Category Archives: Seattle Seahawks

Teams that are in need of a rebuild

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals are actually in the beginning stages of what could be a long rebuild and there is lots of more work to do. The good news is that they just drafted Josh Rosen this year to be their quarterback of the future. He has struggled as a starter in his rookie season, but that is mostly due to the lack of talent around him. The Cardinals need to focus on building around Rosen on offense. Sure, they have star running back David Johnson who will likely be with the team for several years. However, the Cardinals need to find a replacement for the aging Larry Fitzgerald and they need to add to their offensive line as well. Arizona has some good pieces on defense led by Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones, but they need to add some more talent around those guys. The pieces are in place for Arizona to compete in a couple of years, but they need to focus on drafting well and helping out their young quarterback.

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore’s rebuilding hasn’t officially begun, but it is definitely coming very soon. General Manager Ozzie Newsome is already scheduled to retire after this season and head coach John Harbaugh could be on his way out as well if he doesn’t turn things around in 2018. Meanwhile, the team has already drafted Joe Flacco’s replacement at quarterback with Lamar Jackson and it is only a matter of time before Jackson takes over as the starter. The Ravens have talent on defense, but this could be the final year for Terrell Suggs in Baltimore and C.J. Mosley could depart in free agency as well. Baltimore has the talent to make a playoff run this season, but if they don’t make the playoffs then big changes could be made within the Ravens organization.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo might be the least talented team in the entire NFL and they are just beginning what could be a somewhat lengthy rebuild. The good news is that they drafted their quarterback of the future with Josh Allen this year, but nobody really knows if he will live up to the hype. Allen has struggled in his rookie season, but a lot of that can be attributed to the lack of talent around him. Running back LeSean McCoy is about the only weapon that the Bills have on offense and this could be his final season in Buffalo. The Bills offensive line needs some more help and the Bills wide receiver group needs to be rebuilt completely. Meanwhile, on defense, the Bills have some good young talent, but they need to find a way to replace Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander who will likely leave in free agency. Buffalo has a good foundation with Josh Allen, but they really need some more talent around him in order to be successful.

Dallas Cowboys

The addition of Amari Cooper keeps the Cowboys as a competitive team in 2018 and it is a team that has tons of talent especially on offense. However, they need to figure out if Dak Prescott is truly the quarterback of the future and they also need to figure out how to fix their offensive line. Meanwhile, on defense, DeMarcus Lawrence is the clear leader, but he might leave in free agency after the season. Dallas needs to find a way to add some more young talent to their defense and probably replace the aging linebacker Sean Lee as well. The Cowboys could still be a playoff contender, although big changes could be coming if that doesn’t happen.

Denver Broncos

Denver has been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL this season. They thought that by bringing in quarterback Case Keenum they would be a playoff contender. However, Keenum has struggled with consistency this season and now the Broncos have to decide if they will keep him as their starter for next season. The Broncos have some really good young talent at the skill positions with Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman, and Phillip Lindsay. However, they need to add a couple of more pieces to their offensive line to help out their quarterback and let their skill players be more successful. Meanwhile, on defense the Broncos have tremendous talent especially in the Front 7 with Bradley Chubb, Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, and Shane Ray leading the way. The secondary also has some talent especially at cornerback with Chris Harris and Bradley Roby. Denver has had a really frustrating year and it could lead to big changes as head coach Vance Joseph is likely to get fired. Also, the Broncos will need to look into finding a new quarterback and possibly replacing key free agents like Matt Paradis, Shane Ray, and Bradley Roby. Overall, the Broncos are a team that has great talent on both sides of the ball, but they mainly just need to make big changes by find a new head coach and quarterback.

Detroit Lions

Detroit’s passing game is very good despite trading away Golden Tate this season and they finally found a good running back with Kerryon Johnson. The offense isn’t concerning, but the defense is what really needs to be rebuilt. They have some talented players to build around with Darius Slay, Jarrad Davis, and Ezekiel Ansah. However, the rest of the defense needs some serious help and the defense could get even worse next season if Ansah departs in free agency. The Lions have the offense to compete right now, but the team won’t be competitive until they improve their defense.

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis has their franchise quarterback with Andrew Luck, but they are a team that has struggled to build a competent team around him. The Colts could use some help at wide receiver, but besides that their offense is pretty good. However, the defense is what needs some serious help. They have some good young players on defense with guys like Malik Hooker and Darius Leonard. However, they still need to improve their secondary and pass rush if they want to become a good defense. The Colts are near the end of their rebuilding process and if they add some key players to their defense then they could be really competitive next season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville has easily been the most disappointing NFL team after coming very close to reaching the Super Bowl last season. Quarterback Blake Bortles is the main source of the problems for the Jaguars as he turns the ball over too often and he’ll likely need to be replaced prior to the 2019 season. However, the problems on offense aren’t entirely his fault as he just doesn’t have a good wide receiver group even if Marqise Lee comes back healthy next season. The offensive line and running game are terrific for Jacksonville, but it won’t matter if the Jaguars can’t fix their poor quarterback situation. Meanwhile, the Jaguars defense has surprisingly struggled this season after being arguably the best defense in the NFL last season. There is no doubting the talent that they have with guys like Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and A.J. Bouye among others. That being said, for some reason they just haven’t been able to put it together and dominate like they did last season. Jacksonville has plenty of talent to be successful in 2019, but first they badly need to rebuild their passing game on offense.

Miami Dolphins

Miami is surprisingly having a decent season considering the lack of talent that they have. However, this team is still in a major transition phase as they need many pieces on both sides of the ball. It all starts with quarterback Ryan Tannehill who has struggled to stay healthy and they need to find out if he is their quarterback of the future. The Dolphins could decide to move on prior to 2019, but that would set the rebuilding process back even further. The Dolphins have some talent at running back with Kenyan Drake and at wide receiver with guys like Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, and Albert Wilson. However, they need to add some better weapons to their offense in order for it to reach their full potential. Meanwhile, the Dolphins defense appears good enough to compete with a lot of teams as they have some good veteran players like Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn. However, they also have some really talented young players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Raekwon McMillan. The Dolphins have enough talent to possibly be a playoff team, but big changes could be coming to their offense and their coaching staff if this season doesn’t end well.

New York Giants

The Giants made the mistake of believing that they could be contenders this season even with Eli Manning at quarterback. The Giants have plenty of talent at the skill positions led by star receiver Odell Beckham and star running back Saquon Barkley. However, the offensive line has been disastrous and Manning hasn’t played well either. New York needs to find a new quarterback and add some quality offensive lineman before the offense can succeed. Meanwhile, the Giants defense is already in rebuild mode after they traded away Eli Apple and Damon Harrison this season. They still have some good talent with Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins leading the way. However, they need to add some pass rush help especially if the defense is to get any better. Either way, the Giants have some hope for the future, but they are still a couple years from competing as they need to make big changes on both sides of the ball.

New York Jets

The New York Jets are a team with some hope for the future after they drafted Sam Darnold in the 1st round of the draft this year. He has struggled this season, but that is mostly due to the lack of weapons that the Jets have on offense. The Jets have a good running back duo with Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell. However, they need to find some better wide receivers to help Darnold out and a better offensive line as well. The Jets defense has plenty of talent especially at linebacker and in the secondary. However, they need to add some more pass rush help to improve the defense. New York has a solid foundation of good young players on both sides of the ball, but they need to add some more talent especially to the offense in order for it to be successful.

Oakland Raiders

The bad news for the Raiders is that they have basically no talent on their roster, but the good news is that they have a whopping five 1st round picks in the next two years in order to try and accelerate their rebuild. The main thing that they need to figure out is whether Derek Carr should continue being their starting quarterback. He looked like an elite quarterback just a few years ago, but the last two years he has been just average at best. At least the running back position has been good for the Raiders this season with Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, and Jalen Richard. However, it is very possible that both Lynch and Martin could be gone next season. Tight end Jared Cook has been about the only threat for the Raiders in the passing game especially after they traded away Amari Cooper. The Raiders need to address the wide receiver position in a serious way in order to make their offense better. Meanwhile, the defense is absolutely terrible especially after they traded away Khalil Mack and released Bruce Irvin. The Raiders pretty much have nothing to build around on defense and it is something that they need to build from scratch. The Raiders need a lot of help on offense and defense, so it could be a very lengthy rebuild for the Raiders. However, it could be sped up if they hit on their five draft picks in the next 2 years.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers thought that they would be a playoff contender this season, but the early season injuries to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon really doomed them. However, running back Matt Breida and tight end George Kittle have been a couple of bright spots that the 49ers can build around on offense. San Francisco still needs some help at wide receiver and along the offensive line as well, but those are things that they can improve early in the draft. The 49ers defense has some good young pieces to build around especially on the defensive line with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. However, they need lots of help at linebacker and in the secondary before the defense is rebuilt again. Overall, having Garoppolo back next season will help the 49ers a lot, but they still have to rebuild their overall roster before they are competitive again.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle began a full-scale rebuild prior to this season and give credit to head coach Pete Carroll for keeping the team competitive. However, the team still has a long ways to go with their rebuild especially on defense. Bobby Wagner, Frank Clark, and Jarran Reed are tremendous players to build around. The rest of the defense needs a lot of work though especially if star safety Earl Thomas leaves in free agency as expected. Meanwhile, the offense for the Seahawks is actually pretty good as they have a good running game with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. Also, they have a couple of good receivers with Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks could still improve the offensive line, but their offense is better than most people expected. If Seattle can add a few pieces to their defense soon then they could be a competitive team much sooner than expected.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay is a team in desperate need of a full-scale rebuild mostly because they haven’t drafted well and they haven’t done well in free agency either. The main issue for the Bucs is at the quarterback position as Jameis Winston continues to make dumb decisions on and off the field. The Buccaneers appear ready to move on from him this offseason and that means they’ll likely have to draft another quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well, but he is nothing more than a short-term solution. The strength for the Buccaneers is definitely at the wide receiver and tight end positions as they are extremely deep at both positions. However, the Buccaneers running game is still awful as 2nd round pick Ronald Jones has been a major bust so far. Also, the offensive line hasn’t performed well at all this season and that is something they’ll need to address this offseason. Meanwhile, the Bucs defense has been absolutely terrible as they’ve relied on rookies Jordan Whitehead, Carlton Davis, and M.J. Stewart to make an impact right away. However, they have struggled tremendously and veteran cornerback Brent Grimes hasn’t played well either. The Buccaneers invested a lot in their defensive line this past offseason and they have yet to see results due to injuries and inconsistent play. Gerald McCoy, Vita Vea, Noah Spence, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, and William Gholston all have struggled to make an impact this season. Jason Pierre-Paul has been a terrific addition and Kwon Alexander was terrific before tearing his ACL, but besides that the Buccaneers defense has been awful. Tampa Bay has a lot to figure out on both sides of the ball because of terrible decisions made by general manager Jason Licht. He appears to be on his way out after this season and the entire coaching staff including head coach Dirk Koetter appears to be on its way out as well. The Buccaneers will be a very different team next season and they are just beginning what could be another lengthy rebuild.

 

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Most surprising roster cut for every NFL team

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.

Biggest question for every NFL team entering the 2018 season

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.

2018 NFC West Standings Predictions

  1. Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams appear to be the best team in the NFC West heading into 2018 and they are likely super bowl contenders as well. Young quarterback Jared Goff made huge progress last season and he became a pro-bowl level player. He could be even better this season especially since he has a terrific wide receiver group with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks. Also, the Rams have Todd Gurley who is arguably the best running back in the NFL and he takes tons of pressure off the Rams passing game. The offensive line also appears to be very good for the Rams heading into 2018. Los Angeles doesn’t really have a weakness on offense and they have the potential to be even better in 2018. Meanwhile, the Rams defense was good last season, but it is very likely even better this season. They already had plenty of talent on the defensive line with Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers leading the way. However, the addition of elite defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could make the Rams defensive line impossible to beat. The major area of weakness for the Rams is at linebacker though as they don’t have too much talent at the position besides Mark Barron. However, the real strength of the Rams defense is now clearly in the secondary after the additions of pro-bowl cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib this offseason. Add in star safety Lamarcus Joyner plus solid cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman and the Rams arguably have the best secondary in the NFL. Overall, it is very difficult to find many weaknesses on the Rams roster as they arguably have the best team in the entire NFL. If they can live up to their potential then they could easily make a deep playoff run in 2018.

2. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers were an awful team for most of last season, but quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo seemed to turn their fortunes around as he led the team to 5 consecutive wins late last season. Garoppolo is clearly the quarterback of the present and future for the 49ers which is why the team gave him a massive contract this offseason. The question is whether he has enough talent around him on offense to really reach his potential. The offensive line should be much improved this season especially with the additions of Weston Richburg and Mike McGlinchey. The biggest concern for the 49ers is at the skill positions. San Francisco signed Jerick McKinnon to a huge deal in free agency to be their number one running back. However, it will be interesting to see if McKinnon is an upgrade at that position considering he has never been a lead back in his NFL career. Also, the 49ers have some questions at the wide receiver position as Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon, and Trent Taylor are the top targets for Jimmy Garoppolo. Goodwin was the number one receiver for the 49ers last season, but they will need Garcon and Taylor to be much better if the 49ers offense wants to be really good. The 49ers finally have a solution at quarterback, but he needs some help from his supporting cast if the 49ers offense is really successful. Meanwhile, the 49ers have plenty of young talent especially on the defensive line. Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas are all really talented players for the 49ers on their defensive line. However, none of them provided much of a pass rush last season and that is something that the 49ers really need much more of this season. They have some talent at the linebacker position with Reuben Foster and Malcolm Smith, but it is unknown the type of production that they will provide. The addition of pro-bowl cornerback Richard Sherman is a big upgrade in the 49ers secondary, although the rest of the secondary appears to be a weakness heading into 2018. Overall, San Francisco is a team clearly on the rise and they should be able to be a playoff contender this season. However, they still have several holes that they need to fill on their roster if they want to compete with the Rams in the NFC West.

3. Seattle Seahawks

It is difficult to count out the Seahawks considering that they still have Russell Wilson leading the way at quarterback. However, Seattle is a team going through a major transition right now. The defense has been what has carried the Seahawks in recent years, but the offense is going to have to take a much bigger role this season. Seattle should have a much better running game after they drafted rookie running back Rashaad Penny in the 1st round. The Seahawks also have a good group of wide receivers with Doug Baldwin, Brandon Marshall, and Tyler Lockett. However, the Seahawks lost elite tight end Jimmy Graham in free agency which will probably hurt Seattle’s passing attack. Seattle’s offensive line doesn’t appear to be too bad heading into 2018, although it still has a potential to once again be disastrous. Either way, quarterback Russell Wilson will have a lot of pressure to make big plays or the Seahawks offense won’t be great. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense appears to be extremely weak heading into the 2018 season after all of the key players that they lost this offseason. In fact, they lost six key starters on their defense just this offseason. They lost cornerback Richard Sherman, cornerback Jeremy Lane, strong safety Kam Chancellor, defensive end Cliff Avril, defensive end Michael Bennett, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. That is tons of pro-bowl level talent that the Seahawks now have to replace. Now the Seahawks have many voids left on their defense as it could be one of the worst in the NFL in 2018. They still have a couple of really good linebackers with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Also, they have some good young talent on the defensive line with Frank Clark and Jarran Reed. However, the major weakness for Seattle appears to be in their secondary as they have a major void at the cornerback position after the departures of Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane. The team still has elite safety Earl Thomas on the roster, but he is currently holding out for a new contract and it is possible that he might miss some games this season. Overall, the Seahawks defense has suddenly turned from one of the NFL’s best defenses into one of the NFL’s worst defenses. It is hard to picture the Seahawks competing for a playoff spot this season unless the offense suddenly becomes elite.

4. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona is yet another team going through a big transition right now especially since they have a new quarterback and a new head coach with Steve Wilks. The major excitement for the Cardinals is that they will have star running back David Johnson back from injury. Johnson should add a much-needed spark to the Cardinals offense and he will help take a lot of pressure off the Cardinals quarterback situation. The Cardinals offensive line is also likely going to be better especially after the addition of guard Justin Pugh in free agency. The Cardinals also have a good group of wide receivers led by star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, rookie 2nd round pick Christian Kirk, and deep threat J.J. Nelson. The main concern for the Cardinals is at the quarterback position after Carson Palmer retired this offseason. Arizona drafted Josh Rosen in the 1st round and he is clearly the quarterback of the future for the Cardinals. However, Sam Bradford figures to be the temporary solution at quarterback for Arizona while Rosen develops. If David Johnson stays healthy then the Cardinals offense should be decent. However, the success of the offense depends entirely on the production from the quarterback position. Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense has a chance to be decent this season as they figure to be just as good as last season. Chandler Jones is arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL as he had 17 sacks last season, but the issue is that the rest of the defensive line isn’t very good. The Cardinals do have some very good talent at linebacker with Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon, but the inside linebacker position appears to be a major area of weakness. Meanwhile, the Cardinals secondary still should be above average mostly because they have Patrick Peterson who is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. However, the loss of playmaking safety Tyrann Mathieu creates a major void in the Cardinals secondary that they didn’t really fill. Overall, the Cardinals have lots of work to do before they are playoff contenders once again. The quarterback position for the Cardinals has some potential, but it will likely hold them back in 2018.

2018 AFC West Standings Predictions

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

The AFC West is a wide open division heading into the 2018 season, but there is one team that appears to be better than the rest is the Los Angeles Chargers. They came extremely close to a playoff spot last year and there is an argument that they are even better heading into 2018. Sure, quarterback Philip Rivers might not be elite anymore, but he proved last season that he is still an above average quarterback if he can cut down on turnovers. However, he will have plenty of weapons around him on offense as he has Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Mike Williams to throw to. Also, the Chargers have one of the best running backs in the NFL with Melvin Gordon. The offensive line is seemingly better this offseason as well since they added pro-bowl caliber center Mike Pouncey in free agency. There is plenty of talent for the Chargers on offense and the success of that unit is key to the Chargers playoff hopes in 2018. Meanwhile, the Chargers defense has the potential to be one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL as they combined for 23 sacks last season. Add defensive tackle Corey Liuget into the mix and the Chargers have a very good defensive line. The major weakness though for the Chargers appears to be at the linebacker position as they don’t really have any playmakers at that position. However, the secondary is looking particularly good for the Chargers as Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett form one of the best cornerback duos in the league. The team even added very talented rookie safety Derwin James in the 1st round of the draft. Overall, the Chargers are loaded with talent with both sides of the ball and it should be enough to win the division in a AFC West division that is unpredictable this year.

2. Denver Broncos

Denver is an interesting team heading into the 2018 season because they could compete for a playoff spot or they could be a bad team. The Broncos were certainly disappointing last season at 5-11, but that was mostly due to the terrible quarterback play that they had. That is why the Broncos went out and signed Case Keenum to be their new starting quarterback. However, Keenum has been a backup for most of his career until last season when he suddenly became a very good starter for the Vikings. It is unknown whether Keenum is really the answer for Denver at quarterback. However, if he can play like he did last season then the Broncos should be playoff contenders. The good news is that he has plenty of talent around him especially at the wide receiver position. Denver has talented veteran receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but they also added talented rookie receiver Courtland Sutton in the 2nd round of the draft. The running back will be an interesting position battle for the Broncos. Rookie 3rd round pick Royce Freeman probably will get most of the carries, but Devontae Booker will compete for the starting job as well. The offensive line is better than it used to be especially with the addition of Ronald Leary at left guard. However, the right side of the offensive line especially the right guard position is particularly concerning. The Broncos offense is a complete unknown especially with the uncertainty that they have at quarterback and running back. However, if those positions can just be slightly above average then the Broncos offense could be much improved from a year ago. Meanwhile, the defense still appears to be the strength of the Broncos team. Denver’s pass rush was already extremely talented with players like Von Miller, Shane Ray, and Shaquil Barrett. However, the pass rush got even deeper when they selected Bradley Chubb with their 1st round pick this offseason. Add in defensive tackle Derek Wolfe plus linebacker Brandon Marshall and the Broncos suddenly have a terrific front 7. The secondary for the Broncos is also still very strong despite the subtraction of pro-bowl cornerback Aqib Talib. Denver still has plenty of talent at cornerback with Chris Harris and Bradley Roby as their starters heading into this season. Overall, the Broncos defense could be even better than last season and they will probably need it to be very good to be a playoff team in 2018. However, the entire fate of the Broncos defense rests in the hands of quarterback Case Keenum because if he doesn’t play well then the Broncos season could be bad again.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs might be the most unpredictable team heading into the 2018 season in the entire NFL. The reason for that is because they traded away starting quarterback Alex Smith and replaced him with 2nd-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. There is no doubt the talent that Mahomes has, although he is basically a rookie heading into 2018 as he only has one career NFL start. The good news is that Mahomes will have plenty of talent on offense to help him. Kareem Hunt established himself as one of the top running backs in the NFL last season and he should help to take a lot of pressure off Mahomes. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have great options in the passing game with star tight end Travis Kelce and star wide receiver Tyreek Hill returning for the 2018 season. Also, the Chiefs decided to add another elite receiver by signing Sammy Watkins to a big deal this offseason. The offensive line should be good as well, so Mahomes should have plenty of help around him in order to succeed. However, given the inexperience of Mahomes it is unknown if the Chiefs offense will regress in 2018. Meanwhile, the Chiefs defense doesn’t appear to be any better heading into 2018 than it was a year ago. They still have Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Chris Jones to lead the pass rush. However, they lost several key defensive players including Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, and star young cornerback Marcus Peters. The Chiefs did add star linebacker Anthony Hitchens in free agency and that should provide a big upgrade at the linebacker position. Kansas City still has pro-bowl safety Eric Berry, but the rest of the secondary just looks average at best. They added cornerback Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade, but the loss of Marcus Peters creates a huge void at that position. The Chiefs still have some good pieces on defense, but it certainly isn’t the dominant defense that it was not too long ago. Kansas City has enough talent to make a playoff run in a rather unknown AFC West. However, that all depends on the play of young quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

4. Oakland Raiders

Oakland is yet another team that could possibly challenge for a playoff spot this year, but it seems like wishful thinking at this point. Quarterback Derek Carr had somewhat of a down season last year, but he is expected to bounce back in 2018 especially with the talent around him. Carr still has his top target at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, but the Raiders added even more talent to that position with the additions of Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant this offseason. The Raiders also have plenty of talent at running back with starter Marshawn Lynch and the addition of former pro-bowler Doug Martin to be his backup. The Raiders offensive line also appears to be very good next season especially with the addition of 1st round pick Kolton Miller at right tackle. Oakland has the pieces on offense to be elite, but quarterback Derek Carr really needs to bounce back in order for the offense to reach its potential. Meanwhile, the Raiders defense is still what will likely hold them back in 2018. They have a couple of terrific pass rushers to lead the way with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. However, the rest of the defense is a complete unknown heading into 2018. The addition of Tahir Whitehead should help the Raiders at linebacker, although it remains an area of weakness for the team. The real weakness for the Raiders on defense is still the secondary. They really struggled in that area last season and they didn’t do much to improve that unit this offseason. Overall, the Raiders still have plenty of work to do in order to become true contenders again. 2018 will likely just be a transition season with Jon Gruden now taking over as the head coach.

Best pick for every NFL team in the draft

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.

Winners and Losers of the 1st round of the draft

Winners:

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers got perhaps the biggest steal in the 1st round of the draft when Derwin James slipped all the way to the 17th overall pick. James is a top 10 talent for sure and he fills a big need for the Chargers at the same time. The Chargers suddenly have a sneaky good defense heading into the 2018 season especially since James should provide a major impact right away.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay maybe didn’t select the flashiest player in the NFL draft when they drafted defensive tackle Vita Vea with the 12th overall pick. However, Vea is a very talented player that has terrific athleticism for someone of his size. He has terrific work ethic and he can help improve the Buccaneers interior pass rush. The Buccaneers now have a stacked defensive line with the additions of Vea, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, and Beau Allen this offseason. Also, the Buccaneers landed an extra two 2nd round picks by moving down 5 spots in the draft which makes this a terrific 1st round for the Buccaneers.

Losers:

New Orleans Saints

The Saints made the strangest move of the 1st round when they traded up 13 picks in order to select defensive end Marcus Davenport. Sure, Davenport has huge potential, but he is still a raw prospect that is being drafted out of a small school. However, giving up a 1st round pick next season to get a defensive end is just insane. The Saints are taking a huge risk for a player that isn’t even guaranteed to be an elite player at the NFL level. New Orleans made too much of a reach by moving up to select Davenport and now they lose a valuable pick 1st round pick for net year because of it. The Saints should have just stayed patient and taken the best player available rather than risking their future for a player that might not even live up to the hype.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks made a good move by trading down in the 1st round and acquiring a 3rd round pick. However, the Seahawks didn’t make the most out of their pick late in the 1st round as they selected running back Rashaad Penny. He has the potential to be a good starting running back for Seattle, but he should have been a 2nd or 3rd round pick. This was a major reach for the Seahawks and there were much better options available in this spot. Seattle had other major needs like defensive end and cornerback in the draft, so they should have just taken the best player available. Penny fills a need for the Seahawks, but they could have done much better in this spot especially as they have several needs in the draft.