliber quarterback Kirk Cousins for the past few seasons. However, the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract extension and now the Redskins are moving on with a new veteran quarterback. Alex Smith was acquired by Washington and signed to a 4-year deal to be the Redskins new starter. Smith has already proven that he can be an elite quarterback even though he doesn’t often get considered that way across the league. Sure, Smith doesn’t make huge plays as often as other quarterbacks do, but he is an accurate and reliable quarterback. The best thing about Smith is that he rarely makes big mistakes. He takes care of the football and he usually gives his team a chance to win every single week. Smith might not be the most flashy quarterback, but he proved during his time in Kansas City is that all he does is win games. Kirk Cousins probably has more talent and potential than Smith does, but Smith might actually be an upgrade since he is a proven winner as a starting quarterback.
- Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings came close to reaching the super bowl last season and there is a chance that they could be even better this season. They have starting running back Dalvin Cook who will be back from injury in 2018 and they have Latavius Murray as a solid backup at the position as well. They also have some really good pass-catchers led by Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph. The offensive line is probably the weakest part of the entire Vikings team and that could really hold the offense back in 2018. However, Minnesota likely upgraded at the most important position by signing pro-bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive contract this offseason. The Vikings did well with Case Keenum last season, although Cousins has been a better quarterback throughout his career. Cousins won’t have to do too much since Minnesota has a very talented defense, but he just strengthens the quarterback position for Minnesota. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s defense is arguably the strength of the team. They have arguably the best defensive lines in the NFL as they have a terrific pass rush duo with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. However, they are even stronger at defensive tackle with the addition of Sheldon Richardson this offseason and he will form a really good starting duo along with Linval Joseph. Also, the Vikings have a couple of really good young linebackers with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Not to mention, the Vikings are extremely deep at cornerback with Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Terence Newman, Mackensie Alexander, and rookie 1st round pick Mike Hughes. Overall, the Vikings don’t have much of a weakness on offense or defense and they appear to be legitimate super bowl contenders heading into next season.
2. Green Bay Packers
The Vikings are probably the most talented team in the division, but the Packers will likely make a strong push to win the division in 2018. Green Bay has plenty of firepower on offense as they have a couple of really good wide receivers with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, although the departure of Jordy Nelson will hurt that position group. However, the Packers made up for it by signing star tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason and that is a major upgrade for the team at that position. Meanwhile, the running back position has some good depth, but they really don’t have a clear starter. They have Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, and Aaron Jones as potential options in the backfield. However, it will be interesting to see which running back will get the most carries this season. The Packers have a really good passing game, but they will need more balance from their running backs this season. Green Bay also has some issues along the offensive line especially on the interior offensive line. Green Bay still has arguably the best quarterback in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers and as long as he stays healthy then the Packers should be a playoff contender once again. Meanwhile, the Packers defense might actually be the strength of the entire team. The Packers have an elite pass rush led by Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. However, the addition of Muhammad Wilkerson should make Green Bay’s pass rush even more dangerous. Green Bay does have some weakness in their secondary as it is extremely inexperienced. However, they do have some terrific talent in the secondary led by star safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and rookie 1st round cornerback Jaire Alexander. The secondary has high potential, but it also has a risk of failure as well. If the secondary can perform well then the Packers could have a strong defense in 2018. Overall, the Packers just missed out on the playoffs last season and that was mostly because Aaron Rodgers missed most of the season. However, if he can stay healthy then there really isn’t much doubt that this team has a really good chance of making the playoffs.
3. Detroit Lions
It is a year of transition for Detroit as they have Matt Patricia as their new head coach heading into 2018. However, don’t forget that the Lions were actually a good team last season as they just missed out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record. There is no doubt that the Lions are really dangerous on offense especially in the passing game. Matthew Stafford is an above average quarterback and he has some really good wide receivers to throw to with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay. Also, he should have an improved offensive line this season especially with the addition of rookie guard Frank Ragnow. However, the key to the success of the offense will be the running game as that is something that they have struggled with for many years. The addition of rookie 2nd round pick Kerryon Johnson and the signing of veteran running back LeGarrette Blount should give a big boost to that group. They also have Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah who could compete for some playing time as well. Either way, the Lions have a deep running back group, but it is unknown which player will have the most carries. If the Lions can just be average running the ball then it will make Detroit’s offense even better. Meanwhile, the Lions defense actually wasn’t that bad last season mainly because their secondary played really well last season. They have one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL with Darius Slay and they also have a terrific safety with Glover Quin. However, the Lions also have a solid pass rush led by elite defensive end Ziggy Ansah. They also have starting defensive end Anthony Zettel who provided a solid 6.5 sacks last season. The Lions have some holes on the defense especially at outside linebacker, but their defense should be decent as long as their secondary and pass rush to continue to lead the way. Overall, the Lions are a good team, but they just play in what is likely to be a very tough division this year. However, the Lions have a very talented team that is capable of being a playoff contender once again in 2018.
4. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have some hope for this year as Mitchell Trubisky heads into his first full season as an NFL starting quarterback. However, the Bears are still a team that is in transition with new head coach Matt Nagy and they unfortunately play in a tough division as well. The Bears did add some more talent to their offense this season though as they signed pro-bowl receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton. The Bears still don’t have a very good receiver group, but it is better than what they had a year ago. The strength of the Bears offense though is still at the running back position as Jordan Howard has established himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL. Also, they have Tarik Cohen who is a terrific 3rd-down back. Both of those guys will be important since they help to take a lot of pressure off of Trubisky and the passing game. The Bears offensive line is somewhat concerning, but it is still decent with Kyle Long and Charles Leno. The Bears offense should be better this season, but it all depends on how Trubisky progresses in his 2nd NFL season. Meanwhile, the Bears have one of the most underrated defenses in the entire NFL. Akiem Hicks provides the team with their main source of pass rush as he had 8.5 sacks last season, but the rest of the defensive line is a major weakness. They need other pass rushers like Leonard Floyd to step up and have a better year than they did in 2017. The linebacker position is looking stronger this season for the Bears as they added rookie 1st round pick Roquan Smith to go along with veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan. The Bears also have a somewhat strong secondary led by cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. Chicago has some good players on both sides of the ball, but they still have too many holes to fill. Also, I’m just not quite sure how well Mitchell Trubisky will develop at the quarterback position.
Arizona Cardinals – Christian Kirk – Wide Receiver – Texas A&M – Drafted: 2nd Round
The Cardinals selection of quarterback Josh Rosen gets all of the hype and that is understandable since he has the chance to be the face of the franchise for many years. However, the pick that excites me the most is wide receiver Christian Kirk who they picked in the 2nd round of the draft. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald as their top receiver, but he is about to be 35 years old and he might not be in the NFL much longer. The Cardinals didn’t really have much behind him on the depth chart and they certainly didn’t have a reliable 2nd option at the receiver position. Christian Kirk is a terrific wide receiver who has the speed to be a vertical threat and he has the ability to make contested catches as well. This is the perfect situation for him to be able to learn from a great receiver like Fitzgerald and this pick gives the Cardinals their receiver of the future.
Atlanta Falcons – Isaiah Oliver – Cornerback – Colorado – Drafted: 2nd Round
Cornerback wasn’t a big need for the Falcons coming into the draft as they already have two really good cornerbacks with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. However, Oliver gives the team some solid depth at the cornerback position and it will allow them more flexibility at the position. Oliver has good size, speed, and arm length which will make him a good outside cornerback. However, this move is good for the Falcons as it allows them to probably move the smaller cornerback Alford to the slot where he probably fits best. Oliver is a 1st round talent and it is remarkable that the Falcons were able to select him this far back in the 2nd round.
Baltimore Ravens – Lamar Jackson – Quarterback – Louisville – Drafted: 1st Round
The Ravens offense has not been good recently and most of that is due to the lack of playmakers on offense as well as the inconsistent play from quarterback Joe Flacco. The selection of Lamar Jackson solves both of these issues for the Ravens. Jackson is a dynamic playmaker especially since he is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college history. Jackson has some work to do passing the ball as he has some mechanical issues and accuracy concerns. However, Jackson has a good arm and the mechanical issues should be able to be solved at the NFL level. Jackson is a decent quarterback, but what makes him such a great player is his ability to make plays running the ball. He might not be the starter right away at quarterback, but he will at least put some pressure on Flacco to improve next season. Also, Jackson should instill much more explosiveness for the Ravens offense for many years to come.
Buffalo Bills – Tremaine Edmunds – Outside Linebacker – Virginia Tech – Drafted: 1st Round
I don’t particularly like that the Bills gave up draft picks to move up and get Edmunds, but it is kind of hard to blame them for doing so considering his talent. Edmunds is a top 10 talent that they got with the 16th overall pick, so they definitely got some good value with this pick. Edmunds is a really fast and explosive linebacker that consistently makes plays all over the field. The Bills had a big need for help at linebacker especially after the departure of Preston Brown in free agency. However, Edmunds will instill some more playmaking ability to the Bills defense and he is ready to make an impact right away.
Carolina Panthers – Donte Jackson – Cornerback – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round
The secondary has been a point of issue for the Panthers ever since Josh Norman left and it was a big need for the Panthers coming into the draft. However, Jackson is an impact player that should help Carolina right away. Jackson is one of the fastest players as he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He doesn’t have the size to compare to some of the big receivers in the NFL like Mike Evans and Julio Jones, but he will compete and he has a knack for making big plays. This selection fills a big need for the Panthers especially when they have to face three pro-bowl caliber quarterbacks in their division.
Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith – Inside Linebacker – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round
Roquan Smith is one of my favorite players in the entire draft mostly because he is a hard-hitter that has the athleticism to make plays all over the field. Smith is one of the best defensive players in the draft and he fills a need for the Bears at linebacker. The Bears badly needed some more athleticism and playmaking ability on defense, so this is the type of pick that will accomplish that. Smith can make an impact right away and he has the potential to be an all-pro linebacker in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals – Malik Jefferson – Outside Linebacker – Texas – Drafted: 3rd Round
This guy had an inconsistent career at Texas as he wasn’t particularly great during his first year. However, he really stepped up his play over the past 2 years and he looked like one of the best linebackers in the draft class as he had 79 tackles and 4 sacks last season. Jefferson is a good cover linebacker and he is a really useful player in space which is something that the Bengals had been lacking from their linebackers. He should make an impact right away with Vontaze Burfict suspended for the first 4 games of the season. However, he could compete for the starting job opposite of Burfict if he plays well while he fills in for Burfict. This pick provides much more athleticism for the Bengals defense and it should improve their linebacker group.
Cleveland Browns – Nick Chubb – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 2nd Round
The Cleveland Browns have their solution at the quarterback position, but another area of concern for the Browns was at the running back position. Cleveland did add Carlos Hyde in free agency, but he is a good pass-catcher which makes him a valuable 3rd down back. Cleveland needed to find an early-down back that could provide some power and they did so by drafting Nick Chubb in the 2nd round of the draft. Chubb is only a 1st or 2nd round back because he isn’t a very good pass catcher, yet he is the perfect complement to Hyde in the Browns running game. Chubb will provide more balance to the Browns offense and it will help take some of the pressure off of rookie QB Baker Mayfield.
Dallas Cowboys – Connor Williams – Offensive Tackle – Texas – Drafted: 2nd Round
The Cowboys have plenty of offensive line talent, but there are still a couple of positions where they need some help. Dallas especially needed to add some competition at right tackle or left guard and the good news is that Williams could be a good fit at either spot. Williams really was a top 10 talent not too long ago and it is good value for the Cowboys to be able to get him this late in the 2nd round. Williams will likely be the future starter at right tackle and he could even compete for the job right away.
Denver Broncos – Royce Freeman – Running Back – Oregon – Drafted: 3rd Round
Royce Freeman was as productive as any NFL running back in this draft class and he could be a steal for the Broncos in the 3rd round. Freeman has good size, but he also has very good speed. He helps to fill a big need for Denver after they released running back C.J. Anderson this offseason. However, Freeman can make a big impact for the Broncos right away as he will likely split carries with Devontae Booker. Freeman will provide more balance for Denver’s offense and he can help the Broncos win immediately.
Detroit Lions – Tyrell Crosby – Offensive Tackle – Oregon Drafted: 5th Round
It is kind of surprising that Crosby fell to the 5th round of the draft, but the Lions could still be getting good value if he lives up to his potential. Detroit needed some offensive line depth and he could be a really good backup offensive tackle in the NFL. He likely won’t make much of an impact right away, but he has the potential to be a starting right tackle at some point.
Green Bay Packers – Equanimeous St. Brown – Wide Receiver – Notre Dame – Drafted: 6th Round
Equanimeous St. Brown not only has a terrific name, but he is a very good NFL prospect as well. He is a a very big receiver at 6’5″, but he has rare speed for someone of his size as he ran 4.48 during the 40-yard dash at the combine. Sure, he didn’t have very good production during his time at Notre Dame. However, he is a talented prospect and it will help that he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. St. Brown has a good chance to carve a role out in the Packers offense and if he does then he has the potential to be a productive receiver for them.
Houston Texans – Justin Reid – Safety – Stanford – Drafted: 3rd Round
The Houston Texans didn’t even have a pick until round 3, but they certainly got good value out of their first selection. Justin Reid is one of the most talented safeties in the entire draft as he has terrific speed and athleticism. He should have gone early in the 2nd round, but instead he fell an entire round right into the Texans spot. Reid can be an impact player right away and he fills a big need for the Texans.
Indianapolis Colts – Deon Cain – Wide Receiver – Clemson – Drafted: 6th Round
The Colts made a few good picks, but I chose this pick because it is the best value pick that they made in the draft. Deon Cain is an explosive receiver as proven by his 4.43 showing in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Cain is one of the best vertical threats in the entire draft and he should be able to make an impact right away. The Colts needed some receiver help and this guy just adds another weapon for quarterback Andrew Luck in the passing game. Cain was supposed to be a 4th round pick and I’m not quite sure why he fell so far, but he is a talented receiver that shouldn’t have even made it to the 6th round.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Ronnie Harrison – Safety – Alabama – Drafted: 3rd Round
Ronnie Harrison was supposed to be an early 2nd round pick, but he instead fell all the way late into the 3rd round. Harrison won’t likely be a starter right away, but he adds some quality depth to the Jaguars secondary. Harrison has the potential to be a starter in the NFL at some point, but Jacksonville is stacked with talent in the secondary so it might not be for awhile. Either way, Jacksonville got tremendous value with this pick and it just strengthens what was an already good defense.
Kansas City Chiefs – Derrick Nnadi – Defensive Tackle – Florida State – Drafted: 3rd Round
Dontari Poe didn’t make too much of a difference at defensive tackle for the Chiefs last season and the team had to fill his spot after he left in free agency. Derrick Nnadi has a chance to fill that void right away as he is a terrific run defender. That is important since Kansas City has struggled against the run in recent years. Nnadi can make an impact right away as a rotational player or he can even be a starter early on. Nnadi is a really talented player and he fills a big need for Kansas City.
Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James – Safety – Florida State – Drafted: 1st Round
The Los Angeles Chargers already had a very talented defense, but safety was one of the spots where they could really use an upgrade. Not only did they fill that void, but they did it by drafting a high impact player in the 1st round. Derwin James is a top 10 talent for sure and he somehow fell all the way to the Chargers with the 17th overall pick. The Chargers got tremendous value with this pick and they are getting a player that can make an impact right away.
Los Angeles Rams – Obo Okoronkwo – Outside Linebacker – Oklahoma – Drafted: 5th Round
The Rams already have a talented defense, but the linebacker position is where the Rams could improve at. That is exactly what they did in the 5th round of the draft by selecting Obo Okoronkwo in the 5th round. He is a 3rd round talent, but for some reason he fell into the 5th round probably because scouts view him as undersized. However, Okoronkwo was very productive in college and he will at least provide the Rams a very good backup linebacker. It is even possible that he could challenge for a starting role right away, so the Rams are likely getting a steal with this pick.
Miami Dolphins – Kalen Ballage – Running Back – Arizona State – Drafted: 4th Round
Miami already added some much needed running back depth in free agency by signing Farnk Gore. However, Gore is getting old and Kenyan Drake is still unproven as the number 1 running back for Miami. Kalen Ballage will give the Dolphins some more depth at running back. He didn’t have much production during college, but he has all of the physical traits of an NFL running back. He has good size, speed, and pass-catching ability which will allow him to have at least some role in the Dolphins offense early on. Ballage probably won’t be a starter for awhile, but he is a talented running back that will take some of the pressure off of Kenyan Drake.
Minnesota Vikings – Mike Hughes – Cornerback – UCF – Drafted: 1st Round
The secondary was already a huge strength for the Vikings last season as Xavier Rhodes proved that he is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. However, the other cornerbacks on the roster were inconsistent. Trae Waynes has been good at times, but he is rather inconsistent and Terence Newman is highly likely to retire after this season. Mike Hughes is a terrific pick because he is a talented cornerback that has terrific speed to go with a good physical style of play. However, is a perfect fit for the Vikings since he won’t be asked to start right away, but he figures to be a starter for Minnesota for a long time.
New England Patriots – Sony Michel – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round
Sony Michel might be the most dynamic running back in this entire draft class as he has terrific speed and he is a tremendous pass-catcher as well. Michel is basically the definition of a 3-down running back, which is a very difficult type of player to find these days. The Patriots needed a running back after the departure of Dion Lewis and Michel figures to be an upgrade over what New England had last season. Michel fits the Patriots perfectly and he just adds another dynamic playmaker to help take the pressure off of Tom Brady.
New Orleans Saints – Natrell Jamerson – Safety – Wisconsin – Drafted: 5th Round
The late rounds are often where teams find players that can make an impact on special teams and that is exactly what the Saints found when they selected Natrell Jamerson in the 5th round. Jamerson probably won’t make much of an impact at safety, but he is an outstanding special teams player that gives New Orleans much more versatility. He is good on special teams coverage, yet he also is a dynamic kick returner. Jamerson provides some more depth at safety, but this is a good pick because the Saints can use him in a variety of ways.
New York Giants – Saquon Barkley – Running Back – Penn State – Drafted: 1st Round
Saquon Barkley is likely the best player in the NFL draft and he fills a huge need for the Giants as they have struggled tremendously to run the ball in recent years. It would be shocking if Barkley doesn’t come in and make a huge impact for the Giants right away as he has good size and tremendous breakaway speed. Barkley will not only improve the running game, but the most important thing is that he’ll take a lot of pressure off of Eli Manning. Barkley will help New York win right away and he adds another dynamic playmaker to the Giants offense.
New York Jets – Sam Darnold – Quarterback – USC – Drafted: 1st Round
The New York Jets already had 4 quarterbacks on their roster, but the problem is that none of them are the quarterback of the future. Sam Darnold is arguably the best quarterback in the draft and he is a terrific pocket passer. The only real concern about Darnold is that he turns the ball over too often, but if he can correct that then the Jets could be getting a pro-bowl quarterback.
Oakland Raiders – Maurice Hurst – Defensive Tackle – Michigan – Drafted: 5th Round
Hurst was one of the best defensive tackles in this draft and he is arguably a 1st round talent. However, he unfortunately he fell all the way to the 5th round because of a heart issue that was a major concern for teams. If Hurst’s health issue can be dealt with, then there is no question that the Raiders are getting terrific value with this pick. Hurst will be an upgrade at defensive tackle for Oakland and he can be a high impact player as long as he can stay healthy.
Philadelphia Eagles – Josh Sweat – Defensive End – Florida State – Drafted: 4th Round
The Eagles already had an extremely deep defensive line, which was one of the main reasons that they won the super bowl this past season. However, they are adding more depth to the position by selecting former Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat in the 4th round. It is a tremendous value pick for the Eagles since he is a 1st or 2nd round talent, but he fell so far because of injury concerns. Don’t expect Sweat to make much of an impact right away. However, he has the potential to be a starter for the Eagles at defensive end in a few years.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Mason Rudolph – Quarterback – Oklahoma State – Drafted: 3rd Round
This pick might not be liked by current starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Steelers needed to find the long-term solution at quarterback for when Roethlisberger retires. Roethlisberger is 36 years old and he has seriously considered retirement in recent years, but the issue is that the Steelers didn’t have a plan if he were to suddenly retire. Mason Rudolph is one of the best quarterbacks in this draft and it is kind of surprising that he fell so far since he is clearly a 2nd round talent. Rudolph won’t make an impact right away since Roethlisberger is clearly going to be the starter. However, Rudolph now has a chance to develop at the NFL level and possibly become the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh in a few years. We’ll see if Rudolph can become the future starter at quarterback for the Steelers, but he at least gives the team a solid backup at the position.
San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey – Offensive Tackle – Notre Dame – Drafted: 1st Round
Mike McGlinchey wasn’t really a value pick for the 49ers, but it was a very good pick for the team nonetheless. The 49ers have their franchise quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo, but it was important for them to be able to surround him with quality talent on offense. McGlinchey is a big addition for the 49ers as he can make an impact right away as the starting right tackle. However, McGlinchey also adds tons of value long-term for San Francisco as he is expected to take over the starting left tackle role once Joe Staley retires. McGlinchey is arguably the best offensive tackle in this draft and he is a player that will help the 49ers immediately and for many years to come.
Seattle Seahawks – Shaquem Griffin – Outside Linebacker – UCF – Drafted: 5th Round
This is definitely my favorite pick of the entire NFL draft, mostly because Griffin is such an inspirational story. Griffin has been doubted his entire life, but all he has done is prove everyone wrong. Many people think that he will be limited in the NFL, but he proved during college that he can be a dynamic playmaker. He might be undersized which is likely why he fell to the 5th round. However, he can make an impact on special teams right away and he likely can make an impact at outside linebacker if given the opportunity. This is the perfect situation for Shaquem Griffin to be in since he gets to play with his brother and he once again will be out to prove that he is a solid football player.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronald Jones – Running Back – USC – Drafted: 2nd Round
Running back was arguably the biggest need for the Buccaneers this offseason as it really held the offense back last season. Doug Martin was absolutely terrible as the starter for the Bucs last season and he was ultimately released by the team. Tampa Bay does have Peyton Barber who has become a productive running back in the NFL. However, it was clear that Tampa Bay needed a new starter and that is why they selected Ronald Jones in the 2nd round. Jones had a terrific college career at USC and he has tremendous speed to be able to make big plays. Jones might not be the starter right away, but he is the type of player that can give a major boost to Tampa Bay’s running game and take a lot of pressure off quarterback Jameis Winston.
Tennessee Titans – Luke Falk – Quarterback – Washington State – Drafted: 6th Round
Marcus Mariota is clearly the starter at quarterback for the Titans and he likely will be for a long time. However, the Titans haven’t really had a good backup quarterback in several years. Luke Falk should solve that issue as he has the potential to be a very good backup quarterback. Falk put up extremely impressive numbers at Washington State and what particularly stands out is that he only threw 39 interceptions compared to 119 career touchdowns. Falk is an NFL-ready quarterback and he provides much needed depth at the quarterback position right away for Tennessee. It is shocking that Falk fell this far in the draft as he is clearly a 3rd round talent. However, if he is given the opportunity then he could potentially develop into an NFL starting quarterback one day.
Washington Redskins – Derrius Guice – Running Back – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round
The Redskins already had plenty of depth at the running back position, but the issue is that they didn’t have an established starter at the position. Derrius Guice fixes that issue as he is clearly projected to be the starter very soon for the Redskins. Guice has tremendous power, but he also has very good speed for his size as well. Guice could’ve been a 1st round talent, but he fell all the way late into the 2nd round because of character issues. If he can get his attitude in check, then there is no doubt that the Redskins are getting a very talented early-down running back.
Muhammad Wilkerson was once considered one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL. However, character issues and a lack of effort really derailed his career with the Jets and that is what led to his release prior to the start of free agency. Wilkerson now has a new team though as he signed a 1-year/$5 million contract with the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday. Wilkerson was arguably the best pass rusher available in free agency mostly because he is a terrific pass rusher especially considering that he is 315 pounds. There is no questioning that he has the talent to be an elite defensive end, but a lack of effort has been an issue for him in recent years. If Green Bay can motivate him to provide a more consistent effort then this could be the best signing of free agency. The Packers are only paying him $5 million which isn’t much considering his talent and it is only a 1-year deal, so there isn’t much risk to this signing. The Packers already had a couple of really good pass rushers with Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. However, if Wilkerson can play like he did in 2015 when he had 12 sacks then the Packers could have the best pass rush of any team in the NFL. We’ll see if Wilkerson can provide a consistent level of production for Green Bay, but even if he doesn’t then the Packers still should have a good starting defensive end. There is really no risk to this deal and there is potential for the Packers to get a very high reward which is why this is a terrific signing.
The Cleveland Browns traded quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for cornerback Damarious Randall. Also, the teams will swap 4th and 5th round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
This is an interesting move for the Packers to make as they clearly needed a better backup quarterback. However, most people just assumed that they would just sign a veteran backup quarterback in free agency. The Packers decided not to go that route as they are now acquiring DeShone Kizer who is a young quarterback with tremendous potential. Kizer struggled as a rookie last year for Cleveland as he went 0-15 as the team’s starting quarterback and he threw 22 interceptions compared to only 11 touchdowns. He clearly isn’t ready to be an NFL starting quarterback, but now he is in a perfect situation where he can learn from future hall-of-fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Kizer gives the Packers a much better 2nd-string quarterback and someone who can fill in more effectively if Rodgers gets injured again. Also, Kizer is only 22 years old and if the Packers can develop him correctly then maybe he could be the potential starting quarterback for Green Bay once Rodgers retires. However, the Packers probably did give up too much in return for Kizer. Green Bay gave up young cornerback Damarious Randall who was a 1st round pick just a few years ago. Randall has struggled with injuries and he hasn’t gotten along very well with the coaching staff. However, it is still shocking that the Packers would trade him considering that he has been a productive player for the team and the Packers were already thin at the cornerback position. This trade doesn’t make the Packers better in the short-term. It could possibly pay off long-term if Kizer can continue to develop, but this just isn’t a good trade overall.
This trade makes a lot of sense for the Browns as it makes their team better in many aspects. Sure, the Browns are giving up on Kizer only a year after they drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. However, Kizer proved last year that he wasn’t a short-term or long-term solution for Cleveland at the quarterback position. Also, Kizer became expendable after the team acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Bills who will be Cleveland’s temporary starter at that position. The team also is extremely likely to draft a quarterback early on in the draft which means that Kizer wouldn’t really have a spot on the roster. The Browns are also improving their team in another area by acquiring young cornerback Damrious Randall in this trade. Randall is a talented young cornerback who was a 1st round pick just a few years ago. We’ll see how well Randall interacts with the Browns coaching staff and how well he fits in with the team. However, Randall can be a very good starting cornerback and he will improve what was a rather weak secondary for the Browns last season. This is definitely a terrific trade for Cleveland as it will improve their team for the 2018 season and probably long-term as well.